Day by Day



19 May 2006

On a roll with polls...


My friend Scoot sent me a note on a WaPo article by the decidedly left of center E. J. Dionne. Now I generally do not like Dionne, I think his analysis tends to be shallow and his insight weak. I think this article is no exception. Within the OpEd pieces he details the woeful state of polls and opinions about the present administration. He quotes a number of political groupies and a congressman and proclaims Armageddon for right wing views and republicans. Bets are for suckers. Not that one shouldn’t have an idea based upon some testable facts, but most social circumstances suffer from nearly limitless variability. This includes weather, sports scores and the phase of the moon. Check out Freakonomics for more on these effects.

Polls are (in my opinion) next to useless. They present a very lopsided view view of most issues (in that they begin as biased instruments.) I prefer to draw conclusions from observed behavior. In an earlier time, people claimed to like Betamax better than VHS, but they bought VHS. The power of the marketplace is more telling than any focus group Sony ever conducted.

I would submit that The President's approval ratings are largely inconsequential. As of now, he is effectively out of office and thus has nothing to lose. As his VP will not be running in 2008, the administration essentially has a pass on popularity. Part of this means that the expectations of the public (I think) are higher. If you have nothing to lose, then you should be going whole hog, right?

I think the entire fixation over national polls around the President will have little to no effect on the midterm elections. Folks are very locally focused. I would predict a 99% success rate for incumbents. Despite the unhappiness with the present set of policies (which in my opinion are not actually bad and in many ways good), most partisans will fight very hard locally to retain "their guy" in Congress.

And except for super safe seats, they simply won't ask President Bush to help them.

4 comments:

Scootmaroo said...

Deux, there is a great post over on Kos(I know, I know, far too left for you....) sorta kinda agreeing with you, as much as I hate to say it.Here is the link: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/5/20/0218/16068

Great Quote: "And what IS Republicanism? Any average voter can tell you: smaller government, stronger military, and "moral values."

The fact that Republicans have failed entirely to shrink the government; the fact that they have wrecked our military; the fact that they have failed to foster anything but amorality; these things are irrelevant. The only thing that IS relevant is that the GOP machine has sold the idea of Republicanism to the average voter.

And the corollary of that premise is that, if a Republican fails to deliver on the promises of Republicanism, it can only be for one reason: he/she wasn't Republican enough."

Frankly, though, the only repug I really want to be reelected is Sen. Thomas from Wyoming, cause the thought of not seeing his wife in her snappy outfits and hearing her dry wit everyday at school will be a loss to the faculty and the students.

Citizen Deux said...

Well, There is a KOS reference in my blog. MOst of their stuff is far too left for humanity. As to your points,

Failed to shrink government - you are correct, I am very disappointed.

Wrecked our military? Hardly. The necessary transformation of our forces is extremely painful and happening out of the public eye. I can neither comment or speculate on this topic in public, however, there are a number of very good sources which discuss the future of our armed forces. I may suggest starting with the QDR.

I don't know if the average voter has been sold anything. The national elections are just that, a gut check on the feelings of the nation. They happen once every four years, eveything else is local.

As for Sen. Thomas, I suspect you will be seenig his wife for some time to come.

Regan said...

Polls are (in my opinion) next to useless.

As one of my dear friends once pointed out to me, what polls tell you is the opinion of the sort of people who enjoy answering poll questions.

Citizen Deux said...

Wow, quite a guy. I couldn't agree more. It seems that Mr. Sussman achieved one of my lifelong dreams, to make a career in the idyllic setting that is Vermont.