Republican Staffers Looking For New Jobs

The Evans-Novack Political Report notes that, while Republicans did get a bounce in some recent polls, “if the election were held today, the GOP would probably lose 26 seats and their congressional majority.” Republicans are worried:

There is still time left, but the buzz on the Hill is that many Republican staffers — including those working for safe members — are seeking employment elsewhere, dreading the miserable possibility of life in the congressional minority.

We shouldn’t get overly optimistic, as many were before the 2004 election:

The big X-factor is the Republicans’ vaunted micro-targeting turnout program, which is light-years ahead of anything the almost non-existent Democratic National Committee will be able to put together this year. The GOP turnout program produced a minor miracle in 2004, as new Republican voters showed up in droves.

In 2004 Republicans got out more voters from the ex-burbs and the religious right, especially in key states such as Ohio. The difference between 2004 and today is that Iraq has become a negative for voters, and the right wing social issues are not attracting the same interest as in the past. Previous posts on the changing attitudes on the wedge issues are under the fold.

Republican Control of House Tenuous

Posted by Ron Chusid
July 27th, 2006 @ 8:09 am

More signs that the Democrats have an excellent chance to take control of the House this fall. This week’s Evan’s-Novak Political Report shows that Republicans are pessimistic:

The conventional wisdom about the 2006 elections among both Republicans and Democrats now is that the Democrats will take control of the House and could also win the Senate. One House Republican committee chairman, who publicly exudes optimism, privately predicts — and has predicted for six months — a loss of 30 House seats.

A poll from NPR also shows this is likely. I’ve questioned the value of national polls on who voters prefer to control Congress, but NPR gets around the limitations of such polls by limiting the poll to fifty competitive House districts.

Forty of those seats are currently held by republicans; 10 by democrats. And those contests are where both parties will be concentrating their resources come fall, says Republican pollster Glenn Bolger. . .

In 2004, the total vote in these 50 districts went republican by about 12 points. In our current survey, voters in these same districts say they would vote for the Democrat over the Republican by about six points.

We asked the question about a generic Democrat or Republican, then we plugged in the names of actual incumbents and challengers. The numbers didn’t change much and the voters seemed pretty firm about their choices.

Republicans have been trying to maintain their control of Congress by using wedge issues to fire up their base but this might be backfiring:

Then there are undecided voters like Peggy Beekler, a retired social worker who lives in the 3rd District of Kentucky, represented by Ann Northup.

“Well, I’m rather disappointed in the Republicans,” Beekler says. “I think they’ve made a mess of things, even though I’ve been a Republican.”

Beekler is not happy about the war, but she’s also unhappy about the so-called values issues that Republicans have counted on to get their voters to the polls.

“I think to do an amendment on burning the flag would be totally ridiculous,” Beekler says. “I also think when Bush vetoed the stem-cell research … I feel like that’s ridiculous because they’re just going to destroy all those embryos anyway, so even though I am for life, I think that shouldn’t have been vetoed. I think that was a really bad thing.”

Beekler represents one of our most surprising findings: On the question of which party would do a better job on “values issues,” like stem-cell research, flag-burning and gay marriage, Democrats prevailed by their biggest margin in the entire poll: 51 percent to 37 percent.

“And when we list values issues like stem-cell research, flag-burning and gay marriage, these are the issues that Republicans took the initiative, used their control in Congress to get on the air to be voting on, to be talking about,” Greenberg says. “What this says: By 13 points, voters say they are more likely to vote Democratic because of hearing about these issues. Which suggests that the strategy of using the Congress to get out the base is one that’s driving away a lot of voters.”

Republicans Stand to Lose By Following Advice of the Right Blogosphere

Posted by Ron Chusid
April 16th, 2006 @ 9:27 pm

Texas Rainmaker has an unrealistic view of public opinion as they believe It’s Republicans’ Game to Lose. They misinterpret three statistics, and leave out key details of the polls. They note that an Ipsos Poll reports that 58% of the people think that the tax system is unjust. Considering that the tax system has been under the control of Republicans, and Republicans have rewritten it to transfer wealth to the ultra-wealthy, this issue certainly won’t help Republicans. Texas Rainmaker leaves out key poll findings such as that “A majority of people said the middle class, the self-employed and small businesses pay too much in taxes, the poll found. And they think those with high incomes and big businesses don’t pay enough.” In other words, a majority finds that the people whose taxes the Republicans want to cut the most are already not paying enough.

Their next statistic is that the Pew Research center found that “96% of the public says they believe in God or some form of Supreme Being” and extrapolate from this to believe that abortion and gay marriage will be big losers for Democrats. The problem with this logic is that of the 96% who believe in a Supreme Being, not all believe in the Judeo-Christian God. Of those who do, most do not follow the fundamentalist views of the religious right, or support the use of government to impose religious views upon others. The Pew Research Center also found that Americans are becoming more liberal on social issues, regardless of belief in a Supreme Being. A majority supports abortion rights and civil unions. Even opposition to gay marriage has fallen from 64% in February 2004 to 51% earlier this year.

Finally they think that immigration will work for them. Most pundits still find the political ramifications of immigration murky, but there is far more reason to believe the issue will divide Republicans and cost them votes than help them.

Republicans may very well hold on to Congress this fall due to the tremendous advantages given to incumbents, not due to the reasons these conservatives suggest. If Republicans follow the advice of this blog and pursue a far right wing course it will continue the Republican downward spiral in the polls and lead to their loss of control in the next couple of election cycles, if not this year.

Cokie Roberts Shows Trend is Towards Acceptance of Gay Marriage

Posted by Ron Chusid
June 17th, 2006 @ 10:40 am

I find Cokie Roberts is often bashed in the liberal blogoshere, but I could never bring myself to dislike her. I’m sure readers could come up with plenty of quotes from her which I disagree with, but that’s unlikely to change my feelings about her. Perhaps its a bit of chivalry in not hating a lady, but obviously that’s not a complete explanation. I sure don’t let that get in the way of my feelings towards Joan Vennochi or Ann Coulter. One useful thing about listening to, or reading, Cokie Roberts is that she is a good barometer of the conventional wisdom (even if sometimes overly influenced by Republican talking points).

Cokie and Steve Roberts have a column this week which illustrates how the conventional wisdom is changing on one issue–gay marriage. In 2004 it was a wedge issue which Republicans could count on to bring out the vote. By 2006, along with the poll their column sites, another poll from Pew Research Center showed that opposition to gay marriage had fallen from 64% in February 2004 to 51% earlier this year. Seeing Cokie Roberts write in favor of gay marriage is another sign that what was once a minority liberal view will ultimately become the majority view in this country. Cokie and Steve Roberts wrote:

As we approach our own 40th anniversary, we believe in marriage more than ever. It might not be right for all people all of the time, but it’s right for most people most of the time, whatever their sexual orientation, and friends like Kevin and Grant have convinced us to alter our views and support gay marriage.

We’ve always supported civil unions, which give same-sex couples certain legal rights. But we shared the concerns of our good friend, Rep. Barney Frank, an outspoken gay leader, who worried that America was not ready for gay marriage.

His fears are still justified in many parts of the country. And we don’t think religious institutions should be forced to perform or recognize same-sex ceremonies.

But the trend line is clear. According to the Gallup poll, 39 percent of Americans now approve of gay marriage, an increase of 12 points over the last decade. Despite all the over-heated rhetoric about gays “undermining” marriage, real-world experience tells a very different story.

Same-sex unions have been legal in parts of Canada for three years and that country has hardly collapsed into social anarchy. Even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has adapted, assigning gay couples near each other. Jason Tree, a Mountie who is marrying his partner this summer, told the Washington Post: “Just look at the last 10 years to see how far we have come in Canada. I’m hoping some day soon this will all die down.”

Danforth Speaks Out Against GOP Wedge Issues

Posted by Ron Chusid
May 3rd, 2006 @ 8:01 am

Former Republican Senator John Danforth spoke out on separation of church and state and against the Republican use of wedge issues at the Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner on April 29. Here’s a portion of his speech:

And you know the wedge issues. Abortion is one. That’s an issue that’s been with us a long time and even though I think it’s very unlikely that the Supreme Court is going to overrule Roe v. Wade – I happen to be pro life myself – but it remains a wedge issue, which is the focus of just a lot of people in politics.

Stem cell research. That is the one wedge issue that is still a live one. Because if stem cell research is criminalized a lot of people with very terrible diseases like Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Parkinson’s and cancer are not going to be cured. That is the one – stem cell research – that is the one issue that has some at least meaning in itself but it’s a wedge issue.

The Terri Schiavo case. This awful situation of keeping this poor soul going on a feeding tube, or at least trying to, with the massive involvement of Republican politicians to try to do this even though the Florida courts had repeatedly said she was in a persistent vegetative state and that she had expressed, this is what the courts found, the desire not to be hooked up in this situation but the politicians entered into the fray and that was a wedge issue of its time.

The displays of religion – Ten Commandments and so on – in courthouses, it can’t have much of a religious content to it and yet it’s become this huge divisive issue in America.

And then one that you are very much involved with and an issue that is scheduled to come up for a vote in June in the United States Senate and that is the Federal Marriage Amendment. Now I’m not an historian. Some historian should really look at all of the proposals that have been put forth throughout the history of our country for possible Constitutional amendments. Maybe at some point in time there was one that was sillier than this one, but I don’t know of one.

And once before the Constitution was amended to try to deal with matters of human behavior, that was prohibition, that was such a flop that that was repealed 13 years later.

It is a concept which is contrary to basic Republican principles. As I understand, the basic concept of the Republican Party is to interpret the Constitution narrowly, not expansively, so that legislatures and especially state legislatures can work out over a period of time the social issues in our country. And not to have these evolving issues fixed and concrete in the Constitution of the United States, taken out of the hands of legislatures and turned over to the federal courts. So this amendment is contrary to what I understand to be a basic tenet of our party.
And then it’s said that this is necessary to protect marriage. Whose marriage is this going to protect? How conceivably could it protect any marriage in the United States?

Now these various issues, the wedge issues, have been pushed forward in the name of religion. It turns out that a very divisive force in American life today, if not the most divisive force, is religion.

Kevin Philips in his new book American Theocracy writes that for the first time in our history that we have a religious party in the United States. We have escaped that in the past. Religion has become a divisive force in America, and some would say, well maybe that’s as it should be. But the meaning of the word religion, the very definition of the word, it comes from the same root as the word ligament, that which binds us together not that which dives us apart.

And I believe that it is important for all Americans – and I am sure that three-quarters of the American people would agree with this if they were really faced with the issue – we must make it clear in our country that we truly believe in the separation of church and state. It is an essential principle.

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