Friday, September 25, 2015

Have American Voters Finally Had It With Their Corrupt And Dishonest Political Elites?

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The two Beltway party establishments have earned the hatred of the American people. Their self-serving careerist leaders have dragged their parties into the muck and mire. According to the newest Gallup poll only 43% of Americans have a favorable view of the Democratic Party and only 38% have a favorable view of the Republican Party. Another poll I read recently showed that 77% of Americans have contempt for politicians in general. Does anyone think they're honest? How often are elections any more than choosing between the lesser of two evils? 

Of course, there are some politicians worth believing in-- like the guy whose mug is in the poster up top, and like Alan Grayson, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Lieu (even if he made a terrible error on the Iran nuclear deal vote) on the Democratic side, and perhaps Justin Amash on the Republican side. But how are you going to pick between candidates in a nightmare scenario like Hillary Clinton vs. Ted Cruz? Or Joe Biden vs. Carly Fiorina? Lesser of two evils is all there is... or refusing to vote for either major-party candidate entirely in cases like that, as I decided to do several years ago.

Yesterday Greg Sargent went off on not just what a prevaricator Trump is, but on what a ruse the Republican Party in general is running on their lo-info, Foxified base.
Republican primary voters keep telling reporters that they feel attracted to Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy because he “tells it like it is.” A new Fox News poll confirms this dynamic:
Regardless of how you plan to vote, which of the following better describes how you feel about Donald Trump’s comments on the campaign trail?

He is too mean and blunt to be president: 49

He tells it like it is, and we need that now in a president: 44
Sixty-two percent of Republicans say “he tells it like it is, and we need that now.” Fifty percent of independents agree. Even the 44 percent of overall Americans is dispiritingly high. This is only one poll, but much of the reporting seems to bear out this basic source of his appeal.

So what are people hearing when they believe Trump is “telling it like it is”? One possibility: GOP voters unsettled by cultural and demographic change-- and by Obama’s ongoing transformation of the USA into something no longer recognizably American-- hear him speaking to their anxieties. Of course, telling people that the way to “make America great again” is to immediately deport 11 million people, which Trump will do with ease, is not “telling it like it is,” it constitutes lying to them on multiple levels.
Another possibility: Trump is speaking to people’s frustration with a political system that is mired in gridlock. Trump can overcome this either because a “businessman” can simply overwhelm the political system or because a businessman “outsider,” unlike traditional politicians, “can’t be bought.” When Trump says the problem is that Washington is bought and paid for, he is “telling it like it is.” Voters are regaling reporters with various versions of this idea.

Big money in politics is a major problem. But even if most lawmakers were controlled by contributors, the idea that Trump could somehow move our system through sheer force of outsider un-bought will is nonsense. It’s the Trump candidacy’s Big Lie: never mind the policy details, never mind the separation of powers, never mind the profound disagreements between the parties. Everything will be easy and terrific.

These two are of a piece with a third explanation we keep hearing: Trump-ism is rooted in a sense of betrayal by GOP leaders. They failed to block Obama’s transformation of the country; that must be because they didn’t even try, so they must be complicit. But this failure, too, is structural. Republicans don’t have the votes to surmount Dem filibusters or Obama vetoes. The idea that this can be overcome through sheer force of will (the argument conservatives are making in favor of another shutdown fight) is just another version of Lie Number Two above.

Indeed, the Fox News poll unwittingly captures what is particularly problematic about this last one. It finds that 60 percent of Republicans feel betrayed by their party, and that 66 percent of Republicans don’t think their party did all it could to block Obama’s agenda. The poll asks why respondents think their party leaders failed at this: they didn’t really want to stop Obama; they weren’t smart enough; they would rather fight each other. The Fox poll doesn’t even offer respondents the option of choosing the real reason-- that Republicans structurally lack the votes! No wonder voters are easily seduced into thinking Trump is “telling it like it is.”
Late yesterday a new poll was released by CNN and WMUR of likely New Hampshire primary voters. Yes, yes, Trumps still way ahead of all the other cretins in the GOP race. More interesting, however, are two other questions. First GOP voters were asked who they would "NOT vote for under any circumstances."
Trump- 25%
Jeb Bush- 11%
Rand Paul- 10%
Mike Huckabee- 8%
Chris Christie- 5%
And then they were asked "Which Republican candidate do you think is least likely to act like a typical politician if elected President?" Only 2 got over 4%:
Trump- 68%
Carson 11%
They also talked to Democratic primary voters. They were asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion about each candidate:
Biden- favorable 69%/unfavorable 17%
Clinton- favorable 67%/unfavorable 23%
Sanders- favorable 78%/unfavorable 11%
When asked who they planned to vote for Bernie, the populist, came out with more votes than Biden and Clinton, the two Big Business-backed establishment candidates, combined:
Bernie- 46% (up from 35% in June)
Hillary- 30% (down from 43% in June)
Biden- 14% (up from 8% in June)
Other questions they asked the Democratic voters came out totally lopsided:

Who's the least honest- Hillary 33%

Who's the most likeable- Bernie 39% (Biden 35%)

Who's the most progressive- Bernie 63%

OK, now for some conventional Beltway wisdom from the Cook Report. Amy Walter makes four assumptions about the current state of the Republican presidential race.
1. [I]t is safe to say that the field is dividing itself pretty cleanly into those who want to reform the party and those who want to resist reform. The Bush/Kasich/Christie/Rubio wing argues that the only way the GOP stops its Electoral College losing streak is to expand the base to include younger, more diverse voters. That wing is anywhere from 55-60 percent of the party. The Trump/Carson/Cruz/Huckabee wing of the party resists the premise that the only way to win a national election is to accept and adapt to the current demographic and social/cultural changes taking place in the country on everything from gay marriage to immigration to so-called ‘PC language’. That wing of the party probably makes up 40-45 percent of the GOP electorate. Carly Fiorina, like Walker, straddles both worlds. The questions now are: 1. which candidate (s) ultimately emerge from each wing? 2. Which wing ultimately emerges the winner in Cleveland next summer?
2. Trump and Carson are currently leading in the anti-establishment/cultural warrior group, but most GOPers see Cruz as the one to ultimately emerge. As the campaign wears on, Cruz has the combination of experience, money and infrastructure to survive the slog. The longer Trump and Carson sit under the microscope and the pressure, the less appealing they look.

3. Rubio has the most upside potential of the “establishment” group, but he’s yet to really catch fire. Kasich has made gains in New Hampshire (thanks to heavy ad spending by his SuperPAC), but hasn’t seen much movement nationally. Most GOPers we speak with worry that he lacks the discipline for a long, bruising fight. It’s also telling that the people who like him (and fear him) the most, are Democrats. Bush and Christie have some of the highest negatives among members of their own party. The Christie folks admit to a tough year, but note that the New Jersey Governor’s favorable ratings have been slowly inching up in recent weeks. The Bush team likes marathon analogies. They’ve got a slow, steady (and well-funded) effort that, unlike Walker, can withstand the roiling nature of the modern day campaign. At the end of the day, it’s a lot easier to call Cruz the frontrunner on the anti-establishment side than it is to declare one on the establishment side.
4. Carly Fiorina is on fire, but it’s amazing how quickly-- and intensely-- the blowback on her record at HP has been. It’s a liability to be sure. And, for someone who likes to attack Hillary Clinton for a lack of accomplishments, Fiorina’s depiction of her resume has some serious holes as well. Even so, is her tenure at HP more of a liability than, say, the statements made by Trump, Huckabee, Cruz and Carson on immigration, gay marriage or Islam? That’s for GOP voters to decide. But, for a party still suffering a case of Romney-induced political PTSD, a CEO who laid off thousands and took a multi-million dollar golden parachute she may just be the right candidate with the wrong resume.

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2 Comments:

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Theodore Wirth said...

Even if Trump prevailed, he would fail to overcome all of the other bought-and-sold pols at the state and national level--much like what has happened to President Obama and any agenda that he may have had.

 
At 5:09 AM, Blogger Daro said...

Even though I was in Japan, my IT career was dinged by Fiorina. Engineers I've talked to spat hatred about her. The level of brooding malevolence for her precludes not just any hope of Presidency but also VP. No one would be fool enough to take her on the ticket and lose votes. So my gues is her run is just as much a vanity op as Trump's. And maybe she'll land Ambassador to France out of it as a bonus.

 

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