Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Post-Partisanship Epic Fail?

Nate Silver wrote in FiveThirtyEight Post-Partisanship Epic Fail?, "Back in 2008, the smart liberal spin on 'post-partisanship' -- one which I frankly bought into -- is that it was in part an effort to put a popular, centrist sheen on a relatively liberal agenda. Instead, as Leonhardt points out, what Obama has wound up with is an unpopular, liberal sheen on a relatively centrist agenda. It's not just on health care."

It's an interesting analysis and one of the better summations of Obama's first year I've seen.

"What's more alarming still is that some of the policies which have become unpopular -- like the health care bill and arguably the stimulus (although the polling is more equivocal there) -- did not start out that way. With the exception of the bailouts -- a policy which the White House certainly wasn't pursing for political expediency -- virtually every policy that the Democrats have advanced polled reasonably well when it was first proposed. It did not always end up that way after it had been through the legislative meat grinder. The reflexive Republican opposition to virtually any policy that the Democrats advanced -- they've overwhelmingly opposed policies as benign as delaying the digital TV changeover date! -- has in retrospect been exceptionally effective."


Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis but meaningless on an electoral level. Independent voters trying to decide on who to vote for are not thinking all that deeply about the decision. Yes, the country has drifted so far right that what used to be right-of-center is now left-of-center. And yes, the last liberal president was Richard Nixon.....the vote is still out on Obama.

Independent voters are asking a very simple question, almost tribal in its essence. They ask which candidate is for me and which candidate is against me. I think a slight majority of independents tend to vote republican unless given a really good reason to vote democratic. Their tribal identity is still more republican than democratic.

There were simply no good obvious reasons for these independents to vote democratic in VA, NJ and Mass. At least none that they could easily think of.

Howard said...

I think the right drifted further right. I think they also managed to move the framing of debates to the right (or to death panel lunacy). I'm not so sure if you phrase polls properly how it works. My favorite example, many people who say abortion should be illegal have no idea how to answer 'How long should women who get abortions go to jail for?'.

But that does go to your point, when picking who to vote for, people now think of who would you rather have a beer with rather than who's best qualified. It's on these kinds of things that I usually forget that people haven't change all the much in the last few hundred years, but what has changed is access to info about candidates and video of them making gaffs.

So yeah, the three recent democratic governor candidates weren't good candidates, but apparently the 5 congressional ones were (still can't forget about those). Voters won't vote party line for a bad candidate (and by definition independents won't). Particularly for incumbents in bad economic times. And I saw something about Coakley not campaigning in black sections of Boston where Obama did well, that also would contribute to her difference from 2008.