Tuesday, September 29, 2015


A few days ago, John Boehner fell on his sword to avoid the wrath of angry House wingnuts. A day from now, another full month will have elapsed with immigrant-bashing, enemy-insulting Donald Trump still unchallenged at the top of the Republican presidential field.

All this must deeply trouble The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. Under these circumstances, how can he, a charter member of the media's Both Sides Do It club, possibly persuade his readers that polarization is the fault of the two major parties equally, an assertion that's axiomatic to him?

So of course it delights Cillizza that today he can post this:
Democrats are WAY angrier than Republicans about the political system

Guess which party is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?

You'd think it'd be the party who has propelled three candidates who have never run for office before -- including one named Donald Trump -- to the top of its 2016 presidential field. And, according to new numbers from NBC and the Wall Street Journal, you'd be wrong.

A majority -- 56 percent -- of likely Democratic primary voters said that they "feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than it working to help everyday people get ahead." By contrast, just 37 percent of Republican primary voters express that same anger....
Chris, you idiot, this doesn't prove that Democrats are angrier than Republicans. This proves that Democrats are angrier than Republicans about the power and disproportionate wealth of rich elites.

This was the question:
Now, here are two statements that might describe how you feel. Please listen to both and then tell me which ONE best describes how you feel. (ROTATE :1 and :2)

I feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than it working to help everyday people get ahead.

I feel anxious and uncertain because the economy still feels rocky and unpredictable so I worry about paying my bills, day to day living costs, and whether I can count on my own situation being stable.

Or, if neither one is right for you, just say so.
Ask about anger a different way and you get very different answers. A CBS poll conducted in late July and early August included this question:
Which comes closest to your feelings about the way things are going in Washington --enthusiastic, satisfied but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied but not angry, or angry?
In that poll, 42% of Republican primary voters said they were angry, and only 24% of Democratic primary voters. (The angry Republican voters had a strong preference for Donald Trump, needless to say.)

And Republicans were angrier than Democrats in a 2010 CBS poll, in response to the same question (20% of Republicans were angry, as opposed to 7% of Democrats; also, 22% of Republicans were angry at the Obama administration, as opposed to, unsurprisingly, only 2% of Democrats).

Cillizza does more or less grasp the obvious:
My guess is that the populist strain runs more powerfully at the moment in the Democratic party than in the GOP. Democratic base voters ... see economic inequality as the issue of our times and are mad as hell that politicians in both parties aren't doing enough about it.
And yet he regards this one polling result as evidence that Democrats are angrier than Republicans overall:
... it's still a fascinating finding that forces a second look at assumptions that the GOP electorate is being driven by anger while Democrats are resigned to choosing Clinton. This poll suggests both of those assumptions might miss the mark. By a lot.
Um, Chris? Hillary Clinton is still winning among Democrats. And if you throw in Joe Biden, Democratic Establishment candidates are outpolling Bernie Sanders by more than two to one. Whereas outsiders are crushing insiders in the Republican field -- a majority of the GOP electorate is backing candidates who've never held office.

Oh, never mind. You need to believe that the conventional wisdom regarding GOP rage is wrong. If that's what comforts you, I can't help you.


Unknown said...

She's not 'just' winning among Dem-inclined voters: she's winning, NOW, once we accept Biden is NOT going to run and so can no longer be used to clutter up the polling of Dem-leaning voters, at a HIGHER RATE than at any point - not just within the early days of this presidential election cycle, but EVER.

The minor Dem candidates are being discounted almost entirely, so it's come down to Bernie vs. Not Bernie plus HRC, at a MUCH earlier stage than has been either appreciated or even anticipated (tho, I do think Sanders himself foresaw this happening quite a long time ago and planned his campaign and calculated his campaign moves accordingly).

Thus the stories: ... Beau Biden's last wish ... Jill Biden's urging ... Biden meeting with Warren to lobby for her to join his campaign as veep ... all bullshit designed to deflect from what's actually going on in the DNC 'contest' that, but for Vermont and some surrounding states and some heavily non-minority states where the Bern's been felt and they LIKE it, it's been over for some time.

And it's not necessarily to the DNC's to encourage this reality, either.

Ken_L said...

Polling has become ridiculous. Far too many people make a living out of inventing new stupid questions to ask. It's likely that few people EXACTLY agreed with either of these propositions, both of which combine several separate variables (e.g. it's perfectly possible to be anxious and uncertain but not worry about paying the bills), nor are they even close to opposing attitudes (I'm sure many people would have agreed broadly with both). But of course most people feel obliged to help the pollster get a result, so they'll answer by responding to the overall impressions created by the two propositions.

The results, in other words, are pretty meaningless. So are many of the poll results which the media reports breathlessly as if they provide wonderful insights. The academic community would do us all a favor by roundly condemning the current obsession with polling, and boosting the value of alternative research methods such as focus groups.

Vicki Hartley said...

Add to all this the fact that there are no outsiders running in the Democratic primary. Sanders has been in Washington for decades. The GOP top 3 have never held elective office

Anonymous said...

Like Ken_L said, that really is a weird poll question. Are anxious and angry that different? And what's with "like those on Wall Street or in Washington"? What's "Washington" standing in for--politicians? lobbying groups? Trainwreck, even before inviting nincompoop Chris Cillizza to analyze it.