Monday, October 19, 2009


I'm looking at the results of the new Washington Post/ABC poll in light of some of the results of that Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) focus-group report on the right-wing base (PDF), and I'm starting to suspect that Barack Obama and health-care reform are benefiting from the wingnuts' attacks.

According to the WaPo/ABC poll data, the public option is now favored 57%-40%; in the dark days of August, the numbers were 52%-46%. How'd that happen?

I'm wondering if the crazies have overplayed their hand. When GQR looked into the thinking of the right-wing base, it also did a control focus group of "older, white, non-college independents and weak partisans, [who] represent some of the most conservative swing voters in the electorate." This is not the crazy base, even though "Republicans enjoy a 17-point partisan identification advantage with this group." This is a group of non-crazy conservatives. These people

harbor doubts about Obama's health care reform but are desperate to see some version of health care reform pass this year....

Moreover, they seems contemptuous of the crazy base; these right-leaning independents

very much want to see [Obama] succeed because they believe the country desperately needs the change he promised in his campaign

Responding to the wingnuts' "socialism" talk, the right-wing independents

largely dismiss these attacks as the kind of overblown partisan rhetoric that obscures the facts and only serves to cheapen the political discourse.

If crazies on the far right are make some on the not-far right feel inclined to stick up for Obama, what's happening, say, in the dead center? Is all this overheated talk helping Obama?

Certainly, the other big headline number in the WaPo/ABC poll seems to suggest that the crazies are hurting the GOP:

Only 20 percent of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans, the fewest in 26 years. Just 19 percent, similarly, trust the Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country's future....

That may not be the death knell for the GOP that it seems to be -- a lot of the people who've soured on the GOP are the crazy base people themselves, as GQR makes clear:

Conservative Republicans in our groups could not have been more negative in discussing their own party. They see the Republican Party as ineffective and rudderless, controlled by a class of political professionals who have lost touch with not only the people but the conservative values that should guide them.

And yet

They have no intention of leaving the party per se -- they still believe
it is the best and only means of opposing Obama and the Democratic Congress....

Still the GOP is in serious trouble now -- the left and now, possibly, much of the center thinks it's too crazily right-wing, while crazy right-wingers think it's not extreme enough. I don't know what emerges from that -- more primary challenges to electable Republicans in 2010? A Palin-Bachmann ticket in 2012?

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