Monday, April 23, 2012


Dave Weigel and Kevin Drum triumphantly offer this chart from a new Pew poll as evidence that Republicans should just lay off the social issues, for their own good:

Weigel writes:

When Mitch Daniels was thinking over a run for president, he told Andrew Ferguson and other conservative writers that the man who won that office "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues." ...

The new Pew poll demonstrates, one more time, why Daniels was right.

Hell, it's not even like Daniels had stumbled onto a transcendent insight. Republicans won in 2010 because voters focused on economics....

Did Republicans really win in 2010 because voters focused on economics? Yeah, maybe -- but they blew Democrats out at the polls because base voters turned out in an off-year election, motivated to a fever pitch not just by economic issues but by ACORN and the New Black Panthers and "czars" and the "Ground Zero mosque" and alleged atrocities committed by illegal immigrants and all manner of peripheral issues -- not to mention the fact that the economic message that drove them to the polls ("Obama is a socialist attempting to destroy capitalism in America") was a grotesque distortion of reality.

All of which tells you that it doesn't matter what voters think they care about -- by Election Day, a lot of them will care about whatever Fox News and talk radio want them to care about, regardless of what they tell nice, civilized pollsters working for Pew.

Would Pew have found in the spring of 2004 that one of the top issues in America was politicians possibly lying about their war records? The Swift Boaters didn't let that stop them. Would voters in the spring of 1988 have said that their top issues included the Pledge of Allegiance, flag burning, and furlough programs for felons? That didn't stop the folks in and around the Poppy Bush campaign.

The right knows how to make elections about subjects other than what they're supposed to be about -- not every time, and certainly not infallibly, but a hell of a lot more often than ought to be the case. If abortion and gay rights aren't going to work anymore, wingers have a lot more stuff they can try.

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