Thursday, September 29, 2022


In The Washington Post a couple of weeks ago, political scientists John Sides, Chris Tausanovitch, and Lynn Vavreck wrote:
Voters and leaders in the two major parties are not only more ideologically distant from each other but also more likely to describe each other in harsh terms. In the fall of 2020, 90 percent of Americans said there were important differences in what the parties stood for — the highest number recorded in almost 70 years of American National Election Study surveys.

But polarization is not the whole story. Something more is happening. Voters are increasingly tied to their political loyalties and values. They have become less likely to change their basic political evaluations or vote for the other party’s candidate.
Which is odd, because in several states this year there's a pretty good chance that voters will pick a senator from one party and a governor from the other party.

According to a new Boston Globe/Suffolk poll, Democrat Maggie Hassan leads the New Hampshire Senate race by 9 points, while Republican Chris Sununu leads the governor's race by 17. In a Fox poll this week, Democrat Raphael Warnock had a 5-point lead in the Georgia Senate race, while Republican Brian Kemp led by 7 in the governor's race. According to a new Marist poll of Arizona, Democrat Mark Kelly leads the Senate race by 5, but Republican Kari Lake leads the governor's race by 3. None of these are outlier polls -- they're roughly similar to the polling averages.

In those averages, Democrat Tim Ryan has a lead (though it's less than a point) in the Ohio Senate race, while Republican Mike DeWine has a double-digit lead in the Ohio governor's race. And while Democrat John Fetterman still seems to have a decent lead in the Pennsylvania Senate race, it's narrowing, while Democrat Josh Shapiro's lead is widening in the governor's race.

I'm not sure why this is happening, but it seems as if you can win some crossover votes if you can succeed in portraying the other candidate as an oddball, while the other candidate fails to do the same to you. In New Hampshire, Democrats have portrayed Republican Senate candidate Don Bolduc as a Trumpist weirdo, and that seems to be working. Pennsylvania Democrats have done the same thing to Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. The Peter Thiel Republicans running for Senate in Arizona and Ohio, Blake Masters and J.D. Vance, seem to have been cast simply as weirdos. In the Pennsylvania Senate race, John Fetterman and the Republican, Mehmet Oz, have been portraying each other as weirdos; Fetterman has been winning the battle, but it's tightening. In the Georgia Senate race, Democrats have persuaded at least some voters that Republican Herschel Walker is unqualified and unstable (which he is).

So while ideology largely rules, you can still win a few crossover votes by figuring out how to make middle-of-the-road voters think your opponent is too weird to elect. Democrats should do more of this -- in the Arizona governor's race? in the Florida governor's race? -- because Republicans do it all the time.

No comments: