Republicans for Dean
These sorts of articles are scary and make false assumptions, but nonetheless, they are important to read so that one can be aware of the agendas going on, the view of the corporate media, etc. Note that in here he makes this point that Americans are better educated than in the past, but he makes no mention of the increased hijacking of the media (i.e., Fox footsoldiers for the Bush adminstration), or the fact that lies are being put out on the public (i.e., Cheney on Sunday) with virtually no response from congress or the media. Regardless of how 'educated' Americans are now, so is the corporate media, whose goal is to control what the voters will do depending on how they cover it. What they want now is this - "supporting a candidate so ideologically amorphous that he can appeal to these swingers." And that's how we get things like NAFTA and the silent deaths of millions of brown people all over the world. Dean will be no different. The right wing's spin that Dean is so progressive is part of an agenda. It's a lose-lose situation - they spin him as left so independents don't want him, but in the meantime, progressives are being tricked. Dean is being outed with every passing day for his false positions and shifting loyalties. Pretty soon he won't have any progressives, much less the independents.
Republicans for Dean
By DAVID BROOKS
The results of the highly prestigious Poll of the Pollsters are in! I called eight of the best G.O.P. pollsters and strategists and asked them, on a not-for-attribution basis, if they thought Howard Dean would be easier to beat than the other major Democratic presidential candidates. Here, and I'm paraphrasing, are the results:
"Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
You would have thought I had asked them if Danny DeVito would be easier to beat in a one-on-one basketball game than Shaquille O'Neal. They all thought Dean would be easier to beat, notwithstanding his impressive rise. Some feared John Kerry, others John Edwards, because his personality wears well over time, and others even Bob Graham, because he can carry Florida, more than Dean. As their colleague Bill McInturff put it atop a memo on the Dean surge: "Happy Days Are Here Again (for Republicans)."
I think the pollsters are probably right, but I'd feel a lot more confident if I could find somebody who really understood the forces that are reshaping the American electorate.
Over the past few decades, the electorate has become much better educated. In 1960, only 22 percent of voters had been to college; now more than 52 percent have. As voters become more educated, they are more likely to be ideological and support the party that embraces their ideological label. As a result, the parties have polarized. There used to be many conservatives in the Democratic Party and many liberals in the Republican Party, groups that kept their parties from drifting too far off-center.
Now, there is a Democratic liberal mountain and a Republican conservative mountain. Democrats and Republicans don't just disagree on policies — they don't see the same reality, and they rarely cross over and support individual candidates from the other side. As Gary Jacobson, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego, has shown, split-ticket voting has declined steadily.
The question is whether this evolution changes the way we should think about elections. The strategists in the Intensity School say yes. They argue that it no longer makes sense to worry overmuch about the swing voters who supposedly exist in the political center because the electorate's polarization has hollowed out the center. The number of actual swing voters — people who actually switch back and forth between parties — is down to about 7 percent of the electorate. Moreover, the people in this 7 percent group have nothing in common with one another. It doesn't make sense to try to win their support because there is no coherent set of messages that will do it.
Instead, it's better to play to the people on your own mountain and get them so excited they show up at the polls. According to this line of reasoning, Dean, Mr. Intensity, is an ideal Democratic candidate.
The members of the Inclusiveness School disagree. They argue that there still are many truly independent voters, with estimates ranging from 10 to 33 percent of the electorate. Moreover, the Inclusiveness folks continue, true independents do have a coherent approach to politics. Anti-ideological, the true independents do not even listen to candidates who are partisan, strident and negative. They are what the pollster David Winston calls "solutionists"; they respond to upbeat candidates who can deliver concrete benefits: the Family and Medical Leave Act, more cops in their neighborhoods, tax rebate checks.
By this line of thinking, Dean is a terrible candidate. His partisan style drives off the persuadable folks who rarely bother to vote in primaries but who do show up once every four years for general elections.
The weight of the data, it seems to me, supports the Inclusiveness side. And the chief result of polarization is that the Democrats have become detached from antipolitical independent voters. George Bush makes many liberal Democrats froth at the mouth, but he does not have this effect on most independents. Democrats are behaving suicidally by not embracing what you might, even after yesterday's court decision, call the Schwarzenegger Option: supporting a candidate so ideologically amorphous that he can appeal to these swingers.
Which is why so many Republicans are quietly gleeful over Dean's continued momentum. It is only the dark cloud of Wesley Clark, looming on the horizon, that keeps their happiness from being complete.
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