Monday, November 22, 2010

Political Scientist: Voters Stupid

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb = the best explanation yet of the election results, from U-Wisc political science professor Charles Franklin:
In my questions to Franklin, I noted that the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who'll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich.

Franklin, perhaps a bit too candidly, conceded the point. "I'm not endorsing the American voter," he answered. "They're pretty damn stupid."
Dumber = Frank Rich sees a path to victory for a President Palin:
Republican leaders who want to stop her, and they are legion, are utterly baffled about how to do so. Democrats, who gloat that she’s the Republicans’ problem, may be humoring themselves. When Palin told Barbara Walters last week that she believed she could beat Barack Obama in 2012, it wasn’t an idle boast. Should Michael Bloomberg decide to spend billions on a quixotic run as a third-party spoiler, all bets on Obama are off.
I'm not so convinced; even if Bloomberg would run (which I doubt) I don't see him as the type of candidate who can tap into Perot-type voters. Check the 1992 map at US Election Atlas. Remember this site has the colors flipped so red is Dems and blue is GOP. The green is where Perot won and the light blue and pink is where the major parties won with low percentages, meaning Perot did well.

(The exception is Jefferson County, Iowa, where the then-active Natural Law Party swept the Maharishi vote.)

Perot did best in two kinds of places: very empty rural counties and high-growth exurbs where voters had no roots in the local political culture. Assuming she were nominated - which is what I'm betting at the moment - Palin is going to hold those kind of folks anyway. What, are those folks going to abandon the candidate who embodies all their primitive resentments for the mayor of New York City? NEW YORK CITY?!?

No, the only independents Bloomberg could win are the David Broder beltway types who still dream of the Good Ole Days of "bipartisanship." They hold up the Pure Independent as the ideal voter. You know, the ones who Vote For The Person Not The Party© and Study The Candidates® and who no longer actually exist outside of the rapidly vanishing landscape of print newsrooms.

While I'm betting: I'm betting Branstad can't deliver for Romney and Vander Plaats scuttles Mittens yet again. Remember, the GOP establishment could barely deliver half the primary vote for Branstad, and that was against the flawed BVP as the candidate. The only way Romney wins Iowa is if he joins Mike Huckabee's church, because the Christianist base of the Iowa GOP won't vote for a "cult member."

So 101 weeks out I'm making my prediction: a Sarah Palin nomination followed by a 45 2/3 state Obama landslide. He loses Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina in Dixie, and Utah (NOT Alaska!) and Nebraska's 3rd District in the west (as you may recall from Obama's Omaha win in 2008, the Big Red state allocates electors by district).

When I think "rural district" I see the vast grill your own steak nothingness of Nebraska 3 (the western three fourths of the state and Coach Tom Osborne's old seat--how the hell did he actually lose a statewide Republican primary when he ran for governor in 2006?) But the folks over at Daily Yonder apparently think of Ricky Stanzi's Ped Mall commies as "rural." Oh, the dangers of mixing sports heroes and politics. This from a guy who caucused for Bill Bradley.

The folks down Yonder sum up the House results thus:
Republicans won the U.S. House Tuesday largely by winning districts with high proportions of rural voters.

Two-thirds of the 60 House seats switching from Democrat to Republican in this election were in the congressional districts with the most rural voters.

Before the election almost half (61) of the 125 most rural districts were held by Democrats. By the end of the day Tuesday, the number of rural Democrats had been cut to just 22. Just 18 percent of the most rural House districts are now represented by Democrats.
That seems to include IA-01, dominated by Waterloo, Dubuque and the Quad Cities, and IA-02, where over half the population is in Linn and Johnson counties. The only "urban" district is the 3rd, ironically the one represented by a rural Democrat.

I could apply the same critique to the district I grew up in, Ron Kind's WI-03; that's La Crosse, Eau Claire and some Twin Cities suburbs. Daily Yonder also includes black majority seats in Mississippi and Georgia. But the more I quibble with the list specifics, the more I make their larger underlying point. Personally I'm more inclined to the elegant simplicity of Professor Franklin's theory.

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