Friday, June 02, 2006

Show Me the Numbers

I hope there will be some new polling numbers out soon for the Dem primary in CT. The last polls were a month ago, before the party convention, and were very poor for Lamont. I'm curious as to how much of a bounce he can retain after the convention, and whether he can turn a bounce into the necessary gain.

The Rasmussen poll in late April is interesting because of the number who would vote for Lamont as a Dem - 32% - which is about the number he got in the convention. Hopefully some name recognition will bring his numbers up, but that is a sobering figure - more Dems will bolt the party to vote for Lieberman as an independent than will vote for Lamont. The Quinnipac poll of the same time period shows Lamont with lower numbers overall, but (because it is longitudinal) demonstrates a small gain in support, equally split between undecideds choosing him and what looks like defectors from Lieberman. To be viable, the next set of polls (hopefully to be released soon, I've been Googling every day) needs to show at least a double-digit gain on Lieberman. Using the Quinnipac numbers, Lamont needs all of the undecideds (14%) plus another 18% to reach 51% of all Dem voters to win the nomination. This means he has to change the opinions of 28% of Lieberman's supporters. Rumors of silent majorities muttered in back hallways at a high-stakes convention don't interest me. People being polled at random have no reason to lie about their opinions.

I hope I'm wrong and Lamont pulls off a victory, but this is shaping up to be a really nasty defeat for the netroots. I wish half the energy aimed at unseating a Democrat had been devoted to claiming a new Democratic seat. Francine Busby out here in San Diego is in a very, very tight race for a special election, which could mean another Democrat right now in the house. The local paper, thoroughly in the pocket of the Rethug party machine, is promoting a long-time operator, lobbyist and general corrupt jerk. The so-called "alternative" press in the area has one opinion piece where the writer flatly says he doesn't want her to win because he's not impressed by her. Why not? Because she's "not exciting". I am so sick and tired of hearing that lame excuse being offered up by the "left" as to why they shouldn't vote for someone. Yeah, sure, the Republican is so corrupt he's probably going to be indicted within days of taking office, but Busby is so, well, frumpy lookin' and doesn't deliver speeches like a movie star and talks about honesty in government and misuse of public funds and that's booooriing.

There is no effective way to discipline party backstabbers like Lieberman unless you can capture that person's Congressional house. Unless the Dems control the Senate, Lieberman has little incentive to behave, yet the party cannot afford to alienate him more. He's got an incumbent's advantage, and is obviously popular (who the hell knows why) with the rank-and-file Dems in CT. Probably because they don't want to lose a senior senator. It really can be that simple - we'll keep our SOB, thank you very much. Lamont may set the Kossacks on fire, but it's unclear he's having the same effect in CT. More people would cast a vote for him as a way to oppose Lieberman than to promote him, and that's a bad equation. It's also why we need to see new poll numbers, as nothing succeeds like success.

The problem for the Kossack Krew is that they need a win, they need a big one, and they need it soon. They need to show that they can actually turn out the vote to win the races. If you can stand as credible king-makers, you get respect - that's how politics is played. If you are regarded only as spoilers, voters who punish candidates rather than reward them, then the establishment will (rightly) seek to minimize the damage you can do. Why shouldn't they? Do you think politics is done for a noble cause? No, it's done for rewards and payback and always has been. That's not cynical, that's an honest and reasonable assessment of how a complex governance system works. Interest checks interest, and compromise occurs to achieve maximum realative benefit, distorted by monopolies of power. The behavior of party members may be infuriating, but it is explicable.

That's one of the points I was making in the Avatar Politics post. Conducting politics of resentment isn't going to impress those who are guarding the gates. Going so savagely after Lieberman may backfire. It is unlikely that the votes to defeat him are there (it doesn't matter how much you hate him if you aren't in CT) and every incumbent is figuring out how to deflect bad press from national sites. Trust me, the lessons learned aren't just on the netroots side. The party has no incentive to self-immolate on a point of principle. It's looking at the fall of W's star, and is counting every seat. They'll take any moron in the chair (even Holy Joe) as long as they can reach the magical 50% + 1.

Then, they have the power to crack heads and demand discipline. Will they do it? History is not encouraging, but that's what we have to work with. Parties are self-interested beasts, and they have to believe it is in their interest before they will change. They will listen to those who deliver.

So, what to do if, as is likely, Holy Joe takes the primary? Drop that cause like a hot potato and concentrate energy on those seats where it can shift from Rethug to Dem. Find the Busbys and get out the vote. Which, given RFK Jr.'s sobering account in Rolling Stone, is going to be a hellaciously difficult thing to do, as we're having to overcome apathy and fraud.

So, show me the numbers. Show me the polls that indicate a change in eligible voters. Show me the precinct by precinct improvements to voter access and protection, especially in battleground states. Show me the number of people who are ready to turn out and fill in the ballots.

Show me a victory, and you'll show everyone else, too.


No comments: