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June 25, 2007

Rural Youth Trending Blue

Mike Connery has some good news for Dems in his MyDD report on "Capturing the Rural Vote." Connery Highlights some data the Youth Voter Strategies newsletter culled from crosstabs in a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey, conducted 5/31-6/5. Connery reports that the 18-29 age group of rural youth who voted for Bush over Kerry by a 20 point margin in 2004 now self-identifies 46 percent Republican 43 percent Democratic and and 11 percent independent.

Even better:

When asked to pick between generic Republican and Democratic presidential candidates for 2008, 48% chose the Democrat and 40% the Republican.

Of course, there is a cautionary flag:

Conversely, when asked to choose between unnamed Republican and Democratic presidential candidates as described by two issues/values statements, 53% chose the Republican and 46% the Democrat.

Natch, the GOP will play the 'values' card big time in rural communities in battleground states. Fortunately, the same survey also shows that Iraq is the paramount issue with young rural voters, likely to be an even greater concern this time next year. For a more in-depth look at youth political attitudes, Connery also flags an important New Politics Institute study "The Progressive Politics of the Millenial Generation" by Peter Leyden, Ruy Teixeira and Eric Greenberg.

June 22, 2007

Early Horse-Race Polls: How Relevant?

Is all the time, expense and energy that goes into early political horse race polls and poll analysis justified? Maybe not, if Robin Toner's article in today's New York Times is right. Toner pulls together interesting examples and observations from political insiders to make her case. Mark Blumenthal's Pollster.com article "The Merits of the Horse Race" agrees with Toner that early polls have little value in predicting election outcomes. But he sees value in monitoring polls to assess campaign progress and in polls in early primary states. Blumenthal has a round-up review of recent articles on the relevance of early horse-race polls here.

June 21, 2007

TBA Lights Path for Progressive Dems

The progressive blogosphere and even the MSM has plenty of coverage of the Take Back America Conference, sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future. Rightly so, because it is not only a unique gathering of America's top progressive activists and leaders, but also a wellspring from which Dems can draw to create an inspiring vision that can win the white house and a stronger congressional majority next year.

By all means read the MSM articles and blogosphere posts about the conference. But the primary source for keeping up with TBA doings is CAF's website. There you will find gateway links to video and articles about speeches by presidential candidates Kucinich, Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Gravel and Richardson, as well as a "kitchen table" discussion with fighting Senate newcomers Brown, Klobuchar and Sanders. The web pages also feature reports on a presidential straw poll of conference participants and insightful interviews with top bloggers and activists.

June 20, 2007

Dems Close Ranks Behind EFCA

The battle for EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act, will come to a head this week, perhaps today when the U.S. Senate takes up the bill. EFCA authorizes employees to unionize as soon as a majority signs cards saying they want a union. Under existing law, employers can require a secret-ballot election, even after a majority sign the cards.

Although it has passed the House of Reps, EFCA faces an all-out GOP effort to kill the legislation, and perhaps even prevent an up or down vote in the Senate. Win or lose, EFCA has become a defining issue for Democrats of all factions, and they have rallied behind the legislation in a remarkable display of unity, winning the support of all Democratic Presidential candidates, as well as all House members and 14 Democratic governors.

To get up to speed on EFCA, there is no place better to go than the AFL-CIO's EFCA web pages, featuring lots of links covering every aspect of the legislation and the effort to secure its enactment.

June 19, 2007

DCorps First 'Battleground' Survey Sees Huge Dem Opportunity

DCorps has just released "On the Offensive: First Survey of the 2008 Battleground Districts," and the findings envision an "immense opportunity" for Democratic congressional candidates to win more seats in 2008. The survey, which included a large interview sample of 1,600 respondents, covered 70 "in-play" congressional districts "half Democratic and half Republican," and found:

Democratic congressional candidates in this named ballot hold an average 9-point lead in these districts that actually supported the Republican candidate by 1 point in 2006 and President Bush by 8 points in 2004. This means the center of the battlefield has shifted as much since 2006 as it did in the lead up to it.

Even more striking, Dem incumbents are ahead by 20 points, 56-36 percent, and the strength extends to districts held by freshmen elected in '06, and to rural-small town and exurban areas, as well as to more traditional Democratic constituencies.

The survey also found that "Iraq is central to the changing battlefield," and the public wants congressional Dems to provide leadership "that will force the President to change policies and reduce the number of troops in Iraq." The survey includes other interesting findings about voters beliefs and priorities regarding health insurance for children, energy independence, student loans, stem cell research and immigration.

June 18, 2007

Dem-Controlled State Legs Lead in Health Care

Business Week's Catherine Arnst reports on a new Commonwealth Fund survey comparing and rating health care services in the 50 states. Her overall conclusions are less than encouraging as evidenced by her article's subtitle "A state-by-state study shows who has the best and worst grades on 32 health indicators, and even the best are none too good."

However, a look at the state legislatures of the top ten rated states should offer a measure of encouragement for Democrats hoping to benefit by the public clamor for better health care. In the ten highest-ranking states, HA; IA; NH; VT; ME; RI; CT; MA; WI; and SD, Democrats have majority control of 17 of 20 state legislatures. Of the top 8 ranking states, Republicans have majority control in none of the 16 state houses. (Data on party control of state legs here)

Bragging rights are limited by the fact that the Dems also have majorities of a healthy share of the state houses of the bottom ten ranking states. But the fact that Dems have majorities in 85 percent of the state houses of top-performing states is nonetheless impressive -- and should be of interest to voters who care about health care reform.

June 15, 2007

How the GOP Leverages the Net

Political bloggers of all stripes, and Dem oppo researchers in particular, have an interesting post to read over at The Politico. The post, "Excerpts from the NRSC Campaign Internet Guide" includes a wealth of tips for campaigns interested in leveraging the internet, both strategic and technical. For example:

Shadow TV/TVEyes/Critical Mention. These services can be purchased by campaigns to monitor television programs 24 hours a day. If you subscribe to this service your campaign can request a specific clip as well as a transcript via email. Some of these clips can be used in web ads or nposted directly to your site through YouTube (See Copyrightsection below for more deatil) However these clips must be purchased and can be expensive.

and

Rapid Response to Attacks: If candidates are more or less continuously monitored via blog search engines, with the use of websites, such as technorati.com, blogs can often be used as "am early warning system to help discern if an opponent's attacks are gaining traction...."

or

To achieve successful blog outreach, we recommend the following: Develop a national and local blog outreach plan. The primary focus of the campaign's national efforts should be the top five conservative political blogs: Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Captain's Quarters, Powerline and Hugh Hewitt.

There's quite a bit more of interest to Dem bloggers and campaigns. This one may not be up too long. Might be a good idea to print it out.

June 14, 2007

Political Strategy Links Illuminate, Amuse

Are conservatives or progressives a majority in America? You won't find a stronger case for the progressive majority, on the internet at least , than Media Matters' footnote and link rich "The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth."

Ezra Klein, usually skeptical about advice books for Dems, has a plug for Drew Westen's forthcoming book, The Political Brain, an excerpt of which is posted at The American Prospect. Klein likes the way Westen's book focuses on "how voters experience politics, and how Democrats all too often speak on another plane entirely."

The "amuse" part of this article's headline comes from Michael Falcone's "A Gamer's Guide to Redstricting" at The New York Times. Falcone links to a way cool new interactive game which "simulates many of the challenges involved in the redistricting process, from drawing district maps to winning the support of state and party leadership." You can play "The Redistricting Game" right here.

June 13, 2007

Poll Report on Congressional Approval Distorts Reality

Charles at Political Arithmetik shows how poll reporting can distort political reality in his post on the latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll on approval/disapproval of congress. He explains that the LA Times headline "Approval of Congress Lowest in a Decade" overstates the case by tracking only one pollster, a fairly common practice in MSM poll reporting. To get a full picture, he points out, all polls should be tracked.

In this case the headline gives the false impression that congressional Democrats, as the majority, are in trouble. And some writers have even anchored their reporting on this and other misconceptions based on "trends" reflected by just one pollster. Charles explains:

My problem with this story is a common one. What it says is exactly true, but it ignores all polling not conducted by the LATimes and Bloomberg. This IS the lowest LA Times Poll reading of Congressional approval in a decade.

But what is not reported is that since January 2006, 42 of 146 national polls have found approval below 27%. That is 29% of the recent polls, so a congressional approval rating of 27% is by no means unique in the last decade. (If we include 27% approval then 56 of the last 146 have been this low or lower-- 38% of polls in the last year and a half.)

Charles does his own analysis of a much broader selection of polls and finds that the current congress is about 4 points higher in net approval than the low points of the 2006 (GOP majority) congress. This is not to say that congressional Dems don't have to worry about the public's view of their performance -- there has been a decline in approval since January, as the author notes. But Dems should keep in mind that trend reporting that ignores all but one pollster provides a muddled reflection of political reality.

June 12, 2007

Rural Voters Give Dems Edge

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner's e-alert brings this good news about Dem inroads into one of the GOP's more supportive constituencies:

Rural voters deliver a narrow plurality to a generic Democratic candidate for President: 46 - 43 percent. In contrast, President Bush won the rural vote in 2004 by 19 points. At the Congressional level, voters prefer Democrats in named trial heats 46 - 44 percent.

For more details, see this just-released bipartisan poll of LVs.

June 11, 2007

Dems Gaining in Senate Races, Party Preference

Thanks to MissLaura at Kos for flagging Senate 2008 Guru's link-rich roundup of upcoming Senate races. The Guru takes issue with the CQPolitics description of a handful of races as "safe" for the GOP and provides interesting snapshots of current Senate races. Guru also cites an AP/IPSOS poll conducted 6/4-6, showing Americans "lean" toward Dems by a margin of 54-36 percent.

June 7, 2007

Are Theocons Pushing Voters to Dems?

Ross Douthat's article, "Crisis of Faith" in The Atlantic Monthly discusses the phenomenon of rising secularism in the U.S., while Europe is becoming increasingly enmeshed in religious controversy. In one graph Douthat notes:

Liberals have spent much of the past six years straining to cut into the GOP’s advantage among religious voters. But when the Democrats finally shattered the Republican majority in the 2006 midterms, it was their consolidation of the secular vote that helped put them over the top. Despite all their efforts to close the God gap, the Democrats managed barely any gains among frequent churchgoers last November—but their share of the vote among Americans who never attend church at all leaped to 67 percent, from 55 percent in 2002.

Douthat reports on a general secularization trend in the U.S., that fewer Americans are attending church every week. He notes a recent Pew Research Center survey indicating that 20 percent of young people say they have no religious affiliation -- nearly double the percentage of the 1980's (Summary Here). It makes sense that many of them would be turned off by the growing influence of theocons in the GOP.

June 6, 2007

New Study of American Muslims Merits Dem Review

The Pew Research Center has released what is likely the most thorough study ever of an often-overlooked constituency, "Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream" (108-page pdf here). While Muslims are a relatively small religious minority in the U.S. (.06 of U.S. adults), they are disproportionately concentrated in a few key states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio and are therefore positioned as a potentially influential constituency.

The survey of 60,000 interviewees, conducted from January though March, found that 63 percent of U.S. Muslims "lean Democratic," with 11 percent leaning Republican and 26 percent leaning independent. Additionally, 63 percent of U.S. Muslim citizens said they were registered to vote, compared with 76 percent of the general public.

The survey found that 73 percent believe government "should do more to help the needy," compared with 63 percent of the general public. But the survey confirmed that American Muslims as a whole are far more conservative on some social issues, such as their view of homosexuality.

The study includes a large quantity of interesting demographic and attitudinal detail about U.S. Muslims, and is highly recommended for Dems who want to better understand this constituency.

June 5, 2007

Vets Advise Dems

Washington Monthly has a mini-forum that should be of considerable interest to Dem campaigns, "How a Democrat Can Get My Vote: Advice from seven recent war veterans." The vets are nearly all writers, and their insights and tips can help Dems focus on winning the support of America's veterans.

'Minority' Surge in South Promises Change

Chris Kromm gives both political strategists and policy wonks something to chew on in his Facing South post "Changing South: Half of K-12 students are 'minority.'" Kromm reports on the explosive growth of African Americans and Hispanics in the south, noting that 47 percent of the south's K-12 public school students are now people of color. The implications for immigration, education and tax policy should be huge in upcomming election cycles.

June 3, 2007

So Who Won the Debate?

Edwards is well ahead in both the Daily Kos and MyDD quickie polls as of midnight, which means at most that liberal blog-readers liked his answers and style. But there won't be any 'scientific' polls asking a representative sample who won, and good debate performance is only one part of a successful campaign anyway. It's pretty clear, however, that fairness did not win, according to a statistical analysis conducted by the Dodd campaign. Here's the time and question tally for the first half of the debate, as reported by Salon: CLINTON 9:25, 9 questions OBAMA 8:19, 9 questions RICHARDSON 7:23, 6 questions EDWARDS 7:06, 8 questions BIDEN 4:45, 5 questions DODD 4:00, 4 questions GRAVEL 2:59, 5 questions KUCINICH 2:28, 3 questions Somehow, the remaining debates have to do a better job of letting all candidates get fair coverage. UPDATE: The Dodd campaign's tally, presumably for the entire debate is now up. The tally provided for time only: Obama 16:00; Clinton 14:26; Edwards 11:42; Richardson 10:48; Kucinich 9:02; Dodd 8:28; Biden 7:48; Gravel 5:37. Perfect equality of "face time" is impossible to achieve in any debate format. But a ten plus minute gap between the top time-user and the last-ranking participant is too much.

GA Dem to Take on Chambliss

Georgia Democrats have their first announced candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Saxby Chambliss, in what promises to be an interesting race. He is Dale Cardwell, a former newsman for WSB-TV, the Atlanta Cox Television affiliate, who has won six Emmys for tough investigative reporting. Cardwell has the kind of bio that should make the DSCC very happy. An excerpt from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on Cardwell's entry:

...Cardwell’s family background is hardcore Democrat. He was born in Kentucky and raised in Alabama, the son of a union man, a coal miner.

His wife Angie, of 21 years, is a hospice nurse. He has two children, 19-year-old Adam and 16-year-old Jessica.

Here’s a tidbit from his official bio: His mother “recalls Dale was born during a particularly brutal winter, and [that she] went as far as wrapping her newborn in blankets and placing him on the opened door of the kitchen oven, in order to ward off the single digit temperatures and biting wind that pounded the mobile home in which they lived.

...Dale learned first hand about harsh economic reality while watching his Dad go on strike and fight for better health care and wages as a member of the United Mine Workers of America, and later when his Dad’s mine closed down in 1976. Pending unemployment sent the family once again to the coal fields of Western Kentucky. Dale attended Ohio County High School in Hartford Kentucky, earned co-captain honors on his football team, and graduated with the distinction of student council class president in 1981.

...Says the new candidate: “If you boil both parties down to the salt, the Republican motto is survival of the fittest. The Democratic motto is do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”

Cardwell says his Southern Baptist upbringing would never let him embrace social Darwinism.

It doesn’t sound like Cardwell will be one of those white Democrats who cringe at any mention of religion. He’s a deacon and substitute Sunday school teacher at Dunwoody Baptist.

His bio also lists his hobbies: restoring classic cars, sports, and singing with his brother in their long-time gospel group. So music at fund-raisers will be no problem.

But it won't be easy. Cardwell will likely face Democratic Primary opposition from Vernon Jones, a conservative African American suburban county CEO, who voted for Bush in 2004. Georgia is arguably the second-reddest state, after Utah. But Chambliss has a lackluster record, to put it kindly, and has accomplished little more than serving as an errand boy for various fat cats. This race should be a marquee test of Dems' southern prospects.

June 1, 2007

Dems Set to Gain From Health Care Mandate

If there was any doubt that the American people want health insurance guaranteed for all Americans, it should be extinguished by the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll. Asked whether "the government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes," 64 percent of respondents agreed in the poll. Even more Americans (73 percent) agreed when the guaranteed coverage was limited to children under age 18, according to the poll, which was conducted 5/4-6.

For a progressive critique of America's current health care system, read "The Health Care Crisis and What to Do About It" by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells in the New York Review of Books. Krugman and Wells discuss the tricky politics of health care reform and make strong case that Democrats should fight for a single-payer system.

These links take you to the Health Care Reform web pages of eight announced candidates:

Joe Biden
Hillary Clinton
Chris Dodd
John Edwards
Mike Gravel
Dennis Kucinich
Barack Obama
Bill Richardson

All of the Dems' health care packages provide credible alternatives to the GOP field's defense of the status quo. The plans will be refined in the months ahead and the Democratic nominee should benefit substantially from the growing public clamor for health care reform.