Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Polls Are Crazy


The following article appeared in Powerline on July 26th

By John Hinderaker

You want to know where the American voter is headed, and what is likely to happen in November? Good luck. Some omens are good. Thus, the Washington Times cites the NBC/Wall St. Journal poll for the proposition that Americans increasingly see Democrats as extreme:

In a new poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, just 33 percent of those surveyed think the Democratic Party is “in the mainstream.” More than half (56 percent) consider them out of step.

Just two years ago in 2016, those numbers were far different: 48 percent mainstream, 42 percent out. That means the “mainstream” number has plunged 12.5 percent, a huge drop in just two years.

Awesome! That means voters are likely to swing to the GOP in the midterms, right? Not so fast. Rasmussen, hardly a left-wing bastion, finds Democrats pulling ahead on the generic Congressional ballot, now leading by seven points. And those results are pretty typical. Roll Call headlines: “Surveys Say: Polling Still Points to Rough November for Republicans.” The big problem is with independents:

In the congressional generic ballot, Fox News found independents now preferring Democrats by 13 points, 32 percent to 19 percent, while the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed them backing a Democratic Congress by more than 20 points.

Both numbers stand in sharp contrast to the 2016 national House exit poll, which found independent voters went Republican by 6 points, 51 percent to 45 percent.

I’m not necessarily convinced, but most experts think the Democrats will take the House. Does this mean Americans are ready to vote for a party that most think is out of the mainstream? Apparently so. Weird.

Meanwhile, how out of the mainstream are the Democrats, really? Pretty far out. Back to Rasmussen, on what voters think about socialism:

51% of Democrats have a favorable impression of socialism, with 13% who share a Very Favorable one.

So it’s no accident that Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren are the Democrats du jour. Still, Democrats betray an odd ambivalence toward the economic system that most of them yearn for:

28% of all Likely U.S. Voters think the national Democratic party should officially declare itself a socialist party. Fifty-three percent (53%) disagree, while 18% are undecided.

But Republicans (41%) are much more enthusiastic than Democrats (19%) and voters not affiliated with either major political party (25%) about Democrats coming out nationally as a socialist party.

So a great many Democrats want socialism but prefer not to admit it. That confirms what we conservatives have suspected for a long time.

Still, one wonders: how can any sentient being favor an ideology that turns a prosperous country into Cuba, Albania, the U.S.S.R., North Korea or Venezuela? The only explanation is invincible ignorance. Rasmussen sheds light on the nature of that ignorance:

Democrats are less likely to know what socialism is compared to other voters but have a much more favorable opinion of it.

Rasmussen applied a simple criterion for socialism:

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Democrats…incorrectly believe the individual has more power than the government in a socialist system, a view held by just 12% of Republicans and seventeen percent (17%) of unaffiliated voters. Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans correctly say the government has more power in a socialist system, and 54% of Democrats and 67% of unaffiliateds agree.

Ignorance about socialism is especially prevalent among the young:

Those under 40 have a much more favorable opinion of socialism than their elders do and are the strongest supporters of Democrats becoming a national socialist party. But younger voters are also the most likely to believe the individual has more power under a socialist system.

Which raises the question: how could anyone think that socialism is a system that empowers the individual, as many young people do? The answer, I suspect, is not encouraging. When young people (or, most likely, people of any age) say that socialism gives the individual power, I think they mean the power to hang out, smoke dope, and not worry about working, while the state provides. That isn’t my idea of individual autonomy, but it is a lifestyle to which a growing number of Americans apparently aspire.

So how can we make sense of all of this? We can’t. Voters increasingly see the Democrats as extreme and out of the mainstream–no surprise there, since they are. Many Democrats want the U.S. to follow in Venezuela’s footsteps, but don’t want to admit it. Meanwhile most voters, while sensing this, also want the Democrats to control Congress.

My guess is that the polls are missing major currents that will become clear, as in 2016, only after the votes are counted. What those currents will turn out to be, no one really knows. I will say this, however: a large majority of voters disapprove of Democrats trying to murder Republican Congressmen while they are playing baseball, beating up Republicans in the street, hounding Republicans when they go out to dinner with their families, busing in “protesters” to make noise outside Republicans’ houses, and threatening violence against Republicans’ children. If the Democrats do poorly in November, I expect it will be less due to their theoretical embrace of socialism than to their inability to behave normally as citizens of a republic.

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