Politics Is Stupid, Cont'd

Obama and the Dems are polling badly, and people wonder why. It's the economy, stupid. Consider this:

In a follow-up interview, one poll respondent, Judy Berg, an independent from Morton Grove, Ill., said she voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 because she was “looking for a change,” adding, “the change that ensued was not the change I was looking for but something totally out of left field.” This year, Ms. Berg, a registered nurse, expressed a preference for Republicans because “I’m pro-life and I’m also looking at the immigration issues and the tax issues.” She added, “I like the Republican agenda on these issues better than the Democratic agenda.”

(Emphasis added.) If Ms. Berg voted for Obama and Dems because of the issues of choice, immigration and taxes, then she would never vote for a Republican. There is a clear difference between the parties on these issues and always has been. If you are anti-choice, anti-immigrant and anti-taxes on the wealthy, then you should vote for Republicans every time. How did Ms. Berg come to vote for Obama and the Dems? It was the economy I surmise. There is nothing Obama and the Dems could say to this person that could persuade her on the issues. Only one thing could - good governance and economic performance. The "issues" for Ms. Berg clearly are not important - how the economy is doing is. Most American "swing voters" are like this. Most "swing voters" don't care about issues. Most Americans "swing voters" almost exclusively care about how they are doing personally. More . . .

This is an obvious and persistent phenomona, but what does it mean politically? Too many analysts misapprehend the significance of this insight. They think it means you should favor all tax cuts. This would be true if that were good policy. But it isn't. The Clinton years proved that.

The other point is that while the Ms. Berg type voters comprise the majority of the "swing voter" segment of the electorate, "swing voters" do not comprise the majority of the electorate. The mistaken path of trying to appeal to Ms. Berg type voters on the issues (mistaken because Ms. Berg type voters do not vote on the issues but rather on their personal economic condition) hurts Democrats with their base voters, who are less likely to vote because of appeals to the Ms. Berg types. This becomes a double whammy - you don't get any Ms. Bergs and you lose base voters. You'll notice that Republicans generally do not do this. When Republicans govern, they generally screw things up. That's because their ideas are bad. But they do not win or lose voters by shifting their ideas. (One exception was the Bush/Rove push on immigration to attract Latino voters. This did create tension with GOP base voters and is in fact a long term problem for the GOP.)

Politics is stupid. But what is even stupider is the way Dems and their pundits do not understand and accept that politics is stupid. If you are going to be involved in politics, this fundamental reality must be understood and acknowledged. Otherwise it will never make sense to you.

Speaking for me only

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    What's surprised me is that there (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:07:33 AM EST
    seems to be no one amongst the Democratic Leadership who understand the value of delivering at least one or two policy changes or advancements that really get the base excited.  And they argued all along that they couldn't do that because they didn't want to offend people like Ms. Berg.  Chances are that the Ms. Bergs of the world wouldn't have even noticed if they had.

    What they delivered instead were policies that were so compromised that no one could really find enthusiasm for them.  And I'd bet that if Obama outlawed abortion, Ms. Berg still wouldn't be voting for his party in this cycle.  She didn't notice that the White House indicated that they might be "ok" with keeping the tax breaks for the wealthy.  She didn't notice that the Dems wanted to preserve the tax cuts for the middle class.  She's an idiot.  If you're policy is driven by pandering to idiots, it's not surprising that you get some pretty screwy and idiotic policy.

    She reminds me of the woman who asked my Dad before the open primary in their state if she should vote for Hillary Clinton or John McCain - she had ruled out Obama because he was black.  My father being the brutally honest guy that he is told her that she was an idiot if she thought that that was a reasonable choice.

    I think (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by lilburro on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:58:34 AM EST
    the Obama Administration believes that they did deliver policy changes that got the base excited.  That's the disconnect.

    I mean, on gay rights issues, the atmosphere has been much improved.  And there have been appointments to his administration of openly gay people, etc.  The road to repealing DADT and getting rid of DOMA and passing ENDA is not down the other side of the aisle.  But of course people are pissed because....he hasn't really done anything.

    I choose this example because I look at the loony homophobes running for office, and the loony supporters who are even scarier.  I don't want the midterms to be interpreted as "American becoming more conservative."

    But it's frustrating because the President is so defensive and slow on this issue.

    So it's harmful to not be excited...yet very hard to be excited.


    Do you think (none / 0) (#34)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:54:29 AM EST
    The atmosphere on gay rights has been "much improved" because of Obama?  I mean, he's better than the previous administration, but do you think much of the improvement is organic, in that more and more people are realizing that a)more of them know gay people and the world hasn't ended, and b) we are seeing more and more soldiers affected by battle fatigue and injuries, while at the same time, we are wasting resources kicking out good people who want to serve, who have needed skills, (or not accepting them in the first place and discouraging them from applying) because they are gay?  In other words, do you think the movement towards more gay rights and acceptance has much to do with affirmative actions by the administration, or is it just a case of natural acceptance by the masses?

    It's allowed (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by lilburro on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:17:55 AM EST
    conversation to flourish.  He is not actually out advocating for repeal of DADT, passage of ENDA, etc. (despite what he says) but he's pushed the ball in the direction on DADT.  The conversation overall has been elevated.

    When Republicans take over the House and see that they got away with their backwards social issues, I think they'll be more hateful and aggressive, and the conversation might regress a bit backwards to the "oh my god, but then people will marry animals!!" b.s.  People will see their prejudices affirmed and think they're in the majority and be empowered by that...that's my fear.  But who knows.


    Republicans govern for their 'base' (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:12:12 AM EST
    as W called it, the rich Wall Streeters, and pay lip service to the folks that put them in power. I used to think Democrats took care of the little guy more, and in general, I think that's the case, with the gigantic exception of pandering for political money and the problems that come from it.

    Their (the Republican) media machine comes up with simplistic non sequiturs concerning taxes and illegal immigration, or death panels and taking away your money. With those swing voters wanting more in their pockets-- the economic self-interested voter likes the ads from republican candidates, and the statements of  "don't let Washington take your money. After all, it's YOUR money." Or "We have conservative values." What does that last statement actually mean, anyway?

    The scene nationally is mirroring what we've seen in Alabama elections for years. People who have spent years in the state house claim that they can be trusted to protect you from Montgomery, for instance, or the AEA (Alabama Educational Association, the teacher's 'union'), or from "special interests" like unions, schools, poor people, etc.

    It's easy to run on simplistic statements when your base gets what it wants. The simplistic statements also sell easier to economic voters. "want more money? vote for me. Afraid of those scary foreigners taking your job or costing you a raise? Vote for me."

    Look at the complete misrepresentation of Affirmative Action as yet another example. White females have benefitted from AA more than any other category, yet, like the Jesse Helms ad from the past, people think there are "affirmative action quotas," and only Democrats want AA.

    Most people in the US don't care much at all about governance, much less politics. Look at historical turnout rates. They care about their pocketbook and their luxury leisure devices first, UNLESS there's a serious economic downturn.

    Dems seem to run on the "I know better than you what's good for you" more than republicans. doesn't go over too well. Deep thought about elections isn't an American hallmark in the 20th or 21st Centuries...maybe it never has been.

    Lowest common denominator. Political junkies like us, who feel vested in the process and issues, we're not so common on either side.

    The "New Democratic Party" (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:20:32 AM EST
    govern for their 'base', the rich Wall Streeters, pay lip service to the folks who vote to put Republicans in power and campaign on not being like those other Democrats (i.e. their base voters).

    Ha ha....the evil Montgomery! (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:21:04 AM EST
    If I knew what Montgomery looked like in the invisible angel/demon phantom world I would dress as it for Halloween :)

    Evil Washington works also... (none / 0) (#7)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:26:04 AM EST
    Even the President did that though (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:38:58 AM EST
    He said several times in his interview with Jon Stewart the phrase "how Washington works".  I hear this phrase all the time right now from his apologists and now he is using it.  It is used to attempt to paint him as powerless and to paint the playing field as uncomprehensible for the rest of us.  Some bloggers tell utterly B.S. stories about how they understand how Washington works and everyone else does not, they know how the magic is done and the rest of us are idiots, and they completely ignore voices of those who have worked in D.C. and accomplished creating and passing good policy who will point out every opportunity that this administration passes on.

    "The way Washington works" meme is a sort of mystification, like the catholic church did to its illiterate members for hundreds of years.  But people can read, and they can become informed, so now you must hide all the facts from me that you can hide, scream what you want me to believe over the top of the known facts until I don't see the fact underneath, and try to make the machinations of D.C. seem mysterious and maybe even frightening to me so I stop asking questions and just give away my votes.


    She sounds like a faux-Independent to me (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by ruffian on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:12:40 AM EST
    Probably voted Republican all her life until Bush got so unpopular in 2007-2008. Based on her words I'm not convinced she even really voted for Obama. Maybe her kids talked her into it, just this once.

    Had similar thoughts about (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:29:34 AM EST
    Ms. Berg. Probably voted Republican all her life. Would have voted for McCain if the economy hadn't tanked before the 2008 election.

    If you recall, Obama was running behind or neck and neck with McCain until it became evident how bad the economy was due to Republican policies.


    Yes (none / 0) (#29)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:35:13 AM EST
    Obama was behind in most polls until the week of September 14, 2008, when McCain made his statement about the fundamentals of our economy are strong (which wasn't necessarily an untrue statement - it's just the rest of the economy that went to he11 after the Lehman Brothers meltdown.  But for that meltdown, who knows what would have happened?)

    I don't about that (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdm251 on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:10:00 AM EST
    The economy was doing great in the nineties and that seemed to encourage people to focus on social issues because they didn't have to worry about where food was coming from.

    My guess is that this registered nurse was having financial problems but thanks to health care reform she was able to find a better job so she can now go back to focusing on social issues.

    The large majority of swing voters (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:36:15 AM EST
    are basically a blank slate.  They go along with whomever is most "popular" or whomever is shouting the loudest at any given time.

    The popularity contest is probably the most critical element to their vote - and that popularity for this kind of voter isn't rooted in policy - it is about their friends' feelings, the media's tone and whether or not the First Lady is fashion forward, but still tasteful in her choices of attire.

    What do you do to attract that voter?  You reach people she knows who can identify good policy - you don't go and try to craft policy based on her ignorant world view.

    The Republicans figure out their objectives and then craft ways of selling them to people like Ms. Berg.  The Democrats, OTOH, go ask people like Ms. Berg what they want and then try to cobble together policies based on their views ignoring the fact that they couldn't even sell that kind of mixed up, dysfunctional, inane and irrational "plan" to Ms. Berg herself - and totally underestimating the blowback from their own base.

    People like Ms. Berg go to experts for a service; tell these experts how they want them to do their jobs; and then if the expert follows their instruction, when the work product comes out all messed up because their direction is all wrong, people like Ms. Berg don't miss a beat in complaining loudly that they were served badly - and in a way they are not wrong in their complaint to that effect.

    The Democrats had a responsibility not to comity and compromise, but to delivering sound policy that helped people.  But they seem to have zero understanding of that imperative.  We didn't need mediation - we needed positive action.


    Ding! (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:44:37 AM EST
    Then this shouldn't be good news (none / 0) (#35)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:59:17 AM EST

    (My emphasis in bold)

    Critical parts of the coalition that delivered President Obama to the White House in 2008 and gave Democrats control of Congress in 2006 are switching their allegiance to the Republicans in the final phase of the midterm Congressional elections, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

    Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls.

    If women choose Republicans over Democrats in House races on Tuesday, it will be the first time they have done so since exit polls began tracking the breakdown in 1982.

    The poll provides a pre-Election Day glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little previous political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that "seem extreme."

    On the issue most driving the campaign, the economy, Republicans have erased the traditional advantage held by Democrats as the party seen as better able to create jobs; the parties are now even on that measure. By a wide margin, Republicans continue to be seen as the party better able to reduce the federal budget deficit.

    The public wants compromise from both sides, though it thinks Mr. Obama will try to do so more than Republicans will. Yet for all of its general unhappiness, the electorate does not seem to be offering any clear guidance for Mr. Obama and the incoming Congress -- whoever controls it -- on the big issues.

    A Historic Disaster (5.00 / 2) (#73)
    by cal1942 on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 06:11:13 PM EST
    On the issue most driving the campaign, the economy, Republicans have erased the traditional advantage held by Democrats as the party seen as better able to create jobs; the parties are now even on that measure.

    The Democrats' strongest suit, a party possession since FDR, has been neutralized by choosing the wrong standard bearer.

    JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS and we got $288 billion in tax cuts, the least effing effective means of firing the economy.

    Obama was more concerned with the bond markets (a la Larry Summers) than in understanding what really counted.

    It's ALWAYS the economy stupid.


    NYT (none / 0) (#42)
    by waldenpond on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:45:55 AM EST
    The paper who writes about the trials and tribulations of the wealthy and does a white wash job on the Iraq papers.

    The polls are clear.  The public 'likes' the Dems more but are going to vote for Repub.  To your average person that would mean the public is punishing the Dems.  The NYT is purposeful in ignoring this.... so is the WH.

    Wonder why?  I don't.


    Because (none / 0) (#44)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:57:00 AM EST
    The current crop of Dems at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue $uck beyond belief?

    Wedge issues are not the same (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:18:55 AM EST
    as social issues in my book.  They are a part of our social issues, but they are the newest social issues that society is currently addressing and are packing the most fear and shame that is now used to stir up emotional energy to drive people to the polls.  When the economy is doing well and we are all sitting at the table eating, there is a lot more room to use wedge issues effectively.  When everyone is suffering, trying to use wedge issues to drive the vote starts backfiring.  Undocumented workers is going to drive some of the vote this cycle, but that is because with few jobs to be had everyone is angry about competition for those jobs and that will empower that wedge for those trying to use it.  But you risk losing Latino voting blocks doing so.

    Not True (none / 0) (#8)
    by me only on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:32:44 AM EST
    Most Americans "swing voters" almost exclusively care about how they are doing personally.

    My neighbor got laid off.  This does not affect my personal economics at all.  It will affect his voting, but will also affect at least two other neighbors voting and his parents, her parents, his sister and her multiple siblings.

    If you had said swing voters vote primarily based on the economic situation they are familiar with (which might or might not be "are you better off today than you were four years ago), then we would agree.

    My wife stepfather ran for office a few years ago.  (LOCAL) Over half the questions he was asked were about abortion.  TN State Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is protected by the TN State Constitution.  No local official will ever change that.

    Basically you're saying... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:39:14 AM EST
    the better Brand D performs on economic issues, the more social wedge issues come into play, and the more social wedge issues play, the better for Brand R candidates.

    So the incentive for Brand D job security & maintaining power-wise is too make sure the economy doesn't improve too much...you ain't kidding politics is stupid!

    I'm not saying that at all (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:43:53 AM EST
    Actually the opposite.

    Ms. Berg voted for Obama and Dems because of economic issues.

    When Dems fail on economic issues, the Ms. Bergs of the world will then point to other issues to vote GOP.


    But when Ms. Berg... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:01:52 AM EST
    has a good job and money in her pocket, she votes for Repubs because of abortion and the like, if Dem leadership excels on economic issues they lose her vote because of her miniscule attention span.

    Brand D needs Ms. Berg worried about her finances, while appearing to be working very hard to help her get ahead...Brand R needs her worry-free economically so she can worry about abortion and the like full-time again.


    Disagree (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:26:06 AM EST
    If the economy had turned around, Ms. Berg would have voted D imo.

    If she were smart and paid close attention... (none / 0) (#33)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:51:43 AM EST
    she might, I think you give Americans too much credit...we're talking about a people who have consistently voted against their own economic interests for decades...once the fear and panic subside its back to our same old voting habits.

    Dems fail on economic issues? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Farmboy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:49:05 AM EST
    Finally, somebody is willing to admit that it was those evil tax and spend Dems who destroyed our economy. The honesty is refreshing.


    Obama has failed on the economy (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 08:56:07 AM EST
    by not doing enough.

    I know that is hard for O-Bots to accept, but that is the reality.


    The Mrs. Bergs of the nation are unhappy (none / 0) (#19)
    by Farmboy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:06:49 AM EST
    because Obama raised her taxes to record heights, wants to take away her guns and fishing rights, caused the bank crisis, took money out of the economy and put it into government spending, caused unemployment to get worse every month, is responsible for a 13 billion dollar budget deficit, and on, and on.

    That is her reality.


    Oh (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:25:29 AM EST
    You are talking about Ms. Berg.

    On that we agree. Politics is stupid.


    Fact (none / 0) (#27)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:31:00 AM EST
    Is that an absolute fact? I don't think it is.

    I don't think it is naive to argue that the dems did everything they could given the blue dogs and the GOP opposition. I think it is also fair to argue that the fundamentals of this recession are something beyond the reach of the normal government levers to move in the short term.  I have no problem with people arguing that more could have been done and that it might have helped.  I have a problem with people arguing that it is unquestionable that it might have helped.

    Kevin Drum put some meat around the counter argument I am making. He runs the numbers and speculates that if the stimulus was increased by 50% (the high end of what dems were contemplating) that the unemployment rate would be 9% instead of 9.6%.

    Let's assume that's true. You are seriously arguing that this election would look different based on a .6% better unemployment rate?

    I don't think that is a supportable position.  Here is that post with the numbers:


    Let's see ... Drum or ... (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Yman on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:25:11 AM EST
    ... Krugman?  Blogger's "analysis" or respected/Nobel recipient economist?

    BTW - As Krugman points out, the cuts to local and state aid made the stimulus @ $600 Billion and (as Drum acknowledges) about 40% of the stimulus was tax cuts, which have a low multiplier effect.  The stimulus should have been bigger and better.


    Link (none / 0) (#28)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:31:37 AM EST
    Yeah (none / 0) (#36)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:06:31 AM EST
    Kevin is wrong. but forget about what could have done. What WAS done was a failure.

    Even if you are right that that was all that could be done, it still was a failure.


    Defining Failure (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:43:24 AM EST
    I don't think you can say that saving millions of jobs was a failure.  That's republican speak.

    I think you can say that it was not a big enough success.  This isn't an unimportant point.  The distinction is crucial and it is disappointing to see us using the language of FoxNews to describe what happened.

    Let's keep in mind that the other team wanted a stimulus of zero and invited all of the misery that that would have entailed.  Let's also keep in mind how much of a fight there was to get the stimulus package through.

    That wasn't a picnic.  That was a fight in and of itself.


    And this is where you and I disagree (none / 0) (#61)
    by Farmboy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:42:19 AM EST
    I'm a progressive, which means that I acknowledge progress in the right direction even if the situation isn't completely fixed, and there has been positive progress. Despite the missteps and the half measures, the economy is better than it was two years ago, unemployment is better than it was two years ago, etc.

    The problem as i see it is the desire for silver bullet fixes and instant gratification. That's not how most things work in reality, Hollywood and Madison Ave. to the contrary. And that desire is what the right is preying on this election cycle.


    Don't think this is a correct (5.00 / 2) (#66)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:23:10 PM EST

    unemployment is better than it was two years ago

    Septmeber 2010 ( last posted) national jobless rate was 9.6 percent.

    September 2008 national jobless rate was 6.2 percent. January 2009 jobless rate was 7.7 percent link


    Don't introduce facts ... (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Yman on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:31:48 PM EST
    ... into a fairy tale.

    Ruins the whole storyline.


    S O R R Y {hangs head in shame} (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:45:09 PM EST
    I forgot. ;-)

    I meant it in the sense of turning things around (none / 0) (#69)
    by Farmboy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:49:20 PM EST
    The monthly unemployment numbers have gotten better since January 2009. Here's a quick example of that (not the latest, but illustrates the trend) Link

    You're absolutely right that overall rate is worse, but that's just part of the story. If the monthly trend continues, the cumulative numbers will also improve over time.

    I was trying to point out positive trends that are being ignored for this election cycle.


    Trending upward from Jan 2010 (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 01:28:28 PM EST
    until April 2010 (where your data ends). May through September 2010 back in negative numbers. PDF link Some of the increases and some of the deceases were due to census jobs.

    Agree that we are not bleeding jobs at the rate we were in 2008 and 2009 but many of the those jobs could be gone for good and we are not creating anything to replace them. Also, without additional federal funds many states will be reducing their labor force substantially in 2011.


    Look again (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Yman on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 05:23:37 PM EST
    You keep citing months old jobs data to support a claim that unemployement is getting better, when more current data clearly shows a negative trend (i.e. job losses for the past 4 months).

    Why not use current numbers, which are just as easily available?


    in Ca, it's 12+% (none / 0) (#70)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 01:00:51 PM EST
    just saw a story this AM that the restaurant biz is hiring more, and they surmised that people are starting to eat out a bit more so things are getting better. I say wait until after New Year's to see if there's truly a trend, or people are just gearing up on holiday staffing . . . . let's see how certain jobs look at the end of Jan for a reality check.

    The stimulus needed to be (none / 0) (#30)
    by andgarden on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:35:57 AM EST
    something like 3X what it was, according to Krugman.

    But the President never even asked for that, so it was a failure from the start.


    More Negotiation 101 failure (none / 0) (#31)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:39:55 AM EST
    Dems cut taxes and low-balled the stimulus (none / 0) (#20)
    by ruffian on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:08:35 AM EST
    How is that tax and spend?

    You missed the sarcasm tag, I think (none / 0) (#65)
    by Farmboy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:04:12 PM EST
    chances are, (none / 0) (#18)
    by cpinva on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:05:56 AM EST
    the "mrs. bergs" didn't even notice that their net take-home pay increased, due to the obama led stimulus package (which included a reduction in tax withholdings). in fairness to the "mrs. bergs" of the country, that puts her in the 99th percentile.

    that said, the economy is always the primary issue, always. there may be some peripheral social issues at play, but when you peel back the thin top layer, the economy constitutes the balance. always has, always will.

    If Ms. Berg... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:16:59 AM EST
    is a broked*ck nurse, that "net increase" was like 2-3 bucks...people noticed, but didn't know whether or not to be insulted by it.

    Yep (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:29:25 AM EST
    Maybe if she invested that 2-3 bucks in her IRA....

    Maslow trumps policy, hands down every time (none / 0) (#32)
    by BTAL on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 09:47:44 AM EST
    If you ain't eating, you don't give a rats patootie about esoteric social policies.  

    Just Pay my mortgage and put gas in my car for me.

    My assumption (none / 0) (#40)
    by lilburro on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:36:34 AM EST
    would be that Ms. Berg is eating fine.  Otherwise she would not be voting Republican (unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc. not big Republican issues).

    Assume at will (none / 0) (#41)
    by BTAL on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:45:33 AM EST
    Self preservation (even the perception of threat) trumps all other issues.

    Ms. Berg is not unique.


    Well I agree (none / 0) (#43)
    by lilburro on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:53:20 AM EST
    with you about self-preservation.  That's definitely what's going on.  I just quibble with the idea that an employed nurse is not eating.  Many people voting R this year instead of D are doing so out of a sense of perceived threat but it's definitely not because they are actually not eating.  They may be threatened but they are not the lowest on the totem pole.

    She may be the only employed worker (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:59:47 AM EST
    in her family, supporting many who are unemployed after their jobs disappeared or underemployed upon just entering the job market.  She may be especially well-placed to understand the failure already, and worse to come, under Obama's gift to the health insurance industry.

    I know how that feels.  It may not be self-preservation by Ms. Berg.  It may be the evidence all around her of abject failure by this White House.


    Well (none / 0) (#49)
    by lilburro on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:11:17 AM EST
    the point I am trying to make is while all those things may be true of her situation, it's not like her vote comes from a desire to have Republicans repeal the health care act for example.  It's other stuff, namely "tax issues."  Which goes straight to BTAL's point about self-preservation which IMO is spot-on.  I think the mis-perception Americans have about Obama having raised their taxes when he gave them a cut, and people's fears that the Bush tax cuts won't be extended again are what's most in play.  People are basically thinking f*ck it, I want to keep my money.  Even if that in the larger sense will just make things worse.  Unfortunately Obama hasn't set out a vision to keep these people on board.  Although maybe it wouldn't matter if he had.

    Self-preservation is a folly though - you need others to survive, and you need social organization to survive.  But it takes vision to prove to people that they're getting more out of being part of a whole than just defending their own interests.


    The eating term was used as an example (none / 0) (#48)
    by BTAL on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:08:16 AM EST
    not specific to Ms. Berg.

    Using eating as an example (none / 0) (#51)
    by lilburro on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:14:24 AM EST
    when it's not the case just points to the whole paranoia that underlies self-preservation.  

    Do you know (none / 0) (#53)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:17:08 AM EST
    If a) she is working as a nurse right now (or working at all), b) full-time, c) with benefits, d) can afford her other basic needs - housing, food, utilities, etc.?  Those are all "self-preserving" things too.

    I think it's a bit unfair to ascribe a lifestyle to this person without more information and then call her uniformed for having an opinion that doesn't necessarily make sense to you.


    I would assume (none / 0) (#57)
    by lilburro on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:26:36 AM EST
    if she were unemployed that would be mentioned as relevant.  What she represents in the article is "the swing voter," not solely Ms. Berg.  So she will be discussed as such.  Housing is a good point.  But how many people on food stamps vote Republican?  I ask you that.

    I bet a great many (none / 0) (#63)
    by jbindc on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:45:40 AM EST
    Remember - all we keep hearing about are the "poor, rural rubes" that are voting for Republicans this year.  My guess is that many of them may be on food stamps.

    Methinks Maslow disagrees. n/t (none / 0) (#54)
    by BTAL on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:19:26 AM EST
    Ms. Berg is identified as a (none / 0) (#55)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:19:31 AM EST
    registered nurse. One of the few occupations that is experiencing high job growth. Employment also normally comes with a nice salary and great benefits.

    Employment change. Employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations...link

    I think if there was (none / 0) (#39)
    by CST on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 10:34:55 AM EST
    legitimate progress on the economy the Ms. Bergs of the world would still be voting Dem for this election and maybe one or two more before switching back because of social issues.

    More importantly, we wouldn't be losing the support of possible permanent Dems with liberal views on social issues but "undefined" views on economic issues.  I say undefined because I think there are a lot of people who consider themselves conservative on economic issues that could be convinced otherwise if shown an alternative that worked.  Specifically the 18-30 crowd.

    In defense of Independent Nurse Berg (none / 0) (#46)
    by Ellie on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:03:47 AM EST
    If you are anti-choice, anti-immigrant and anti-taxes on the wealthy, then you should vote for Republicans every time. How did Ms. Berg come to vote for Obama and the Dems [in 2008]? It was the economy I surmise.

    Don't forget that Independence doesn't necessarily mean disengaged, uninformed or apathetic.

    As a RN, Ms. Berg might not be anti-choice so much as unwilling to work at ob/gyn procedures involving abortion or that are contraceptive in nature.

    Anti-immigrant? Also don't forget the huge tension within certain sectors of the work force who are being undercut.

    While a lot of focus presents undocumented workers as low skilled labor -- used in, eg, farm work, domestic services, restaurants/hotels -- registered (and unionized) health professionals are being low-balled two ways on the issue. One, the undocumented worker could be working far beneath his or her training and experience (surgeons working as orderlies.)

    Two, the professionals working on the books are taxed at max levels, which also accounts for Nurse Berg's tax concerns. She'd also be on the hook for severe penalties should anything go wrong in a procedure.

    Were Nurse Berg an immigrant herself, and who went through legal channels, it's more likely than not that it wasn't an easy climb.

    Irrelevant as to why she (none / 0) (#50)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:11:26 AM EST
    holds the views she does, the fact that she does and the GOP espouses the same views means she is essentialy a GOP voter and only ignoring her views on the issues could allow her to vote for a Dem.

    Then you must un-Ding! your no. 13 response (none / 0) (#52)
    by Ellie on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:17:03 AM EST
     ... in this thread.

    Alternative theory (none / 0) (#47)
    by vicndabx on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:05:20 AM EST
    Ms. Berg wanted to be part of the feel good vibes one gets when riding on the bandwagon - and that's why she strayed from her "roots."

    I suspect if she really was concerned about the economy, she would know that we are better off now than we were before (as a whole, plus the news tells her so.)  I also suspect she doesn't like Obama and dems because changes proposed duing the healthcare debate posed a threat to her livelihood.

    So in a way, "it," is the economy, but the reason behind "it" is different.  

    While it may be true that these folks are not the majority of the electorate and thus may not be deserving of our focus - how else does one avoid perpetual minority status, given a base that is not always aware of the larger picture?

    Some areas, like mine, are worse now (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Cream City on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:25:34 AM EST
    than in 2008, 2009, earlier this year -- or even last month.  I don't know enough about her region, state, city or town, etc.  But I can tell you that the constant pronunciamentos that the country is doing better only make people angrier here, so pols who keep spouting that would be wise to stfu.  

    Thanks to this White House, my next boss will be an incredibly anti-intellectual, anti-public services, anti-woman governor who is anti-abortion even is cases of rape and/or incest -- and who will deepen and widen pay cuts for me and my co-workers and more layoffs for a lot of them.  But, but, but things are getting better for everybody else, we're told ad nauseam!


    Hey, the top guys on Wall Street (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:35:23 AM EST
    are scheduled to get billions in bonuses this year. All is well with the world. :-(

    My state is about to bring back a governor (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Farmboy on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:01:25 PM EST
    who "retired" in near-disgrace from politics 12 years ago. And he and his ilk are doing well in the polls due to fear and lies.

    He's running scare ads about billion dollar state budget deficits that don't exist, a federal takeover of health care that didn't happen, immigration issues in a state that is 96% white, and railing against overpaid state employees such as teachers, fire fighters, and police.

    All the incumbent can point to is a state budget surplus, a child health care initiative for the poor, crack downs on businesses that hire undocumented workers, and a cut to the bone state workforce. So of course, the voters want him gone.


    Nurses Association were strong (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by MO Blue on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:29:58 AM EST
    advocates of adapting a single payer system in the U.S. Ms. Berg may not be a part of their association or share their views but a large number of nurses do not believe a good health care system will threaten their livelihood.

    Correction. (none / 0) (#58)
    by Chuck0 on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:26:56 AM EST
    Politics isn't stupid. Americans are stupid. Godawful morons, the lot of them. I'm seeking asylum elsewhere.