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Republicans Haven’t Reformed But May Win Anyway

republican-convention-delegates

Mike Huckabee’s viral remark about women being “unable to control their libido” is yet the latest in a seemingly endless stream of cringeworthy comments from prominent Republicans that paint the party as out of touch and unlikely to ever appeal to women. Yet, a number of commenters point out, the trend lines aren’t as bad as the headlines.

Molly Ball asks, “Does the Republican Party Have to Change?” Her answer is that, if the only goal is to win back the Senate in November and the White House in 2016, it doesn’t.

Without changing a thing, Republicans are very well positioned for the midterm elections this year and even for the 2016 presidential election. As the University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato recently noted, Republicans are almost guaranteed to keep the House of Representatives in November; they have about a 50-50 chance of taking the majority in the U.S. Senate; and they are likely to keep their majority of the nation’s governor’s mansions. The erosion of public trust in Obama and Democrats spurred by the botched introduction of the healthcare exchanges continues to reverberate in public polling of contests up and down the ballot, erasing the public-opinion edge Democrats gained from the government shutdown and tilting more and more contests in the GOP’s favor, according to Sabato, who on Thursday revised his ratings of three Senate contests, tilting all of them more toward Republicans.

A good year in 2014 is somewhat to be expected; the rap on the GOP is that the party can’t win presidential elections. But even there, Republicans are not doomed. The political scientist John Sides recently ran a back-of-the-envelopecalculation using a model that, taking into account just three factors—economic growth, the president’s approval rating, and whether there’s an incumbent on the ballot—previously predicted the result of the 2012 election within a percentage point. (Though Republicans believed 2012 was theirs to lose, most political-science models consistently gave Obama the advantage.) If the first two factors look in 2016 the way they look now, and with no incumbent a given, Republicans will have a 64 percent chance of victory, according to the model. Political scientists will tell you that these underlying factors have a much greater influence on who wins elections than tactics or gaffes. And based on them, it is Democrats, not the GOP, who currently have an uphill battle to win the next presidential election, Sides contends.

RealClearPolitics’ Sean Trende (“Obama’s Job Approval Points to 2014 Trouble for Democrats“) agrees:

[T]he journalistic narrative hasn’t yet caught up with the deterioration of the Democrats’ political standing since the early summer. Polls showing tight Senate races in New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Michigan are met with surprise and disbelief. But they are exactly what we’d expect to see given the president’s national job approval rating. I think they’re accurate barometers of the state of the races.

[...]

It’s no secret that I think elections are largely referenda on the party in power. Jay Cost noted in late 2011 that the state-by-state outcomes in the 2004 election corresponded heavily to President Bush’s job approval in the state as measured by exit polls. Bush lost only four states where his job approval was positive, and won zero states where his job approval was negative. Going back to 1972, incumbents rarely win the votes of those who do not approve of them.

This correlation makes perfect sense for presidential elections, but in fact it extends beyond those races. As I’ve noted, presidential job approval is one of the best predictors of House election outcomes. In 2010, Nate Silver’s postmortem took this down to the individual race level, observing that the Democrats’ debacle might best be thought of as an “aligning election,” where right-of-center congressional districts elected Republicans while left-of-center congressional districts continued to elect Democrats (indeed, you could probably characterize the entire 2006-to-2010 series as “an alignment”).

Trend’s post is long and rich with charts and numbers, all of which are admittedly speculative at this stage of the game. And he issues a rather important caveat:

If the president’s job approval is still around 43 percent in November — lower than it was on Election Day in 2010 — the question would probably not be whether the Democrats will hold the Senate, but whether Republicans can win 54 or 55 seats. Given the numbers right now, that should not be unthinkable.

But there’s a flip side to this. If Obama’s job approval does bounce back — which is exactly what happened in 2012 — there’s a reasonable chance that Republicans could walk away from this cycle with just a handful of pickups.

As a political scientist, I find this sort of analysis compelling. The fact of the matter is that, while political journalists and pundits (and I wear that hat more often than I wear my Americanist political scientist hat these days) most emphasize candidates, campaigns, and political strategies, the fact of the matter is the election results hew rather closely to background numbers like the unemployment rate and “right direction/wrong direction” tracking.

Further, while the retrograde rhetoric of the GOP exasperates people like myself, enough so that I no longer feel comfortable identifying myself with the party despite more than three decades voting almost exclusively for its candidates, I’m not sure it matters as much as the political commentariat makes out. First, because people increasingly are either tuning out political coverage altogether or are consuming it at venues that reinforce their partisan biases. Second, because, as some excellent recent posts at Monkey Cage point out, we’ve realigned so starkly politically.

The Maxwell School’s Jeff Stonecash argues persuasively that American politics changed radically twenty years ago but it went largely undetected.

The paramount debate in American politics is how much government should help individuals and who will pay for this. This debate has grown in intensity alongside several trends. Ideas changed about how much individuals can be held responsible for their situation. More studies concluded that many people are overwhelmed by circumstances they cannot control. Inequality has steadily increased. Social programs have become increasingly costly. More of the tax burden has shifted to the affluent.

The reactions of liberals and conservatives to these developments have been vastly different and those divergent reactions are driving the debate. Liberals have become steadily more supportive of programs to help people. They support expansion of an array of social programs that provide benefits- disability benefits, Medicaid and Obamacare, grants to attend college – and higher taxes on the most affluent. Their presumption is that people have needs, opportunity has been unfairly distributed, and government is the vehicle to respond.

Conservatives have reacted by gradually becoming more adamant that government is doing too much. They still see individualism as central to how America should operate.They argue that a concern for expanding opportunity has morphed into untouchable entitlements. They see the emergence of welfare and other social programs asdestructive of what made America successful. Their central concern is that government is coming to support too many people, creating dependency rather than hard-working individuals. In this view, the reason many people are failing is because they are losing the inclination to adopt the behaviors that help people achieve.

Furthermore, these programs are increasingly paid for by those who achieve. The percentage of federal income tax revenues from the top 10 percent has steadily increased, creating a more progressive income tax system. They also argue that when the distribution of the benefits of social programs is included, the overall impact of the tax system is now significantly redistributive. The position of stopping tax increases has become entrenched, and no Republican in Congress has voted for a tax increase since 1993.

The result is a fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives regarding how much government should help people. It is the basis for an increase in ideological conflict and creates intense battles over the legitimacy and funding of social programs. The battle has involved changes in welfare programs, limits on the ability to declare personal bankruptcy, tax cuts and Obamacare. It is not a debate that is likely to go away because none of the precipitating conditions are likely to change in the near future.

Washington is different from 30, 40 and 50 years ago because the substance of the debate and the social and policy conditions are different. Government does more. Tax burdens are distributed differently. There are those who suggest that policy differences are largely the same and the only difference over time is that voters have sorted themselves out more between the two parties. To make that argument is to dismiss the policy developments of the last 50 years and to assume the context of the 1950s and 1960s still prevails. The debate is more intense because the stakes have changed.

Because of the intensity of this debate and the ensuing realignment, what seems like crazy talk to one side of the debate seems perfectly banal and obvious to the other. The sort of people inclined to listen to Mike Huckabee, therefore, aren’t embarrassed by his gaffe; they don’t understand what the fuss is over.

Maryland’s Frances Lee, meanwhile, notes a related, reinforcing trend:

[T]he period since 1980 stands out as the longest sustained period of competitive balance between the parties since the Civil War. Our politics is distinctive for its narrow and switching national majorities. Nearly every recent election has held out the possibility of a shift in party control of one institution or another.

This matters:

Competition fuels party conflict by raising the political stakes of every policy dispute. When control of national institutions hangs in the balance, no party wants to grant political legitimacy to its opposition by voting for the measures it champions. After all, how can a party wage an effective campaign after supporting or collaborating with its opposition on public policy? Instead, parties in a competitive environment will want to amplify the differences voters perceive between themselves and their opposition. They will continually strive to give voters an answer to the key question: “Why should you support us instead of them?” Even when the parties do not disagree in substantive terms, they still have political motivations to actively seek and find reasons to oppose one another. In an environment as closely competitive as the present, even small political advantages can be decisive in winning or losing institutional majorities.

During the long years of Democratic dominance following the New Deal, politics was less contentious in part because the national political stakes were so much lower. Democrats did not perceive themselves in danger of losing their outsized majorities. The “permanent minority” Republicans did not see a path to majority status. In such an environment, members of the minority party were more willing to bargain over legislative initiatives in which they would vote “yea” in exchange for substantive policy concessions, because such support did not grant political legitimacy to an opposition that they hoped to vanquish at the next election. Meanwhile, members of the majority party were more willing to fight about public policies internally among themselves, rather than attempting to close ranks against an opponent that had little perceived chance of winning power.

Competition for power, not only ideological polarization, contributes to our confrontational contemporary politics. As Sarah Binder and I emphasize in our contribution to the recent APSA Report on Negotiating Agreement in Politics, today’s political context disincentivizes successful bipartisan negotiation. The permanent campaign and politicians’ continual eye on the next election pervasively discourage efforts to work across party lines.

In short, the difficulties of the present moment stem from politicians’ quest for partisan advantage in an extraordinarily competitive context, as well as from their opposing political ideologies.

All that said, though, the electorate is changing. Most notably, it’s becoming less rural and less white. The cohorts where stay-at-home moms were the norm are dying off. It’s just hard to fathom that continuing to appeal to values that seem bizarre to most people under 40 is a strategy that’s survivable in the long term. Realignments aren’t permanent. Neither is competitiveness. Indeed, Lee’s own graphs would seem to indicate that we’re due for a shift soon.

 

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    The GOP civil war is making the Teapublican grifter´s more mental though, good stuff..

    :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. al-Ameda says:

    It’s a tribute to the ongoing dumbing down of America.
    Embrace the Middle Ages – vote Republican.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  3. Pinky says:

    The sort of people inclined to listen to Mike Huckabee, therefore, aren’t embarrassed by his gaffe; they don’t understand what the fuss is over.

    I can see what the fuss is over. This could be the beginning of a socon version of the Tea Party. Social conservatives are tired of being told to apologize.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  4. john personna says:

    @Pinky:

    In 2008, a 17 year old unwed, pregnant, girl appeared on stage with her mother, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.

    It took a while for me to wrap my head around that, given all the responsibility arguments, and the libido arguments. And on and on.

    What I finally concluded was that “social conservatives” wanted celibacy first, but as a second choice, a child raised in the church. That was why a pregnant girl could be on stage to social conservative applause.

    Thus, there was no need for Bristol Palin to have access to free birth control.

    Of course, those of us who don’t really buy that … rural outlook … might think about the national costs of unwed teen pregnancies, and treat it as a pragmatic issue.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 1

  5. Matt Bernius says:

    This could be the beginning of a socon version of the Tea Party. Social conservatives are tired of being told to apologize.

    This assumes that there isn’t already significant crossover between the two groups. Evidence suggests that the Tea Party *already* has a strong social conservative bent (see the candidates that they have supported in numerous races).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  6. CSK says:

    The Tea Party, with its targeting of Republican incumbents, is probably the best friend the Democratic Party ever had. I’m still trying to come to grips with their contention that Mitt Romney is a socialist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  7. al-Ameda says:

    @Pinky:

    Social conservatives are tired of being told to apologize.

    Actually, they don’t need to apologize, they need to move to countries where they might be happier – countries with no diversity, no unionized labor, where there is complete respect for law and order, where taxes are low, and where there is no illegal immigration. North Korea comes to mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  8. john personna says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    When Tea Party identification has fallen below 10%, it might a mistake to think they “are” anybody.

    But yes, when they were enjoying high allegiance they were also self-identifying as religious.

    They are more likely than American adults overall to attend religious services weekly (38 percent do so) and to call themselves evangelical (39 percent). Sixty-one percent are Protestant, and another 22 percent are Catholic. – December 2012

    That would be data though, and not just the easy idea that since they are more Republican than Democrat, they must by definition believe all Republican things.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Matt Bernius says:

    @john personna:

    When Tea Party identification has fallen below 10%, it might a mistake to think they “are” anybody.

    Which in itself is ironic considering that the Tea Party more or less was a catch all for people who no longer wanted to call themselves Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  10. ernieyball says:

    @Pinky: Social conservatives are tired of being told to apologize.

    SoCon’s do not have to apologize for anything.
    Except maybe for threatening violence to those who do not obey their proselytizers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  11. john personna says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Which in itself is ironic considering that the Tea Party more or less was a catch all for people who no longer wanted to call themselves Republicans.

    Is there data for that?

    I don’t think Steven and now James, who don’t want to call themselves Republicans, have ever identified as Teas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  12. HiPlanesDrifter says:

    Here’s a handy tip for all you Republican candidates when asked questions about social issues, particularly abortion: When the urge to comment on abortion, birth control or rape hits you, stop for a minute, then take a sharpened #2 pencil & insert into your dominant eye socket, twist repeatedly, & hold until the urge passes. Feel free to then comment at will on fiscal issues, like exploding debt & deficits & spending, financial responsibility, unemployment, etc.

    Remember the media will always, always, always take a #2 pencil to your comments on social issues, insert it, twist & hold it until you are no longer a candidate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  13. Brett says:

    @James Joyner

    First, because people increasingly are either tuning out political coverage altogether or are consuming it at venues that reinforce their partisan biases. Second, because, as some excellent recent posts at Monkey Cage point out, we’ve realigned so starkly politically.

    Or they don’t believe that such nice-seeming, optimistic people could hold such stances. There were some rather eye-opening studies done in the last election where they told people about some of the more extreme stances of Romney’s platform, and people simply refused to believe them IIRC.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. michael reynolds says:

    Tea Party was always just the Social Conservatives with a new label. The taxation obsession was never anything but cover for the real issues: abortion, race, gay marriage, science, reality. . . I said it when the so-called Tea Party first arrived, and now that it’s gone leaving surprise! a bathtub ring of social conservatives, I’ll say it again.

    The old, rural white folks who make up the TP are not net payers of taxes, they are recipients of taxes, and the whole tax thing is and was a fraud. When a social con is against taxes what he really means is that he doesn’t want programs that benefit black people. Taxes are race for these folks, and race is identity.

    I think you get a better grasp of what’s going on if you listen less to what people say, and more to what they mean. Because right wing politics is all about coded messages. They know they’ll be dismissed as despicable if they blurt out how they really feel, so they conceal their meaning with a superficially plausible veneer of socially respectable opinions. You can decorate a donut however you like, but it’s still a donut.

    If you see a group of older, more rural white people and they seem very angry, it’s not about being Taxed Enough Already – they aren’t taxed, wealthy people are taxed – it’s about a fear of irrelevancy, a fear of loss of status, a threat to their core identity, which for southerners in particular, but other rustic white folk as well, is about race.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    @john personna:

    Is there data for that?

    I don’t think Steven and now James, who don’t want to call themselves Republicans, have ever identified as Teas.

    There is evidence to suggest that the majority of Teas were disillusioned and/or dissatisfied Republicans. But it was not my intention to suggest that all disillusioned and/or dissatisfied Republicans are/were Tea Party members.

    The lacks of Rockefeller Republicans (a category which I suspect that James and Steven fall into for varying degrees) in the ongoing Tea Party movement serves as further evidence that it never was solely about pragmatic, financial responsibility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  16. grumpy realist says:

    If Americans are stupid enough to vote the Republicans back in, they deserve what they get. I’ll have to continue learning Korean and Chinese. At worst, I can always emigrate to a country that believes in education, science, and technology.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. Woody says:

    Feudalism is humanity’s default political system, and American conservatives champion this construct: nobles, aligned with a state religion and proclaimed by courtiers, who exercise a monopoly on law, morality, and social norms. The peasantry is to accept their fate passively, as it is ordained by God and not to be questioned.

    Democracy requires a great deal of energy and a shared trust among political adversaries in a Loyal Opposition. The Tea Party – and the majority of conservative activists, funded by American nobles, have shown their contempt for this concept at every turn.

    Meanwhile, the Fourth Estate, buffeted by technological challenges, are so desperate to hold onto their remaining asset (access) that they will never speak truth to nor challenge any of the Court notables unless part of a large pack.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  18. superdestroyer says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Are you implying that liberals have little respect for law and order. They why do they celebrate the 100k pages plus of the Code of Federal Regulations. Or are you implying that progressives like the idea of having a massive amount of federal regulation that deal with virtually every aspect of life while having little inclination to actually comply with the regulation.

    You may have stumbled on to one of the great aspects of progressive politics in the 21st century: Rules are for others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  19. Robert Levine says:

    It’s a little early to be predicting the 2016 race based on presidential approval polls. And most of the predictive models are, over the long term, garbage. One that isn’t is Alan Lichtman’s system. At this point in time, the Democrats still look pretty good for 2016 according to that system. And there’s the fact that the Democratic candidate has gotten more votes than the Republican candidate for president in 5 of the last 6 elections, the only exception being Bush in 2004 (when he was both the incumbent and still benefiting from the rally-around-the-flag effect of 9/11).

    There is also the problem of coming up with a viable Republican candidate, although the Lichtman system suggests that’s not very important – as Trende points out, presidential elections are mostly referenda on the incumbent party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Are you implying that liberals have little respect for law and order.

    No, he said nothing remotely like that. You added that as a segue to lead to your talking point blaming “regulation.” That’s becoming the go-to talking point now that the right has lost on everything else they’ve tried.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  21. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Are you implying that liberals have little respect for law and order.

    No, nothing like that at all.
    By the way, I can appreciate the respect that many Republican governors and legislators had for federal law, in this case, ACA, when they did everything they could to obstruct or otherwise interfere with implementation of ACA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @Woody:

    I don’t think feudalism is the ur-condition of humans, it was quite a late development. I think it’s tribalism. Tribe preceded feudalism by a million years (round numbers.) People started as hunter-gatherer bands with circles tightly drawn around family, extended family, tribe.

    Not that that’s what we’re talking about, I’m just being tendentious to avoid work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. anjin-san says:

    @ superdestroyer

    I can save you a lot of effort in the future. Just post “I am a victim” – nothing else. It’s really all you have to say. Just copy and paste. Think of the time you will save :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  24. john personna says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    I saw on twitter today this joke:

    “Some studies suggest that I can always preface anything I believe with ‘some studies suggest’”

    Some idiot down-voted my request for data, and you get two up for a reference-less claim.

    Noted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  25. john personna says:

    BTW, and for extra credit, note that I did supply a link, and not my random opinion above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Pinky:

    ” This could be the beginning of a socon version of the Tea Party.”

    You mean there was a non-social conservative version of the Tea Party since around 2011? Where have you been?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  27. rudderpedals says:

    Tea Party’s just another word for angry GOP

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Remember the media will always, always, always take a #2 pencil to your comments on social issues, insert it, twist & hold it until you are no longer a candidate.

    A prime example of why so much of the “conservative” movement is so pathetic…this victimization attitude that the horrible media, among others, is out to get them is pitiful…oh, by the way, victim, the media doesn’t need to do anything to comments like those made by Huckabee…such comments speak for themselves…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  29. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I’m not worried about 2016. Hillary will take care of that.

    But here’s the thing, the Republicans SHOULD take the Senate back in 2014. The Democrats are defending seats in NC, AK, AR, WV, MT and LA for God’s sake. That’s deeply hostile territory for Democrats and under normal circumstances a given for the GOP, but the GOP is such a terrible party that this is not a given at all. Hell, a few more gaffes and who knows, the Dems might even gain seats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  30. Woody says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No argument from me on your point, in fact, feudalism might be best understood as a formalized descendant of tribalism.

    The important point is that in both systems, a large number of the lowest caste robustly defend the upper caste’s right to rule.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Woody:

    The important point is that in both systems, a large number of the lowest caste robustly defend the upper caste’s right to rule.

    Absolutely true, from the Russian peasants who managed to convince themselves that the Tsar loved and cared for them – despite mountains of contrary evidence – to the American southern white who accepted a plantation hierarchy that offered him racial superiority even while impoverishing him.

    And it’s very persistent, sometimes to the point of self-destruction. Southern whites fought and died for a system in which their actual economic interests would logically have had them backing abolition. Their cultural descendants now angrily reject medical care for their own children on orders from millionaire talk show hosts and billionaire oligarchs. And how many “Reagan Democrats” cheered when Reagan attacked the very unions that had provided those working folks with decent standards of living? Now they sit and whine that they’re falling out of the middle class. Well, duh.

    It challenges the notion economists seem to have of man as motivated by rational self-interest. I doubt 20% of humans are capable of assessing their own rational self-interest. They should probably send a petition to the Tsar, see what he advises.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  32. Davebo says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Have you ever actually read a book or two of the CFR? Lot’s of fairly important stuff in there that people who actually contribute to this society have to know in.

    Why don’t you start with Part 49 and think for a second how your food arrives on your table or how airlines are regulated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. The political scientist John Sides recently ran a back-of-the-envelopecalculation using a model that, taking into account just three factors—economic growth, the president’s approval rating, and whether there’s an incumbent on the ballot—previously predicted the result of the 2012 election within a percentage point.

    I’m not sure if this is just a lousy description, but predicting one data point after the fact isn’t much of an accomplishment. I can come up with a model that predicts the result of the 2012 election perfectly taking into account zero factors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. al-Ameda says:

    Not that it matters but … I just noticed that everyone (Republican delegates?) in the lead picture for this thread is white. Okay, that concludes my “Captain Obvious” public service announcement for the day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  35. Tillman says:

    Not surprising. It’s not as if Democrats are good or even competent at presenting a coherent ideological message. And it’s really hard to argue the other party using institutional gimmicks stymieing your agenda as a reason to elect you again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. bill says:

    @john personna: well, she didn’t blame society or get an abortion- (let alone pull a “tawana brawley”) she dealt with the cards handed her and managed.
    the reality is how dumb the voters are- they seem to rely on headlines and media hype vs. reality. blame the obamamcare fiasco i guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  37. michael reynolds says:

    Truth is I worry about the Democrats, too. We’re getting a free ride because the Republicans are so batshite crazy. But if we’re past universal medical, SSM and even legalizing pot, what have we got that’s new? I know what we’re about right now, but I see no thought about the future. There’s already a mildew smell beginning to emanate from the Democrats. Nothing like the rotting corpse smell coming off the GOP, but we don’t exactly smell of Bulgari, either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @superdestroyer: It seems to me that the idea that “rules are for others” crosses idealogical lines. The “conservative” response to Bristol Palin seems to reinforce it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  39. humanoid.panda says:

    @michael reynolds: Global warming related items: a REAL renewable energy, mitigation, possible plans to evacuate large cities, remaking the national transportation infrastracture all will be on the agenda by the mid 2020s.
    Besides that, what do with the tens of millions of people the economy doesn’t really need anymore due to automation will aslo be a major point of political debate.
    Since Republican answers will probably be to ignore the former and let the lattter rot, I predict all policy debates will occur on the Democratic side.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. matt bernius says:

    @john personna:

    Is there data for [the claim that the Tea Party is made up of people who no longer wanted to call themselves Republicans]?

    Quantitative data? No, not directly. At least not that I’ve found. This is the type of question that direct questioning doesn’t work particularly well in a quant scenario (for the same reason that “birther” questions don’t work particularly well).

    That said, if one looks at the rise of Tea Party affiliation mapped alongside the drop in Republican party membership, there is a definite (though nowhere near 1:1) correlation. Remember that the Tea Party rose not only after the Election of Obama, but also the financial bail out and the record defeats of Republicans in 2006 (which, in turn had to do with everything from the Wars, to a number of ethics scandals).

    Qualitatively speaking, there is significant evidence that the Tea Party is one of the places where the Conservative Media Complex Republicans (again, not the disillusioned Rockefeller Republicans) fled to. For examples of this mapped out, see:
    http://wmpeople.wm.edu/asset/index/rbrapo/republicanfactionalismandteapartyactivists
    http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/williamson/files/tea_party_pop.pdf

    BTW, and for extra credit, note that I did supply a link, and not my random opinion above.

    BTW I wasn’t in a place yesterday where I had regular access to the internet and my research files. Otherwise I would have gotten you this explanation sooner.

    That said, I take issue with the idea that my opinion was particularly “random.” I think my record on the site as a commenter and author should suggest that I always try to have data behind anything that I write/theorize.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  41. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: I think it’s inevitable. The key to getting elected in our system, going back to at least Reagan, is having two or three big ideas that you can sell to the voters. Eventually, if you win enough elections, you put those ideas into effect. And then you’ve got nothing.

    Usually, the out party is forced to come up with some good ideas of their own to get back into power and the cycle repeats itself. Unfortunately, the GOP thinks that the only thing they need to do is to sell Reagan’s message from 34 years ago a little better. It’s not only out of date but, more importantly, was rendered OBE by Reagan.

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  42. john personna says:

    @matt bernius:

    Here’s the thing, the big thing …

    We get a kick out of it when Michael describes “Republicans” with a list of degenerations, left handed drinkers of diet soda, or whatever. That’s fun, when that’s as far as it goes.

    It crosses a line though when people start seriously believing that stuff, that the opposition is a monochromatic block. That is pretty much the foundation of tribalism, and then the sort of tribal warfare James worries about.

    Your dangerous, +10 comment, was:

    Which in itself is ironic considering that the Tea Party more or less was a catch all for people who no longer wanted to call themselves Republicans.

    I noted that Steven and James (and I) have distanced ourselves from the GOP without becoming Teas to … general disapproval here. We are an example of the moderate-right and RINO set who did not ever set foot in a Tea Party rally, or ever support them in their cause.

    Of course recognizing that difference makes the enemy less monochromatic. It doesn’t fit the tribal narrative.

    I think your later comment was better, even if it still was without data:

    There is evidence to suggest that the majority of Teas were disillusioned and/or dissatisfied Republicans. But it was not my intention to suggest that all disillusioned and/or dissatisfied Republicans are/were Tea Party members.

    But in your recent entry you are back to suggesting that:

    That said, if one looks at the rise of Tea Party affiliation mapped alongside the drop in Republican party membership, there is a definite (though nowhere near 1:1) correlation.

    This is at odds with your first reference, which begins:

    In this paper we examine Republican Party factional differences between Tea Party Republicans and non-Tea Party Republicans. We find, first, that at the mass level Tea Party supporters constitute a majority of Republican identifiers–particularly among those most active in Republican campaigns.

    Your second reference says as well:

    In June 2010, Gallup found that 62 percent of Tea Partiers deemed themselves to be conservative Republicans.

    Both those data support the idea that Teas were majority Republican identifiers all along.

    And when I look at the long term chart of political identification, I see the Republicans starting to lose share much before the Tea Party arose.

    It has been downhill since 2005.

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  43. john personna says:

    Basically, think of when Rush describes “Progressives” and then stop yourself before you do the same thing – especially if you can’t even stop at “conservatives” but if you have to describe “moderates” and “independents” as equally bad tribes.

    (The correct form is “extremists, on the far right (or left) …”)

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  44. john personna says:

    Note also that Democratic identification has been falling, with a drop off after 2008 and then a stall.

    I think a good narrative on the rise of the independent has to deal with the fact that they are drawing from both parties, and the Tea Party Shift doesn’t explain much of that at all.

    In this Daily Kos piece the author actually attempts to explain how the loss of Democrats is not a huge loss for the Democrats.

    This line was a bit of a clunker for me:

    The folks at Gallup mucked it up as well.

    It is almost like there is a political agreement here, on the left side, and in an almost “unskewed polls” way, they are recasting the data to something they can believe.

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  45. matt bernius says:

    @john personna:
    Again, I was commenting from a location in which I didn’t have prolonged internet access. As such the initial comment was not as exact as I would have liked — see the later comment which you seem to support.

    You parsed a one off statement at a level it was not intended to be parsed at. I’d argue that any one sentence response will begin to fall apart at that level of examination.

    Beyond that, a couple comments on your response.

    I have never been a supporter of monolithic stereotyping – again I point you to my record on this. In fact I’ve clashed with Michael in the past on his practice (in particular on certain gun issues like hunting). Associating me with that is in itself exactly the practice that you seem to be decrying (note how any sentence can be parsed down so that a flaw can be found it it — self consuming critique).

    Next:

    And when I look at the long term chart of political identification, I see the Republicans starting to lose share much before the Tea Party arose.

    Of course it did. Because the concept of the “Tea Party” didn’t exist. Note that I never said there was a 1:1 relation. In part that’s because the Tea Party didn’t come into existence yet. But there had to be a disillusioned population for it to draw from. That’s the way social movements work. Further, in terms of tracking these trends, an approximate four year gap (between the 2006 elections and important indicating moments like Limbaugh publicly announcing he’s no longer going to carry water for the Republican party) and the actual formation of the semi-organized Tea Party movement isn’t a huge amount of time.

    Trying to look for an exact correlation is problematic. Social movements just don’t work that way.

    Secondly, I did not mean to indicate that everyone who became a Tea Party membership gave up their Republican Party membership. However, I think the critical issue – beyond what was previously indicated — is to look at insurgent “tea party” candidates being elected in *Republican* primaries. There’s more than enough evidence there to suggest that even in cases where the Tea Party worked within the Republican Party, it was against “mainstream” Republicans (see, for example, Carl Paladino’s run for Governor in New York). To that point, the Tea Party was as “anti-Republican” as one can be without leaving the party (which one could argue happens for two reasons: (1) giving up one’s political party takes a certain degree of effort, AND (2) the fact that most states have closed primaries).

    To my point, do you think that Tea Party members primarily identify at (a) Tea Party members or (b) Republicans. Part of the issue there is that for many Tea Party members — and there is plenty of interview and quote data in the two articles — Republicanism is fundamentally tied up within *Mainstream Republicanism* or RINOness.

    Ultimately the Tea Party is about remaking the Republican party, but until its remade, these people are Tea Party first and Republican second.

    Further, if you read further into both studies you will discover that the authors are to some degree fitting the Tea Party into our existing binary party system (while at the same time demonstrating how far the Tea Party can be from the Republican Party.

    To that point you address:

    In June 2010, Gallup found that 62 percent of Tea Partiers deemed themselves to be conservative Republicans.

    The actual poll is here and I’d argue flawed:
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/141098/tea-party-supporters-overlap-republican-base.aspx

    I say it’s flawed because it present the following axis:
    Liberal Democrat
    Moderate Democrat
    Independent
    Moderate Republican
    Conservative Republican

    As Eric F and others have demonstrated countless times before, the *Conservative* banner is as, if not more important, than the *Republican* party. I would be curious to see how the numbers might have changed if “Conservative Independent” was an option (note that in the similiarly referenced Quinnipiac poll, there was an option for independent leaning republicans).

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  46. matt bernius says:

    @john personna:

    Note also that Democratic identification has been falling, with a drop off after 2008 and then a stall.

    Yes, generally speaking direct party identification is down for both groups. But I question your interpretation of the chart.

    Identification with the Democratic party, according to your graph (http://politeaparty.blogspot.com/2012/01/record-high-independent-identification.html) dropped from a high of 36% in 2008 to 31% in 2010. A 5% drop that happened over a 2 year period. The key data IMHO is what happens in the next four years to establish whether or not this is a realignment or a longer term trend. To that point I’d also suggest that, given the broader trend line which had the party hovering a 33% for most of the tracking period, the 3% jump in party identification had as much to do with Obama’s charismatic campaign as any major shift in party alignment (in other words, it was a temporary jump, suggesting that in actuality the Democrats really have only lost 2% points (from 33% to 31%).

    The Republican part has fallen from 33% in 2005 to 27% now (a 6% drop, triple the Democrats lose) and that trend was sustained over a far longer period (6 years in the study).
    Again, I don’t think either time period is long enough to say anything definitive. That said, I do think its worth noting that from 2000 to 2006 the Republican party climbed to a high of 33% from a low of approximately 28%. Now, to some degree, as with the “Obama” blip, we can ask how much that has to do with the fact the Republicans controlled two branches of government during that time.

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  47. matt bernius says:

    @john personna:

    I think a good narrative on the rise of the independent has to deal with the fact that they are drawing from both parties, and the Tea Party Shift doesn’t explain much of that at all.

    I agree, but that wasn’t the point I was ever making (or perhaps you can point out where I explicitly or implicitly made that argument in any of my previous comments).

    John, I know you’ve been feeling beat up on the entire “independent” thing. I think you are letting that influence your reading of others statements.

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  48. john personna says:

    @matt bernius:

    Your first, +10, comment certainly argued a close match.

    Which in itself is ironic considering that the Tea Party more or less was a catch all for people who no longer wanted to call themselves Republicans.

    I still don’t think we’ve seen any data to support this popular progressive narrative.

    The “rise of the independents” was a thing, pulling from both parties, before the Tea Party. Saying “of course, there was no Tea Party” doesn’t explain the whole picture, including of course the Democratic part of the shift.

    Since 2008 independents have gained at a cost to BOTH parties.

    Do you have a narrative that fits that?

    (I have a data driven answer, in the CBS/Esquire data. Their four “middle’ groups do split on some issues, such as “Government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people vs. Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.” There, the right “picks up” some independents. Of course. Indpendents are not a uniform, monochrome, block.)

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  49. john personna says:

    @matt bernius:

    Of course I have an eye out now. That is why I flagged that comment about “more or less was a catch all.”

    Of course, I would have accepted that “catch all” if there had been data to support it.

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  50. john personna says:

    I am really tired of “convenient narratives.” Yes.

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  51. matt bernius says:

    @john personna:
    I really wish you would take a step back and see how much on this topic (and any you can relate to it) you are beginning to sound like SD and his discussion of how the One-Party future of the US. Most of us would prefer it if you don’t become a bad parody of yourself.

    BTW, SD’d makes a similiar argument about all the data supporting his point of view and that we’re just ignoring it because of all of our “Progressive” blind spots.

    Look, in retrospect, I regret the use of “catch all” — and if I had known the comment would have been parsed so closely, I’d not have used it. At this point, I think I just wouldn’t have commented at all.

    But I stand by my original point — the Tea Party was made up of disillusioned Republicans. The only additional piece that I will add to that comment is that many of those Republicans — at least half — did not resign their party membership.

    Again, it *also* suggests that there’s still a significant portion of the Tea Party that was made up by actual conservative independents (people who either were no longer part of the Republican party or no longer wished to be identified as Republicans — see Quinnipiac’s Independents who Lean Republicans).

    BTW, I’m really not arguing the standard “progressive” talking point. As always I think the truth is far more complex. However, complexity and one to two sentence pithy posts tend not to mix.

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  52. matt bernius says:

    @john personna:

    I am really tired of “convenient narratives.” Yes.

    Understood. Feel the same way, but I wish you could see how you’re creating your own convenient narrative in order to defeat other convenient narratives.

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  53. Tillman says:

    @john personna: Man, you found one poll you really liked the methodology of and just flogged it dead, didn’t you?

    And three down-votes has never come close to equaling “general disapproval.”

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  54. matt bernius says:

    @Tillman:

    And three down-votes has never come close to equaling “general disapproval.”

    Further, I think John is reading far too much into the up/down-vote system. Might be the engineer/computer scientist in him, but these are not intended to be a quantitative tool (in fact that’s part of the reason the commentors petitioned to *not* hide downvoted comments). And they tend to be biased towards humorous posts (which my initial comment was intended as).

    Also, given the nature of the commentators here, they are also biased towards more progressive stances.

    That said, my next two comments (spam filter willing) will be a test of why they probably shouldn’t be taken seriously.

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  55. matt bernius says:

    Progressive Boobies!

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  56. matt bernius says:

    Inexorable March Towards One Party Rule In The US!

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  57. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    No, Tillman.

    Pew and the CBS/Esquire data broadly agree.

    As opposed to … what have you got? No data and snark?

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  58. john personna says:

    @matt bernius:

    We’ve had a little too much of this:

    Daddy, where do independents come from?

    Well Jimmy, they used to all be Republicans, before they were shamed into pretending otherwise.

    But what about Uncle Bill, he used to be a Democrat before becoming independent.

    We don’t talk about Uncle Bill.

    Again, it is the data, or it is an “unskewed polls” style just-so story.

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  59. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    Really Tillman, the polls are all consistent on a central theme … that people don’t commonly line up with the party platforms, that people drift in party identification as their feelings about the parties change, and that people’s feelings on specific issues (like same sex marriage) drift out of sync with the above.

    If the narrative worked that having some partisan feelings made someone a partisan, then everyone would be becoming a Democrat right now, right?”

    Gay marriage, [don't] repeal Obamacare, legal marijuana, higher taxes on millionaires … those all poll as majority popular.

    That just doesn’t fit the just so story. It doesn’t fit that as people drift toward all those Democratic positions, Democratic identification also falls.

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  60. john personna says:

    There is also way too much “my no-data is just as good as your data.”

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  61. Grewgills says:

    @matt bernius:

    I think a good narrative on the rise of the independent has to deal with the fact that they are drawing from both parties, and the Tea Party Shift doesn’t explain much of that at all.

    It doesn’t explain the movement on the Left, but it is where a fair chunk of the right went. Simply look at what the tea party espouses (strict social and fiscal conservatism, moreso than establishment Republicans), then look at self identification within the tea party (~53% R and 41% i), then look at how many so called independents aligned with the tea party before its recent fall (~25%). All of that points to Republicans fleeing their party in name, only to support its far right wing as tea partiers.* The tea party, while it enjoys public support, will be the home to the far right of the Republican party that choose not to identify with the Republican party. Why do you have such a hard time admitting this?

    * All of this information was linked before and most of it came from polls you linked John.

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  62. Anonne says:

    @michael reynolds: 27%, Michael. That’s the crazification factor.

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  63. john personna says:

    @Grewgills:

    Maybe it is a science thing. Testable hypothesis.

    It could be that the Tea Party “made” independents as you say, or it could be that the Tea Party “pulled from” independents.

    How would you test your preferred theory?

    Maybe as Matt hoped, the data would show matching trends?

    Except whoops, from 2012 forward, Tea Party identification fell and Republican identification fell at the same time.

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  64. john personna says:

    Occam’s razor, man.

    Tea Party identification fell and Republican identification fell at the same time because ideas spanning both those groups fell in support at the same time.

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  65. john personna says:

    We have actually shown, from the data, that independent identification and Tea Party identification are separate and non-synchronous trends.

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  66. mattbernius says:

    @john personna:

    Tea Party identification fell and Republican identification fell at the same time because ideas spanning both those groups fell in support at the same time.

    Just to be clear that could be one interpretation. There are others — including that Tea Party candidates were incapable of maintaining the purity that they promised, which, coupled with losses in 2012, the toxic coverage of the Tea Party, and the failure of high profile measures, has made that brand toxic as well.

    The issue is that these sorts of theories are not particularly easy to prove through quantitative methodologies (the same reason why you can’t trust polls on how many Republicans really think that Obama is not a legal US Citizen).

    For someone arguing for more nuanced positions, you grab a single data point or two and try to extract a lot broad interpretation from them (at least no less broad than anything I did in any of my posts).

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  67. john personna says:

    @mattbernius:

    The difference is that I have tested my hypothesis with data. They are consistent.

    For someone arguing for more nuanced positions, you grab a single data point or two and try to extract a lot broad interpretation from them (at least no less broad than anything I did in any of my posts).

    As opposed to no data? Or even worse, actual data that runs contrary to your theory?

    We have shown that independent identification and Tea Party identification are separate and non-synchronous trends.

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  68. mattbernius says:

    @john personna:

    If the narrative worked that having some partisan feelings made someone a partisan, then everyone would be becoming a Democrat right now, right?”

    John,

    You fundamentally miss the argument that, at least I, have presented in the past on this topic. Yes, people consider themselves independents. But when you look at voting practices, our system typically forces those who actually vote into specific blocks, typically among two parties.

    The net result is that the across election blocks, people tend to vote for one party or the other.

    Yes, these people do occasionally shift. Without a doubt. But thinking that they shift *every election* just doesn’t match the data. Additionally there’s also the question about how shifts are mitigated by the turn out, or lack there of, among people closer to either of the two poles.

    It’s entirely possible that Republicans can recapture people that have recently voted Democratic. But that requires, as you’ve noted here and in the past, a shift in policy. Or other mitigating external factors (i.e. market crash, economic downturn).

    Currently, there has been a shift in Independents towards Democrats in Statewide and national races (since at least 2006). If the Republicans retake the Senate, however, that isn’t necessarily a sign that Independents have shifted back towards the Republican side of the aisle.

    It should also be noted that 2008 and 2012 in particular where characterized by lower turnout among Republicans and stronger turn out among Democrats. That had as much to do with the victories as independent voting rates.

    Which points out a short coming of most polling (and a formula pollsters keep tweeking), how to separate the people who actually *express* political power, from the people who only have “opinions” about politics.

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  69. john personna says:

    I mean, do you want more data?

    The Tea Party Support Dwindles link (also above) notes exactly how many independents were friendly to Teas in 2010 and then 2013:

    2010: Neither support nor oppose: 45%. Support: 30%. Oppose 25%.

    2013: Neither support nor oppose: 54%. Support: 25%. Oppose 21%.

    The first thing to note here is that the majority of independents stayed out of the Tea thing, then and now. “Neither support nor oppose” was the most common position, then and now. At the shoulders you have both supporters and opposition. Those shoulder groups are almost evenly matched. There are just slightly more (4% of the whole!) on the right shoulder.

    That smidgeon of data is what you are hanging your hat on.

    Really, shame on you guys for making that into a great independent creation myth.

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  70. john personna says:

    @mattbernius:

    I think you just reintroduced another argument, one that has not been prevalent in this thread.

    The argument is that no matter what you are in “real life,” the moment you vote, you “fully become a Republican [or Democrat]”

    Obviously that is a religious argument, dependent as it is on transubstantiation.

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  71. john personna says:

    This really is my tl;dr:

    Really, shame on you guys for making that into a great independent creation myth.

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  72. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    Maybe it is a science thing. Testable hypothesis.

    Where is your testable hypothesis?

    It could be that the Tea Party “made” independents as you say, or it could be that the Tea Party “pulled from” independents.

    That is not what I said. I don’t think the tea party made independents nor do I think it pulled from independents that weren’t already reliably conservative on a number of key issues. I think it provided a home for disillusioned Republicans and for conservative people that chose not to identify with the Republican party. I further think that the data supports that position better than it supports yours, that independents really are independent and there is not a large and reliable cohort of supporters of each party within their ranks. That in the recent past fully a quarter of them supported the rebranded right wing of the Republican party is evidence in support of my hypothesis and against yours.
    A vocal and financially well supported version of the tea party has not risen on the Left for whatever reason. One likely reason is Democratic control of the WH and Senate. That said, I think it would be foolish to think that just because the Left didn’t astroturf as well, that there aren’t a fair chunk of disillusioned progressives that are now calling themselves independent despite the fact that their underlying politics have not changed and the likelihood that they will vote Republican is vanishingly small.

    Maybe as Matt hoped, the data would show matching trends?

    The data showed an upswing in a group espousing far right Republican positions after a decrease in Republican self identification, as we would expect. When firebrands in that movement made very public, very foolish mistakes, a number of people were embarrassed to continue identifying with it. Again, as expected. Do you really think that the people that supported the tea party a year ago are in any way demonstrably less conservative now than then? Do you think they will now be in play for Democrats? or, as we would expect, do you think that they remain conservative and will in all likelihood vote for a Republican or sit out the next cycle?
    @john personna:

    The first thing to note here is that the majority of independents stayed out of the Tea thing, then and now.

    Again, you fundamentally miss the point. People here are not saying independents are really the tea party or that independents are closet Republicans. People are saying that a large cohort of independents reliably support one side or the other; some support the right and some the left and some few aren’t reliable supporters of either. You, in my opinion and from what I can tell the opinion of most here, exaggerate the size and importance of the ”aren’t reliable supporters of either” group. We aren’t saying they don’t exist, we are saying they are not the majority. Again, I go back to the Pew poll that you repeatedly go to: when I parsed each group and added up Republicans and Republican leaners (~42%), Democrats and Democratic leaners (~48%), and those with no lean (~10%), the results came out how I predicted. The Pew data supports my (our?) position better than it supports yours.

    At the shoulders you have both supporters and opposition. Those shoulder groups are almost evenly matched.

    and who do you think makes up the shoulder of independents that actively opposes the rebranded right wing of the Republican party? Seems to me that is a pretty good indicator of who they will support come election time.

    The argument is that no matter what you are in “real life,” the moment you vote, you “fully become a Republican [or Democrat]”

    Nope, try again. The moment you vote for one of the major parties you do become a supporter of that party (because you just supported them with your vote). If you do that repeatedly, as previously linked studies have shown many do, then you are a tacit supporter of that party regardless of what you call yourself.

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  73. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    Maybe it is a science thing. Testable hypothesis.

    By the way, I made my prediction (~10% true independents, ie swing voters) prior to examining the recent polling data and it was subsequently born out by the polling data you thoughtfully provided. You have repeatedly created narratives based on the data you read in those polls. You mined the data for a hypothesis (that it poorly supports), then used that same data as support for your hypothesis. That is the opposite of scientific rigor.

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  74. Grewgills says:

    @Grewgills:
    Oops on the ‘responding to’ that should have been to @john personna: not to Matt who was quoting him.

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  75. Tillman says:

    @john personna:

    As opposed to … what have you got? No data and snark?

    Heh. Never bring words to a data fight, is that it?

    @john personna: You’ve been arguing for a week or more about this rather uselessly. No one’s denying people’s positions change over time. What they deny is your assertion that they can’t be reliably classified as “closet partisans” based on voting behavior, literally the only standard we can judge by. Not “partisan feelings,” voting behavior.

    Our electoral system doesn’t allow a lot of leeway in expressing the snowflake that is each and every voter’s opinions on the issues. I think a voter goes in with one or two dominant issues that will sway their vote to one party or the other. Their feelings on other issues don’t matter in the slightest unless those feelings influence their vote. The surveys you cite only show what issues could perhaps influence voting behavior among all the other priorities a voter has in mind when selecting which lever to pull.

    Also, as an aside, don’t be so grandiose as to claim you’ve “tested your hypotheses.” You’ve seen data and inferred conclusions.

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  76. Tillman says:

    @john personna:

    Really Tillman, the polls are all consistent on a central theme.

    Get me at least ten polls* and a scatterplot demonstrating the consistency of this theme. If you want to go full data on this, I’m open to it. I’m too lazy to do the work myself however.

    * Arbitrary number really, but if reading too much Nate Silver has taught me anything about polling, it’s that larger sample sizes almost never hurt.

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  77. john personna says:

    Here’s the thing, my poor “unskewed polls” set of leftists … no one can objectively look at that head and shoulders formation in the independent opposition/neutrality/support for the Teas and see anything other than a moderate group with a slight tilt.

    I think many of you are just hung up on a mental error, you expect “commutation” in set relations. That is, if 40% of Teas are independents, your impulse is to think that 40% of independents must be Teas.

    That’s not the way sets work.

    @Tillman:

    Now, if you can’t see “get me 10 polls” as classic confirmation bias, I can’t really help you.

    But God help you.

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  78. john personna says:

    BTW, reviewing your final arguments, I note full flight from your starting arguments. You absolutely did, many of you, promote this “creation myth” of Republicans becoming independents, as a dodge, lying, self-deluding, etc., and as part of a Tea Party process. So many times we heard that “independents are Teas who don’t want to call themselves Republicans.”

    When that is disproved with data you throw it all over and say “well, you aren’t responding to our real argument.”

    Yes, I was, actually.

    Shame on you for moving the goalposts to trivial ground. Of course about half of independents end up voting for (insert a major party here). That’s a trivial expectation of a non-aligned group in a two-party system.

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  79. john personna says:

    Or even worse, we are at the stage of “argument” where you try to “win” by restating MY starting positions.

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  80. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    I think many of you are just hung up on a mental error, you expect “commutation” in set relations. That is, if 40% of Teas are independents, your impulse is to think that 40% of independents must be Teas.

    Really? You talk about others not reading or understanding arguments and you post this? How many times do I have to type 40% of teas ID as independent and at the time of the Pew poll 25% of independents identified as teas. Apparently four wasn’t enough, maybe five will do the trick.
    How is it that you can shrug off fully a quarter of independents identifying with the far right fringe of the Republican party time after time? It is in the poll that is your hobby horse. Seriously man, you are better than this.

    You absolutely did, many of you, promote this “creation myth” of Republicans becoming independents, as a dodge, lying, self-deluding, etc., and as part of a Tea Party process. So many times we heard that “independents are Teas who don’t want to call themselves Republicans.”

    When that is disproved with data you throw it all over and say “well, you aren’t responding to our real argument.”

    Yes, I was, actually.

    Point to where I, Tillman or Matt (the people that have been engaging you on this for going on two weeks) ever said any such thing. You are still building straw men rather than responding to my original argument. From the start I said that there were about 10% swing voters and that the majority of the rest reliably voted for one side or the other. Early on I stated that the split was probably about 45:45:10 R:D:i . According to the Pew data including leaners it is closer to 42:48:10 R:D:i. In other words the data you linked supported my claim better than yours.
    Note also, I never said the tea party created independents. I did say that the tea party was/is the rebranded far right of the Republican party (rather and obvious point). I then pointed out how many independents supported the tea party to show that at least 25% of independents were closet Republicans or were deluded. You have never dealt with any of that, instead you retreat to vague claims about the Pew poll and straw man our arguments.

    Shame on you for moving the goalposts to trivial ground. Of course about half of independents end up voting for (insert a major party here). That’s a trivial expectation of a non-aligned group in a two-party system.

    Again you miss the meat of the argument. It isn’t that in any particular election that about half go one way and half go another; it is that a good 40% or so on either side reliably go for that same side repeatedly. Polling data was linked showing this and you have repeatedly either ignored that or rationalized it away, then you accuse others of ignoring data.

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  81. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    How is it that you can shrug off fully a quarter of independents identifying with the far right fringe of the Republican party time after time?

    That is a stupid, unsupported, and innumeric claim, right there.

    First of all, no one would rationally say “a quarter” without naming how it lies in relation to the rest of the movement. If “nearly a quarter” oppose, they are virtually in balance.

    2010: Neither support nor oppose: 45%. Support: 30%. Oppose 25%.

    2013: Neither support nor oppose: 54%. Support: 25%. Oppose 21%.

    Second, the poll never did ask independents if they “identifying with the far right fringe of the Republican party.” That was (a) completely made up, and (b) a totally different question.

    So in summation, you take a 5% tilt, label it something else, and say “ta da.”

    Shame on you.

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  82. john personna says:

    Gawd, unskewed polls.

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  83. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    Again you miss the meat of the argument. It isn’t that in any particular election that about half go one way and half go another; it is that a good 40% or so on either side reliably go for that same side repeatedly. Polling data was linked showing this and you have repeatedly either ignored that or rationalized it away, then you accuse others of ignoring data.

    If that was all that was said, and it was said intelligently (ie. that the data set is limited and conclusions are risky), it might be OK.

    But I don’t think you are making those intelligent concessions. As I’ve said before, you are making the Long Term Capital Management mistake. That is, you think future risk can be read from past data.

    That is also a modern kind of innumeracy.

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  84. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    How is it that you can shrug off fully a quarter of independents identifying with the far right fringe of the Republican party time after time?

    That is a stupid, unsupported, and innumeric claim, right there.

    First of all, no one would rationally say “a quarter” without naming how it lies in relation to the rest of the movement. If “nearly a quarter” oppose, they are virtually in balance.

    Work on your reading comprehension.
    Again, I said 25% of independents supported the tea party (ie the far right fringe of the Republican party) making them either closet Republicans or deluded (not understanding what the tea party supports).
    That near that many actively oppose the tea party is further support of my assertion that there is a matching group on the Left. See how that works?

    Second, the poll never did ask independents if they “identifying with the far right fringe of the Republican party.” That was (a) completely made up, and (b) a totally different question.

    Tea party, far right fringe of the Republican party… to may to, to mah to

    So in summation, you take a 5% tilt, label it something else, and say “ta da.”

    Only true if you entirely misread my argument, as you entirely misread the polling results earlier and never fessed up to.

    If that was all that was said, and it was said intelligently (ie. that the data set is limited and conclusions are risky), it might be OK.

    That has been the central theme of MY argument from the start. I simply don’t think the conclusions are as risky as you do given the repetitive behavior shown over time. You, by the way, have no where made those same caveats when you vehemently rejected that argument and repeatedly said that I was calling independents either liars or deluded. I went on to show that 25% of them were exactly that with the polling data you linked. You have yet to acknowledge or counter that fact. You have remained stubborn in your insistence that independent means independent and to say that a large cohort of independents are reliable voters for one party or the other is not only an insult to them, but a personal affront to you.

    That is, you think future risk can be read from past data.

    That is also a modern kind of innumeracy.

    Past behaviors are predictive of future behaviors, that is a simple fact. Past is precedent, history repeats, yada yada yada. Are behaviors 100% predictive? Obviously not. However, if you are looking at large groups of people, say the voting public in the US, then those predictions have proven themselves rather accurate repeatedly over time. That there can be movement at the edges is obvious and has never been in contention here, but we are talking about the herd rather than each individual.
    Your insistence that answers to polling questions tells us more about individuals than their behaviors is, I think. ridiculous. Putting that aside the poling data AND the behaviors both support my hypothesis more strongly than they do yours.

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  85. Tillman says:

    @john personna:

    Now, if you can’t see “get me 10 polls” as classic confirmation bias, I can’t really help you.

    Pot calling the kettle black, john. I thought you were in favor of statistics and data.

    Can I just point out real quick that the CBS News/Esquire poll you’ve continuously referenced is actually an NBC News/Esquire poll? I just, I thought that was indicative of some things.

    Hell, I had a big post (“Q133 under Among Independents of the data shows…”; “So now you propose the Tea Party isn’t far right on issues…”; “…survey is 2,410 registered voters. Aggregate some more polls, kick the total sample up a notch. I thought you loved Big Data…”) all lined up to go, but then I lost all hope after noticing the CBS/NBC mix-up. KariQ even brought it up in the first thread you promoted the survey, and you still missed it and kept referring to it by an improper name for weeks.

    This whole debate has been about categorization, labeling the complex political motives of a voting public, and the dude I’ve been debating (which is charitable to me, it’s been Grewgills and Bernius for most of it) has been misnaming his favorite poll from the start. I’m tagging out.

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  86. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    Here’s the thing, my poor “unskewed polls” set of leftists … no one can objectively look at that head and shoulders formation in the independent opposition/neutrality/support for the Teas and see anything other than a moderate group with a slight tilt.

    One can easily see in that, a right shoulder that reliably votes with Republicans, a left shoulder that reliably votes with Democrats, and a rather small head that turns depending on circumstance.

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  87. john personna says:

    One can easily see in that, a right shoulder that reliably votes with Republicans, a left shoulder that reliably votes with Democrats, and a rather small head that turns depending on circumstance

    Again, a basic denial of the data.

    2010: Neither support nor oppose: 45%. Support: 30%. Oppose 25%.

    2013: Neither support nor oppose: 54%. Support: 25%. Oppose 21%.

    The head is the biggest segment in any recorded data set.

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  88. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    You are not playing “pot,” you are playing “my no data is as good as your data.”

    If you have data, bring it, otherwise admit that you are a stubbornly holding onto a belief in the face of all data so far provided.

    [I've dropped quite a few more studies than the CBS data, including a few more just a few posts above. They are all self-consistent, and consistent with my framing.]

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  89. john personna says:

    @Tillman:

    BTW, you are mischaracterizing what I said about Teas. I said that you can’t just substitute one question for another.

    That is basic honesty in polling. If the question is:

    Do you consider yourself to be [rotated: a supporter of the Tea Party movement, an opponent of the Tea Party movement], or neither,

    You don’t just get to make it into this:

    Do you consider yourself to be [rotated: a supporter of the far right fringe of the Republican party, an opponent of the far right fringe of the Republican party], or neither,

    That is just basic honesty, not least because the two ideas are likely to summon up different bundles of ideas with those being polled.

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  90. grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    The head in my formulation is the 10% of independents with no lean, that is they go either way.
    Way to pick out and focus on trivia though.

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  91. grewgills says:

    Do you consider yourself to be [rotated: a supporter of the far right fringe of the Republican party, an opponent of the far right fringe of the Republican party], or neither,

    That is just basic honesty, not least because the two ideas are likely to summon up different bundles of ideas with those being polled.

    Only if you don’t know what the tea party and the far right of the Republican party each represent. As I said to-may-to, to-mah-to.
    This, by the way, is yet another reason why behavior (voting and contributions) tells us more than answers to poll questions.

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  92. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    It is not trivia to use a direct poll question and answer, and that is very different than a reduced data set, a judgement call, someone’s idea of “lean.”

    Lean is not a thing you can measure. You get that right? I can stand on a scale and you know my weight. I can tell you how I voted in the last 3 Presidential elections (all Democrats!), but none of those things are lean.

    Lean is an argument, and Doctor X’s paper on lean can produce an answer completely different than Doctor Y’s. Because they are judgement calls.

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  93. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    Only if you don’t know what the tea party and the far right of the Republican party each represent. As I said to-may-to, to-mah-to.

    That shows a lack of self restraint on your part.

    When we talk about polls we should ALWAYS report the question being asked verbatim, the results verbatim, and then explain our conclusions, which may be extensions of that.

    But here you are making another wholly unsupported argument. For those two phrases “the Tea Party movement” and “the far right fringe of the Republican party” to be equivalent, they have to be equivalent to the people being polled. Not to you. Not to me.

    The only way to GET that answer is to poll it. THEN you get your license to use the result.

    Until then it is either extreme political ignorance or basic dishonesty.

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  94. grewgills says:

    Once again John, I wish you were right. I wish that near 40% of the electorate weren’t more or less in the bag for each party. I fervently wish that there really were 40% in the center that carefully looked at each candidate on the ballot and checked how closely that candidate hewed to their beliefs and interests, then voted for the best match regardless of political affiliation. It would be better for our democracy if it were true and it would force political parties and politicians to work much harder at representing the American people as a whole. Unfortunately that is not what I see and it is not what the data shows.

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  95. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    That was always a bit of a strawman, that independents must not have any ideas in their heads.

    The truth, supported by the polling, is that they do have ideas and even strong beliefs. Those ideas and beliefs just do not include partisan identification.

    To use the Esquire-NBC News survey (yes, that is the real name) a Minivan Moderate is not the same as a Whatever Man.

    Which ones of those also identified as Tea Party supporters?

    We can guess, but we don’t know. That wasn’t polled. We do now that on this question:

    Government should do more to solve problems and help meet the needs of people vs. Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.

    The Minivan Moderate and Whatever Men split.

    As we would expect of a diverse and unaligned group.

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  96. john personna says:

    Just to mix up my sources some more a Pew study from 2009.

    Republicans and Democrats hold increasingly divergent views about the role of government, the environment and many other issues. As the partisan divide widens, the overall course of the public’s thinking is being determined by the tilt in opinions among the growing number of independents, who have a more moderate ideological point of view.

    The political values of independents are mixed and run counter to orthodox liberal and conservative thinking about government. Over the past two years, both Republicans and independents have become more wary of expanding the social safety net. However, most independents join with most Democrats in saying that a free market economy needs government regulation to best serve the public interest. In effect, the public’s two-mindedness about government is a product of the way that independents, not partisans, think.

    That is all consistent with my notes on a “position space” and diverse individuals within it, and politicians and parties angling for votes within it.

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  97. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    That was always a bit of a strawman, that independents must not have any ideas in their heads.

    I find it rather amusing that you accuse me of creating a strawman in the same sentence that you straw man my argument. That one pegged out my irony meter.

    To use the Esquire-NBC News survey (yes, that is the real name) a Minivan Moderate is not the same as a Whatever Man.

    To be charitable those ad hoc groupings are very near to meaningless.

    As we would expect of a diverse and unaligned group.

    Independents are a diverse group. but their behaviors and political leanings show that only some of them are unaligned. We all agree that they are no uniformly aligned to one side, however the shoulders are aligned. Again from the poll you linked ~48% of voters are Democrats or Dem leaners, ~42% are Republicans or GOP leaners, and ~10% don’t lean either way. It follows then that the grouping of self identified independents contains within it a large cohort of Republican supporters* and a large cohort of Democratic supporters, and a smaller cohort that does not support either side reliably.
    We are repeating ourselves now and have been for a while. I have lost faith that you will engage my actual argument rather than either picking at the edges or mischaracterizing it completely, so I will leave you to it.
    You are generally much better than this.

    * tea party identification is another evidence for this

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  98. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    First, this certainly was a straw man:

    I fervently wish that there really were 40% in the center that carefully looked at each candidate on the ballot and checked how closely that candidate hewed to their beliefs and interests, then voted for the best match regardless of political affiliation.

    It set some arbitrarily high standard, your high standard, for independence.

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  99. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    First of all, no one would rationally say “a quarter” without naming how it lies in relation to the rest of the movement.

    Missed this earlier. Small i independent is not a movement, it is simply a grouping of people that do not self identify with either Democrats or Republicans. People choosing to call themselves independent tells us very little. There are many possible reasons other than lack of partisans leaning that have been gone over at length. What we can see from polling and from repeated behaviors is that within that catch all (catch many) grouping are a large cohort of supporters of each political party. Why you continue to deny this despite the mountain of evidence (including evidence you have linked) is frankly mind boggling. That you do so while accusing those arguing against you of ignoring the data is comically ironic.

    And now I will do my best to leave this alone.

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  100. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    To be charitable those ad hoc groupings are very near to meaningless.

    As I say, I’ve been bringing the data, and you’ve been waving it away, stubbornly persisting in your “pre-data beliefs.”

    As it happens though, the Pew results independently arrive at the same conclusion:

    The political values of independents are mixed and run counter to orthodox liberal and conservative thinking about government.

    How long can you prefer your private reality to the real one, measured by polls?

    (You go on about “leaners” again, but you should understand by now that this is a very imperfect reduction of a rich data set. We KNOW that there are different flavors of independents, if you pick one of two “leans” for them you are doing far far worse than CBS/Esquire, and their attempt to actually understand them.)

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  101. grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    I do it, every voter should do it, and I fervently wish that most did.
    Do you have a standard for independent beyond, “I say I am, so I am”?

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  102. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    It is a “movement” only in the narrow sense “to abandon political identification.”

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  103. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    An independent is just one thing, a person who does not claim membership, partisanship, in a political party.

    It’s very simple, and self-selected.

    No one, not me, not you, gets to second-guess it.

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  104. john personna says:

    BTW, that one line from Pew,

    The political values of independents are mixed and run counter to orthodox liberal and conservative thinking about government.

    validates everything I’ve been saying.

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  105. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    As I say, I’ve been bringing the data, and you’ve been waving it away, stubbornly persisting in your “pre-data beliefs.”

    I have repeatedly cited the data you linked. I have not waived it away, rather I have used it to dismantle your thesis and support my own. It seems that you are the only one that hasn’t seen this.

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  106. grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    More from the Pew poll you linked:

    In recent years, the public has become increasingly averse to partisan labels. Pew Research Center polling over the first quarter of 2011 finds 37% of Americans identifying as independents, up from 30% in 2005 and 35% last year. Over the past 70 years, the only other time that independent identification reached a similar level was in 1992, the year when Ross Perot was a popular independent presidential candidate.

    The growing rejection of partisan identification does not imply a trend toward political moderation, however. In fact, the number of people describing their political ideology as moderate has, if anything, been dropping.

    and

    While a majority of New Coalition Democrats identify with the Democratic Party, many consider themselves independents (though most say they lean toward the Democratic Party).

    and

    The voting behavior of the typology groups in the past two election cycles is consistent with each group’s underlying partisan leanings

    That is three snippets from Pew that validate what I have been saying.

    I am apparently terrible at leaving this alone.

    BTW have you resorted to the down vote button John? tsk tsk if you have. “Idiot downvoter” and all ;-)

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  107. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    No. You have worse than lost, you have been dishonest.

    You were dishonest when you pointed to “25%” rather than a 5% tilt.

    You were dishonest when you claimed a “small head” rather than a “majority head”.

    You were dishonest when you converted a “Tea Party” poll into a “far right fringe of the Republican party” poll.

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  108. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    As I said earlier, we are at the stage of “argument” where you try to “win” by restating MY starting positions.

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  109. john personna says:

    Let’s look at where YOU started:

    It doesn’t explain the movement on the Left, but it is where a fair chunk of the right went. Simply look at what the tea party espouses (strict social and fiscal conservatism, moreso than establishment Republicans), then look at self identification within the tea party (~53% R and 41% i), then look at how many so called independents aligned with the tea party before its recent fall (~25%). All of that points to Republicans fleeing their party in name, only to support its far right wing as tea partiers.* The tea party, while it enjoys public support, will be the home to the far right of the Republican party that choose not to identify with the Republican party. Why do you have such a hard time admitting this?

    That is what you’ve backed away from, as each item of THAT was disproved, only now to say “well, some people lean.”

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  110. john personna says:

    All of that points to Republicans fleeing their party in name, only to support its far right wing as tea partiers.

    There never was any data to support that, was there?

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  111. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    No one, not me, not you, gets to second-guess it.

    Now that is just ridiculous. Of course if someone claims to be one thing and their behavior shows something else any sane person second guesses their claim.
    If I claim to be faithful to my wife, yet I sleep with every woman I can, then everyone would be correct to second guess my claim. Not to do so would be naive to the point of idiocy. Likewise, if someone claims to not to support either party, yet votes for one party in election after election, we are all correct to second guess their claim.

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  112. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    So now you are back to “they’re lying?”

    If that’s true you can’t trust ANY poll, can you? Surely all the polls you use can be lies too?

    Not that bright a path there for your argument.

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  113. john personna says:

    Oh, I forgot “only people right of center lie” and thus your world view is confirmed.

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  114. grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    I in no way back away from that statement. Not one item of that has been disproven and it is consistent with my unchanged argument. Later movement away from the tea party when they radically overstepped does not show that Republicans that chose to move away from the Republican label at the time of the polling referenced did not find a home in the tea party. The large number of self identified independents supporting the tea party (25%) and the large number of tea party members identifying as independent (41%) support that statement.

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  115. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    So now you are back to “they’re lying?”

    A white lie maybe. Tillman is officially an independent by the formulation of the polling you referenced. He is also a supporter of the Democratic party near exclusively if I remember correctly. I wouldn’t call him a liar for that, though I guess in some technical sense he may be. He just doesn’t want to be bothered. He is not alone in that. Others like to seem above the fray. Are they lying? Some of them maybe.

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  116. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    Oh, I forgot “only people right of center lie” and thus your world view is confirmed.

    Yet another straw man. There must be no crows within a five mile radius of your computer.
    I have several times pointed out that we are kidding ourselves if we don’t think there are progressives/liberals that choose to call themselves independents despite being reliably left wing and reliably supporting Democratic candidates. Try again.

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  117. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    You were dishonest when you pointed to “25%” rather than a 5% tilt.

    According to the poll YOU linked 25% of self identified independents supported the tea party (the far right of the Republican party). That another part of that group (the opposite shoulder) opposed them supports my position, not yours.

    You were dishonest when you claimed a “small head” rather than a “majority head”.

    10% (those with no lean to D or R) is a small head. Anatomically speaking that is not far off, but it is a small minority of the whole. If I were speaking solely of tea party support/opposition rather than party support you would be correct, but it would still go against your broader point as it would still show nearly half of independents as ‘closet partisans’ (aka reliable voters).

    You were dishonest when you converted a “Tea Party” poll into a “far right fringe of the Republican party” poll.

    Look at the positions of the tea party next to the far right of the Republican party and show me the differences.

    That’s 0 for 3 there buddy. Are you sure you want to keep this up?

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  118. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    As I said earlier, we are at the stage of “argument” where you try to “win” by restating MY starting positions.

    Was YOUR starting position that self identification means less than behavior?
    Was YOUR starting position that 40%+ of self identified independents are reliable supporters of each party and that 10% or so are catchable by either party?
    Was YOUR starting position that support of a far right group by a substantial cohort of self identified independents (25%) undercuts the proposition that independents are really independent and to claim that substantial numbers of them are closet partisans is both wrong and insulting?
    If not, then you are wrong again. If so, I’m not sure where our disagreement is.

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  119. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    I took the poll and answered the questions honestly. Apparently I am part of the MBA middle, so stop calling me a Left wing partisan, I’m part of the New American Center.
    Of course I think my views should be the center, but they aren’t despite what NBC and Esquire say.

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  120. john personna says:

    I have started and stayed on one position:

    That is all consistent with my notes on a “position space” and diverse individuals within it, and politicians and parties angling for votes within it.

    I have found diverse sources of polling to support that position.

    I haven’t had to move one bit.

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  121. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    No, despite the upvotes all those were dishonest inventions.

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  122. grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    Nonsense. You have done exactly nothing to show that any one of them was an invention or in the slightest dishonest.

    25% of independents surveyed in the Pew poll you linked supported the tea party. There is no dishonesty or distortion there. That another cohort in the poll said the opposite in no way negates that 25% period. Just because it points to conclusions that you don’t like and does serious damage to your argument doesn’t make it so.

    10% with no lean is directly from the poll you linked. Again, how is it dishonest to point that out?

    You cannot find a cogent argument that makes the tea party anything but the rebranded far right of the Republican party so you resort to hand waving and accusations of dishonesty. Once more, you have nothing.

    Come back with a real argument to show that any of my assertions were incorrect or admit you cannot.

    Are you so butt hurt and dug in that you can’t admit the obvious, that there are closet partisans (or reliable supporters if you prefer) that choose to call themselves independent? Seriously man, you are usually so much better than this.

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  123. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    Nonsense. You have done exactly nothing to show that any one of them was an invention or in the slightest dishonest.

    25% of independents surveyed in the Pew poll you linked supported the tea party.

    That is a perfect example.

    When the true story is this:

    2013: Neither support nor oppose: 54%. Support: 25%. Oppose 21%.

    You have to be completely DISHONEST to pull out the 25% like it tells the story.

    I mean, WTF not the 54%?

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  124. john personna says:

    (Reporting the 3 numbers together is honest. Reporting the 5% tilt is honest. Reporting only the 25% as if it were the whole picture, and explained the independents is both stupid and dishonest.)

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  125. john personna says:

    BTW, “parsimonious with the truth” is another way to say “liar.”

    When you only say “25% of independents surveyed in the Pew poll” you are clearly being parsimonious, and unwilling to discuss the full results, nor to follow them to their logical conclusions.

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  126. grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    In other words, on two out of three of your accusations of invention and dishonesty you have nothing and on the other you have an exceedingly thin reed to cling to. That is rather weak tea.

    By your formulation of honest discourse, if polling showed 32:40:28 support for D:iR it would be dishonest to say that Democrats or the Left in American politics had 32% support, but it would be honest to say that Democrats or the Left enjoyed a 4% advantage in support over the Right. That is obviously ridiculous. The first assertion is plainly and directly supported by the polling while the second is an unfounded inference that ignores the leanings of the plurality of voters.

    When you only say “25% of independents surveyed in the Pew poll” you are clearly being parsimonious, and unwilling to discuss the full results, nor to follow them to their logical conclusions.

    I repeatedly mentioned the 21% active disapproval of the tea party in my argument so your accusation that I left it out is demonstrably false. You are the one here that is unwilling or unable to follow the facts to their logical conclusion.

    You tacking ad hominem on the tail of your comment is another demonstration of the weakness of your argument. Once again you have nothing.

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  127. grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    You have to be completely DISHONEST to pull out the 25% like it tells the story.

    It doesn’t tell THE story, but it does tell A story.
    I can’t help but laugh at the irony of someone who talks about poorly defined, after the fact, ad hoc groupings like ‘whatever men’ as though they are meaningful and dismisses a grouping based on a direct poll question. You are venturing into SD territory here.

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  128. john personna says:

    @grewgills:

    It doesn’t tell THE story, but it does tell A story.
    I can’t help but laugh at the irony of someone who talks about poorly defined, after the fact, ad hoc groupings like ‘whatever men’ as though they are meaningful and dismisses a grouping based on a direct poll question. You are venturing into SD territory here.

    And that sir, reads as a complete rationalization of a dishonest argument.

    In fact, you just admitted that “It doesn’t tell THE story” and then after that stunning admission, you attack my arguments!

    A little honesty would have stopped you right there, after “It doesn’t tell THE story.”

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  129. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:
    Ridiculous. THE story is made up of many smaller stories. That 25% of self described independents supported the rebranded far right wing of the Republican party is A story that is part of the larger story. The larger story that it supports is that a substantial number of self described independents are actually closet partisans (or reliable supporters) of one party or the other.

    If Pew had asked of self identified independents, “Do you support or oppose the American Socialist party?” and the responses had come back 25% support, 21% oppose, and 54% no opinion, the 25% support for the American Socialist party would tell us something; it would tell us that fully 25% of independents supported the far left fringe of the Democratic party.That the other 75% don’t support it leaves open the possibility that they are indeed independent, but the 25% that do support it are not neutral in the rivalry between the Dems and the GOP. That 25% would in fact be partisans that would reliably side with the Democrats against the Republicans. Again, that would not be THE story (aka the entire picture of what independents are), but it would tell us something rather important about that 25%. Can you really not see that?

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