Thursday, May 26, 2005

Polling question
It's now been over six months since the election. For that entire six months the advice on how to win the last election hasn't stopped. In general, the advice comes in two forms. We either need to be more like our enemies in some way or we need to distance ourselves from our friends. The former is the demand that we need to embrace red state values, wear religion on our sleeves, be more war-like, and stop fussing about civil rights. The latter is the demand that we stop talking like intellectuals, stop defending homos, start bashing Hollywood, and denounce Michael Moore. Both sides agree that we must mention the superiority of the "heartland" in every speech and never hurt a Southerner's tender feelings by being different from them.

Everyone can produce some poll to prove their point. And none of it convinces me.

Most of the post-mortem polls from the last election examine why people voted the way they did. Setting aside the issue of people lying to the polls, these polls still are not very helpful. They do not explain why people didn't vote a different way. "I voted for the Republican because he shares my religion," does not mean the same as "I would have voted for a Democrat if there had been one who shared my religion." Polls that tell us what people say they value and what they say was the deciding factor in how they voted does not give us a clear indication of what would have made them change their vote. (If such polling does exist, I'd love it if someone would point it out to me.)

This is the core of my problem with most "be more conservative" advice (well, that and the fact that I'm not a moderate; I am a liberal). If people think they want Republicans, why should they vote for fake ones when they can have real ones? We can only win by being unapologetically who we are and convincing people that we are what they want. We need some leftist populism. We need a little class warfare. We need to stop looking at the important swing group du jour as defined by lifestyle columnists. Why on earth did anyone think "Nascar dads" were swingable; they're a Republican core constituency. We need to figure out who the real swingable groups are (like conservationist hunters) and work them.

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