A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Americans Are Becoming More Trusting Of The Gummiment

by evanmcmurry

2010 is looking more and more like the rightest point of a pendulum swing. The new proof: the American public is becoming more trusting of the federal government:

51% of Americans polled believe the gummiment has too much power, compared to 40% who believe it has just the right amount, and eight percent not enough. Compare these numbers to the end of 2010, when they broke down 59/33/8. That’s a 15 point swing in favor of a comfortable level of government power:

Further, when asked whether the government should be doing more to solve the country’s problems, 54% said no while 39% said yes—a 12 point swing from the 61/34 breakdown in 2010:

In both cases, the numbers are almost exactly where they were in 2008. That’s extremely significant: conservatives have been blah-blah-blahing about how polls showing Obama ahead are using 2008 voter models rather than 2010 models, which predict a Romney victory. But while turnout remains the great variable, the political positioning of voters seems much closer to the group that elected Obama than the one that ushered in the tea party.

It also goes without saying that the more active voters want the government to be, the better for Democrats. The last time the government polled above water, Bill Clinton ended twelve years of Republican rule.

NB: If I were a conservative, I’d make the case that people trust the government more since 2010 because the tea party reformed it/reduced it. Expect a Michelle Malkin article to this effect.

Obama Now Up By Five Among Likely Voters, Convention Bounce Or No

by evanmcmurry

Though the headline says Obama’s lead “narrows,” he still is ahead in Monday’s Reuters/Ipsos poll by five among likely voters, the group most likely to tend rightward.* Keep in mind, the two candidates were statistically tied at the beginning of the conventions. As we’re almost two full weeks past the convention, there’s good reason to think this is no longer a long convention bounce we’re seeing, but a reflection of Romney’s stumbles: the public did not view his response to the Libya attacks favorably at all. And this is all before the Politico story on Romney’s shambling campaign or the revelation of a video showing Romney disparaging half the country as moochers, the former of which likely won’t matter to voters, but the latter of which could be devastating.

All of this means Obama’s five point lead is not likely to fade in the next week, at least. This has historical precedence, as Ezra Kelin explains:

The least-stable period of the campaign isn’t early in the year or in the fall. It’s the summer. That’s because the conventions have a real and lasting effect on a campaign.

“The party that gains pre- to post-convention on average improves by 5.2 percentage points as measured from our pre- and post-convention benchmarks,” write Erikson and Wlezien. “On average, the party that gains from before to after the conventions maintains its gain in the final week’s polls. In other words, its poll numbers do not fade but instead stay constant post-conventions to the final week.”

In other words, Obama’s five point lead is dead on, statistically, and likely to be permanent.

Also noteworthy: Obama is now leading Romney on who would do a better job on the economy, one of the only areas on which Romney has been beating the president, and the logic for his entire campaign.

* In contradistinction to registered voters, or the public in general.

Richard Mourdock Now A Very Expensive Mistake For Republicans

by evanmcmurry

The other day I wrote that Republicans must be pretty pissed about the prospect of spending money in the Indiana Senate race—which was a safe Republican seat until tea party cannonball Richard Mourdock blew longtime incumbent Dick Lugar (R-Forever) out of the Republican primary—especially now that said cannonball is having to reverse himself and run as, essentially, a Dick Lugar-type politician.

Right on cue, here comes the spending:

Senate Republicans will jump into Indiana’s pitched Senate battle this week, responding to a Democratic ad-buy with one of their own as they seek control of the Senate in November.

The National Republican Senate Committee will spend $650,000 on an ad that will run statewide on broadcast and cable for one week starting Tuesday. A Republican Party source tracking ad buys confirmed the new spot Sunday on condition of anonymity because it has not aired yet.

The NRSC buy tops Senate Democrats’, who have spent $516,000 on a spot airing at the same time, and marks the committee’s first foray on air in Indiana this cycle.

And so, in one week, the NRSC has had to throw in more money than their Democratic counterparts, all to keep a seat that should never have been in play.

With Todd Akin making Missouri less of a sure get for the Republicans, Elizabeth Warren jumping ahead of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, and Mourdock unable to put Joe Donnelly away, the Republican are having to work much harder than initially thought to take the Senate.

So About That Guy Who Thought Elizabeth Warren Was Too Controversial To Speak At The DNC…

by evanmcmurry

Politics moves so fast these days that it can sometimes be hard to remember to hold people accountable for the dumb shit they say. As a corrective to that, let’s all take a stroll to exactly six weeks ago, when Luke Russert tweeted this gem:

Indeed! Never mind that Warren is one of the strongest and most articulate critics of Republican economic policies, that her being a lightning rod for criticism is actually nothing more than her voicing what should be the thesis statement of the Democrat platform, and that she’s running to reclaim a seat for the D column that could decide control of the Senate.

Anyhoo, how’d all that criticism end up?

Two new surveys put Scott Brown’s Democratic challenger in the lead, one by 6 points and the other by 2.

This represents a significant shift from a few weeks ago, when Brown seemed to be opening a healthy lead, and suggests that the Democrats’ successful Charlotte convention – which featured a prime-time appearance by Warren – has helped energize the Democratic base and brings traditionally Democratic voters home. (via Steve Kornacki)

The first poll, which showed Warren up by six, initially appeared to be an outlier, and was rightly distrusted by Pierce and others. But when joined by the second that shows her up by 2—still a sizable swing from her pre-convention numbers—there’s no disputing that something turned this race around. As Pierce points out, not a single other credible event has occurred that could explain this shift except for a prime-time appearance before a national audience. And Kornacki quotes Public Policy Polling as crediting her rise entirely to bringing Brown-curious Democrats back into the fold—in other words, the exact group that would have been watching Warren’s speech.

Warren and Brown start a series of four debates on Thursday, which will likely change this race around a lot, so none of this really matters. But the next time you hear some pipsqueak advise that you silence one of your most articulate members for fear of—gasp—criticism, tell em to cram it with walnuts.