Monday, January 18, 2016

These Two Charts Should Scare All Democratic Voters

I'm serious about that headline. Democrats could well shoot themselves in the foot in the coming election -- and condemn this country to four years of a Trump or Cruz presidency (and that would be disastrous).

The top chart is from the Gallup Poll. It was done throughout 2015 of a random national sample of 12,137 adults, and has only a 1 point margin of error. It shows that there is only a 3 point difference between Democrats and their leaners and the Republicans and their leaners -- far closer than it has been in the past. That means the 2016 general election could be much closer than some predict.

We know that a high percentage of Republicans will vote (as they have since 2010). That means the Democrats need to turn out their vote in an equally large percentage. But that might not happen.

The bottom chart is from the NBC News / Wall Street Journal Poll -- done between January 9th and 13th of a random national sample of 400 likely Democratic voters, with a 4.9 point margin of error. It asked those Democratic voters if they could support each of the Democratic candidates -- and a shockingly large percentage said they could not (with 18% saying they couldn't support Clinton and 25% saying they couldn't support Sanders).

I hope that was just some primary bravado, and once the nominee is chosen Democrats will come back together and vote for that nominee. Because if those numbers are true, and 18% to 25% of Democrats either stay home or vote for a third party -- then the Democrats will lose, and a Republican will be elected president.

With the House likely staying in Republican hands (and maybe even the Senate), having a Republican president  would mean real trouble for the United States. Such an administration would double-down on the failed trickle-down economic policy -- giving the rich and corporations more tax cuts, while cutting programs that help children, the unemployed, the poor, and low-wage workers (vastly increasing the wealth and income gap between the rich and the rest of us).

It would mean more pollution, and four more years of ignoring global climate change. It would mean cuts in Social Security benefits and a raising of the retirement age -- and could well see the dissolution of Medicare (and Obamacare). And it would probably mean one or two more right-wingers on the Supreme Court (which could undo decades of social progress).

We simply cannot let that happen. Democrats are free to support any of the three candidates during the primary season -- because all three of them would be a hundred times better than any of the possible GOP candidates. But once the nominee is chosen, we must come together. We cannot afford a "sour grapes" attitude that would have any of us staying home or voting third party.

I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton -- but if Bernie Sanders is able to win the nomination, I will vote for him (or Martin O'Malley). That's because I love this country too much to not vote for a Democrat in the coming election. I hope you feel the same way. We just cannot afford to have an extremist right-winger in the White House.


  1. I am not scared. This is a well studied phenomenon. People always say this in the primaries and they always come around in the general. Look at Trump's still high "won't vote for." He'll still get at least 40% in the general -- and almost all of the Republicans who claim they would never vote for him. Although if you look at how petty the conservative Labour Party members are being about Jeremy Corbyn, who knows what would happen if the Democrats nominated Sanders.

    But I don't worry about any of that. The real thing to worry about is that we go into recession (which is a real possibility right now). If that happens, the Democrats still have a chance because the Republicans are so awful. But it's just a chance. If the economy stays strong, the Republicans don't have any chance at all, even if Jesus Christ comes back and runs as a Republican.

  2. I hope you are right, and that most Democrats "come home" on election day (like the Republicans are sure to do). Even if they do, it could still be close -- and the critical thing is what the 13% of true Independents decide to do. Will they even vote -- and if so, for whom? This is shaping up to be a very interesting election (for political junkies like ourselves).

  3. I also agree that the worst thing that could happen for Democrats is a new recession -- and all the same components are there to make one possible (the same components that caused the last one).

  4. Have you seen a similar "would not vote for..." poll conducted among Republicans? I have the gut feeling (without data) that Republican enthusiasm is so candidate-specific that large number of Trump supporters will not go to the polls to vote for Rubio and that Cruz' consituency would not vote for Trump.

    Another dynamic is that of voters voting not "for" a candidate but against the other one. I believe it was Ann Coulter who said she feared Sanders because she expects the Republicans to come out in force against Hillary, but doesn't see the same dynamic if Sanders in the Democratic candidate.


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