Watching The Pendulum

Eric Ostermeier at Smart Pollitics (a Humphrey Institute joint) notes that more voters are identifying themselves as “conservatives”:

While the last two election cycles have seen Upper Midwestern Republicans lose seats in state legislatures, lose seats to the U.S. House, and lose statewide elections for the U.S. Senate and the presidency, the conservative brand seems to be catching fire once again.A Smart Politics analysis of more than 160 polls conducted in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin finds that the percentage of residents identifying themselves as having a conservative political ideology has been on the rise in each state since 2007.

The story – which you should read in its entirety – notes that conservative identification dropped starting in about 2005, and of course helped lead to last year’s debacle:

In 2005, one-third (33.4 percent) of Minnesota residents identified themselves as conservative, in a yearly aggregation of SurveyUSA polling data. That number was slightly higher for conservatives in Wisconsin (36.0 percent) and Iowa (36.6 percent).

In 2006, the percentage of Minnesotans identifying as conservatives plunged 5.3 points (15.9 percent) to just 28.1 percent of Gopher State residents. Self-identified conservatives in Iowa also declined by 5.1 points (13.9 percent) to 31.5 percent that year, with the largest drop occurring in Wisconsin, with a 6.1-point decline (16.9 percent) to 29.9 percent. In that November’s election cycle, Republicans lost control of the Minnesota House, the Iowa House, the Wisconsin Senate, as well as three U.S. House seats (MN-01, IA-01, WI-08).

It dropped again in 2007 and 2008 – and we know how that turned out.

But having Democrats in the driver’s seat is usually a good thing for creating conservatives:

In Minnesota, those Gopher State residents identifying as conservative increased by 1.3 points in 2008 (to 27.8 percent) and by another 1.2 points to 29.0 percent in an aggregation of polling data through the first five months of 2009. This marks the largest percentage of Minnesotans viewing themselves as conservative since 2005…In all three states, conservatism is at its highest peak over the last four years.

Ostermeier notes that “moderates” outnumber both liberals and conservatives.  Which is both good and bad news; “Moderate” isn’t a philosophy, it’s the absence of one; it’s a vacuum.  The real  trick is to fill more of those vacuums with something that’ll make ‘em want to come to the polls and vote conservatives. Indeed, that’s been the trick in the last several Minnesota elections:

  1. In 1990, Arne Carlson filled the moderates with fatigue with the antics of Rudy Perpich.
  2. In 1998, Jesse Ventura filled enough of them with the desire to prank everyone else.
  3. In 2002, Pawlenty convinced a majority of Minnesotans that stupidity was a bad thing.

Here’s the one part that I bet hardly anyone expected:

Still, conservatives outnumber liberals by a large margin in all three states. In 2009, there are 1.6 conservatives for every liberal in Minnesota, 2.0 conservatives for every liberal in Wisconsin, and 2.1 conservatives for every liberal in Iowa.

So there’s the job…

32 thoughts on “Watching The Pendulum

  1. You’re right about the Jesse Ventura election. Personally I wanted to stick it to both parties at the time, having suffered through the patheic Arne Carlson regime.

  2. “Moderate” isn’t a philosophy, it’s the absence of one; it’s a vacuum.”

    So by this definition, if a person does not hold a view at either extreme of the spectrum, they don’t have a philosophy – a valid political belief????????

    Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were treated here to the statement that REAL conservatives don’t go in for labels? or at least, assumptions about people based on labels? This would contradict that statement.

    It would appear from this analysis that the GOP has lost the majority of the conservative vote, and that the Democrats gained it.

    Far more likely is the question was phrased in a way that skews the numbers. Among other things during my college days, I did some part time work for a market research company that among other things did political polls. How questions were worded could radically change the results. Any chance you could provide the wording of the survey that produced these results? Were the terms conservative, moderate, and liberal defined? Conservative, moderate, or liberal in comparison to…. what? or more precisely, to whom?

    This is all the more interesting given the recent decision to resign by David Souter from the Supreme Court. Souter was appointed to court by George H. W. Bush, as an attempt to put a conservative in place. Souter has voted consistently with the more liberal segment. Whoops! Guess those labels are a little faulty! Souter was a surprise, but far from the first or the only justice where that has happened. The most interesting judicial discussion taking place at the moment are not whether Sotomayor is a bigot, but the degree to which an examination of her past judicial decisions might accurately predict her voting in the future, if and when she is on the Supreme Court bench. There is very credible speculation that Sotomayor, considered by most to be a moderate, and by some self-identified conservatives to be a radical, will in fact vote more conservatively than Souter.

  3. Dog Gone said:

    “as an attempt to put a conservative in place”

    Also an assumption, but if true a spectacular failure. But “labels” are at fault here?

    Can you define the “moderate” political philosophy please? I mean, you know, without referring to the poles.

  4. Doggie, George H. W. Bush was the very definition of “moderate”. His appointment of Souter wasn’t an attempt to place a conservative on the bench. Neither man is conservative.

    Sotomayor certainly has made bigoted proclamations, but that is not surprising. Liberal ideology tends towards bigotry.

  5. I would say, Kermit, that liberal ideology tends to make many, if not all, human problems collective problems. Collective problems require a collective solution, so a liberal will identify group characteristics with individual characteristics. This easily passes for bigotry but it is not quite the same thing.

  6. “Moderate” isn’t a philosophy, it’s the absence of one; it’s a vacuum.

    Nonsense. If you average my political beliefs, I’m a moderate: I want government out of my wallet (conservative) and out of my bedroom (liberal).

    “Conservative” and “liberal” are far-too-broad labels on a single, linear spectrum that tries to describe beliefs which are at least three dimensional.

  7. Andrew,
    Wanting the government out of your bedroom isn’t really a liberal idea… much in the same way that wanting the government in your bedroom is a conservative idea.

  8. Who would be more likely to support a law requiring all beds to be made after rising. liberals or conservatives?

  9. Andrew,

    A fair point – and by that measure, most people are “moderate” to one degree or another. I”m a rock-ribbed conservative – but I oppose the death penalty and the “war on drugs” and don’t especially object to Civil Unions.

    But you tip off my response; “If you average my political beliefs“. You have beliefs; you are way to the right on guns, likely enough off to the left on others.

    Let me ask it this way; what would be the platform for a “Moderate Party?”

  10. Pingback: Hot Air » Blog Archive » Conservatism on the upswing in Minnesota, Midwest?

  11. Conservatives have consistently outnumbered liberals in political self-identification, right around 3-2. The left has assumed (falsely) that the personal support people have for Obama right now translates into support for their agenda. The polling on the specific issues does not support that contention.

    Obama got elected because of personal magnetism, not because of his political views. The more Obama is associated with his actual political views, the lower his popularity will be.

    All the polling in the world doesn’t ultimately matter. The concrete effects of Obama’s policies do. His cap-and-trade plan will add thousands in energy costs per household. His increase in CAFE standards will add thousands to the cost of vehicles and force engineers to trade safety (which adds weight) for less weight and more efficiency. His reckless spending is likely to cause an inflationary spiral like we haven’t seen.

    If Obama gets what he wants, the results will speak for themselves and Obama’s personal magnetism will be unable to save him from millions of Americans angered at how badly their standard of living has declined.

  12. Jay Reding says:
    “Conservatives have consistently outnumbered liberals in political self-identification, right around 3-2. The left has assumed (falsely) that the personal support people have for Obama right now translates into support for their agenda. The polling on the specific issues does not support that contention.”

    I’m not so sure the ‘liberals’ are taking anything for granted, and likewise, polls like this should not encourage the GOP or conservatives to take anything for granted either.

    Mitch had it right when he said that the GOP needed to listen, and that whoever listened first – and best – would gain the support. What Mitch wrote is not listening, it struck me as an attempt to cheerlead to improve the morale of a group experiencing a decline. This touchdown victory dance in the end zone is waaaay too premature. Not only has there not been anything like enough quality listening, we haven’t seen any genuinely new or creative ideas either. Both, ideas and listening, will be needed for any political advances.

    Jay also says:
    “Obama got elected because of personal magnetism, not because of his political views. ”

    Too simplistic; there is not enough homogenity among those who voted for Obama to justify that assertion. Given that the economy by some measures is showing improvement, it remains to be seen if his numbers will stay that high. If there was any one single thing that might broadly be true of the votes for Obama it likely would be that they were more against the past 8 years, as much as any vote for the next 4 years.

    To the extent that Obama resolves those concerns that attracted voters to him, he will probably do well, if not as well, in gaining a second term. Far, far too soon to tell at this point how that will likely go.

    As for defining moderate views – I’ll defer to Andrew R; I think he already gave a very articulate answer.

  13. Mitch admitted: “I”m a rock-ribbed conservative – but I oppose the death penalty and the “war on drugs” and don’t especially object to Civil Unions.”

    Don’t forget the bicycling, Comrade.

  14. Now now, Clownie. You know that two wheels is more than needed. Think of all those people with none at all. We’ve got to spread the wheels around.

  15. Dog Gone wrote:
    If there was any one single thing that might broadly be true of the votes for Obama it likely would be that they were more against the past 8 years, as much as any vote for the next 4 years.

    And here I think you are oversimplifying, Dog Gone. Obama certainly pulled in enough self-described independent voters to garner him 52-point-something percent of the vote (and an electoral landslide), but his poll’s did not solidify until September-October of last year. Rather than saying that the Obama voters were voting against the last eight years and for the next four years (with Obama as president), I think it would be more accurate to say that the economic disaster of the last six months of 2008, and the inability of either Bush or McCain to defend a Reaganite economic philosophy led to the loss of the independent vote.

  16. Terry says:
    “I think it would be more accurate to say that the economic disaster of the last six months of 2008, and the inability of either Bush or McCain to defend a Reaganite economic philosophy led to the loss of the independent vote. ”

    While the last part of 2008 certainly crystalized the vote for Obama, looking at the steady losses to Republicans over that period would suggest that a growing number of people were becoming unsatisfied during the entire span of the Bush administration. Both of the Bush elections were squeakers at best; had we not been at war in 2004, I think it is unlikely that he would have won that second term. So while the economic disaster was the final straw, it was hardly a fresh trend at that point.

    Kermit says:
    “Doggie, George H. W. Bush was the very definition of “moderate”. His appointment of Souter wasn’t an attempt to place a conservative on the bench. Neither man is conservative.”

    This rather highlights the whole difficulty of these labels. I have always thought of G.H.W. Bush as a president who considered himself a conservative, and I recall that at the time Souter was expected to be a comparatively conservative Justice. That those who are MORE conservative, or more extreme to the right, would consider either man as a moderate RATHER than a conservative highlights the problem with these designations.

  17. Please don’t confuse Republicans with conservatives.

    You just love using “extreme right” as a descriptor don’t you Doggy.
    I don’t mind, since I don’t mind being grouped in with our founding fathers, the extreme right wingers they were.

  18. Dog Gone, I think here we see how we see things differently.
    Bush’s party picked up seats in the house and senate in 2002 & in 2004. In 2004 bush won over Kerry by 50.7%-48.3%, a difference of 2.4%. In 2008 Obama won over McCain by 52.9% to 45.7%, a difference of 7.2%. I don’t see those numbers as indication that Bush’s re-election in 2004 was ‘squeaker’, unless Obama’s victory in 2008 can be considered a ‘near-squeaker’. Additionally, Bush’s approval rating were rarely less than 50% until after the election of 2004.
    If their any rejection of Bush and GOP leadership of the country it was not expressed by the electorate until after 2004.

  19. I have always thought of G.H.W. Bush as a president who considered himself a conservative, and I recall that at the time Souter was expected to be a comparatively conservative Justice.
    But he wasn’t. Papa George coined the term “Voodoo Economics” to smear Reagan’s adherence to free market policy. The man was part of the Country Club Republican wing and had not clue one about true Conservatism.

  20. Haha! “Free market policy!” Think you mean Reagan’s borrow-and-spend policies that jacked up the deficit. Yeah, stupid GHW Bush. A Republican who actually won a war and believed in evolution. Angryclown is continually amazed at the screwy worldview of you far-right extremists.

  21. Seflores is continually amazed that prepubescent boys continue to fall for Namblaclowns pick-up lines and that no one at the hardware store seems concerned about the number of sacks of cement Namblaclown has purchased for the basement floor he has been pouring for the past two decades. Namblaclown – He’s always “shovel-ready”.

  22. ngryclown is continually amazed at the screwy worldview of you far-right extremists.
    And terry is continually trying to figure out what the f*ck you are talking about, Angry Clown.

  23. It’s the plate in your head, Terry. Try starting with Dr. Seuss and work your way up.

  24. Pingback: Common Sense Returning to Midwest? « Patriot Burr

  25. Free market policy is not fiscal policy, monetary policy, or belief in evolution, Angry Clown. You aren’t even off-topic properly.

  26. Yeah, and Bush didn’t coin “voodoo economics” to refer to “free market policy,” but instead Reagan’s supply-side magical thinking.

  27. Nah. GHW coined “voodoo economics” because from his perch in Kinnebunkport he couldn’t quite grasp what all the fuss over “stagflation” was all about. Kinda like he couldn’t see what would happen when broke the “read my lips, no new taxes” promise.

  28. If it’s the ‘Laffer curve’ vs the ‘Kinseyian multiplier’ I’ll put my money on the Laffer curve. It’s the Kinseyian multiplier that seems to consist mostly of magical thinking. See Japanese economy, 1991-present day.

  29. “Kinseyian multiplier?” That’s the one where everybody gets fscked.

    Think you mean John Maynard Keynes?

  30. No. Kinseyian Economics. It’s where Clownie’s mom did the cost/benefit analysis of doing the horizontal mambo with Clownie’s dad and reasoned “Hey, what could go wrong?”

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