STRATEGERY…. This has seemed painfully obvious for quite some time, but it’s helpful to be able to point to specific data.
A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) suggests that Democrats should go ahead and pass major initiatives such as health care reform and allowing gays to serve in the military. If they don’t pass these things, the poll suggests, the people who are against it won’t vote for them anyway. […]
“Congressional Democrats really need to decide if they’re going to let their agenda be dictated by voters who won’t support them no matter what they do,” writes PPP communications director Tom Jensen. “These numbers provide pretty clear evidence that most of the voters opposed to health care and repeal of DADT will not consider voting Democratic even if the party decides not to move on those issues.”
The poll finds, for example, that 50% of respondents describe themselves as opposed to the Democratic health reform proposal, while 39% support it. But the numbers are skewed a bit — among those who will not even consider voting Democratic in November, the opposition numbers on health care are a ridiculous 94% to 1%.
There are obviously Democratic policymakers who’ve thought in recent weeks, “Maybe I’d stand a better chance at re-election if I just let health care reform go away.” These results should make it overwhelmingly clear how wrong this is — opponents of reform simply aren’t going to vote for a Democratic candidate no matter how the debate turns out.
On the other hand, Democratic policymakers do have to worry about generating some excitement among voters in their own party, and delivering on this once-in-a-generation opportunity is the ideal way for Dems worried about re-election to give themselves a boost with their own supporters.
And what of everyone else? I’ll just quote Kevin Drum: “[A]mong those in the middle, those who might vote for a Democrat but aren’t sure bets, support is about evenly split. These people are obviously persuadable, but they’re only persuadable if Dems actually pass healthcare reform first and then campaign on it as if they actually believe in it. This is still a winnable campaign issue.”
Exactly. Democratic policymakers must give success a chance. The polls are far more likely to improve if Democrats follow through on their campaign promises, pass health care reform, reap the rewards of a breakthrough victory, and then get out there and sell their handiwork — making clear to the country that the scare tactics were wrong.
Why on earth would the majority party back down now, satisfying the demands of those who won’t vote for them anyway?