Save Democracy; Vote Democratic

Hyperbolic?  Sure.  Inaccurate?  Not entirely clear if it is.  But, hey, don’t listen to me, listen to recently former Republican and former adviser to the likes of Mitt Romney, Max Boot, who just goes off.  Great stuff:

I’m sick and tired of a president who pretends that a caravan of impoverished refugees is an “invasion” by “unknown Middle Easterners” and “bad thugs” — and whose followers on Fox News pretend the refugees are bringing leprosy and smallpox to the United States. (Smallpox was eliminated about 40 years ago.)

I’m sick and tired of a president who misuses his office to demagogue on immigration — by unnecessarily sending 5,200 troops to the border and by threatening to rescind by executive order the 14th Amendment guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

I’m sick and tired of a president who is so self-absorbed that he thinks he is the real victim of mail-bomb attacks on his political opponents — and who, after visiting Pittsburgh despite being asked by local leaders to stay away, tweeted about how he was treated, not about the victims of the synagogue massacre.

I’m sick and tired of a president who cheers a congressman for his physical assault of a reporter, calls the press the “enemy of the people ” and won’t stop or apologize even after bombs were sent to CNN in the mail.

I’m sick and tired of a president who employs the language of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish financier George Soros and “globalists,” and won’t apologize or retract even after what is believed to be the worst attack on Jews in U.S. history.

I’m sick and tired of a president who won’t stop engaging in crazed partisanship, denouncing Democrats as “evil,” “un-American” and “treasonous” subversives who are in league with criminals.

I’m sick and tired of a president who cares so little about right-wing terrorism that, on the very day of the synagogue shooting, he proceeded with a campaign rally, telling his supporters, “Let’s have a good time.”

I’m sick and tired of a president who presides over one of the most unethical administrations in U.S. history — with three Cabinet members resigning for reported ethical infractions and the secretary of the interior the subject of at least 18 federal investigations.

I’m sick and tired of a president who flouts norms of accountability by refusing to release his tax returns or place his business holdings in a blind trust…

Most of all, I’m sick and tired of Republicans who feel that Trump’s blatant bigotry gives them license to do the same — with Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) denouncing his opponent as an “Indo-American carpetbagger,” Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis warning voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his African American opponent, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) labeling his “Palestinian Mexican” opponent a “security risk” who is “working to infiltrate Congress,” and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) accusing his opponent, who is of Indian Tibetan heritage, of “selling out Americans” because he once worked at a law firm that settled terrorism-related cases against Libya.

If you’re sick and tired, too, here is what you can do. Vote for Democrats on Tuesday. For every office. Regardless of who they are. And I say that as a former Republican. Some Republicans in suburban districts may claim they aren’t for Trump. Don’t believe them. Whatever their private qualms, no Republicans have consistently held Trump to account. They are too scared that doing so will hurt their chances of reelection. If you’re as sick and tired as I am of being sick and tired about what’s going on, vote against all Republicans. Every single one. That’s the only message they will understand. [emphasis mine]

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Republicans’ unpopular policies

Really interesting Op-Ed in the NYT about how Congressional staffers massively mis-estimated the opinions of their constituents– and almost always in a conservative direction.  Also, Republicans were the ones who were almost always far more off than Democrats.  The exception– repeal of ACA– is an issue where people have said they want “repeal of Obamacare” despite preferring we keep almost all of it’s individual components.

In a research paper, we compared their responses with our best guesses of what the public in their districts or states actually wanted using large-scale public opinion surveys and standard models. Across the board, we found that congressional aides are wildly inaccurate in their perceptions of their constituents’ opinions and preferences.

For instance, if we took a group of people who reflected the makeup of America and asked them whether they supported background checks for gun sales, nine out of 10 would say yes. But congressional aides guessed as few as one in 10 citizens in their district or state favored the policy. Shockingly, 92 percent of the staff members we surveyed underestimated support in their district or state for background checks, including all Republican aides and over 85 percent of Democratic aides.

The same is true for the four other issues we looked at: regulating carbon emissions to address the climate crisis, repealing the Affordable Care Act, raising the federal minimum wage and investing in infrastructure. On climate change, the average aide thought only a minority of his or her district wanted action, when in truth a majority supported regulating carbon.

Across the five issues, Democratic staff members tended to be more accurate than Republicans. Democrats guessed about 13 points closer to the truth on average than Republicans. [emphasis mine]

Yowza.  So what’s going on?  Interest Groups.

Our research isn’t unique: As a similar study showed, state politicians also do a poor job guessing public opinion of their constituents. We found two key factors that explain why members of Congress are so ignorant of public preferences: their staffs’ own beliefs and congressional offices’ relationships with interest groups.

Aides usually assumed that the public agreed with their own policy views. If an aide did not personally support acting on climate change, he or she was less likely to think that constituents wanted action. This self-centered bias is common in other areas of life — we all tend to think that other people share our preferences. But we aren’t all charged with understanding what the public wants to ensure democratic representation.

Interest groups also played an important role in explaining congressional staffs’ errors. Aides who reported meeting with groups representing big business — like the United States Chamber of Commerce or the American Petroleum Institute — were more likely to get their constituents’ opinions wrong compared with staffers who reported meeting with mass membership groups that represented ordinary Americans, like the Sierra Club or labor unions. The same pattern holds for campaign contributions: The more that offices get support from fossil fuel companies over environmental groups, the more they underestimate state- or district-level support for climate action.

Since most congressional offices cannot regularly field public opinion surveys of their constituents, staff members depend heavily on meetings and relationships with interest groups to piece together a picture of what their constituents want. And if offices hear from only deep-pocketed interest groups, they are likely to miss out on the opinions of ordinary Americans.

Also, I think Yglesias has an interesting take on this huge disjunction that Republicans essential use the advantages they have (notably the hack gap in media) to pass unpopular policies rather than try and win elections by larger margins.  Anyway you cut it, though, we have policies which are systematically biased in a conservative direction.

 

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