Friday :: Nov 6, 2009

Tuesday's Exit Polls: Voters Want Democratic Health Care Reform


by Turkana

Sometimes, political dynamics are so simple that even the simple can't figure them out. Much of the reporting has focused on the facts that independents went largely for the Republicans, in Tuesday's two gubernatorial races. That's supposed to tell us something about next year's Congressional races. That Democrats won Tuesday's two Congressional races somehow has been relegated to secondary importance. Which doesn't make much sense, given that Congressional races would seem to have more in common with Congressional races than with gubernatorial races. But we're talking corporate media reporting, not logic or common sense. And Tuesday's results are being spun, to create a narrative about the national mood on the issues. And as usual, when the corporate media attempts to concoct a political narrative, facts will have to be fudged, glossed over, or otherwise obfuscated.

From a host of supposedly different sources, we are being told that voters on Tuesday were rejecting President Obama's supposedly liberal agenda, including, and perhaps especially, on health care. And the rigorously researched proof of this assertion is that reporters and pundits and Blue Dogs say so! But let's do something the reporting hasn't been doing- let's take a look at the exit polls.

First, CNN, from Virginia:

And CBS:

And:

Note that the most important issue, by far, was the economy. The polls didn't get specific about what aspects of the economy most worry voters, but the strong numbers by the Republican do suggest that all the happy talk about an economic recovery isn't sinking in. Given that the bailout plan promoted by the president's Goldman Sachs economic team has resulted in huge profits for businesses such as Goldman Sachs, without reducing unemployment, one might conclude that the president's economic plan has been too conservative and business oriented, and not populist enough. If one bothered to think about it.

But the more interesting number was on health care. Because everyone is talking about the impact of Tuesday's vote on health care reform. And even though he got trounced in the overall vote, Democrat Creigh Deeds actually won, on health care. Whether that was because the voters generally trust Democrats more than Republicans on health care, or whether it was because Deeds had distanced himself from the president's proposal, it's interesting that health care voters didn't go Republican. Deeds may have been giving a mixed message, but voters still preferred him on health care.

CBS also noted that Virginia has now been electing governors from the opposite party of the president's for more than three decades. And the report included this very telling sentence:

McDonnell's victory in this off-year election has as much to do with who didn't vote as who did.

The Democratic turnout was suppressed. I'm guessing that if Deeds had been more of a Democrat on health care, more Democrats would had turned out, and the Deeds polling advantage on health care would have been even larger. Would he have won? Probably not. Overall, from reading the poll's internals, it's clear that voters were rejecting Deeds, not Obama, that the economy and local factors were the keys, but that health care was one of the few bright spots for Deeds.

But the story gets even more interesting, in New Jersey. CNN, from the same above link:

The economy, again. And this time the voters were turning out a governor who actually once had been CEO of Goldman Sachs. The degree to which that was a conscious decision is unknown, but if any national theme can be read into Tuesday's gubernatorial elections, it was that voters don't like an economy that is run by former execs of Goldman Sachs! And given that the president hasn't implemented the economic proposals made by liberals and populists- nationalizing the banks, adding a second stimulus package, adding strict new regulations to financial institutions, creating jobs programs, allowing judges to re-write mortgages to protect homeowners- it's just not honest to claim that the Tuesday vote was a rejection of liberalism. Had the president followed the advice of liberals and populists, perhaps voters would have been less worried about the economy.

But the big story, again, is health care. Because, again, the corporate media and the Blue Dogs have been claiming that this vote should endanger aggressive health care reform. But take another look at that health care number, from New Jersey: Democrat Jon Corzine was preferred by an astonishing 59 points! In other words, voters didn't reject Corzine because of their negative feelings about Democratic health care proposals, they rejected Corzine despite their extreme preference for them!

So, in both gubernatorial races, voters actually preferred the Democrat, on health care. To some, that might suggest that the Democrats can win next year by being Democrats, on health care. But the most telling result, from Tuesday's election, when it comes to health care, was in the only two federal races. The two Congressional races. Which the corporate media would rather we forget about. But we're not as dumb as they're dumb enough to think we are. And if this year's elections were in any way revelatory about people's attitudes on national issues, it would be this year's races for the political offices that actually will be legislating on national issues. If we were thinking about approaching it with any semblance of logic. And, of course, in this year's only two Congressional races, the Democrats won. In the California 10th, a Democrat was replaced by a more liberal Democrat, and that more liberal Democrat, Congressman-elect John Garamendi, has been championing universal health care for his entire public career. Meanwhile, the New York 23rd is largely comprised of districts that hadn't been represented by a Democrat since the 19th Century- until they elected Democrat Bill Owens, on Tuesday. And just days before winning that Congressional seat, when debating health care reform, Owens publicly endorsed a public option.

So, in assessing the national mood on health care, this year's results were resounding. For the Democrats. In races for Congress, Democrats won. They won despite or because of their being more liberal than their predecessors, and in one case, that victory was in what had been considered a Republican stronghold. And despite losing two state houses, both the defeated Democrats polled better than their opponents on health care. The Democrats' problems were on the economy. One sensible conclusion that can be made from Tuesday's elections is that the voters want Democrats crafting health care reform. Another sensible conclusion that can be made from Tuesday's elections is that the voters want Democrats pursuing an economic agenda that helps people more than banks. The main sensible conclusion that can be made from Tuesday's elections is that Democrats win by being Democrats.

Turkana :: 9:08 AM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!