“The predicted Republican takeover of Congress failed to materialize yesterday as voters gave somewhat smaller, but clear majorities to Democrats in both the House and Senate.
Pundits, trying to make sense of the results, are attributing them to a variety of causes ranging from ‘the Republicans just peaked too soon’ to ‘the tea parties were too successful for their own good.’
“More likely explanations, that earlier polling was done before most people really made up their minds or had a handle on the issues at stake, are noticeably absent from the assessments.”
Those first two paragraphs could well be the opening to a story that might appear in the Peoples World on Nov. 3, the day after Election Day. There are many reasons why this is not at all an overly optimistic scenario:
First, the folly of taking the polls as gospel was underlined again today with release of an AP survey that shows the negative view the public has about the Democrats’ healthcare reform law is because voters think the reform doesn’t go far enough.
About 40 percent of respondents said the law was too timid in overhauling the nation’s healthcare system, while only 20 percent said they’d like to see it repealed.
This is not good news for Republicans who first voted unanimously against healthcare reform and have since maintained, incorrectly, that public opposition to it comes from voters who consider it an attack on their freedom.
Republican hopes of taking over the Congress are less likely to be realized also as evidence grows that the Democrats have a fight-back strategy. The president, congressional leaders, and a good number of senators and members of the House are now focusing more on exposing key differences between themselves and the Republicans. There are signs that this is influencing even disaffected voters who may now be thinking twice about electing lunatic fringe candidates.
Polls in both Alaska and Delaware show an increasing likelihood of Democratic wins in both of these states, each of which had been considered safe for Republicans.
There is also evidence that as the extremism of these two candidates becomes better known across the country Republicans generally can expect to suffer. For those who think these assessments are too optimistic – take a look at a new Harris poll just released today:
Their latest survey shows that if the election for the House of Representatives were held today, 40 percent of registered voters would vote for the Democratic candidate and 36 percent would vote for the Republican candidate with 19 percent unsure.
Contrary to the media mantra about an impending Republican “tsunami,” the poll shows the parties mostly holding their base voters, with 84 percent of Republicans voting for their candidate and 81 percent of Democrats sticking with theirs’. Independents break down 35 percent for the GOP, 23 percent for the Democrats and 27 percent undecided.
Most worrisome for the GOP is what the poll predicts when you throw in a tea party candidate.
Among registered voters, 41 percent would vote for the Democratic candidate, 23 percent would vote for the Republican, 13 percent would vote for the tea party candidate and 23 percent are not sure at all.
As encouraging to progressives as the Harris poll is, a sustained fight by the Democrats and their allies on several key issues has the potential to yield even better Election Day results than those in the Harris poll.
Democrats stand to gain more, for example, as they fight for tax relief for 98 percent of Americans while the GOP fights for tax relief for the rich.
Getting the word out on Social Security would also hurt the GOP. None of the polls reflect an electorate fully aware that several leading Republicans have openly called for raising the retirement age or cutting benefits. Few realize, for example, that Joe Miller, the GOP Senate candidate in Alaska, has called for Sociaal Security’s elimination altogether because it is not in the original U.S. Constitution.
Voters are showing they will not vote for candidates who want to raise the retirement age, slash or eliminate Social Security or privatize it. It is the nation’s most popular program. .
100 House Democrats have already signed a pledge not to cut SSI benefits, raise the retirement age, or privatize Social Security in any way. The more voters who learn about the pledge and the more who understand that most Republicans would never sign such a pledge, the lower the GOP vote on Nov. 2.