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August 15, 2006

Reading the Republicans

New polls are showing a  split developing amongst Republicans around the war in Iraq.  Chris Bowers at MyDD writes about netroots-funded polling from the CA-50 CD done to determine why Democrat Francine Busby lost to Republican Brian Bilbray in the much-watched special election earlier this summer.  Chris analyzes the latest polling and says:

In an important development paralleling the Vietnam-era split in the Democratic Party base, a split is developing among Republican Party base voters around the war in Iraq and the credibility of Republican Party leaders who initiated the war. In post-election polling done by Courage Campaigns and MyDD.com in the Republican-leaning California 50th district, we found that only 19% of Republican voters believe that the Republican Party will hold Bush accountable for mistakes made in Iraq, versus 48% of Republican voters who believe that the Democratic Party will hold Bush accountable.

He goes on to summarize the findings.  63% of Republican voters believe that Bush has made some or a lot of mistakes in Iraq.  34% believe that he has definitely or probably not told the truth about the situation in Iraq.  34% believe that he should probably or definitely be held accountable for the situation in Iraq.  And, 48% believe that the Democratic Party is likely to hold Bush accountable for mistakes in Iraq, versus only 19% who believe that the Republican Party is likely to hold him accountable.  These are Republicans, mind you.  Bowers' analysis continues:

It is clear that a substantial minority of Republican base voters no longer trust their leadership on issues of war and peace, and that President Bush’s lowered credibility has lowered the credibility of Republican Party leaders in general. At the same time, without skillful exploitation of these vulnerabilities on the part of Democratic candidates, Republican candidates can hold on to their voters, as Brian Bilbray did in his special election victory. A previous polling memo showed that both withdrawal messaging or ignoring the war allows Republican candidates to solidify their voter base and depress turnout among independents.

Voters and likely voters in the bright red California 50th Congressional District believe that George Bush made mistakes with regard to the conduct of the war in Iraq, is not truthful about that war and that Democrats, not Republicans, are the only force that can hold him accountable.

This poll demonstrates clearly that the occupation in Iraq matters to voters and that progressive candidates have the obligation to assure that Congress will be in charge of holding the president accountable.

There is more after the fold and the details at Chris' post on MyDD.

Here is further analysis by Chris and Rick Jacobs, who directed the polling efforts.  Kudos to them for asking the right questions and obtaining the netroots funding to get this done.  If you are inclined to assist in further polling of this nature, donate here.

Chris Bowers of MyDD:

Our first poll showed that the culture of corruption message did not work for Busby, that the district was not right-wing on immigration, and that the famous Busby "gaffe" did not swing the election. Instead, Busby lost because Independents turned out at low rates, and those who did turn out voted for third-party candidates. This follow-up, however, shows that communicating a message to hold the Bush administration accountable for mistakes in Iraq should find wide-ranging appeal. Even large numbers of Republicans believe that Bush has not told the truth, that he needs to be held accountable for his mistakes, and that a Democratic Congress is the most likely way that he will be held accountable. The key for challengers this year will be to focus on accountability, not policy fixes voters do not believe anyone would be able to enact.

Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign:

The message is very clear. North San Diego County is very Republican by registration and heavily military by background. People do not trust George Bush on his conduct of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They believe that a strong opposition party, the Democrats, is the only viable means by which true oversight and thereby accountability can be injected into a bloated government run amok. This poll shows Democrats a clear path by which to talk about Iraq, to demand an independent oversight role similar to what Senator Harry Truman led in World War II. The people of San Diego country, more generally conservative than the nation as a whole, want answers. A new majority in Congress is their only path to those answers. It's not a laundry list of policy aspirations. It's not pointing fingers. It's adults in the room who will ask the tough questions.

Posted by Lynn Allen on August 15, 2006 at 08:06 AM in Inside Baseball, Strategery | Permalink


This is exactly why Lamont won the CT primary: because he went directly after Bush on the war, and directly after Lieberman for supporting Bush's failed war. It's more than just learning how to frame a message - it's knowing which messages to push in the first place.

Didn't Bowers also say that Busby had a good message - the Republican "culture of corruption?" But that the timing was wrong, since Duke was the corrupt Abramoff friend, and he was replaced by Bilbray, who would not be hurt by that message.

Dems will waste precious time by pushing issues that don't hang the albatross around Bush's neck. Immigration is one example. It's an important issue, but Bush and the Republicans are not suffering because of it. Neither party can claim the mantle on immigration reform.

The Iraq War, and Bush's dismal record on reaching out to allies in fighting terrorism, are the main themes in this year's elections. 60% of all Americans now believe invading Iraq was a disastrous mistake. And almost that many think that Bush lied, and is still lying about the war. It cuts across party lines. If Democrats are afraid to stand up to Bush for fear they will be labled weak on security (are you listening, Maria?) they run the risk of losing independent voters and of alienating their Democratic base.

Lamont has set the tone, he won - fair and square - and he's got the Republicans quaking in their boots about November.

Posted by: shoephone | Aug 15, 2006 9:16:29 PM

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