Why our politics may be getting even more radical

(AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

(AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Eight days before the 2012 Iowa caucus, eventual winner Rick Santorum lagged in sixth place in the Real Clear Politics polling average, with about a third of the support of front-runner Ron Paul. Four years earlier, Barack Obama, who went on to defeat Hillary Clinton by 8 points, still trailed her by about 2 with eight days to go.

So no, the opinion polls don’t necessarily tell us what is going to happen Feb. 1, when Iowans give us the election’s first concrete results. But one of the latest ones, released by CNN on Thursday, offers a couple of clues as to why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are statistically tied for the leads of their respective Iowa races.

Clue No. 1: Unsurprisingly, just 3 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers believe the federal government “very well” represents people like them. But the number of likely Democratic voters was astoundingly similar: just 4 percent. As has long been said about this election, people are quite unhappy with the status quo. (Bonus clue: Even Democrats were evenly split as to whether they’d continue Obama’s policies or chart a different course.)

Clue No. 2: The poll showed Trump at 37 percent and with an 11-point lead among all likely GOP voters surveyed, but among those who actually caucused in 2012 he was at 28 percent and trailed Ted Cruz by 2 points. Similarly, Sanders had 51 percent and an 8-point lead over Clinton in the broader field of Democrats, but fell to 38 percent and a 17-point deficit among those who showed up in 2008.

That last set of numbers confirms one bit of conventional wisdom — and turns another bit on its head.

Yes, there appears to be a great swath of the electorate that hasn’t been politically active before but may be roused by its distaste with the way things are. But this group of voters aren’t more moderate than their more active neighbors who have been pushing politics toward the poles. If anything, they might be more radical.

For if Republicans who stayed home four years ago are more likely to back Trump, and if Democrats who sat out the 2008 race are strongly attracted to Sanders’ message, then the two parties may be moving apart even faster than we thought.

Consider some examples. Our liberal friends argue Trump’s support is built on the loose rhetoric of Republican politicos. Yet, if we are really to buy the idea that The Donald’s emergence is built on antipathy toward immigrants, the logical conclusion is that past Republican candidates actually spoke too cautiously about the issue.

Likewise, if Democrats really have been laying the ground for a true American socialism, Sanders’ popularity suggests their voters have been hankering for something still more extreme. Like the label of “bigot,” “socialist” may have lost some of its sting due to overuse.

Let’s take a deep breath, and a step back. There remains the possibility, perhaps a strong one, that the polling success of Trump and Sanders reflects a kind of protest vote, a message to more mainstream candidates that they aren’t cutting it right now. If so, we should expect their actual results in Iowa to fall closer to those lower numbers above.

But if Iowans do turn out in larger numbers, and do make Trump and/or Sanders victorious? Well, we might be in for a much rougher ride than we thought.

Reader Comments 0

26 comments
Wascatlady
Wascatlady

One part of the problem is that some folks are getting what they deserve.  The problem is, we are ALL getting what they deserve!

Starik
Starik

@Wascatlady What we're seeing is a reaction, finally, to the generally screwed up state of the USA. The rich are getting richer, with government help. The poor are poorer, and increasing in numbers as the middle class shrinks. Most of the world hates us, due to our meddling in other countries. Political correctness is rigidly enforced.  We had draft-dodger presidents for 16 consecutive years, and claim to respect veterans. People aren't happy.

lvg
lvg

Kyle knows the radical politics of Cruz, Trump , Christie and Rubio is due to the GOP base looking up to Limbaugh, Hannity , Beck, Levin, Coulter and other media scoundrels  as their leaders. Notice how Rove and the Bush crowd is no longer acceptable to the base. They tried having a moderate like Romney fake it in 2012 and see where that got them. Now the GOP intelligensia is trying to tame the monsters they created.Too late!

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar A competent DA can get an indictment for a ham sandwich. Let's wait to see if there's a conviction.

And, of course, an indictment offers no comment on whether the content of the videos was accurate.

Cobbian
Cobbian

When the entire focus of the Republican Party is to defeat the current President and control the national and state legislatures, then radicalism is what you get.  What Republicans have lost sight of is that their job is to assure the common good for everyone - not protect their jobs or assure Republican dominance.  


The Republicans are where they are because they put themselves there.  It is an attitude problem.  They need to care more about this country and all the people of this country than they do about their narrow constituencies.  The Republican - no, the  Teapublican Party  is controlled by the extremists who have learned to wag the tail of the Republican Party so hard that the whole dog is stumbling around.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Thanks, Barry


You F.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

OK, Bernie Sanders is not going to come close to winning. That's a pretty big difference between the two sides. Bernie is polling at 37% nationally and solidly I'm second place. Trump is leading the Republican primary by double digits.

You keep trying to build a story that dems are as bad as pubs, but it's just not true.

http://www.politico.com/polls/president/2016-election/national/2016-democratic-primary-003107#.VqaQbO5OnqB

Republicans appear desperate, because their platform is in shambles. They sold their economic policies that favored the rich for years and now people are looking at the results. Crashes in 89 and 08 plus rising inequality.

Republicans catered to racists with a wink and a nod, and now their base is overtly racist.

They could have fixed immigration, but instead made it a powder keg to get votes. The powder keg is predictably exploding after years of hateful fuel being dumped on it.

They made Obama into the great Satan to win congress, but were powerless to stop him making themselves look inept.

Kyle is heck bent on not taking any blame for what his party is, but he was right there plugging out articles in support of all these policies. Oh well, blame it on Obama...

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JFMcNamara "he was right there plugging out articles in support of all these policies"

Which policies do you have in mind? And which articles? I'd be interested to see what I wrote that you deem in line with Trumpism.

Oh, and national polls are still less than useless, even at this stage of the game. State polls tell a different story than the one you spin about Hillary's run-away win. She'll probably still win, but it's much closer than you let on.

Cobbian
Cobbian

True American socialism.  That would be police and fire protection, public schools, public roads, city or county water and sewer services, public libraries.  That would be anything in which the government provides "services" to the public, except, of course, national defense and legislatures that write laws.  If you think about, even courts are socialistic.


I think some work needs to be done on what is "socialism" and what is not.  

Starik
Starik

@RoadScholar @Cobbian Or the National Weather Service?  The better, conservative, free enterprise approach is to buy a copy of the Farmer's Almanac.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

"if Democrats really have been laying the ground for a true American socialism" -- What is the point of a blog oped with statements like this? Are you seriously asking me to question what I've lived and witnessed and learned over  six decades?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/opinion/campaign-stops/the-obama-theory-of-trump.html?ref=opinion&_r=1


Kyle and many of us have pointed out that Obama caused Trump and the proggies have been apoplectic in their response.  Well, the guy who knows Obama the best, David  Axelrod, agrees that Trump is a reaction to Obama's style of governing.  Of course the partisan left media and establishment GOP failure helped bring him along as well.   He is the perfect reactionary storm caused by weakness, ineptitude, bias, and condescending rhetoric.


This Trump thing could get serious if he wins in Iowa and NH, he could easily build up so much momentum that he runs the table.  I think the number of independents, working class Democrats, and formerly politically uninterested types in his camp are under counted.  In Iowa, I understand, that if they aren't registered Republicans, they can't participate, which may be the only hope of him losing.  If he loses, he will lose the appearance of inevitability and may come more unhinged.  If he wins Iowa I think the train may start rolling downhill.  If he wins in NH and Iowa and is leading in SC, the establishment will try and hold onto to their perks and influence by slowing moving to embrace him, it is over at that point.


Sanders is probably a dead man walking once he leaves NH.  Who the Dem nominee is, will be largely determined by Loretta Lynch and the WH, but it will not be Sanders.



redneckbluedog
redneckbluedog

Kyle Wingfield.....Lie down in the bed of iniquity you have made for yourself...!!!!!

Caius
Caius

As someone asked a few days ago, are those voting for Trump in the polls actual voters are just fans?  We shall see.

Socialism?  In the USA? Well Social Security started in 1937 with the collection of SS taxes.  But that law also originated unemployment payments, Aid to Dependent Children and money to states for assorted welfare programs. Disability was added in 1956. Medicare started on July 1, 1966.  In 1986 President Reagan and Speaker O"Neill "saved" SS with legislation that extended the life off the program.  And in 2003 legislation added Medicare Part D, a drug support program for seniors to Medicare.

So, yes "socialism" in the USA for the last 80 years..  Just about every voter or parent of a voters is enrolled in one or more of these programs. But for some reason voters prefer not to call these programs socialist. The word still is not acceptable in some quarters. Unacceptable enough to keep Bernie out of the White House?  We shall see.


Oh, I didn't mention Medicaid did I?


 



Starik
Starik

@lvg @Caius Professional football teams are, all but one, owned by very, very wealthy people. The team is a business.  When they need, or want a new place to pay, the government subsidizes the construction with millions in tax money.  Socialism?

lvg
lvg

@Caius Reagan was a socialist who created free Reagancare at every ER paid for by the insureds, and W was a socialist who gave free drugs to the elderly but made sure the drug companies and their shareholders benefitted from it.Guess who paid for that largesse? Republicans backed earned income tax payments to working poor with families so those paying taxes give money to people making minimum wages so the employers can benefit. Is that socialism too?

Bruno2
Bruno2

Good morning, Kyle.

It's human nature to want to read the tea leaves and predict the future, particularly for something as important as a Presidential election.  This go round, however, I don't think that's possible, at least at this point.  As for the "deeper meaning" behind the popularity of Trump and Sanders, I think it's too early to tell that as well, although speculating can be fun.

The long view here, IMO, is that politics are usually cyclical in nature.  "Bush fatigue" had a lot to do with Obama getting elected, and I could easily see "Obama fatigue" propelling Donald Trump into the White House.  Frankly, I think Sanders' popularity may have something to do with "Obama Fatigue" as well from the POV of the Lefties.  I'm guessing Obama's drone policy and coziness with Wall Street aren't sitting well with them.

Rhetoric (and the Iraq War) aside, we've really had a long string of very moderate Presidents going back to Gerald Ford.  Reagan, Bush Sr and Bush Jr all may have talked a mean conservative game, but each of them enacted many "liberal" policies in their times from immigration amnesty to Medicare Part D.  On the flip side, Clinton talked a mean liberal game yet enacted "conservative" banking and welfare reform, while Obama extended both the Bush tax cuts and the Patriot Act.  As such, maybe folks from both sides of the political aisle are yearning for a more "ideologically pure" candidate.  Only time will tell, of course, but my intuition is that the voters will ultimately settle for one more middle-of-the-road candidate.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Let’s take a deep breath, and a step back.

Did ^^^ that in November. 

Re Al A T
Re Al A T

trump is not a radical, he is a self absorbed fool whose only insane interest is himself. Nothing else matters in his mindless world except space, lots of empty space in his head. For those that continue to listen, follow and worship "the rump" find a cliff and invite all your friends for a jumping party. Save humanity from this nonsense on a daily basis.