November 7, 2010

THE LESS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SUPPORT YOU THE HARDER YOU SHOULD GIVE IT TO THEM?:

The Obama Agenda and the Midterm Wave (Ryan Lizza, 11/07/10, The New Yorker)

Andrew Prokop, a brilliant young political observer who helps me with research—especially anything requiring math and statistics—took a look at how incumbent Democrats voted on Obama’s big-three agenda items and their performance in their districts. What he found is pretty surprising.

He looked at how well a Democrat over-performed or under-performed based on his district’s Partisan Voting Index, which is a handy measure of how politically tilted a district is toward one party compared to the nation as a whole (you can find a full definition of P.V.I. here). The P.V.I. of Gene Taylor’s district is R+20, which means that in the last two Presidential elections it supported the Republican nominee over the Democrat by an average margin of twenty points. Taylor lost this district by only five points, meaning he actually over-performed by fifteen points compared to what you would expect based solely on the district’s P.V.I.

If you look at a a scatterplot of these results, the trend is pretty obvious: the more you voted for the three main items of Obama’s agenda—stimulus, health care, and cap and trade—the worse you did. [...]

My takeaway from all this? If a President has big majorities in Congress and commits to a bold and controversial agenda, he should stick with it to the bitter end, pushing the system as far as it will go during the two-year interval he has between congressional elections.


Of course, when Bill Clinton and George W. Bush enacted genuinely big reforms they were rewarded at the polls--in two unusually successful midterms ('98 and '02). But when Clinton, Bush and now Obama lost control of the agenda to their parties in Congress they got hammered--'94, '06, '10. And in all three instances they were punished just for the rhetoric of and about the congressional party.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 7, 2010 10:50 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« THE BIGGEST REASON THE UR WON'T RUN FOR RE-ELECTION: | Main | HUXTERISM ALL THE WAY DOWN »