What Democracy Corps Study Suggests

By David Swanson

A new study by Stan Greenberg and James Carville of Democracy Corps reports on polling and makes recommendations to Democratic Congressional candidates, including this:

“As a starting point, challengers must continue to nationalize the elections around Bush and whether to continue Bush’s direction. That is where the desire for change is growing the most: the percentage who strongly support going in a significantly different direction rather than continuing Bush’s has risen to 55 percent, the highest level ever in our polling. Clearly, the public is losing confidence in Bush on every indicator with just 38 percent now viewing him favorably on a personal level and only 21 percent strongly approving of his performance in office, both new lows.

Disillusionment with Bush has grown so strong that our tests show that a Democrat who runs against Bush and the Republicans performs better than one who runs only against the Republican incumbent. Negative views of Bush now substantially exceed both those of his party and the Republican Congress. The Democratic overall message against the Republican incumbent does better when addressed to the president first.”

And what topics should be addressed?

Iraq. The Iraq war remains the biggest doubt about Bush and the Republicans and the largest contributor to the public’s mood for change. We know from another national survey conducted for MoveOn.org that the more the war is debated, the weaker the standing is of the Republican incumbent. The Democratic margin grows stronger after an extended debate on Iraq.”

Presumably the Republicans in the House are well aware of this and – if they really hold a debate next week – they will make it a restricted one with most topics verboten.

Greenberg and Carville suggest that Democrats’ current approach will not win them majorities, that more is needed to turn out their own base. The most obvious way, of course, to make the election about Bush would be to make it about impeachment. As this is a topic Greenberg and Carville completely avoid, one can only attempt to infer what their research says about it indirectly. They say that candidates who stand strongly and clearly for tough positions poll much better. They say a strong majority (that’s an overall majority, it is of course much higher among Democrats) believes the war was wrong. And, again, they stress that nothing works better than criticizing Bush (although it’s not clear they compared this with criticizing Cheney). They also say that criticism is not enough, that candidates must offer a positive alternative. Yet, most voters are smart enough to know there can be no positive alternatives with Bush and Cheney in office. And most candidates are smart enough to stand for impeachment, the rule of law, the restoration of the Constitution, AND single-payer health care, a living wage, clean elections, fair trade, and good education.

Democrats and Democratic Pollsters: Buck up! Show some nerve! Win some races! Impeach some criminals!

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