Mike the Mad Biologist

Or more accurately, it’s the revolt of the liberals. Personally, it’s none of my business whom Republicans nominate for president, but, to me, Romney seems to be a strong electoral candidate (albeit one disliked by the Tea Party/theopolitical base). Why?

Liberals.

Hunh? Let me explain.

I’ve been talking to liberals who have non-overlapping circles of friends in Virginia, one of the closely contested swing states (thanks to Google+, the ability to use the phrase “circle of friends” is rapidly drawing to a close. But I digress). As I far as I can tell, there are enough liberals who would not vote for Obama if the GOP ticket were deemed non-threatening–that is, didn’t have Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry on the ticket (apparently, God is trying to convince Perry to run or something. I always thought God was supposed to be rather clear about these sorts of things). Anyway, with a Romney ticket, some liberals will hold their noses and not vote for Obama.

Twenty percent of the 2008 electorate identified as liberal. Even if battleground states have a lower percentage of liberals (let’s say fifteen percent), if five or ten percent of liberals decide to not vote in the presidential election, that’s enough to tip the balance in a close election (Got 2000?).

But candidates like Perry terrify the liberal base: they’ll rally and vote against someone they see as worse than George Bush. But my impression is that a small sliver will not vote the top of the ticket if the GOP nominates Romney. Many liberals don’t really see that much of a difference between Romney and Obama, and enough are pissed off that they’ll not vote for Obama. In a close state, every vote counts, even the liberal ones. If five percent of liberals stay home, in VA, Obama will probably lose 0.5% – 1% of the vote.

In 2012, that might finish Obama. Consider this from a Democratic polling group (by way of Susie Madrak):

Obama’s poll numbers are worse in Pennsylvania than they are in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico, all states that went Republican in 2004 even as Pennsylvania voted Democratic. The President’s persistently poor numbers in a state that’s gone Democratic in every Presidential election for the last 24 years probably make Pennsylvania the place where Obama should be most concerned about his current standing.

It does though look like the Republicans are going to need to nominate Mitt Romney to take advantage of Obama’s weakness in the state. He fights Obama to a tie while all the rest of the Republicans, including home state candidate Rick Santorum, trail him by at least 7 points. Obama and Romney run even at 44% with the former Massachusetts Governor picking up 18% of the Democratic vote and holding 80% support from GOP voters. None of the other Republicans get more than 15% of the Democrats and Romney’s the only one who gets 80% of his own party’s vote.

They note Obama is doing better in typically more conservative states, which should tell you how much trouble he currently is in.

Like I wrote at the outset, Republicans should elect whom they want to be president. But Romney could encourage enough liberals to sit this one out. In close states, that could very well be enough and cost Obama the election.

Comments

  1. #1 Lynxreign
    July 21, 2011

    I’m one of those liberals that really doesn’t want to vote for Obama next time. He’s been a disaster.

  2. #2 Umlud
    July 21, 2011

    Yeah… but would the end-result of a Romney presidency (likely only possible if he pulled on a far-right-wing VP) really be something that a liberal would want?

  3. #3 Al Dente
    July 21, 2011

    Romney’s Mormon belief that Jesus Christ is a robot is raising eyebrows in the mainstream Christian community:
    http://spnheadlines.blogspot.com/2011/07/republican-religions-raise-ruckus.html

  4. #4 Matt Platte
    July 21, 2011

    +

  5. #5 Moopheus
    July 21, 2011

    “Many liberals don’t really see that much of a difference between Romney and Obama”

    There’s a few social issues–like the DOMA–where Obama remains more liberal than Romney or any Republican could get away with. But on the economy and corporate policy, there’s no difference.

    But yeah, there’s always a good chance that Romney gets the nomination, but to placate the TP and religious right, he pulls a McCain and goes nutball on the VP choice.

  6. #6 Troublesome Frog
    July 21, 2011

    There’s a few social issues–like the DOMA–where Obama remains more liberal than Romney or any Republican could get away with. But on the economy and corporate policy, there’s no difference.

    There is a difference. If Romney were in the White House right now, the same policies Obama has pushed (health care reform, stimulus, etc.), would be heroic and business-savvy maneuvers rather than socialist terrorism designed to destroy the customer. See?

  7. #7 SLC
    July 21, 2011

    As usual, the liberals ignore the implications for the Supreme Court if any Rethuglican is elected. It is very doubtful that Justice Ginsburg will make it to 2016. If there is a Rethuglican in the White House making the appointment, another piece of filth like Roberts or Alito will be nominated. The liberals who were dissatisfied with Al Gore in 2000 and voted for Nader in Florida and New Hampshire to send them a message are responsible for Alito and Roberts. But, of course, liberals never learn so Dr. Mike is probably right.

  8. #8 drdnc
    July 21, 2011

    Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito,

  9. #9 Gingerbaker
    July 21, 2011

    Count me as one of those liberals who would love to vote for someone other than Obama. (I would love to see him challenged by a real progressive in the primaries).

    But I am also more than willing to vote for someone relatively safe like Romney just to register my extreme displeasure for Obama’s campaign self-misrepresentations, and the complicity of the Democratic party in the abandonment of progressive ideals.

    Why in the world would I vote again for a Democratic nominee who would – just for one example – sell out Social Security?

    To hell with Obama, and to hell with the nonprogressive corpus of the Democratic party as well. I really do hope I get blitzed by Democratic tele-fundraisers this season – man, are they going to get an earful!

  10. #10 Rob Jase
    July 21, 2011

    While I have been disappointed in Obama, there is no way I’d vote for Romney – the man switches positions in the slightest breeze.

  11. #11 Carl Weetabix
    July 21, 2011

    It is a conundrum who to vote for. I certainly wouldn’t vote for Romney (“Mom, Dad, don’t touch it, it’s evil!”), but I’d really rather not vote for Obama.

    I really don’t know, does one hold his/her nose, or does one make a probably useless and potentially even more damaging statement? Could it be worse though – at least Bush motivated progressives to do something different?

    Problem is, if Obama loses the Democratic leadership will probably decide they just need to “triangulate” to the right again. It wasn’t that they didn’t sufficiently represent their base, just that they’re not “conservative enough”.

    I’m increasingly thinking the shit just has to hit the fan before we’ll see the light (if we ever do). That’s something I can live through, but may gawd have mercy on our children.

    Finally, it sucks in a two party system. The implication for many if not most it seems if guy from party A sucks then party B must be the answer. That’s a totally false choice. It’s like going from the guy holding your head underwater at the shallow end to the guy pulling your feet underwater at the deep end. No one seems to be offering to get out of the damn pool altogether.

  12. #12 Mokele
    July 21, 2011

    Mike, I think you’re underestimating the hysteria of the far-right. Romney may still be a Good Ole Boy, but his past social positions, Romneycare, and his notorious flip-flopping send a clear signal to the far right that he’s not “one of them”, not a True Believer. Frankly, if Romney gets the nomination, I would not be surprised if the far right actually breaks from the GOP entirely.

    Plus, while Romney might entice liberals to either switch or just allow them to stay home, he’ll also *never* be able to motivate the core GOP voters the way Perry or Bachmann do, resulting in much lower voter turnout from that demographic.

  13. #13 TTT
    July 21, 2011

    I see some of the Naderites haven’t learned their lessons. They haven’t even learned over thousands of other peoples’ dead bodies, or over a destroyed economy. And they’re lining up for a chance to keep not-learning now.

    “Oh, sure, Obama passed healthcare reform, ended DADT, withdrew most troops from Iraq, and killed Osama bin Laden, but I’m so mad that he’s a *CORPORATIST* that I’ll vote Republican next year. That’ll teach him! Or it’ll teach a bunch of poor people and women who need abortions, which is the same as teaching him, right?”

    Self-described “liberals” have a moral responsibility to keep the Republican Party out of power forever, just like self-described doctors have a moral responsibility to keep tumors from spreading. Doctors might want their patients to live better, healthier lives, but that’s out of their immediate control. When they get a tumor at the end of their scalpel, though, THAT at least they can personally fix.

    You don’t get your hopes and dreams to come true, you don’t get a perfect leader or government, you don’t get a pony. You get to either maintain America basically as it is now, or see it deteriorate even worse. Wise up already and get used to voting “D” until a viable *second* (not third) party comes around.

  14. #14 ecologist
    July 21, 2011

    @13 — you are exactly right. I get so tired of this crap about how there’s “no difference,” because we don’t get everything we want from Obama. There’s a bunch of stuff he’s done that I don’t like one bit, but “no difference?” Please.

    I think the Nader analogy is right on. Ralph Nader and the people who followed him to the end of the campaign in 2000 have blood on their hands. Tens of thousands of dead Iraqis might beg to differ about the “no difference” thing. They might ask if you really think the response to 9/11 wouldn’t have been at least a little different if a President Gore had been making the response. Except that they’re, you know, dead.

    The conservative wing of the Republican party is more dangerous to this country … heck this planet … than anything disappointing Barack Obama could do in your wildest dreams. Argue as hard as you want against Obama’s not-progressive-enough policies and I’m with you. Start talking about there being no difference with a Republican administration and you’ve become part of the problem.

  15. #15 Jason F.
    July 21, 2011

    It’s good to see the sentiment of the comments generally reflects exactly what I thought when I read this. SLC, TTT, and ecologist are dead on. The Naderites are apparently stupid enough to repeat the exact same mistakes. Just like their Tea Party counterparts in the GOP, the “die hard liberals” favor ideology over pragmatism. Two sides of the same coin…..

  16. #16 Lynxreign
    July 21, 2011

    @13 TTT

    I see some of the Naderites haven’t learned their lessons

    I voted for Gore

    Obama passed healthcare reform

    Basically Romneycare, certainly not anything that’ll actually help the healthcare problems.

    ended DADT

    Not yet, he hasn’t

    withdrew most troops from Iraq

    Yeah, a second “Mission Accomplished”, but without the banner and costume. Wake me when we get them all out. Oh, and how’s the withdrawal from Afghanistan going? What’s that? We’re in Lybia now too? Yeah, he’s really good on that front.

    killed Osama bin Laden

    Who cares? What did that really change?

    Also note: Guantanamo, still open. Torture, still going on. Military tribuanls, still continuing. Declaring state secrets faster than Bush? Check. Prosecuting whistleblowers at the drop of a hat, check. Buys into Supply-Side economics. Thinks we need to worry about the deficit with 9% unemployment. Willing to sacrifice Social Security, Medicare, etc…

    I’d much rather vote liberals into the House and Senate, taking complete control of congress, perhaps with some new people who are actually effective.

    Obama’s Supreme Court picks haven’t been stellar either. Maybe if we get Liberals in control of the House and Senate, we can impeach Scalia and Thomas for their corrupt practices and force more sane replacements, even with a Republican president.

  17. #17 Lynxreign
    July 21, 2011

    @14 ecologist

    because we don’t get everything anything we want from Obama

    FIFY

  18. #18 Art
    July 21, 2011

    First blush, I vote for Obama because he is likely to be the most liberal of viable candidates. Yes, there might be a more liberal candidate but go too far that way and you end up with another Carter. I liked Carter but he was too liberal for, and too disconnected from, the existing DC political situation and he spun his treads ineffectually because of it. I wish Obama was liberal or progressive but he may be the best we can get if you want to get things done.

    Seeing a Obama second term would be sweet just to see the right fulminate and steam. Reason enough in my book. It would be payback for the POG crippling the economy, liquidating the poor, gutting the middle class, and committing high treason to have the one thing they did it all for, preventing a second Obama term, fail. The GOP has been enthusiastic about ramming the nation through a knothole with a broomstick if it gets them their Galtian paradise. Most of the GOP operatives are wealthy enough that they will feel no pain in the short term more significant than having to chase the derelicts off the front porch and hosing the blood off the walkway. But if Obama gets a second term there is going to be a big hole in their paradise.

    And all this against a backdrop of changing demographics where the GOP may be at or near their most powerful. If they can’t get it now they may have to wait another twenty years. So for the POG it is crunch time. Not accomplishing their main goal would be demoralizing. Reason enough to want it.

  19. #19 Lynxreign
    July 21, 2011

    @18 Art

    Carter’s problem wasn’t that he was “too liberal” it was that he simply wasn’t effective. He didn’t know how to get DC to work with him, it had nothing to do with how “liberal” he was. Roosevelt certainly didn’t have many problems or spin his tires, but he was at least as liberal as Carter.

    And Obama isn’t exactly working counter to gutting the middle class, liquidating the poor, etc… He’s right there with them on all the wrong economic policies. Now is exactly the time to tell him that if he keeps going this way we won’t vote for him. Otherwise you might as well roll over and accept whatever the Right is dreaming up ’cause that’s where we’ll end with either party if we don’t push back.

  20. #20 TTT
    July 21, 2011

    Guantanamo, still open. Torture, still going on. Military tribuanls, still continuing. Declaring state secrets faster than Bush? Check. Prosecuting whistleblowers at the drop of a hat, check.

    To quote you: “Who cares? What does that really change?” These are not everyday, bread-and-butter issues for normal people.

    You would piss away the at-home social protections for women, gays, the poor, and the sick, because you’re much more upset that we’re mistreating people who aren’t even Americans on some tiny island a thousand miles away.

    Well, your precious Mittens has said he wants to “double Gitmo,” AND while he’s doing that he’d destroy the social safety net at home too. So as any alert 5th-grader can remind you, voting for Republicans never ever helps normal people, it only hurts them.

  21. #21 Art
    July 22, 2011

    In my opinion the liberal/conservative issue was important but minor compared to Carter being outside the system and attempting to restructure the very entrenched system. Politicians are vastly outnumbered by the DC insiders, gatekeepers, villagers, power brokers, financiers, and lobbyists. Carter was surrounded, wide and deep, by people who did a lot of nodding, smiling and foot-dragging while just waiting for his four years to expire.

    … “you might as well roll over and accept whatever the Right is dreaming up ’cause that’s where we’ll end with either party if we don’t push back”.

    Great plan … except it won’t work.

    Obama is in office and isn’t going to change. We got what we got and public criticism just undermines his authority. Problem is that Democrats want easy answers. Just get the right guy in office and ‘we win’ sort of mentality. The GOP, as evil as it is, understands you build coalitions and advance by owning offices from dog catcher on up. This high point is a result of fifty years of media and regulatory capture, investment in think tanks, creation of an all encompassing alternate reality. Blaming Obama is cheap and easy compared with doing the hard political work.

    He got into office because he was the most liberal of the viable candidates and he will get reelected for exactly the same reason. Get over it. You work with what you have. Bucking this reality, making believe you change things by bitching, playing at being independent, is cheap consolation and a loser’s strategy.

    Things would be different if more of the media was owned by liberals. If more state houses were Democratic. If more of the judiciary was not conservative by inclination. If the SCOTUS had two more liberals and two fewer conservative ideologues. If the penalty for lying in the national media was losing all credibility and being shunned instead of the deafening silence from fearful journalists. But none of that is true so yes, we are going to roll over and take what is given.

  22. #22 LukeL
    July 22, 2011

    I often wonder how the Elections in the US would turn out if you guys had a similar system to Australia: compulsory voting (well compulsory ticking off the name on the roll at a polling places anyway), combined with a preferential voting system. I don’t know if anyone has ever done a study on a likely election outcome with such changes, but I’d be fascinated to read one.

    If the US democratic voter is holding their vote back from Obama because he wasnt liberal enough, and he loses the election based on lack of turnout with the inevitable result of a republican president… Ohhh boy we are in a loooooot of trouble.

  23. #23 Lynxreign
    July 22, 2011

    @20 TTT

    You would piss away the at-home social protections for women, gays, the poor, and the sick

    You mean like Obama is trying to do now when he said he’s put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on the table?

    because you’re much more upset that we’re mistreating people who aren’t even Americans

    Yeah! Fuck anyone who isn’t an American. Like your grandparents or whatever generation of yours it was that first came here. They aren’t really people anyway. And who cares about how the world sees us?

    your precious Mittens

    I’m guessing you’re talking about Romney here. I don’t like the guy, I think he’d make a terrible president. I’m sure not going to vote for him. The problem is there’s so little difference between him and Obama that you can’t see daylight between them.

    voting for Republicans never ever helps normal people

    This is true, but you haven’t made the case that voting for Obama is any different.

  24. #24 Lynxreign
    July 22, 2011

    @22 Art

    But none of that is true so yes, we are going to roll over and take what is given.

    So why bother to vote at all? The only power we have to push Obama to the left is our votes. If we just said “we’ll vote for you no matter what because the other guys are scarier” then he wouldn’t have backed off on plans to change entitlement programs to the extent that he has. He’s been pissing on the Liberal wing since he got into office and still has the gall to call himself a “progressive”. He’s going to have to be pushed to the left and there’s only one way to do that.

    He got into office because he was the most liberal of the viable candidates and he will get reelected for exactly the same reason.

    I disagree that that’s why he got elected. He will get re-elected because he’s the incumbent and no-one will run to his left.

    You work with what you have.

    “Work With” doesn’t mean rolling over and accepting whatever happens after an election. Unfortunately, sometimes you then have to work to change the elected offical’s positions. I’m all for working with him, but he’s shown he isn’t interested in working with liberals, so now he needs to be pushed. You have a better way to push, go for it.

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