Writing about Politics is Hard

Dave Weigel writes:

Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) announced his
retirement today, mixed-but mostly dire-news for Democrats, who were
hopeful that he could hold on and defeat his likely, scandal-tainted
GOP opponent Tim Griffin. One of the possible reasons for the
retirement? A poll conducted by SurveyUSA, paid for by the progressive
blog Firedoglake, which tested negative messages about the health care
reform bill and whether it made voters sour on Snyder.

I'm sure that makes sense to someone, but not anybody who's ever read a poll. The baseline question at the top of the poll
asked about Obama's approval ratings in the district, and then tested
Snyder against Griffin. Nobody has challenged the accuracy of those
numbers, taken before any other questions were asked. If Snyder felt it
was time to retire based on that poll, it was because it showed he was running 17 points behind his opponent,
and not because we asked a question of 600 people in the district. And
if the poll was truly inaccurate, I'm sure the DCCC could spring for
the cash to run another one to disprove it.

Seven term congressmen know how to ask for that kind of thing. They don't retire over polls they know to be invalid.

Far more likely is that the poll confirmed what Snyder already
knew. When Parker Griffin switched parties, his staff downloaded all
of the DCCC's polling first. Everyone on the Hill was wigging out
about it. All the talk about the "inevitability" of the health care
bill passing was, we assumed, a desperate bid to jam it through before
anyone found out how badly this insurance industry/PhRMA bailout was
hurting the Democrats.

The White House has been assuring everybody that once the bill was
passed, they'd do a massive "sell job" on the health care bill that
would turn everything around. But if they had the power to do it, one
wonders why they weren't doing so already. Clearly Snyder didn't think
that was going to happen, or he would've stuck around.

Weigel continues:

The question, raised by Nate
Silver and others: Is Firedoglake trying to scare vulnerable Democrats
into retirement in order to kill health care reform? All indications
point to "yes."

If Nate Silver suggests that anyone is trying to "scare vulnerable
Democrats into retirement," Weigel should link to that article, because
in the one he references, Nate doesn't say that. He says "perhaps it will impress Snyder into not voting for a health care bill at all."

Perhaps Weigel has missed it, but we have been pushing to
block the passage of the Senate bill for quite some time, and what he
refers to as "push polling" is actually the reality of the bill.
SurveyUSA is a wholly reputable polling firm (per the self-same Nate Silver, one of the reasons we chose them). They
wrote the questions to try and fairly ascertain what we wanted to know:
would voting for the mandate hurt Democrats in 2010? Which, by the
way, is not something we would like to see happen. And one only has
to look at Mike Stark's interview with John Shadegg to get a preview of
coming attractions:

SHADDEG: Well, you could better defend
a public option than you could defend compelling me to buy a product
from the people that have created the problem. America's
health insurance industry has wanted this bill and the individual
mandate from the get go. That's their idea. Their idea is "look, our
product is so lousy, that lots of people don't buy it. So we need the
government to force people to buy our product. And stunningly, that's
what the Congress appears to be going along with. Why would they do

Here's what Glenn Smith wrote about the mandate this morning:

I'm still waiting on the D.C. insider
to tell me why a government mandate that all Americans buy health
insurance from for-profit companies is not a silver bullet that will
kill even nine-live Democrats.

We hoped Snyder would decide that he should insist on pulling the
mandate out of this bill in exchange for his vote. Now that he's
leaving the seat, he'll most certainly be a "yes" vote, so that
actually does nothing to "kill the bill" for those paying close

If Vic Snyder is getting hammered, it isn't because of a poll. The
fault lies much deeper than that. The corrupt PhRMA deal, the insurance
company giveaways, their exemption from anti-trust laws - people
understand what's going on, and Democrats across the country are paying
a price for it. You'd have to be in serious denial to pretend anything

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