Writing about Politics is Hard
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.
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 that?
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 attention.
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 else.
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