Saturday, November 24, 2007

Is Indiana Turning Blue?

An interesting article appeared in the Indianapolis Star this morning. A poll taken by Selzer & Company, a public opinion research firm based in Des Moines, IA, breaks down the current level of approval for Bush and his administration within the Hoosier state. It has been reported in the media ad nauseam that Bush's numbers on a national level have and continue to be abysmal. But in Indiana? Despite a few anomalies over the years, Indiana has been about as dependably Red as any of the historically conservative/Republican strongholds in the country. The last presidential Democrat to carry the state was Lyndon Johnson in his landslide win over Barry Goldwater in 1964.

The Selzer poll was taken via land line telephone between November 13-16 with a total of 600 randomly selected Hoosiers. According to those polled, Bush enjoys only a 28% approval rating while 66% responded that they disapprove of how the President is handling his job. A further breakdown indicates disapproval ratings as follows: Bush's handling of the federal budget - 74% , immigration policy - 71%, the economy - 69%, the situation in Iraq - 68%.The poll revealed that if the election were held today 37% of those asked would vote Democratic to 31% who would pull the Republican lever, with the remainder as yet undecided. Another interesting tidbit revealed by this poll is that 47% of the respondents claimed that they would vote democratic if Evan Bayh shared the ticket.

The only significant number still in Bush's favor was a 48% to 46% approval rating regarding his fight against terrorism. Given the estimated 4% margin of error, the 2% approval margin is shakey at best.

Other questions were asked regarding Iraq, immigration, universal health care (with 60% support,) taxes and auto fuel efficiency. The numbers were also broken down as regards sex, age and race. Across the board excepting those war on terrorism figures, the numbers went consistently against Bush and his administration's policies.

What do these results mean? Perhaps at this juncture, not much. We are still nearly a year from the election. How Bush's approval ratings ultimately affect voting is anybody's guess. One could argue that the lower Bush's numbers go, the more difficult it will be for any Republican candidate to overcome. While that is not an automatic, it certainly seems a likely prospect.

What may make these numbers more problematic for Republicans is that, as noted, they are coming out of a traditionally conservative stronghold. If Hoosiers are this disaffected from Bush and the Republicans now, and if these numbers are found to be consistent in other traditionally hard line Red states, it could certainly be a steep, uphill battle for the GOP ticket having to slog along dragging Bush's legacy behind them.

Time may actually be on the Republican's side, though, as so much can happen between now and next November. Given the volatility primarily in the middle east, sudden, unforeseen events could make the election turn on a dime. Maybe Bush still has an ace up his sleeve. Failing that, perhaps the Republican nominee will be successful in divorcing himself from Bush. A tough job, but doable - maybe. Perhaps the Dems will falter. In-fighting for the nomination could cause disruption of a party that is all too often unfocused and chaotic. The Democratic nominee could say or do something that would be self-destructive.

Still, barring a near miracle coming out of Bush Land, the Republicans have their job cut out for them, and the Hoosier state may have little help to offer.



Cheryl Snyder Taragin said...

Drat! There is no way to e-mail you, Terry. You have convinced me of the need to post an e-mail address on my own blog.

Thank you very much for your comment on my article about Hillary Clinton at BlogCritics. I am in the process of re-posting it on my own blog. Please come visit The Spewker and if you like, respond to this comment.

As for polls - they are notoriously unreliable. I studied statistics in college and you can pretty much make statistics say anything you want. Just poll the right people. What the pollsters never tell you is the demographic of people polled, i.e. did they poll people at a mall located in the heart of liberalville? They will say the polling was random because they stopped different types of shoppers, BUT, the polling was skewed because of where it took place. Likewise, telephone polls. They may call a registered Democrat's home and a registered Independent may answer. So, I put no faith whatsoever in polls.

Another case in point is the Kerry/Bush exit polls in the 2004 election. To this day, I have a friend who thinks Bush somehow fixed that election because exit polls all pointed to Kerry as the winner. Vast right wing conspiracy? Maybe in 2000 ... but in 2004? Come on.

Bottom line: no one knows who the frontrunner is until people start casting votes. Now is the time for each American to make up their own mind. Do not let the media tell you who the frontrunner is. Vote your own conscious! That's how a true democracy works.

We will end up with only two viable candidates in the general election, but right now the Democrats can choose from seven. So, choose wisely.

For all the reasons stated in my article -- and for some stated in the comments -- this Dem will cast her vote for anyone but Hill. Doncha just love America?

Terry S said...


I know things have carried on with your post on blog critics, but I will endeavor to answer your comments here.

Of course, polling is no better than an educated guess when it comes down to it. When polls report on our side's favor we grab and run with them - see, see, we're winning!

When they come out against us, then they're garbage.

I used to be an auctioneer. I often took note of how property is looked upon by buyers and sellers.
Basically it came down to "if it's mine it's pure gold, if it's yours, it's junk. It's the same with polls.

Polls can certainly be contrived and/or maneuvered in such a way to reflect a predetermined result.

What I have noted is though, that most of the major media organizations generally use multiple polling sources in addition to their own.

What I find difficult to swallow is your supposition that the media among other groups are part of some grand conspiracy to put Hillary in the WH. Such a conspiracy would be difficult, if not impossible to pull off owing to the numbers of people located at a number of different places would necessarily be involved. Do you really believe such a conspiracy could be kept under wraps that involves the media? Once again, that's like having the wolf guard the chicken coop.

Conspiracy theories abound regarding 9/11 - most claiming our government was the driving force and coordinators of the attack with Cheney at the helm in his bunker. I suppose it would make a great movie, but I think it's complete and utter bullshit.

There are people who see conspiracies behind every pillar, hidden in every shadow. The truth is, as I see it, we - meaning humanity - are just not that clever. All the bases could never be covered. Somebody somewhere is going to screw up and purposely or not, spill the beans.

We're talking about the kind of people who claimed the existence of WMDs in Iraq. These are the people who maintained that the Soviet Union had a military which was as strong as, or better than, our own. We now know that likely was never the case.

I simply don't believe that any political/corporate machinery exists that could pull off such a concerted effort to put Hillary behind the Oval Office desk without somebody discovering it and splashing it all over everywhere.

As to the particular poll I site here, the whole process, including the modus operandi, the questions asked, who was contacted (not the individuals, but the manner in which they were selected,) and how the results were tabulated.

You or others can claim or assume that the company had an agenda, or that it was paid or otherwise coerced into reporting a predetermined result, but I find that very unlikely. Again, somebody is going to blow the whistle at some point. As of this writing, I hear no such sound.