Jul 12, 2006

The Swing Voters-This is the most important poll of the election year.

I believe this is the single most important poll of this, the silliest of seasons, Election Season. It’s worth a few minutes of your busy day to stop and read this in its entirety. It states very clearly, that large segments of voters are willing to change the status quo this November under defined conditions.

I was invited to participate in a conference call held by USAction.org Thursday, June 29th. For those of you unfamiliar with USAction, they are a non-profit organization that campaigns to strengthen social, economic and health security for all Americans. Recently USAction’s Education Fund was selected by Working Assets as one of 50 nonprofits eligible for funding in 2007. They are a legitimate group with a strong commitment to progressive change in this country.

I have no idea why they chose me to participate in the conference call. The other attendees included not only bloggers but progressive columnists. The reason for the conference call was to discuss a poll USAction.org commissioned regarding the issues that are important to swing voters in the key swing states, districts and cities in this election season. A known fact is that swing voters were the turning point in electing George Bush for a second term.

A swing voter is defined as someone who doesn't always vote along their party lines or is independent of party affiliation with either the Democrats or Republicans. I am one of the latter since I am registered as "decline to state". The swing states, are defined as those states that “Lean Takeover, Toss-up, or Narrow Advantage Incumbent Party” by The Rothenberg Political Report as of early April, 2006. These states include Pennsylvania, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ohio, Missouri, and Minnesota, as well as Tennessee.

The swing districts are:

IA 1, OH 6, CO7, AZ8, OH18, TX22, NM1, PA6, IL8, IN9, IN8, CT2, LA3, CT4, GA8, IL6, WA8, GA12, FL22, CA50, VT-at large, IA3, MN6, PA8, WI8, NC11, TX17, WA2, CO3, KY4, SC5, NY29, IN2, NV2, CO4, CT5, LA7, NC8, FL9, OH13, OH15, AZ1, OH1, KY2, MN2, NH2, VA2, KY3, PA7, PA10, CA11, NY20, NHY1, NY1, UT2, KS3, NV3, TN4, OH5, IN7, NJ7, FL8, NY19, ND at-large, and SD at-large

The poll was conducted by Greenberg,Quinlan, and Rosner Research. Prior to Thursday’s conference call with GQRR and USAction, they provided us with the poll results, how they arrived at the results and obtained the data. It was a lot of information to digest. Thankfully, the folks from GQRR explained the data and answered our questions. The reason for this poll was to frame the issues that are important to the swing voters and to identify what angers them with regard to the current state of our Union. Keep in mind that these voters, for the most part, elected George Bush in 2004.This fact can not be stressed enough.

I have the permission of USAction to use any and all the data regarding this poll and to distribute it widely. I want to share with you what I consider to be some very important findings. You can view the same information that I was given by going to their website. The link for this project in its entirety is here. I have covered only a small portion of the questions asked the voters.

A whopping 73 percent describe the country as off on the wrong track, 66 percent disapprove of the performance of George Bush and nearly half (49 percent) strongly disapprove. The reasons for this anger range from the War in Iraq to the various scandals that have engulfed our elected officials and various departments of our government. Their anger also includes, and I quote from the Swing Nation memo here: “But much of the anger reflects persistent economic anxieties four years into the Bush economic “recovery.” By nearly a 2:1 margin, voters describe the economy in negative terms; nearly one third struggle to make ends meet.”

Another fact from the poll that I found enlightening, with regard to how these voters think about our current elected officials is this: “Fully 73 percent agree, “It seems like the federal government always puts the needs of corporate special interests ahead of the needs of average families.” Another 74 percent agree, “Government should do more so that working class and middle income people do not get left behind in today's economy.” This matches up with what most, if not all, progressive’s believe doesn’t it? Their frustration is our frustration.

This poll was not only about what people hate or distrust regarding our current government. It offered solutions to the problems we face as a nation. The voters were asked to respond to a specific “plan” that would alleviate the waste in our federal budget, provide quality public education, clean energy and affordable health insurance for all Americans, just to name a few of the points. A direct question asked was:

Let me tell you about something called the [plan]. Under this plan, government will invest more money to expand access to quality child development and preschool programs that help kids start school ready to succeed, will strengthen public schools, expand college aid and will provide access to high quality, affordable health care for all. This plan will also provide all Americans access to free high speed Internet and promote safe, clean energy to help end our dependence on oil. In order to pay for the plan, it would eliminate recently passed tax cuts for corporations and those earning over $200,000 per year [and include new measures to hold government accountable and reduce corruption and waste.] Having heard this, do you favor or oppose [plan]?

Their responses fell into these categories:

69 percent favor

24 percent oppose

7 percent don’t know/refused

The rightwingers will tell us this election season that the issues are the occupation of Iraq, flag burning, gay marriage and their favorite, the war on terror. I feel that this poll points out that people are not as willing to follow George Bush and his minions or the Senate and House of Representatives down the path they have chosen for us as a country. This poll shows us that the people, who made the difference in the voting booth during the 2004 election, will not be led down the same path by the same people again if they are given a good alternative. They are tired of our government protecting big corporations and their bottom line. This poll shows us that the average American does not care about the trumped up war on terror more than they care about the economic issues facing us today. They are sick and tired of financial insolvency within our federal government and at the same time, giving tax breaks to the top 1% of workers and huge corporations like the “Big Oil” companies. The swing voter cares about the environment, public education from K through college, oil dependency and a host of other social and economic issues. The swing voters don’t want rhetoric, they want a plan. Our candidates need to give them a plan that will bring us, as a country, back to financial stability and educating our children so they will be able to handle what life throws at them in the next century. The right will tell us that the economy is fine, and this poll shows us that swing voters aren’t buying the bullshit. Swing voters care about the working poor and the slowly disappearing middle class. Their concerns are OUR concerns. When you take away the labels, we, as a nation are really worried about the same things. These are moral issues not political ones, they cross party lines, according to the GQRR poll.

Remember, these voters were not labeled as anything other than Democrats, Republicans or Independents. They were not asked whether they held liberal or conservative views. They were only identified by the factors I named at the head of this post. These issues are the ones that need to be addressed if the Democrats want to take back our government. We, as citizens and bloggers need to get this message out to those who we wish to see elected. I did not cover every angle, issue and point made by the poll. I did not want to overload you, the reader, with facts and figures. Please feel free to read all the documentation on USAction’s website, which I linked at the beginning of this post. It’s very lengthy, and broken into three parts but in my opinion, worth your time. You can now, do one of two things;

You can move on to the next blog.

Or you can take action by spreading the word and/or blogging about this poll and its results.

I firmly believe we can take back our government if we make our candidates aware of these results. I believe we can affect change if we write about these points and ask others to do the same. I will post this on every forum I belong to, every blog that I write. I will be attending the Democracy for America convention being held in San Diego, July 13th through the 16th. I will be raising awareness of this poll there. I am quite the loud mouth when I am worked up about something. I enjoy hearing my own voice when there is something important to be said. I ask that you, my dear reader, do the same in your own way. We need to flood the blogosphere with this information; we need to make the candidates aware of this poll and its findings. We only have four months left to do it.

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