Thursday, February 08, 2007

Glass Half Empty Kind of Guy Sometimes

Jill from WLST posted a bit on Progress Ohio concerning a Harris Poll that looked at Party ID and Political Philosophy Labels, which was discussed earlier today on the Daily Bellwether .

The write-up gives two somewhat opposing interpretations of trend data, one short term, and one long term:

The Harris Polls conducted by telephone in 2006 show the Democrats continuing to increase their lead over Republicans in party identification. Currently, the Democrats’ lead over the Republicans is nine percentage points, up from six percentage points in 2005 and three points in 2004. This is now the largest Democratic lead since 1998, when it was also nine percentage points.


The Democratic lead over Republicans has fallen over time from 21 percentage points in the 1970s, to 11 points in the 1980s and seven points in the 1990s.The lead has averaged six percentage points in the 2000s;

Because people like graphs, I made one of both the party ID data, and the Philosophy label ID data. I'll let y'all interpret the first graph however you like (the title of this post should let you know how I think), but I'll offer an opinion on the second one: Isn't the conventional wisdom that it used to be perfectly acceptable to call yoursel "liberal," and then sometime around the Dukakis/Pappy race it became the "L" word, and recently folks have been fighting to reclaim it? That's sure a whole lot of wisdom to expend explaining a series of changes that don't seem to have actually occurred...

1 comment:

Paul said...

I truly don't know what the labels mean anymore. Furthermore, I don't know why we need them, or even political parties.

I am an individual, with a unique combination of education, training, interpersonal connections, interests, and lifetime experiences. My stand on any issue is based on all that, not some shifting set of positions defined a political party.

It seems to me that political parties are the grown-up version of a middle-school girl's clique. Such cliques exist because its members feel superior to others, and part of the ethos of the clique is to reinforce that feeling of superiority by diminishing outsiders.

Weaker members of the clique parrot the positions of the strong not because they necessarily agree, but because of fear of being excluded from the clique and become a 'them.'

I was raised in a Democratic household, and remember thinking of Republicans as a lesser species - certainly not my intellectual equal. I remember having a sense of doom when Nixon was elected in 1968, and Republicans came into power.

But something happened to me between 1968 and now. The parties became increasingly polarized, and a "with 'em or agin 'em" mentality developed. I've written a rant or two on this theme.

I do some leadership coaching, and I told a client yesterday that the performance of his team was being limited by the org chart. That is, what they could and could not do was defined by a structure that fought harder to maintain status quo than to adapt to changing conditions. My recommendation to him was to go back to basics: a) identify the mission of the organization; b) figure out the best method to execute the mission; then finally, c) develop an organization structure that supports the mission and the methods.

I wish we could do that with the political parties -- just blow them up and pick new sides.

Or do away with sides altogether and start acting like the independent thinkers Americans are supposed to be.