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Poll shows GOP primary voters find crazy at least plausible

by Eric Ferguson on May 17, 2015 · 6 comments

Artist's conception. Not actually  a Republican primary voter

Artist’s conception. Not actually a Republican primary voter

So this is a bit scary. From a poll of likely Republican primary voters, and consider these are the people picking a major party candidate:


q23 Do you think that the Government is trying to
take over Texas or not?
The Government is trying to take over Texas 32%
The Government is not trying to take over Texas 40%
Not sure 28%

How nice that a plurality could recognize stupidity. However, add the believers and the undecided, and 60% of Republicans believe it’s somewhere between plausible and true that Jade Helm 15 is a cover for martial law or locking up the “patriots” in empty Walmarts. The only patriots locked up in Walmart are the workers locked in when their shifts are over but their managers want some free labor.

The PPP poll asked about presidential candidates and the results will affect #ThisGuyWantsToBePresident, but first, a slight tangent related to Jade Helm 15. A different poll had an unexpected result:

The Rasmussen survey found that particular concern was partisan: 50 percent of conservatives believed military training exercises would lead to greater federal control of some states. By contrast, 67 percent of liberals and 58 percent of those who identified as moderates said they weren’t concerned, according to the survey.

That’s right, you’re not seeing things. Liberals trust the armed forces more than conservatives do. This is foolish when there were troops in the streets of Minneapolis just today. I saw them! Are they seizing my guns? Are they planning to lock us up? Are they … having lunch in the same restaurant I am … oh. Right, Fort Snelling is close by. Never mind.
OK, enough laughing at the loonies and back to how the PPP poll affects #ThisGuyWantsToBePresident. The beginning idea is that by the time we know who the Republican candidate will be, the foibles of early 2015 will have gone down the memory hole no matter how relevant. So the hashtag can be searched on Twitter (and maybe Facebook to some degree) and the hashtag or the title can be searched here. Since the candidate could be anyone being talked about in national media, the idea was to just track them all. That seemed more plausible when there were fewer of them, but Rachel Maddow the other night counted 20 that are either officially running, unofficially running, or making “look at me!” noises and are too plausible as candidates to be blown off. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I give in. I can’t follow that many. Time to cull the sprouts, much earlier than planned, but I still don’t want to rely on my own sense that “no way this guy is going to win”. I want some data, and that linked PPP poll is rich in it.

clowncarPPP has the favorability for a load of definite and possible candidates, and almost all are net positive. With tons, literally, of candidates Republicans like, I’m inferring that the ones they don’t like might as well not run. They’re not going to win. Chris Christie, for example:

Q3 Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion
of Chris Christie?
………………………………Favorable 31%
………………………………Unfavorable 52%
………………………………Not sure 17%

Christie has been fun as “bridgegate” blows up in his face and now he has some questionable expenses, but it looks so unlikely that he’ll win that isn’t worthwhile including him as a “this guy wants to be president”. Anyone who wants to keep on top of him can certainly justify it on the grounds that he’s still governor. It happens that he stands for reelection in 2017, which means the winner will preside over New Jersey’s redistricting in 2021. Yes, we start electing the people who will decide the next redistricting already in 2017. As I explained in detail in my Moneyball posts, beating GOP gerrymandering will require winning partial control of the governments of bigger states so we can block GOP gerrymanders, and New Jersey is a big state. Democrats do need to care who wins that race (and likewise Virginia, which is big and holds elections in 2017) and certainly need already to solve by then the non-presidential year turnout problem, at least in those two states, but I’m regarding the guy who yells at teachers for a hobby as no longer worth the time (guess I couldn’t resist one more shot).
Chris Christie is the first cut, and the second is Lindsey Graham, who is 19% positive to 31% negative. You’d think someone on a Sunday beltway interview show every bloody week would have his fill of attention, but anyway, his “someone look at me!” campaign is going nowhere and he’ll shortly be back to responding to every question, “we need to bomb their main facilities before it’s too late.” Um, Senator, the question was what to do with our deteriorated railroad infrastructure. “So?”
The next net-negative candidate is George Pataki, 13%-24%. If you’re trying to remember where you heard that name, you see his problem. 64% had no opinion, which might give him some tiny hope. He was governor of New York during 911, spoke at the RNC in NYC in 2004, and vanished, which presumably explains why he’s running — less for president, and more for relevancy, and his 64% no opinion in the poll gives him a tiny hope. He might be the only politician I ever trolled on Twitter, though since he was trying to troll Hillary’s announcement by saying something pointless, I won’t feel bad about it.

It’s apparent from his tweets that he’s really running for president, and apparent from the polls that there isn’t much point. Though he might be fun if he gets into contention.
One more maybe candidate was negative, Donald Trump, 37%-43%. Gives me hope for Republicans. Maybe they see through the ultimate “someone look at me!” candidate. He has talked for how many election cycles now about running? Despite his assurances no one can solve our country’s problems but him, he never runs. He’s not worth our attention anymore either, subject to revision should he actually run and poll decently, though I suppose it’s apparent I expect neither.
PPP polled Democratic primary voters too, and found Hillary Clinton still blows away the field. Bernie Sanders would be the frontrunner among those declared or likely if Hillary for some reason decided to drop out, though presumably other candidates would jump in. Only Hillary and Bernie (am I the only one who feels like I’m being overfamiliar by calling candidates by their first names, even though they prefer it?) were net positive among those declared or likely, though Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden were heavily positive — and they’re not running, so not sure what the point was of asking.
One weird thing. Among Republican candidates, Emily Farris was 3% positive to 20% negative. Don’t know who she is? Don’t feel dumb like I did for not knowing. I had to look her up, and she’s a political science professor in Austin, TX, who teaches survey research and told PPP they could use her as a test question. They wanted to look at poll respondents giving an opinion on someone they hadn’t heard of. I’m not concerned abut 3% being positive about some candidate they never heard of because maybe they just don’t want to say something mean about someone they don’t know. The 20% unfavorable though, what were they thinking about? They didn’t test Democrats so we can’t say it’s just Republicans who would do that. I’ve had Democrats admit that they picked a candidate at random in a primary where they didn’t know any of the candidates, so don’t get cocky we would have been an smarter. To indulge in speculation about why 20% were negative about this woman they never heard of, I recall in 2012 Michele Bachmann being told by some of her fundamentalist Christian base that as much as they loved everything she said, they wouldn’t vote for her because women shouldn’t be in charge of men. So my guess is part of the GOP base still won’t vote for a woman, any woman. Hmm, I wonder if that’s an insight into why Hillary drives conservative men so nuts?
From Dog Gone: Ah, those eternal questions……..can you fix stupid? can you fix crazy?
It would seem to be an essential pair of questions leading into the 2016 election.
From Eric Ferguson:
We can’t fix it, but we can and must outvote it. Kevin Drum thinks a third of Republicans don’t really agree, but just say that as a group identity thing. I can’t prove he’s wrong, but I don’t buy it. There are too many examples of massive numbers of people believing utter nonsense.

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