Among the interesting results of The Hill’s new round of ten competitive House district polls is this revelation:
Democratic attacks on Republicans and the Tea Party for being too extreme are failing to sway voters, according to The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll. Only 15 percent of likely Democratic voters said they were voting to “ensure extreme right-wing candidates are not elected to Congress.”
…In Wisconsin’s 8th District, Rep. Steve Kagen (D) trails Republican Reid Ribble, who has the support of the Tea Party movement, by one point. Just seven percent of Democrats there said worry over “extreme right-wing candidates” is the most compelling reason to vote Democratic.
Similarly, in the 17th district in Illinois, Democrats have said that Republican Bobby Schilling is a Tea Party favorite, but Schilling leads in The Hill poll. In the district, only 12 percent of Democrats said extremism is a concern.
So all that rhetoric about how the GOP is going to privatize Social Security (something only 58 percent of Americans support) and abolish the Department of Education doesn’t seem to be having much effect.
The broad lesson here is that liberals don’t understand extremism. A plurality of Americans in swing districts think that the liberals are on the fringe. What’s more, there just aren’t that many liberals in America, and more than twice as many conservatives, by Gallup’s count. That makes for an electorate very willing to accept Barack Obama as an inspirational alternative to the Bush years, but not very welcoming of the Obama agenda.
I suspect that the social side of this equation, the scare tactics — this “American Taliban” claptrap — is even less effective, and far more likely to backfire. We’ll find out on election day, when we see how effective Rep. Alan Grayson’s “Taliban Dan” ads were. On the flipside, we’ll see how Kentucky Attorney General Jack “he bowed down to a false god” Conway does with his attempts to portray his conservative Republican opponent as a heathen.