May 13, 2014

Enthusiasm gap should favor #Greens and #Libertarians

Seasoned politics-watchers know all about how Democrats have problems with getting people to the polls in midterm elections. The problem seems particularly acute here in Texas, especially given the state's large, theoretically Democratic-leaning, minority population, but it's not unique to the Pointy Abandoned Object State™; the issue occurs elsewhere, too.

Gallup has a very interesting piece on all of this. 

First, the Democrats' "enthusiasm gap" is more in the tank than in 2010. It was at 0 in 2010, Gallup's poll finds, but is -23 this year.

The GOP is at -8 this year, so even with lack of enthusiasm there, they're still ahead of Democrats. (And, by percentages, they have a 37-24 edge on paying attention to the midterms.)

However, the GOP had a +34 in 2010, likely motivated by Obamacare.

So, the Dems have dropped 23 percentage points since last midterm in 2010, while the Republicans have dropped a whopping 42 points. Even with allowances for the "attention gap" as well, this should be precautionary to inside-the-Beltway pundits predicting Democratic problems.

But, that's the minor point.

This enthusiasm gap should favor Greens, above all. Socialists, with less geographic spread, second, though not mentioned in the header, then Libertarians.

It "should," but it won't. Read on.

It should favor Libertarians less than third parties of the left for the same reason that the enthusiasm gap saw a bigger drop among Republicans than Democrats. People are disgusted with wingnuts in Congress. And, yes, some of the wingnuttery in Congress is over social conservative issues. But, a lot of it is over economic issues, like sequestration, cutting unemployment benefits, cutting food stamps in the new farm bill, etc. All issues in which your typical Libertarian Congresscritter candidate is just as wingnut, if not more so, than your typical GOP person currently serving as a Congresscritter.

Unfortunately, definitely here in Texas, but also in less reddish states, Libertarians have a lot more candidates in the field than Greens.

True liberalism, or the American version of left-liberalism, even, has a very, very hard time getting itself sold, even as on financial issues, more and more Democrats act like Nice Polite Republicans. (That's NPR; take notes.)

Organization and professionalism seem to be hallmarks of Libertarian ballot access, as part of this. Greens? To take Will Rogers' old jest about not belonging to organized parties because he was a Democrat, that probably applies in spades to Greens.

How this will actually play out in this election, I don't know.

Gallup doesn't explain the "why" on the GOP enthusiasm gap. Is it more that "establishment" Republicans are tired of the Tea Party types (somewhat a false division, but somewhat true), or more that TP true believers think half of GOP Congresscritters are RINOs? If it's the latter, maybe a Libertarian will actually be seated under the Capitol dome, either the one in Washington, D.C., or the one in Austin, in January. (That is, if he's not a Libertarian true believer, driving without a license!)

Otherwise, as we talk about America being in a new Gilded Age, etc., this is a good parallel to the era that saw various third parties, like the Greenback Labor and the Populists in the late 19th century, win a governorship or two, get a couple of Members of Congress elected, and eventually start forcing major party change, although William Jennings Bryan was 50 percent a sellout.

While Republicans and Democrats of that era differed on tariff protections, the GOP came out firmly for the gold standard as its other "solution" for poverty and income inequality, while "gold Democrats" led by President Grover Cleveland did exactly the same.

To riff on Virginia Slims, for today's Greens: "You've got a long way to go, baby." And, yet another reason why Texas Greens should not ask Brandon Parmer to suspend his gubernatorial campaign.

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