OT: Considering third party politics

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Just a thought, but perhaps the reason our elected representatives don't represent us is because so many voters VOTE for candidates that don't represent their own views. Go figure.

Maybe, just maybe, the remedy to this problem is to vote for the candidate that best represents your views. Always. Without exception. Without regard for who is pronounced "electable".

Maybe, just maybe, the larger problem of the major parties being co-opted by corporate interests could be solved by not giving your vote and your allegiance to any party that doesn't give you the government you want. Ever again.

Maybe, just maybe, if we take the time and the sweat to develop a political base for a third party that represents to us, that third party will grow and become electable.

Take your choice. There are more third parties out there than you can shake a stick at. Reform. Libertartian. Green. Natural Law. The New Party. Socialist. Give them $25 or a couple days volunteer work. Feel like you own part of the process again.

You can't get anywhere until you make a start.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), February 26, 2000


Thursday, February 24, 2000; 11 a.m. EST

With his victories over Texas Gov. George W. Bush Tuesday night in Michigan and Arizona, Sen. John McCain has made the contest for the Republican presidential nomination a race again. With primaries in Washington state and Virginia around the corner, followed quickly by the multi-state primaries on March 7 and 14, both candidates are hoping to build momentum on their respective bids and draw voters from both the Republican base and across party lines.

Pollster John Zogby talked about voter turnout, appealing to the base and the effects of cross-over voters in open primaries on Thursday, Feb. 24. The transcript follows:

Free Media: Good morning, John, and welcome. Can you talk a little bit about the models that you've been using to take into account the Democratic and Independent voters in open primary states? How does it differ from the VNS model, and how do you develop them?

John Zogby: I don't know what the VNS model is, but we have been polling likely voters using the usual very careful screen we always use. Quite frankly, we have been letting the chips fall where they may when it comes to Democrats and Independents. I have not touched it [the model], weighted it or done anything with it. In the three states that we have polled, in two of them we have hit the sampling model right on the money in terms of Democrats and independents. In New Hampshire, we had 31 percent who were independent, which was much higher than it's been in the past. In the final analysis, VNS showed that it was 39-41 percent, which to some degree explains why we had McCain up by 12 and his ultimately winning by 19.

Voters need to understand that we can only poll up to the day before the election. And there can always be, and often is, a last- minute trend as people make up their minds. In 1998, there were 11 U.S. Senate races that were too close to call. Eight percent of the voters said that they made up their minds the day of the election, which looms large when you have elections that are too close to call.

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Temple, Tex.: How much support does McCain have in Texas and Florida right now? And if he wins more primaries, how much will he gather?

John Zogby: I honestly have not seen any polling in Texas or Florida. I would have to assume that these are big Bush states for obvious reasons. But I have not seen any polls.

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Have George W. Bush's negative TV ads in Michigan and elsewhere damaged his claim to be a "compassionate conservative" candidate who is a "uniter, not a divider"? In other words, are his actions in the campaign undermining his original promises?

John Zogby: I think that that is the perception by many. And thus far, it's hurting Bush.

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Bloomington, Ill.: It's been pointed out that the influence of cross-over voting diminishes as the primary season rolls on with more closed Republican primaries on the horizon. What are McCain's favorability and unfavorability numbers among registered Republican voters in the big three primaries: California, New York, and Ohio? Have you seen any movement in his numbers since coming out of Michigan and Arizona?

John Zogby: Honestly, no one has actually conducted a poll since Michigan. The polls that came out yesterday in Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut all had been in the field prior to Michigan. But thus far, his favorable/unfavorable ratings are very high in many of the states that hold primaries on March 7.

Two factors here: One is that now you do enter into closed primaries. We have McCain ahead in Connecticut, he's tied in New York  those are two closed primaries. So there is evidence that he can appeal to core Republican voters. Two, will crossover voters continue to vote? That can only come under the category of "we've never been here before"  this hotly contested and this kind of appeal.

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San Francisco, Calif.: Good morning,

Perhaps an impossible question to answer, but whose opinion on voter cross-over behavior in November do you think is more accurate, Bush's  that Democrats and independents now voting for McCain will jump to Gore if McCain wins the nomination  or McCain's  that those Demos and independents now voting for him will stay with him? It seems to me that Bush's assessment is the least logical, for it assumes a kind of Machiavellian group intelligence on the part of a lot of voters who don't even know each other, and that McCain's judgment is closer to the truth, because it assumes that many Demos are so desperate for a credible and honorable candidate that they're even willing to look outside their own party for such an unusual political animal. Now that I've done such a fine job of answering my own question, to my own satisfaction of course, what is your more expert opinion? Thanks.

John Zogby: I obviously cannot have an expert opinion. Any attempt at an opinion would probably come off as biased, and I don't want to be biased. Essentially, what I think we ought to do is let the voters decide that one.

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Cambridge, Mass.: Hello.

As a foreign political scholar, I was just curious about what motivations the Michigan voters had for such a huge turnout in the Michigan primary. Did you find anything in your polls that could be a proof of "protest vote" against the GOP establishment (i.e. against Gov. Engler's control over the state's politics) or against negative campaign conducted allegedly by the Christian rights?

Furthermore, was it possible to assume that the Democrats and independents may have become more inspired to vote in the GOP primary as they came to recognize that their ballots would extraordinarily count after they observed the outcome in South Carolina?


John Zogby: Good questions, all. Number one, there was indeed some evidence that some Democrats came out to embarrass Gov. Engler. But for the most part, Democratic voters came out to vote for John McCain because they like him. This posts a potential danger for Democrats in November, as some of these voters might stay with McCain if they have the option.

Secondly, in terms of the impact of the Christian Right, the campaign was so consolidated that it was very hard for the messages that we saw to actually ferment and be processed among voters in Michigan. The Michigan campaign was less than 72 hours.

I think that the process is energizing voters  just look at the turnouts. I can also add that our response rates are so very high in our polls that that's another measure of voter interest and enthusiasm. I think it's attributable to the fact that this is a very hot contest, and perhaps more so the McCain candidacy has appealed to constituencies that otherwise might not have voted.

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Free Media: Commentators like Arianna Huffington and Molly Ivins are urging people to hang up on or lie to pollsters. What's your take on this?

John Zogby: I know Arianna very well, and I know that she can cite every poll in every state imaginable. She's a bit of a poll junkie herself, and I don't take her sentiments too seriously.

Molly Ivins is a humorist. Say no more. Polls serve a very useful purpose. They keep people connected, and they produce scientific evidence to either support or negate what talking heads, albeit very lovely talking heads like Arianna and Molly, are saying. I think this comes under what psychologists call status anxiety  the fear that one's status may be taken over by people who do things better than one's self (laughing).

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Somewhere, USA: Are you related to the brilliant Liz Zogby?

John Zogby: Yes, I am, Liz, and I love you. She is my proud and beautiful niece, and she should be working instead of taking time to ask her uncle questions.

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Belton, Tex.: Does John McCain have a chance to pull enough Republican votes in California?

John Zogby: The answer is yes. What we're seeing in states like New England and New York is that he has sufficient appeal among registered Republicans. If he wins the state of Washington substantially, that could help him considerably in California.

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Hagerstown, Md.: How is John McCain going to be able to win the Republican nomination without Republican votes? He seems to be trying to become the first candidate ever to win a GOP primary without a majority of Republican votes.

John Zogby: Good question. But he won among Republicans in New Hampshire, and he's tied in New York, where it's a closed primary. And he's leading substantially in Connecticut  also a closed primary.

So there is evidence he can attract Republican voters.

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Free Media: That was our last question today for pollster John Zogby. Thanks to John, and to everyone who joined us today. Once again, the questions were great.

-- Vern (bacon17@ibm.net), February 26, 2000.

I did, in Michigan primary; his name was Alan.

-- JB (noway@jose.com), February 26, 2000.

Oh, Vern! We know you are a McCain supporter. Pshaw! He ain't no third party candidate. He just be 'nother REE-publican politician, for sure. Go play in your own dirt pile.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), February 26, 2000.

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