Thanksgiving wallpaper, The Myth of the Rational Conservative Voter

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There have been reports of seeing Bigfoot and a right-wing Republican mandate in the wild. As well as a complete rejection of the Obama-Democrat agenda. As is usually the case, unfortunately for urban myth enthusiasts, those reports seem to be more wishful thinking or pure delusion,  Mid-term election results not a mandate for GOP, poll shows

The exit poll (PDF) from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research suggests that while voters gave control of the House to the Republicans, it was not out of a desire to return to Republican policies, but rather out of a lack of other options.

The poll shows voters largely rejected the narrative put forward by Republicans: That the American public rebelled against the liberal-minded over-reaching of the Obama administration.

Roughly even numbers of Democratic, Republican and independent voters — about three-quarters in each case — said the economy was a factor in their vote. No other issue polled nearly as high.

Dissatisfaction with the available political options was also high, with 26 percent of voters saying their vote was a “message to both parties” that they are unsatisfied with the state of US politics. By contrast, 20 percent said the vote was a message specifically targeted at President Obama.

That appears to mesh with a recent poll showing 54 percent of voters would like to see a viable third party rise in the US.

“The results show that voters weren’t necessarily allying themselves with the GOP, but rather were voicing their disapproval with Washington as a whole,” writes Andy Kroll at Mother Jones.

Nor did voters generally align themselves with Republican talking points. Even a majority of self-identified Republicans — 62 percent — said they wanted lawmakers to “keep their hands off” Social Security when addressing the budget deficit. Among all voters, 68 percent opposed cuts to Social Security.

Voters preferred Democratic ideas for tackling the budget deficit. Fifty-one percent said they wanted to see an end to the Bush tax cuts for the rich and a new bank tax to address the deficit, while 39 percent backed the GOP’s proposals to cut $100 billion from domestic spending, raise the retirement age and cancel unspent stimulus funds.

Sixty-six percent of voters agreed with President Obama’s declaration that “we have to reduce our deficits, but [also] make investments in education, in research and innovation” and “we have to lead in the new energy, Green industrial revolution sweeping the world.”

Voters – real people – not the fairy dust dancing around in Victor Hanson or Sarah Palin’s head – voted their pocket-book as voters are apt to do. If their economic fortunes are less than bright under a Republican administration they tend to vote Democrat. Under a Democratic administration the reverse. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is typical of the conservative aversion to reality and it’s adoration for fanciful spin – The voting public doesn’t necessarily believe what Mitch McConnell says it believes.

McConnell is not one of the politicians who pretends not to read the polls. When he argued that Obama and Democrats were out of touch, he used polls to back up his argument. Using the McConnell standard—that is, reading the polls—the views of the people who gave the GOP such a resounding victory Tuesday do not match up with his priorities of cutting taxes, repealing health care, and reducing spending.

Tax cuts: According to exit polls, only 17 percent of the country thinks tax cuts should be a priority for the new Congress. And those that do want tax cuts oppose the way McConnell wants to do it. More than half the country, 52 percent, either wants the Bush tax cuts extended for those making under $250,000 a year or doesn’t want them extended at all. Only 39 percent support the McConnell position of extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone. That 52-39 split is identical to the one McConnell cited at the White House health care summit in February as proof that the American people opposed Obama’s health care plan.

Spending cuts: McConnell is opposed to federal spending to create jobs, but nearly as many voters want lawmakers to spend money to create jobs (37 percent) as want them to cut the deficit (39 percent). Voters in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky are even more bullish on spending: They say Congress’s first priority should be spending to create jobs (39 percent), reducing the deficit (35 percent), and applying tax cuts (21 percent).

Health care: Voters do not list repeal of the health care as a top priority. When asked their opinion, 48 percent support McConnell’s plan to repeal the law. This is hardly a mandate. Forty-seven percent want either to keep the law or to expand it.

These are opinions of Tuesday’s voters—the people McConnell cited in his speech today. Voter sentiment among the broader population is even more against him. In a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, a new stimulus bill is supported by 38 percent of the country. Cutting spending gets 24 percent support; repealing health care, 23 percent; and extending all income tax cuts, 8 percent.

Reading the polls and doing a little research is supposed to be the standard. Goodness knows Republicans have acted like Bozos on acid with every poll that showed the generic race between Republicans and Democrats with a Republican advantage.  McConnell and the rest of the reality denying community has read the polls which indicate they should track toward the center and away from the Mussolini-ish zealotry which they have embraced, but will proceed on their agenda regardless. They’ve been the Darth Vader of ruinous agendas for decades there is no reason to believe they will embrace rationalism now. Lets put polls aside for the moment. When you’re dealing with large groups of people you’re dealing with a lot of stuff that just is not going to be rational. Why did so many moderates stay home and why did so many zealots feel intensely motivated to vote for the same policies they had rejected just two years ago? For some of the same reasons Wall Street collapsed. In The Myth of the Rational Market – A History of Risk, Reward and Delusion on Wall Street Justin Fox writes,

Greenspan struggled to explain what had gone wrong because the intellectual edifice around which he had built his thinking simply didn’t allow room for the events of the preceding fourteen months. This was the edifice of rational market theory. The best-known element of rational market theory is the efficient market hypothesis, formulated at the University of Chicago in the 1960s with reference to the U.S stock market. The belief in the so-called rational market that took hold in the years that followed, though, was about more than just stocks. It held that as more stocks, bonds, options, futures, and other financial instruments were created and traded, they would inevitably
bring more rationality to economic activity. Financial markets possessed a wisdom that individuals, companies, and governments did not.

There is no more a rational electorate than there is a rational market. Things going wrong. It must be the people in charge right now. They have to go. The ceaseless right-wing noise machine and its new found secretive money supply helps drive the message home. Got problems? Just perceive problems? Hey look no further than the Kenyan Muslim socialist statist in the White House. Who let everyone down – including liberals, tea nut conservatives, mom and pop Republicans and centrist Democrats? Wall Street. Who did conservatives just return to power? Wall Street. Conservatives at the top of the power pyramid will continue to become more wealthy. Those mis-spelled sign waving crazy t-shirt wearing town hall swearing enraged conservatives? They’ll continue to suffer the economic consequences. Glenn Beck, Karl Rove and Sarah Palin will continue to convince them it is all those powerful liberals. The economic facts on the side of liberals. Liberals won two world wars, oversaw perhaps the greatest economic expansion of any nation in history after WW II, fought and won the civil rights war and fought for the social safety net the majority of America’s seniors and disabled rely on to survive. Don’t mean a thing for people who like Alan Greenspan – have this blind faith in an ideology. Conservatism has been a dismal failure under every Republican President from Nixon to Ford to Reagan and both Bushes and a Republican Congress. It has not, and will not sink in. Republicans have a tremendous amount in common with hard core socialists – many neoconservatives are former socialists. Both groups keep thinking their ideologies fail because they’re not pure enough. Give them one more chance, than one more and another to implement the really pure conservatism and hey we’ll all be riding on rainbows and living high off the hog.

It is rational for the average American voter to vote in their economic interests. What is not rational is to vote to slam their head into the same wall and expect different results.

There is the day-to-day hypocrisy of the conservative voter that is difficult to deal with. Liberal pundits and bloggers use facts and charts to no avail. Even more perplexing and frustrating is the cognitive dissonance in their thinking and that of their leaders. For the umpteenth election cycle wing-nuts voted anti-government. What they actually voted for was government officials using the apparatus of government to make their lives better. It takes some mighty thick walls of compartmentalizing for that kind of oxymoronic thinking. Exemplified here – Govs. Haley Barbour (R-MS), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) – Stimulus Bashing Governors Issue Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars In Stimulus Funded Bonds

Republicans map out their agenda of less

Republicans reject the notion that government spending can spur prosperity. Instead, they favor keeping tax rates steady by extending Bush-administration tax breaks that are set to expire this year and repealing President Obama’s health overhaul. Republicans also want to restrain government regulators and are looking to require congressional approval for any new regulation that imposes costs on the private sector in excess of $100 million a year.

On Friday, Cantor even rejected President Obama’s call for additional tax breaks to spur hiring, such as a proposal to let businesses deduct their expenses more quickly.

Republicans offer “a disciplined approach to removing uncertainty and to allowing the private sector to regain its footing and begin to grow again,” Cantor said in an interview. “Trying to prod business to do what Washington wants is not what is needed. We need to rein in this desire of Washington to tell business how to grow.”

That hands-off strategy – combined with GOP plans for an immediate and dramatic reduction in government spending – would do more harm than good, said Bill Gale, a senior fellow in economics studies at the Brookings Institution.

This “uncertainty” meme that business are supposed to be suffering has been bouncing around as a right-wing talking point since last spring. The problem with that is the facts. Business is making extraordinary profits without hiring new employees – Corporate bosses are whining, even though they’re reporting record profits. And Andrew Leonhard notes some other trends in this “uncertain” era for business – Just in time to offer no help for beleaguered Democrats, a new batch of economic data suggests brighter days ahead

*  Reports from car manufacturers indicate that October was the best month for auto sales since August 2009 — when sales were goosed by the Cash for Clunkers program. If you skip Cash for Clunkers, it’s the best performance in more than two years.
* Factory orders rose 2.1 percent in October, the sharpest rise since January
* Service companies expanded at the fastest rate in three months.
* ADP Employer Services, the largest private sector payroll processor in the U.S., reported that private companies added 43,000 new jobs in October, more than double what economists had been expecting.

Republicans are going to shut down spending? Progressives can start cheering now for when they take back the House, increase their Senate majority and Obama wins his second term.

Republicans cannot find the funds to spend on keeping teachers, police and firefighters in their jobs, but they can find millions to chase ghosts – Republicans To Spend  Millions in Tax payer Funds to Investigate Non-Existent Scandals