Making sense of all those numbers
They say Election Day isn’t over until the last ballot is counted.
They’re wrong. Election Day isn’t over until you get the results of the Ten-Foot Poll!
That’s right, boys and girls: The Ten-Foot Poll, America’s most reliable source of fanciful facts and figures, is back again, shining a bright, clear light on America’s latest attempts at democracy. Our survey of 1,423 randomly invented voters provides the kinds of electoral insights you simply won’t find anywhere else.
And what an election it was! In 2010, Americans went to the polls in large numbers—and in foul moods. In fact, asked to describe the central purpose of their vote this year, our sample split this way:
--Send them packing: 24 percent.
--Send them a message: 57 percent.
--Send them a pipe bomb: 19 percent
At the root of this simmering voter discontent? The still-faltering economy. That was never more clear than when our respondents were asked to list the issues of greatest concern to them this year:
--Jobs: 91 percent.
--Jobs: 93 percent.
--Are you deaf?!! I said “Jobs”!!!: 99 percent.
As the party in control of the White House and—at least in theory—both houses of Congress, Democrats took the brunt of voter anger this time around. Among the major complaints from our sample:
--“They didn’t get anything done”: 19 percent.
--“They got too much done”: 26 percent.
--“They didn’t get anything done and they got too much done”: 23 percent.
--“‘Illogical’? I’ll show you ‘illogical,’ buster!”: 32 percent.
A particular focus of voter concern was the massive health-care reform bill passed by Congress after a long and tedious legislative struggle. Opponents of the bill objected most strongly to:
--“A big-government takeover of one-sixth of the economy”: 25 percent.
--“Those Shariah-law death panels”: 18 percent.
--Letting 24-year-olds keep sponging off their parents”: 20 percent.
--“Anything that made Glenn Beck cry”: 37 percent.
Republicans, meanwhile, were largely able to ride the wave of voter distress without offering many detailed policy ideas of their own. Still, voters seemed satisfied with what they knew of GOP plans:
--Tax cuts: 11 percent.
--More tax cuts: 17 percent.
--Even more tax cuts: 22 percent.
--Did we mention tax cuts?: 50 percent.
Asked to compare the Democratic leadership duo of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi with Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our sample responded like this:
--Prefer Reid/Pelosi: 21 percent.
--Prefer McConnell/Boehner: 26 percent.
--Prefer being trapped in a mine in Chile: 53 percent.
President Obama recently expressed the belief that a newly empowered GOP would feel obliged to work with him in a more responsible and bipartisan manner for the good of the American people. Our own sample of the American people found that the president’s statement:
--Was hopelessly naïve: 18 percent.
--Was incredibly naïve: 24 percent.
--Was colossally naïve: 43 percent.
--Made milk come out of their nostrils: 15 percent.
Perhaps the year’s most interesting development was the rise of the “Tea Party” movement, which drove much of the political debate and toppled even veteran officeholders. Those in our sample who identified themselves as “Tea Partiers” said they were most attracted to the movement for these reasons:
--Concern about the country’s direction: 16 percent.
--Reverence for the Founding Fathers and the Constitution: 23 percent.
--Chance to keep wearing cool costumes after Halloween: 38 percent.
--Math skills not required: 59 percent.
Finally, and continuing the trend of recent years, the general tone of the 2010 campaign was seen as overwhelmingly negative. Despite months of virtually non-stop TV, radio and Internet ads, our sample still felt they…
--“Didn’t hear enough about solutions”: 49 percent.
--“Didn’t hear enough about cooperation”: 49 percent.
--“Didn’t hear enough about Sarah Palin”: 2 percent.
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.