Score Another One for Poll-Based Leadership

I find surveys, polls and all things opinion as fascinating as anyone, but there is really a problem when we begin to take the voice voter as so expressed too seriously.

For example, if you were asked if you would rather have root canal surgery or be dunked naked into a pool full of puppies, you are much more likely to want to get the canine tickle fest. Its only natural. And if you’re asked if you’d rather see someone else lose their job, raise state revenue by leeching off the addicted, or pay more in taxes, I don’t think anyone is going to be shocked that the most common anonymous answer is “no new taxes.”

So, here we have yet another example. Quinnipiac conducted a state-wide survey in Pennsylvania, asking among other questions, how the state’s revenue problems might best be eased. Raising taxes, legalizing gambling in the state and laying off workers are all presented separately as options. Entirely unsurprisingly, the results are a tortured amalgam of “no new taxes.” No shit, really?

It might (I stress might, because I am hardly an expert in the ways of thinking) be better if they asked, “laying off workers would save X dollars but mean not getting X services. Raising taxes by X percent would raise the average income by X amount. Which would you prefer?” But of course, they do not ask that kind of question.


Arlen Specter, Tom Ridge and Pat Toomey

If you’ve been watching the Arlen Specter business, you know it’s been great fun to watch. I’m not much on selecting the Senators of other states, so I don’t comment on it much. Still, the latest breaking news from TPM is interesting:

via Poll: Ridge Leads Toomey In 2010 Pennsylvania Senate Primary — By A Landslide | TPMDC.

A new poll of Pennsylvania from Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies shows that former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-PA), who is reportedly considering a bid for the Senate seat now held by Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, would currently lead conservative candidate Pat Toomey in a 60%-23% landslide for the Republican primary.

Keep in mind that the reason Arlen Specter switched sides was because he wasn’t going to win the primary against Toomey. So, he got all indignant about the Club for Growth, whom had to that point been bending over backwards to please. So he dumps the Republican Party to try to beat Toomey as a Democrat, but Toomey may himself be beaten by the popular Tom Ridge whom TPM points out leads the Dem Specter as well as Toomey.

The question is: do Pennsylvania Republicans know their assholes from their elbows? Or are they too pissed to see straight? How much of the support for Toomey was just sound and fury against Specter? How much of the support for Ridge is just name recognition? And how much of the anti-Specter fury was – and I stress ‘was’ – just bluster that people would never have followed through on in the actual primary? Might Arlen have been better off staying put and putting up a good fight?

I damned sure don’t know. But the next year is going to be fun to watch in Pennsylvania politics.


The More, The Merrier, Mr. Mayor!

A town called “Camp Hill,” which I’ve never heard of, has a mayor with a lifelong registration in the Republican Party. Or did. He’s switching so he can vote in the Democratic primary and cast his ballot for Barack Obama.

Hmm. . . wonder if we can make him a super delegate, now that he’s a Dem?

Camp Hill mayor switches parties to vote for Obama – Midstate PA Local News, Weather, Sports & Entertainment –

“I’m sick and tired of the politics of fear in this country. He’s the only one who doesn’t do that,” Thieblemont said of Obama. “He’s the only candidate who’s said he’d talk to our enemies and try to get some common ground.”