Sunday, July 25, 2004

The numbers: Dems in mainstream on trade & health care,
but fail to reach young women

AMTRAK 166 (SOMEWHERE AROUND MYSTIC, CONN)--Having spent the last nine hours on a train, I fear I am painfully unaware of what is going on in real time, and have been, sadly, unable to read my comrades in blogs. All of which conspired to soil my delicate hands with actual newsprint.

Trees ’n’ trade

Today’s New York Times is chock full of interesting factoids, the grey lady having apparenly gone on a polling bender in recent days. Robin Toner’s A1 piece on the “great political divide” offers interesting graphs on the hardening of ideology along party lines, though the text of the piece notes that common ground exists on the need for health care reform. Trade and environmental protection, surprisingly, show up as potentially winning issues for Democrats in a poll the Times did with CBS News that was really intended to compare the postions taken by delegates to the Democratic National Convention with those embraced by rank-and-file Democratic voters. (Delegates generally show themselves to be well to the left of Dem voters.) But because the poll also takes the policy temperature of “all voters” in each category measured, it’s possible to see where the Dems find a common demoninator across the board.

On trade protection, the Democrats sit squarely in the mainstream, with 67 percent of Dem delegates saying “trade restrictions are necessary to protect domestic industries,” seconded by 68 percent of Democratic voters and 69 percent of all voters. Yet most voters show themselves willing to suffer job losses for the sake of protecting the environment. Among all voters, 52 percent agree that “we must protect the environment even if it means jobs are lost because of it. That opinion is shared by 62 percent of Democratic voters and delegates.

Chicks ’n’ broads

For the last two presidential elections, the most interesting polling, by far, has been either sponsored or conducted by Lifetime Television, the women’s cable network, through its Every Woman Counts effort. Lifetime’s most recent survey should serve as a warning shot to the Democrats if they think they can take women’s votes for granted. (More on this point later in the week.) As cited in Lifetime’s release, the Center for Media Research credits women with deciding every election since 1980, and comprising the majority of undecided voters. (Women’s prerogative, y’know.)

The good news for Dems: More than half (51 percent) of women said that President Bush understands them “not too well,” or “not at all”.

The not-so-good news for Dems: 39 percent of those same women said the same of Sen. Kerry.

The ominous news for Dems shows up in the 18-34 cohort, where 12 percent of women said that Kerry understands “women like me”. Even worse, Bush beats Kerry in this category with his own pitiful 16-percent showing. Without turning out the youth vote, it’s doubtful the Dems can win the electoral college.

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Just got by...

AMTRAK 166 (AROUND EDISON, NJ)--Looks like we made it out of D.C. by a whisker. The conductor tells me that every other train scheduled after ours has been held up on account of the crime scene.

Only moments out of Union Station on the 5:25 AM Northeast Regional, our train petered to a halt. There was some excitement among the crew, who were galloping up the center aisle of the head car, where I was the only passenger. “Holy sh*t!” someone exclaimed. Transmitted over a conductor’s walkie-talkie came the words, “We haven’t found any identification.”

Too sleepy to do much worrying, I remained disinterested until the train started moving slowly, passing by a smashed-up car that had landed, improbably, by the side of the tracks, despite the lack of an intersecting road, or the fact that the tracks were lined by fences on either side. The vehicle had apparently gone airborne, tearing through a parking lot on the other side of the fence. Its doors were akimbo, its windsheild smashed.

After we passed the awful scene, I looked up to find two conductors, a man and a woman, both young and white, standing by my seat. “They say it was a gunshot victim,” the woman said. “That’s why the car went out of control.”

After we were waved through, that section of track apparently got taped off as a crime scene. Hence, some luck in being on a budget: had I sprung for the Acela, I’d still be in Washington.

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