POPULIST OR PROGRESSIVE – OR SOMETHING NEW?

The words “progressive” and “populist” are bandied about on a daily basis, but I wonder if those who use the terms understand what they mean.  Knowing the difference can – well – make a difference.

Populism can be defined as follows:

  • any of various, often anti-establishment or anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies.
  • grass-roots democracy; working-class activism; egalitarianism.
  • representation or extolling of the common person, the working class, the underdog, etc.

A populist is a person who follows the populist philosophy.

Progressivism can be defined as follows:

  • a broad philosophy based on the idea of progress, which asserts that advancement in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to improve the human condition.
  • the principles and practices of progressives.

A progressive is a person who follows the progressive philosophy.

Can one be both?  Perhaps, but doing so requires walking a thin line or embracing  changes in the traditional definitions which have resulted in a third option – that of “progressive populist.” 

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Populism tends to be anti-establishment and anti-intellectual while progressivism tends to rely on the establishment, the educated intellectuals, and existing political structures to implement its goals. 

Populism is older than Progressivism and was a response by the agrarian establishment to the rise of industrialization.  During the 1870s, farmers began to chafe against the high cost of money and the low price of crops.  Angered by what they saw as unresponsiveness by the political parties, populist leaders called on the people to rise up and seize the control of the government.  Populists exalted farmers and laborers as the true producers of wealth.  The original populist movement was short-lived with its most intense impact from 1889-1896.

The Progressive Movement – the Era of Reform – began as a response in the 1890s to problems created by the seismic shift from an agrarian society to an industrialized urban society.  Corporations and trusts controlled more and more of the country’s finances, immigrants arrived in large numbers competing for jobs and moving into slum tenements, and party bosses and political machines sprang up to control the new arrivals. In the eyes of many, the country was falling apart and action needed to be taken to restore a semblance of democracy to the nation.  That philosophy gave rise to the Progressive Movement.

Progressives typically lived in cities, were college educated, believed that government could be used as a tool to better the human condition, and rejected social Darwinism.  Many were “privileged” members of society and believed they had a duty to the poor and those in need.  The Progressive, middle-class reformers attempted to restore what they saw as a loss of democracy by limiting big business.  Immigrants were to be “Americanized”, and political machines were to be curbed.  The Progressive Movement was in its prime from 1901-1918; Theodore Roosevelt was a proponent of progressive ideas.

A final conundrum is the increasing philosophy of a “progressive populist.”  While this new formation uses both terms, it is not the populist or progressive movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It is, instead, built on a foundation of the majoritarian “submerged agenda” – an economic agenda that the majority of Americans support – increasing the minimum wage, restoring workers’ ability to bargain with employers, and taxing millionaires and giant corporations at levels that reflect how much of the country’s wealth and income they now have. 

The submerged majoritarian agenda is unable to gain support in Washington, D.C. because it reflects goals and philosophies that work against the very entities and contributors who maintain the power structure in D.C.

As yet another cycle of campaigning rolls around, the words “Populist”,”Progressive”, and “Progressive Populist” will continue to crop up in debates and conversations as candidates and the public attempt to pigeon-hole their ideas and philosophies.  Regardless of viewpoints,  understanding the nature of these movements is key to how we debate and how we ultimately resolve issues.

Populists v Progressives

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MARLIN WHO?

Our Third District Representative is pretty much a non-starter when it comes to helping our district and its residents.  Since he took office in 2010, Stutzman has spent a great deal of time raising money to ensure his hold on a lengthy political career as a Washington insider – one of those hated creatures of the night hanging out in the halls of Congress.  Mere weeks after his election, he brought a corporate lobbyist on as his Chief of Staff.

And, in no area are his lackluster efforts more apparent than in the area of helping our veteran population.  First, a little history.  In 2004, then Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, announced that the inpatient beds at the local VA hospital would be closed.  That one announcement triggered a firestorm of opposition and a struggle lasting for years to rally support to save the inpatient beds.  Our small group, Veterans for Better Health Care, participated in dozens of parades, wrote letters to the editor, handed out thousands of flyers, attended town hall meetings, and argued our case to anyone who would listen every chance we got.

I was fortunate enough to be further included in two studies done by Booz Allen Hamilton, a Washington-based research company, addressing the future of the VA hospital, both as to outpatient care and inpatient care.  The final recommendations included a spacious new 220,000 square-foot Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).  The inpatient issue was still somewhat up in the air, but at least we had been told our new CBOC would add a much-needed component to the care our veterans deserved.

Then, abruptly, in April 2011 we were told we had understood “incorrectly” and that, instead of a 220,000 square-foot, we would now get a 27,000 square-foot mental health and addictions clinic.  When pushed on the issue, Representative Stutzman simply rolled over, put on a happy face, and called the decision a great advancement for the care of veterans in our area.  While I agree we need a mental health and addictions facility for our veterans, Stutzman made no effort to find out what happened to the original plans.

He simply accepted the new decision and twisted the situation to match his inability to make a difference.  At the Republican Lincoln Day dinner in April 2011, Stutzman said “he was pushing for a new, 27,000 square foot expansion for a mental health annex.”  Pushing?  Pushing for something that we had already been told would be shoved down our throats?  He should have been outraged that the fight that had gone on for years had been totally disregarded sending us back to square one and that the promised 220,000 square-foot clinic had been sliced by almost 90%.

But, Stutzman has taken the path of least resistance not only as to veterans’ issues but also in other issues affecting our Third District.  With this approach, he is establishing his “modus operandi” of hovering under the radar, poking his head though when absolutely necessary – leading to the question of  “Marlin Who?”

COATS WHINES ABOUT LAME-DUCK CONGRESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Dan Coats is a whiner.  We pay our elected officials to complete a job which includes up to the day they leave office.  But that seems to be too much for Coats to bear, and, instead, he would rather have seen our “lame-duck” officials sit back, take it easy, leave any number of important issues undecided, and head for the hills come January.

Of course, Coats would rather have had he and his new Republican cronies take control of all those issues to decide in favor of their wealthy contributors.   After all, the wealthiest of the wealthy could have counted on Coats and his buddies to extend the tax cuts permanently, ensuring continued gracious support from them come election time.

And, Coats assured those departing no-goods who actually got a job done that “we will be watching you”  Here is his statement:

“Congress should have voted against raising taxes and against new spending, and then packed up for home to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.”

He accused Democratic leaders of threatening members with an extended session to win votes on “unpopular” bills.   Two-thirds of the public vigorously opposed extending the tax cuts to the top earners over $250,000.  Was that the unpopular bill of which he spoke?

Although disagreement cropped up within the Democratic party over the tax cut bill, the Democrats got some good bills passed.  Just what did Coats decide he didn’t want done?  Did he want the tax cuts to expire so that the issue could become a given with the wealthy winning tax cuts into eternity?  And the rest of the taxpayers seeing an increase in their already dwindling take-home income?

Did he want the thousands and thousands whose unemployment benefits were to expire to face weeks with the Republicans dithering over whether the benefits should continue or not?

Did he want the START treaty languishing in the Senate so that the Hawks could spew fear to the public to try to convince their constituents as well as each other that the  “Reds are coming, the Reds are coming?”

Coats carpetbagged his way into another senate term, and he is now acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get the toys he wanted for Christmas.  He says he is part of a group that is being “sent to Washington to do things differently.”  Well, nothing is stopping him from doing things differently when his term starts.

But, for now, our congressional members earned their pay right up to the end of their terms.  Nothing wrong with that.  We paid them to do so, and they did.  Coats isn’t a senator yet, but, heaven help us when he is, once again, in that position.

Photo credit - CBS News

 

 

STUTZMAN – FIRST I WAS AGAINST IT – NOW I AM FOR IT

In a flip flop, Stutzman voted for the compromise tax bill which includes an extension of unemployment benefits.  Less than one month ago, Stutzman voted against an extension of unemployment benefits.  Now he has voted for the bill that includes that very same extension.

I guess his desire to protect the interests of the wealthiest outweighs any qulams he previously had about unemployment benefits.  After all, it won’t be the unemployed who line his pockets with campagin donations in the future.  And, he got two years of tax cuts for those at the top who don’t need them in exchange for one year of unemployment benefits for those who do need them.

Pretty easy to see where Stutzman’s loyalties lie.

STUTZMAN VOTES AGAINST PROTECTING YOUNG WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD

Marlin Stutzman couldn’t bring himself to vote for an international effort to end violence against women around the world by working to protect girls in developing countries through the prevention of child marriage. What kind of mindset drove 157 Republicans – including Stutzman – to vote against this bill?

I would be fascinated to hear Stutzman’s arguments as to why he rejected this bill.  Perhaps he thinks we shouldn’t be meddling in the affairs of other countries in this manner.  Of course, I imagine he supports meddling when it comes to decimating countries to sniff out and kill terrorists.  How is it that the status of women always seems to take a back seat?

So, Congressman Stutzman, exactly what was your reason for voting against this bill?  Just for informational purposes, here are a few of the findings of Congress:

Congress makes the following findings:

    • (1) Child marriage, also known as `forced marriage’ or `early marriage’, is a harmful traditional practice that deprives girls of their dignity and human rights.
    • (2) Child marriage as a traditional practice, as well as through coercion or force, is a violation of article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, `Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of intending spouses’.
    • (3) According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an estimated 60,000,000 girls in developing countries now ages 20 through 24 were married under the age of 18, and if present trends continue more than 100,000,000 more girls in developing countries will be married as children over the next decade, according to the Population Council.
    • (4) Between 1/2 and 3/4 of all girls are married before the age of 18 in Niger, Chad, Mali, Bangladesh, Guinea, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, and Nepal, according to Demographic Health Survey data.
    • (5) Factors perpetuating child marriage include poverty, a lack of educational or employment opportunities for girls, parental concerns to ensure sexual relations within marriage, the dowry system, and the perceived lack of value of girls.
    • (6) Child marriage has negative effects on the health of girls, including significantly increased risk of maternal death and morbidity, infant mortality and morbidity, obstetric fistula, and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
    • (7) According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), increasing the age at first birth for a woman will increase her chances of survival. Currently, pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death for women 15 to 19 years old in developing countries.
    • (8) Most countries with high rates of child marriage have a legally established minimum age of marriage, yet child marriage persists due to strong traditional norms and the failure to enforce existing laws.
    • (9) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that child marriage is `a clear and unacceptable violation of human rights’, and that `the Department of State categorically denounces all cases of child marriage as child abuse’.
    • (10) According to an International Center for Research on Women analysis of Demographic and Health Survey data, areas or regions in developing countries in which 40 percent or more of girls under the age of 18 are married are considered high-prevalence areas for child marriage.
    • (11) Investments in girls’ schooling, creating safe community spaces for girls, and programs for skills building for out-of-school girls are all effective and demonstrated strategies for preventing child marriage and creating a pathway to empower girls by addressing conditions of poverty, low status, and norms that contribute to child marriage.

The age of the young “brides” makes no difference – they will be forced into sexual relations with much older men.  They will conceive, and they will bear children – often all before the age of 15.

Cost?  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the bill would cost $67 million over five years, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.  We can spend billions and billions on two wars that have had minimal impact, and we can’t bring ourselves to work on an issue that impacts the health and well-being of millions of young women around the world.

Stutzman needs to do some research before he votes on bills instead of taking the knee-jerk Republican stance.

STUTZMAN STICKING IT TO UNEMPLOYED IN THIRD DISTRICT

It didn’t take the Third District’s newly-minted congressional representative long to vote against the interests of the unemployed in the district he represents.  The House vote on an extension of unemployment insurance for three months was put to a vote yesterday.  It was Stutzman’s first vote, and he chose to vote against the extension.

A two-thirds vote was required to pass the extension, and the Third District’s Republican representative lined up with his Hoosier Republican buddies and voted “nay”  despite the fact that there are thousands of unemployed workers in the Third District, and many of them need the extension to survive.  And, despite the fact that he has only been in the House for two whole days.   Perhaps his mind was already made up as to how he would vote before he ever stepped foot in the Capitol Building.

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK – BUT THERE’S GOT TO BE A MORNING AFTER

Need I say anything about yesterday’s election results?  Probably not, but I will anyways!  The morning after elections is always full of disappointments for the losing party and candidates, but it is also a time to regroup and understand that there is hope.  So here is my assessment – purely personal of course – on the Indiana races:

Senate – Sheriff Ellsworth vs. Carpetbagger Coats:

Coats was hand-picked to drop back into Indiana after Evan Bayh decided to self-limit his senate terms.  Coats and his wife were all set to retire in North Carolina – review the clip where he stated “if you don’t tell the good people of Indiana” referring to his plans to get out of Dodge permanently (although he hadn’t lived in Indiana for over a decade) and make his retirement home in North Carolina.  He even noted how excited he was at the prospect of registering and voting in North Carolina.

Of course, the issue of residency reared its ugly head, so he followed what is becoming an all-too-common path to running for office – he rented a space in the appropriate jurisdiction –  in this case, Indiana – to establish residency.  I would imagine it is a studio or something not too expensive since he likely will not be here much, if at all.

Odds are Coats has not sold his home in North Carolina – heck – I would bet the farm he hasn’t sold his home.  He will be an absentee Indiana senator, commuting to North Carolina during his term where his real home is located.  Any bets on how often he will actually step foot back in Indiana – the state he abandoned years ago?

This race is one of the most puzzling, but it shows that Hoosier values is an empty phrase to all those who voted for Coats.  I mean how is it he runs on Hoosier values when he hasn’t been a Hoosier for 12 years?  Shouldn’t he have been espousing North Carolinian values or lobbyist values or Washington, D.C. values?  Any values but Hoosier values.

At any rate, look for Coats, now 67, to run one term and then get back to his original retirement plans away from the “good people of Indiana”, which makes it almost certain he won’t spend much time in Indiana during his senate term.  Why would he?  He will mosey back to North Carolina, live in his $2 million dollar home, more than likely return to lobbying, and never give the “good people of Indiana” a second thought.

Both parties have probably already started thinking ahead to 2016.

House of Representatives – Hayhurst vs. Stutzman:

No surprise that this is the most disappointing of the races for me.  After beginning on Tom’s campaign in September 2009, the loss is extremely discouraging.  I watched Dr. Hayhurst traverse this district, walking door-to-door, speaking at events, participating in parades, and running a heart-felt campaign to be this district’s representative in Congress.  Hayhurst did not jump from one race to another – he focused on the congressional seat for Indiana’s Third District and would have made a great representative for the Third District.

Stutzman was selected in June, did very little campaigning, and probably looked at the race as an “entitlement” and pretty much a given.

I have to wonder whether Stutzman’s desire for the congressional representative’s seat was sincere or simply opportunistic. Since the age of 26, Stutzman has run for or held one office after another:  Indiana House of Representatives, Indiana Senate,  U.S. Senate, and now U.S. House of Representatives.  One gets the sense that “any old office will do.”

All the while, Stutzman continues to allege he is a “fourth-generation” farmer – but  more likely he is  a “FINO” – a “farmer in name only.”  I mean, how do you run for four offices in eight years, participate in legislative sessions, and farm full-time? And, now as a full-time legislator, how will he keep claiming he is a farmer?

Anyone who has been involved in farming knows that you don’t climb down off a combine for a photo shoot,  go back to campaigning, and then call yourself a full-time farmer.  Farming is hard work and requires long hours – even with the advent of technology those agricultural products don’t magically appear on your table or the store shelves.

My guess for Stutzman’s future?  He will attempt to stay in the House of Representatives until the opportunity for the 2016 senate race raises its head.  He will then switch gears again and go for the open senate seat which I predict Coats will vacate to return to North Carolina.  Opportunism at its height!

Local Races:

Morris vs. Wyss

What a disappointment – citizens complain and complain about career politicians yet continue to send the same politicians back year after year in a self-fulfilling cycle.  While Wyss may be a likable guy – he is a career politician with 25 years under his belt. Maybe the voters see part-time politicians differently than full-time politicians.  I have to wonder if all those voters who whine about career politicians have taken a look in the mirror and understand they are the very reason these politicians have careers in politics.

In the Indiana Senate race for District 15, the voters had an opportunity to send new blood to the state senate.  Jack Morris was well-informed on the issues confronting our state while Wyss tends to author or sponsor laws that are pretty much negligible and may be difficult to enforce.  Many of his efforts have been referred to as “nanny-state” legislation.

On the bright side, this race did force Wyss to campaign and remind voters who he was and what he looked like – something he hasn’t had to do much of with little competition in the past.

Ross vs. Dodge

This one was a real shocker – Codie was an excellent candidate following the path of Ed Roush’s campaign style and was well-informed on issues, especially those involving education.  As a previous teacher, his background would have been valuable in the area of education and its trials and tribulations.  With Daniels now poised to privatize our public schools, we need representatives who understand just what is at stake in this arena.

Dodge was also forced to campaign to keep his seat.  A small business owner who is now retired, Dodge has had very little impact in the Indiana House and prefers to maintain a low profile.

Indiana General Assembly:

Daniels’ Dangerous Tri-Fecta:

With the Indiana House of Representatives a 58 to 42 majority for Republicans, Daniels will now have the trifecta of power.  Republicans have whined about Obama’s trifecta for the past two years, so now let’s see if they acknowledge the danger in the trifecta they now will possess.  Bet you won’t hear a peep out of them.

With Daniels’ Republican minions now in control of both House and Senate, you can kiss goodbye any hope for Indiana’s environment, education, and social services.  With Daniels now in charge of two kowtowing legislative bodies, his privatization plans – even though terribly flawed in some cases – will kick into high gear.  Remember Daniels’ earlier reactions when he didn’t get his way on what he wanted;  he sometimes acted like a spoiled child and often was not involved in the legislative process.

In the area of environment, he has already diminished IDEM’s enforcement powers to the point of extinction along with attempting to do away with environmental regulations that protect our Hoosier air, waters, and lands.  Daniels sees Indiana as one big factory farming lot and will continue his efforts to increase the number of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) regardless  of the detrimental impact on air, soil, and water.  But that is of no import to the pro-big business minded Daniels.

Daniels contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates through his “Aiming Higher” PAC, so look for a number of representatives to be in Daniels’ pockets when it comes to key votes. Look for a new and energized Daniels to steamroller through his destructive privatization plans for our state during his remaining two years.

Sarah Palin may have considered herself a lame-duck in her first term, but you can bet Daniels will go with the label “game-duck” as in ” I am game to destroy Indiana’s environment, education, and social programs.”

Redistricting:

The issue of partisan redistricting now leaps to the front and center.  The redistricting will occur in 2011 based on the 2010 census.  Todd Rokita, the soon-to-be ex-Secretary of State, has put forth a plan called “Rethinking Redistricting” under the guise of helping us poor, uniformed Hoosiers better understand the redistricting process.

I understand it quite well, thank you – redistricting is political – always has been and always will be.  The party in power in the Indiana House of Representatives attempts to draw and re-draw lines to better enhance its chances of retaining control of the federal congressional legislature.

If the Republicans decide they would rather oust Joe Donnelly in the 2nd congressional district and not worry about keeping Marlin Stutzman in the 3rd congressional district, then a map will be designed to shift either all or part of the red county of Kosciusko into the 2nd district thus creating  a larger Republican voter base.

Since Donnelly barely hung on in this race, a shift could cause major problems for his re-election in 2012.  But what may be bad for Donnelly could be good for Third District Democrats.  Removing Kosciusko County means that the Third District will need to pull in voters – most likely from the south in what is now Pence’s 6th district – as it was in the days of the old 4th district, which was somewhat more Democrat-friendly than the current 3rd district.

Indiana State Elected Officials:

Secretary of State:  Vop Osili vs. Charlie “I don’t know where I live or vote” White

Who’d have thunk Hoosier Republicans would vote in a guy who is under investigation for voter fraud, and who, if convicted, probably will be removed from office?  Obviously, either Republicans have again abandoned those “Hoosier” values which so often drip from their lips, or they just don’t get it.

Sure, he is innocent until proven guilty, but he has already acknowledged his “error” by resigning from the Fishers’ town council he represented.  He was involved in drawing the council’s boundary lines, so his “oops, I didn’t know” act has little credibility.  His resignation is one of those “I got caught” moments requiring action.

Vop was a great candidate.  I got to know him back in the late winter when I asked him to speak at our Third District Breakfast Club.  A graduate of Carnegie-Mellon and Columbia University, he is a small business owner.  He is thoughtful, well-informed, articulate, and energetic.  My prediction?  Watch for Vop to continue to be a rising star in the Indiana Democratic Party, and, perhaps at the national level.

Treasurer:

Pete Buttigieg vs. Richard “I like wasting taxpayer money” Mourdock

Another rising star in our party, Pete Buttigieg, is the son of educators and grew up in South Bend.  He was valedictorian of his high school class and went on to earn a degree from Harvard before studying economics at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Before leaving his job to campaign full-time, Pete’s career as a businessman took him across the country and around the world. Providing analysis and insight to key decision-makers, he has worked in a variety of areas including economic development, retail strategy, energy and logistics.

Sam Locke vs. Tim “I like campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime” Berry

Sam was born and raised in Connersville, Indiana, and graduated from Connersville Senior High School.  He went on to attend Indiana University – Bloomington on a ROTC scholarship and graduated with a BS in Secondary Education and BA in Political Science before being commissioned an officer in the Air Force.   He earned his Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Wyoming while serving in the Air Force at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base.

Sam is another young and rising star in our party.  We are truly fortunate to have had three great candidates for our state offices, and who I hope will continue to grace the Democratic party with their achievements and efforts.

Some Final Thoughts

While yesterday was a tremendous defeat for Democrats here at home and nationally, I have been around long enough to know that this is not the demise of the Democratic party.  This is a cycle in our country’s political process.  We watched the huge democratic victories in 2006 and in 2008, and now the victories – at least some of them – have swung back to the Republican column.

The Republicans will be no more successful at pleasing the American voter than the Democrats.  And, the Tea Partiers will find they are such a small number that they will really have no impact on policies or the direction of our country.  I can’t wait to hear the bellow of Rand Paul in the Senate that “we have come to take back our country” only to realize that his voice is a mere mouse squeak in the scheme of things.

Voters are becoming ever more a crowd that wants something done immediately despite the fact that most issues require time – and sometimes a lot of it.  They refuse to understand that our system was created with a check and balance factor that makes the wheels turn slowly.

Americans have become conditioned to instantaneous gratification – partly as a result of technology and the fast pace of our lifestyles.  When I was offline with no internet for five days this past week, I had to talk myself down from the ledge.  Just kidding, of course.  But think about how we all demand everything immediately.  What is fast today will be slow tomorrow and on and on.

As we ramp up our expectations for speed, speed, and more speed, we are not willing to accept the notion that our Founding Fathers created a political system meant to crawl toward resolution of a myriad of issues – and those issues were not the same increasingly complicated issues we face today.

While yesterday was, indeed, a bad day for Democrats, I think of the song from the Poseidon Adventure “There’s Got to be a Morning After.”  Democrats will reinvigorate themselves as in the past, and the cycle will begin anew. With the outstanding slate of candidates we fielded this election, I have tremendous hope for upcoming elections.

And, indeed, today is that morning after, and I am already looking forward to upcoming campaigns!

 

 

 

 

DOWNS CENTER RELEASES FLAWED POLL

Elections have become a battle of the “polls.”  A recent poll released by the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics would lead a reader to surmise that the election for the Third District Congressional race is all but over with Stutzman leading by a whopping 25%.

However, that supposition would be entirely inaccurate – just as the Downs Center poll is inaccurate.  The following is the methodology that was used:

Statement of Methodology for U.S. House 3rd District of Indiana: SurveyUSA interviewed 565 registered voters from Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District 10/21/10 through 10/25/10, using Registration Based Sample (RBS) from Aristotle in Washington DC. Of the registered voters, 400 were determined by SurveyUSA to have already voted, or to be likely to vote in the 11/02/10 midterm election. Where necessary, responses were weighted according to the voter registration database. In theory, with the stated sample size, one can say with 95% certainty that the results would not vary by more than the stated margin of sampling error, in one direction or the other, had the entire universe of respondents been interviewed with complete accuracy. There are other possible sources of error in all surveys that may be more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. These include refusals to be interviewed, question wording and question order, weighting by demographic control data and the manner in which respondents are filtered (such as, determining who is a likely voter). It is difficult to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. Fieldwork for this survey was done by SurveyUSA of Clifton, NJ.

Note the bold and underlined portion of the statement.  In actuality, the responses were incorrectly weighted with Allen County receiving an inaccurate percentage.  The following are the Third District registered voter totals from the Indiana Government website:

Allen  –      230,789
DeKalb  –     28,999
Elkhart –      58,944
Kosciusko – 52, 328
LaGrange –   15,319
Steuben –      23,125
Whitley –      20,518

Total Third District voters –        456,677

I don’t claim to be a statistician; however, if Allen County has over 50% of the Third District voters, then a sampling should include at least 50% from Allen County.  This was not the case with the recent poll.  My understanding it that Elkhart County was attributed a 25% share of the total even though it is just shy of 13% of total Third District voter registration while Allen County’s percentage was nowhere near the actual 50% + of the Third District sample.

This inaccurate percentage could have been the result of looking at the entire county of Elkhart, not just the portion located within the Third District.  The bump to 25% is twice what should have been attributed to Elkhart County and skews the poll results.

In defending its poll, the Downs Center through Andy Downs stated that he believes his data is more accurate because he surveyed those likely to vote, not just those who are registered to vote.  So, just what is the likely voter vs. the registered voter distinction upon which the Downs Center considers its poll to be more accurate?

A registered voter is just that – someone who is registered but may or may not vote.  A registered voter could skip any number of elections and vote sporadically depending on issues or candidates that are important to that voter.  On the other hand, a likely voter is one who has “more than likely” voted in the last two or three elections and may very well continue that trend. A series of questions asked by the polling firm is used to establish whether or not the contacted, registered voter will vote in the current election and what that voter’s preference is at that point in time.

But how large a gap exists between the actual percentages between registered voters and likely voters?  In a recent article, the author noted that from 1950 to 2006 – where relevant Gallup poll data was available for 13 midterm elections – the average gap between the preferences of registered and likely voters was only 5 points. Only once, in 2002, did the gap reach double digits.

The newly released poll by the Hayhurst campaign more accurately reflects the actual differences noted by the author of the above article.   The Hayhurst poll shows a 4% lead by Dr. Hayhurst with a plus or minus deviation which indicates a possible dead heat in the race for the Third District congressional seat.

The Downs poll is flawed for two reasons:  1) the polling data was not accurately distributed within the district; and, 2) the research does not support the proposition that likely voters vs. registered voters provides a more accurate picture of just who will win this election.   If history serves, the difference is a 5-point margin – but that margin in this race leads not to the conclusion that the race is over but that it will be a tight race on election night.

Flawed polls do a great disservice to the voting public.  And, is so often stated, the only poll that matters is the one on election day.

MARLIN CONTINUES TO MISLEAD

The old adage “the only things certain in life are death and taxes” has become the topic of a recent misleading political commercial put forth by Marlin Stutzman.  Stutzman employs scare tactics revolving around the “death” tax – officially known as the federal estate tax.  With a federal IRS form displayed in the background, Stutzman alleges that Dr. Hayhurst supports the “death” tax.  Stutzman then goes on to opine that the death tax is a “massive” tax supported by Dr. Hayhurst that will cost every Hoosier family.  The following is the commercial Stutzman is airing.

How wrong could he be?  Pardon the pun – but dead wrong.   First, the “death tax” to which  Stutzman refers is a federal tax – as shown by his choice of forms displayed in the commercial – that only kicks in when estate assets reach a certain level.  The federal estate tax has been around in some form or another since 1916.

However, Congress allowed the federal estate tax to expire at the end of 2009 and hasn’t yet decided to revive it from the grave.  Prior to its expiration at the end of 2009, the estate tax applied to those with estates of $3.5 million or more – $7 million for married couples.  Prior to that increased floor, the level was around $1,000,000.  The federal tax will probably kick back in 2011 when Congress is forced to address some of the taxation issues;  however, the level of assessment will certainly be a contentious issue.

Does some form of tax exist on your property – as a Hoosier – because you die?  Yes.   However, it is state-controlled by our Indiana legislature.  It is called the inheritance tax.   Indiana law does not provide for a separate estate tax,  but it does assess an inheritance tax on property in the state or property owned by an Indiana resident.

This is not the tax that Stutzman addresses in his ad.  He clearly shows a federal IRS form in the background as he drones on about the death tax and its impact on “every Hoosier” family.  But just how many Hoosier families are worth $1,000,000 or more (a previous level of assessment)?  According to the last census, Indiana was home to 32,000 millionaires for a .5 per cent of the population.  That leaves a whopping 99.5% of Hoosiers who are not affected by the “death tax.”

So, which is it Marlin?  Are you addressing the federal estate tax in your commercial?  In which case, you have totally mislead the public about its impact on Hoosier families.  Or, are you referring to the state-controlled inheritance tax?  In which case, you are still misleading the public because you link it to a federal form rather than an Indiana form and egregiously neglect to mention that it is state-imposed and not in the purview of Congress.

When Stutuzman makes his magical remarks about the federal estate tax, he is truly misleading the public about the death tax, its impact on Hoosier families, and Dr. Hayhurst’s position.

STUTZMAN MAKES HAY WITH SPECIAL INTEREST MONEY

The quarterly candidate financial reports are out, and, according to the FEC reports, Marlin has had no trouble raking in money from PACs and other special interests.  As of September 30, 2010, Stutzman’s fund raising looks like this:

Total Receipts: $354,455
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $196,313
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $153,142
Contributions from Party Committees $5,000
Candidate Contribution: $0
Candidate Loans: $0
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $225,347
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $650
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $0
Candidate Loan Repayments: $0
Other Loan Repayments: $0
Beginning Cash: $0
Latest Cash On Hand: $129,106
Debts Owed By: $10,101

Stutzman has received almost 45% of his funding from special interest groups – that leaves 55% attributable to individual contributions.

On the other hand, Dr. Hayhurst’s September 30th report reflects that 93% came from individual contributions and only 7% from special interest groups.  Here are his numbers:

Total Receipts: $692,553
Transfers From Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Contributions: $631,004
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Committees: $48,189
Contributions from Party Committees $5,000
Candidate Contribution: $7,570
Candidate Loans: $0
Other Loans: $0
Total Disbursements: $576,748
Transfers to Authorized Committees: $0
Individual Refunds: $0
Non-Party (e.g. PACs) or Other Refunds: $0
Candidate Loan Repayments: $0
Other Loan Repayments: $0
Beginning Cash: $0
Latest Cash On Hand: $115,804
Debts Owed By: $0

The disparity in accepting special interest money is staggering:  45% for Stutzman – 7% for Hayhurst.

So, as you go to the polls on November 2nd, ask yourself – who do you think is bought and paid for by the special interests?  Someone who receives 7% – or someone who receives a whopping 45% from special interests.  Doesn’t take a math wiz to calculate the numbers.

And, your next observation?  Stutzman is not his own man.  Dr. Hayhurst assured the debate viewers and the public that he is independent – and his special interest contributions back him up.  On November 2nd, you have a choice to send a “bought and paid for” special interest candidate – Marlin Stutzman to Congress .  Or you can vote for  an independent, fair-minded, and dedicated candidate – Dr. Tom Hayhurst.