The Hill Poll Week 2

POLL: Voters more likely to see Democrats as dominated by extremists

This result comes from The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll,
which found that 44 percent of likely voters say the Democratic Party is more
dominated by its extreme elements, whereas 37 percent say it’s the Republican
Party that is more dominated by extremists.

The revelations in a survey of 10 toss-up congressional
districts across the country point to problems for Democrats, who are trying to
motivate a disillusioned base and appeal to independents moving to the GOP
ahead of the Nov. 2 election.

{mosads}The polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland conducted the
survey, contacting 4,047 likely voters by phone between Oct. 2 and Oct. 7. The
margin of error for this sample is 1.5 percent.

More than one in every five Democrats (22 percent) in The
Hill’s survey said their party was more dominated than the GOP by extreme
views. The equivalent figure among Republicans is 11 percent. 

Results for independent voters reflected the larger sample.
Forty-three percent of likely independent voters said the Democratic Party is
more dominated by its extreme elements, compared to 37 percent who thought the
GOP had fallen under the sway of extreme views.

The figures by party do come with one caveat: Because the
voter sampling size is smaller, the margin of error by party is 4.5 percent.

The data surprised Democratic strategists and political
experts in a campaign season when much media attention has focused on the
battle between the GOP establishment and Tea Party-backed candidates such as
Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware.

They said it suggests problems for a Democratic Party seen
as too liberal.

“That’s real trouble for Democrats,” said Jim Kessler,
co-founder of the Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank.

“All the press coverage has been about how these Tea Party
candidates are fringe ideologues, and there have been high-profile examples of
them proving the point,” he added. “Yet, still at this moment, you have
independents saying, ‘I think the Democrats are a little more extreme than the
Republicans.’ “

O’Donnell’s past denunciation of masturbation and the
admission that she “dabbled into witchcraft” have dominated media coverage of
her campaign.

At a July fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-Nev.), President Obama called out Angle as extreme for wanting to phase out
and privatize Social Security and Medicare and eliminate federal investment in
education. 

But polling data from congressional districts in Arkansas,
Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington
state, West Virginia and Wisconsin show that Democratic leaders are having
trouble convincing voters that the GOP is more extreme.

Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota
and longtime observer of the national political scene, said he was surprised by
the data.

“I thought the publicity around the Tea Party phenomenon
would have given a different result,” he said.

“It is a reflection that the faces of leadership of the
Democrats in government are seen as very liberal faces: Reid, [House Speaker
Nancy] Pelosi [Calif.] and Obama,” he said. “The leading faces of the
Republican Party aren’t that well-known.”

Democratic Party strategists have tried to change that
dynamic, working to raise the profile of House Republican Leader John Boehner
(Ohio), who would be in line to replace Pelosi as Speaker in the event of a GOP
victory in the House.

But that effort has shown limited success. 

Liberal Democrats say that Fox News, Glenn Beck and other
conservative broadcasters who frequently criticize Obama, Reid and Pelosi as
extremists have an enormous influence on public opinion.

“Democrats haven’t nominated anyone like Sharron Angle or
Rand Paul or Christine O’Donnell or Rob Johnson or Joe Miller for Senate seats,
much less the myriad of wackos in House races across the country,” said Markos
Moulitsas, founder and publisher of Daily Kos, one of the nation’s largest
liberal blogs. “We don’t have media figures like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh
calling the shots for our party.

“But they have built their alternate world courtesy of Fox
News, thus making them impervious to reality. Is that a problem? Sure. Even
more so when Democrats think they can reason with this crowd,”
said Moulitsas, a contributing columnist for The Hill.

The survey also showed that a majority of Democratic voters
want their representatives in Congress to work harder to achieve compromise
with Republicans.

Fifty-eight percent of Democrats said they would urge the
lawmaker they supported to “look for compromises across the aisle”; only 35
percent would rather urge their representatives to “stay firm on their
principles.”

Kessler, of Third Way, said this is a sign that many
Democrats think their party has shifted too far to the left in recent years.

“Even Democrats feel the Democratic Party needs to reach to
the center,” he said. “There’s a fear that maybe Democrats overreached in the
first two years. They should work to get something done but not fall on their
own sword.”

But liberal opinion leaders reject this argument.

Charles Chamberlain, political director of Democracy for
America, a grassroots advocacy group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard
Dean, urged Democratic leaders not to abandon liberal principles to work with
Republicans. 

“Ask Americans if they want Democrats to compromise on any
specific issue like healthcare reform, Social Security or tax cuts for the
wealthy and the real-world answer becomes no,” said Chamberlain. “This is why
recent polling shows that by a 2-to-1 margin Americans think the healthcare
bill didn’t go far enough. This is why over 70 percent of Americans want
Congress to keep their hands off Social Security and over 65 percent want the
tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. The facts show, when you poll Americans on
the issues, they want progress, not compromise.” 

The back-and-forth among Democrats is the precursor to an
intra-party debate that will likely grow sharper in the 112th Congress.

Republicans, by and large, are not looking for their
representatives in Congress to compromise.

Sixty-two percent of Republican voters said they would urge
their lawmakers to stand firm on their principles, while only 32 percent wanted
them to look across the aisle for compromise.

Independent voters reflected Democrats in wanting to see more
compromise in Washington. Thirty-five percent of independents said they would
urge members of Congress to hold fast to their principles and 56 percent wanted
to see more efforts to achieve bipartisan compromise.

Bruce Cain, executive director of the University of
California Washington Center, said the data signal that compromise may be
elusive in the 112th Congress.

“It says that the Republicans have a lot of support within
their own party ranks for tactics they’ve pursued so far,” he said.

Cain said Congress is very unlikely to pass a second
stimulus bill or a comprehensive energy bill that limits carbon emissions,
given the views of Republican voters.

He said, however, that GOP gains in the Senate and House
would bring more centrist Republicans to Washington, and they could push their
leaders to strike deals. He said freshman Republican lawmakers would want to
show some accomplishments to voters back home.

“Doing nothing for two years and waiting for the next
election is not a very successful strategy,” he said.

Democratic and Republican experts noted that former
President Clinton and the GOP-controlled Congress crafted deals despite the
partisan atmosphere that pervaded Washington in the 1990s. Clinton and
Republican leaders agreed to reform the nation’s welfare system, created the
state children’s health insurance program and reduced taxes on capital gains.

The Hill 2010 Midterm
Election Poll Stories WEEK 2

Voters more likely to see Dems as dominated by extremists
Independents prefer cutting the deficit to spending on jobs
Democrats have edge on question of extending Bush tax cuts
Republicans are up in 8 of 10 open House seats
After forty Dem years, Obey’s seat in jeopardy
Majority of voters say they want a viable third party
District by district
Data: The numbers the stories are based on
Editorial: The results so far

District by

district results

Arkansas
Illinois
West Virginia
Hawaii
New Hampshire
Pennsylvania
Michigan
Tennessee
Washington

The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm
Election Poll Stories WEEK 1

Voters: Nancy Pelosi did not drain swamp
Tea Party is firing up the Democrats
Republican voters more ‘passionate’ about voting in the midterm election

About the poll

GOP leads widely, Dems in danger but races tight

Feelings about Obama make midterms a national election

Independents prefer divided government, lean Republican

Distaste for healthcare law crosses party lines
Editorial: Knowing who will win

District by
district results

Arizona
Colorado
Illinois
Maryland
Michigan
Nevada
New Mexico
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Virginia

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