Yes, Ex-Republicans, We Can

30 Jul

Some of the Republican bloggers talking about the 26th race, (who evidently have little to write about when it comes to Chris Lee), have linked to me with respect to the “Jack Davis is a former Republican” post. They thrillingly write what can be summed up as: aha! Jon Powers was a Republican too! Alice Kryzan gave money to Tom Reynolds!

Well, no shit sherlock(s). Reeding komprehenshun. Not yours.

As I wrote yesterday, I, too, am a former Republican. The point of the post had little to do with former Republicanism and more to do with…

Jack Davis is now saying that other candidates are flawed because they accept PAC funds. Yet he himself proves his charge to be untrue. After all, even after giving all those thousands to conservative candidates and PACs, Dick Cheney still refused to give Jack Davis the time of day when he came to Buffalo in 2002. Davis’ first run for congress was an anti-Cheney temper tantrum.

In the end, it’s all about the money to Jack Davis. If his money can’t get conservatives to listen to him, he’ll use it on himself. His misguided anti-Powers temper tantrum has everything to do with the fact that Powers is trying to take what Jack things is rightfully his. After all, he bought and paid for it.

Just like Jack Davis tried to buy himself the IP line by basically paying off Tony Orsini’s wife’s do-nothing Florida corporation or the resigned-in-disgrace Blanca Semidey-Colon.

But there is something to point out to my Republican blogging friends that’s also pretty interesting. They’re all former Republicans. I wonder why?

Eight years of what amounts to a pathetic attempt by government-despising Republicans to govern has turned loads of people off to that particular political party. They’ve taken borrowing and spending to new, hitherto-unseen heights. They have divided and conquered. They have lined up American troops at the border of a sovereign nation and invaded and occupied it based on a flimsy-at-best and false-at-worse pretext. They have sanctioned and approved the use of torture against people locked up without charge (so we can’t really determine just how bad they are or might be) so as to obtain oftentimes useless information given more in an effort to make it stop than actual truthiness. Those are just a few reasons why there are loads of ex-Republicans out there. It’s become a fundamentally un-conservative party. Except maybe when it comes to letting gay people marry.

Oh, and yesterday it was revealed that the Justice Department, which is supposed to – above all – uphold the law and, one hopes, be a meritocracy, promoted and demoted people based on a political purity test rather than experience and merit. It is American tradition that loyalty is not due the head of state, rather to our flag and constitution.

So, yes, Virginia, there are many ex-Republicans out there, and chances are many of them live in the NY-26. Maybe they haven’t switched affiliation yet, but I’d be willing to bet that, at a bare minimum, the foundering economy makes their zeal for the GOP somewhat diminished. Which means that no matter who is the Democratic nominee come September, they will more likely identify with and support the young vet and teacher from Clarence, or the doddering old industrialist from Akron rather than the unemployed millionaire heir who helped sell out the company to out-of-towners. I’m sure Lee will do well in with his base. The Democrat, too, will have his or her base. But the enrollment advantage that a generic Republican might otherwise have in the 26th is, I think, a mirage.

While this blogger characterizes voters in two blocs – liberal and conservative – I think the average American can’t be pigeonholed like that. Most regular general election voters don’t fit perfectly into either box. They’re a little of both. And that’s where the Republicans, and their pseudo-Collins choice, have, I think, made an error.

Say what you want about Tom Reynolds, he comes across as a regular guy who speaks plainly and matter-of-factly. There’s nothing flashy about him, and he’s a guy who was a Realtor and insurance agent before he started his long political ascent. Chris Lee?

32 Responses to “Yes, Ex-Republicans, We Can”

  1. Russell July 30, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    Study after study after study has shown that the average American voter can be pigeonholed like that. Placing a voter on a left-right continuum from Strong Democrat to Strong Republican based on self-identification, the average American voter votes about 90% of the time with the party he identifies with, even people who identify themselves as Independent, but lean to one party or another vote around 90% of the time with that party. It fluctuates from above 85% to about 95% depending on where the person is in the continuum, but this holds up over time, even during periods of party shifts and realignments. I suspect this election cycle, even in the 26th District of NY, voters will follow the same patterns they’ve followed since these studies have been in practice.

    For those who are always concerned with citations, try the Michigan Voter Studies and The Myth of the Independent Voter. Those are two of the most respected works in this area of study, by academics, pundits and politicos.

    And once again, here’s another post that’s long on attacks on Lee and Davis and very short on what Jonny brings to the table. Is there anything because it seems so hard for you to find anything at all to write about that’s positive about your candidate, especially without comparison to his opponents.

  2. Russell July 30, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    Oh, one interesting point in the voter studies is that Democrats on average vote least with their party. People who identify themselves as Indpendents, but lean Democrat actually vote more with the party than do Weak Democrats and in some instances even than straight up Democrats. Still, though, we’re only talking about a difference between ~85% and ~90%. Republicans are generally closer to 95%.

  3. Timothy Domst July 30, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    Russell, how can you ignore the fact that in a two-party system people HAVE TO choose on the continuum between Republican and Democrat? Do those studies give an option of voting for a hypothetically powerful third or fourth party that has a different mix of views, some usually R, some usually D?

  4. jackson smiles July 30, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    buffalo bean always misses the point… probably why most people who read it are just going there to disagree.

  5. Becky July 30, 2008 at 5:21 pm #

    “one interesting point in the voter studies is that Democrats on average vote least with their party.”

    So, what you’re saying is that Democrats have brains and aren’t afraid to use them to make decisions on their own; No lockstep. I like that.

  6. ike July 30, 2008 at 11:23 pm #

    your blog has become nothing more than us vs. them bullshit on one topic after another

    smell you later, you’re off the reading list

  7. mike hudson July 31, 2008 at 1:54 am #

    i think my question/comment got deleted.

  8. Russell July 31, 2008 at 6:10 am #

    @Timothy, the person is asked what party they identify with, Democrat, Republican or is he independent of those two. Next, if the person IDs with a party, he’s asked if he thinks he stongly IDs, weakly IDs, or neither, with the party. If he said he is independent, the next question is whether he leans toward one party or the other. Once the person is placed on this nine point continuum, he’s then asked who he voted for. If he voted for a third party, that’s one that doesn’t count as voting for the party. If the person IDs as a third party member, that’s treated as an independent. This study does not deal with hypotheticals. It is concerned with actual occurences. In general, third parties in our system are just noise.

    @Becky, I wasn’t making a political statement about it. I did not author these studies so I’m not the one saying it. If you want to play that game, yes, I guess it shows that on occasion, Democrats do actually have to use their brains and vote for a Republican. I guess you can draw that from the study if you want.

  9. mike July 31, 2008 at 6:50 am #

    Mike “hickup” Hudson must of been out with his pals Sammy and Gary last night.

  10. mike hudson July 31, 2008 at 7:38 am #

    yes, most certainly my question/comment got deleted.

    the question was simple.


    the comment had to do with pundit’s obsertavtion that the beloved party of my birth appears to be swelling its ranks with loathsome former republicans, and how that gois a long long way toward explaining the robot-like devotion to the completely idea-free barack obama.

    point being that of davis, powers and lee, only lee has had the courage of his convictions in standing with his own party. powers and davis, on the other hand, seem able to shed ideologies faster than than the girls lose bad dresses on “project runway.”

    which was great this week, by the way.

  11. mike July 31, 2008 at 7:45 am #

    Hudson that pundit is know for his censorship, maybe the fbi should look into that too. Or you can just check the hardwick post and maybe you will find your lost worthless comment.

  12. jackson smiles July 31, 2008 at 8:09 am #

    86 % of all numbers from political polls can be spun in multiple directions. 75 % of all people who took a recent poll about it know that.

  13. jackson smiles July 31, 2008 at 8:13 am #

    Mr. Powers has made statements about being a former Rep. and never denied it. I head one of his speeches in Rochester where he talked about changing it after the war.

    I think changing it because of a change of political views is allowed in our country isn’t it?

    So is changing it because Dick Cheney wouldn’t meet with you after you paid a few thousand dollars (eh-hem… Jack Davis).

    I can at least respect a guy who says – yah I changed because my views changed (esp. after going through a life altering event like war) more than a can about a guy who said his views changes because he gave a lot of money and people still wouldn’t talk to him.

    The questions Republicans need to ask themselves… would they vote for Mr. Powers or Mr. Davis if they had a Republican primary instead of Democratic?

    I think the answers pretty clear on that one.

  14. Russell July 31, 2008 at 8:28 am #

    @Jackson, these are not political polls, they’re academic studies conducted for more than 50 years and include in-depth interviews, voting records and other data concerning actual, verifiable events. Besides, there is some value in political polls, otherwise it would not be a multi-million dollar industry. You just need to know how to read them.

  15. Timothy Domst July 31, 2008 at 2:33 pm #

    Russell, if that’s what the studies ask then they are a tautology. If they come to the conclusion that people are voting either D or R no matter what they say, and concluding that it is proof that they are not voting independently and really want to go party line, without recognizing that there is no realistic choice in our system but D or R, then they are forming the questions to suit their conclusion.
    A better study would ask what party people WOULD vote for if there were choices between different parties that had a real voice in government. We don’t have a two-party system because it naturally evolved into D and R, we have a two-party system because the two parties have been changing the rules to ensure it, and maybe paying for studies to pretend that people want it that way.

  16. Timothy Domst July 31, 2008 at 2:40 pm #

    Russell, if I did a study that asked how many people drove gasoline-fueled vehicles, compared that number to how many said they favored electric cars, noted that very few drove electric cars, and threw out the ones that did as “noise”, then concluded that people really want to drive gasoline-fueled vehicles, you could bet I work for the oil companies, because I’d be full of shit.

  17. Russell August 1, 2008 at 6:00 am #

    Timothy, that’s not the point of the study. First, the researchers wondered if people that register without a party or identify themselves as independent are truly independent, and in most cases they are not. Second, they wondered what percentage of people who identify themselves with a party actually vote for that party. Your proposed study makes no sense from this standpoint. They weren’t worried about hypotheticals when there’s no reason to think our electoral system’s going to change from a single member plurality, two-party system. The study your proposing is quite pointless. Asking how people vote is not a tautology, even when there are only two options.

  18. Russell August 1, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    Oh and Timmy, we have a two-party system because our electoral system is a single member plurality system. This almost always leads to a two party system. It’s one of the surest things in political science and most social sciences for that matter. Yes, there has been some cartelization by the two parties to ensure they remain the two parties, but the cause of the two party system is much more systemic. If you want a multi-party system, you have to change the entire electoral system. Parliamentary systems with party lists and multi-member districts lead to multiple parties. The problem you run there is that representatives are much more controlled by the party and are even less beholden to the voters. In many cases, they don’t even live in the district they represent. So that’s not really the answer to some of our biggest problems.

  19. Timothy Domst August 1, 2008 at 6:07 pm #

    From the wikipedia entry for Independent (voter)

    Although some scholars continue to conclude that self-description is the best measure of partisanship or independence,[2] a number of studies have found debilitating problems with this measure. The nature of the voter registration system and the appearance of the ballot, the way the question reinforces a unidimensional interpretation of the political arena, the measure’s failure to function in a multi-party political system, the measure’s confusion of the theoretical relationship between partisanship and the intent to vote, question wording errors which confuse a social group with a political party, failure to predict policy (versus candidate) preferences, question order, and failure to measure partisanship accurately when there are sizeable differences in party size all confound accurate measurement of partisanship and independence using this measure.[15][16][17][18] Even the nature of a survey instrument as a measure of partisanship and independence has been called into question.[19]

    This phrase

    the measure’s failure to function in a multi-party political system

    is what I’m getting at. By making self-description (which party people “identify” with) the measure for the study, and knowing that this measure only works in a two-party system, you in fact create a tautology. The variable which can negate the argument isn’t included. It’s not that you ask people how they vote, it’s that you ask them in a way that only supports a certain result.

  20. Russell August 4, 2008 at 6:18 am #

    1. We don’t have a multi-party system.

    2. A tautology does not have a range of 85-95%. By definition, it is not a tautology.

    Perhaps you should consult actual scholars and respected works on the subject rather than Wikipedia.

  21. Timothy Domst August 4, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    1. The method of questioning should work with all kinds of governments.

    2. Using a questioning method that only works to provide a valuation of 85-95%, in effect always true when saying “people vote lock step with a party”, leaving out other methods that can show not voting lock step, means it’s tautological because there is no variable that would be false, or a much lower valuation. You seem to be saying, it’s not tautological because they could get valuations lower than 85-95% when they ask, but they don’t, apparently, ever, because using “identification” as the questioning method can’t get a different answer. If you ask for party “identification” you are basically asking “whom are you voting for?” and that will always be near 100%, and that’s why it’s a tautology. If you ask for registration, you will get a different answer, and leaving out that variable which will show a different valuation makes it a tautology. Do the studies ask for party registration instead of “identification”? From skimming your vaunted “The Myth of the Independent Voter” it uses “identification”. Asking instead for registration in a Democratic county like Erie would show greater voting against party. We elected two Republican County Executives in a row, that wouldn’t happen so often if your voting lock step always happened. I guess that would be what

    failure to measure partisanship accurately when there are sizeable differences in party size

    means in regard to “identification” in the Wikipedia entry, which has 66 scholarly (what else would they be on this topic) footnotes.

  22. Russell August 5, 2008 at 6:24 am #

    The Method of questioning does work with any kind of government. You can go anywhere in the world and ask how closely a person identifies with a party and you can check how loyal they are to that party. I personally used it in Poland and the Czech Republican. I’ve seen studies using it in other parts of Europe, East and West, especially the former Communist Satellites.

    Party identification and party registration are two entirely different things. Party registration is not universal but party identity is. If you were concerned with party registration, you couldn’t conduct your poll in at least 15 states in the US let alone most countries where only people active in politics are considered members of a party. Party identification works because it can be used anywhere and is not constrained by local laws. Party registration rules are different in every state in the US and in every country. Many states in the US do not even have party registration or enrollments.

    It is imperative that your research method fits the case you are studying. There are questions that only matter in a two-party system, some that only matter in a multi-party system, and some only work in a three-party system. You wouldn’t ask the same questions in a parliamentary system as you would in a presidential system. Many of your questions would be pointless.

    Besides, Timothy, your opinion is completely pointless in this regard. Those who actually do this work day in and day out have developed this method, use this method and respect this method. A rank amateur with no credentials or background knowledge of this is not going to change this practice, no matter how many Wikipedia articles you might find, even if those articles do pull single lines here and there from much much larger bodies of work and areas of study. Wikipedia does not make you an expert and does not make up for years of advanced study, application and experience.

  23. Dan August 5, 2008 at 7:05 am #

    Alan – I think the preferred terms are “Recovering Republican” or “Reformed Republican” 😉

  24. Timothy Domst August 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm #

    I don’t have to be a paid professional with years of study to argue about this. I can go get summarized opinions of professionals, and the Wikipedia article is fine for that. Many experts apparently question identification as a questioning method. I also never claimed to be an expert, and am glad to be an amateur arguing politics because it’s fun. Your appeal to academic authority to bolster your argument can’t conceal the fact that in our county, where we DO have party registration, and a big majority are Democrats, people cross party lines a lot, yet you say they don’t.

  25. Russell August 5, 2008 at 7:24 pm #

    No, many states throughout our country do not have party registration. That is precisely the problem. And no, as I stated and has been shown numerous times, people do not cross party lines all that often. If you want to go with registration, which would disqualify a number of states in our country, party loyalty is even higher than seen in the self-identification studies. If you want to go with system volatility, crossing party lines is also very low, one of the lowest of any democracy.

    This is not a discussion about politics. It has become an academic discussion about research methods in studying politics, but I guess you are so unqualified you can’t even recognize that.

  26. Timothy Domst August 5, 2008 at 8:42 pm #

    I said county not country, are you qualified to read?

  27. Russell August 6, 2008 at 7:05 am #

    Okay, if you want to just talk about our county, let’s try to do that. Right off the bat we run into two problems if we’re only looking at party registration. The first isn’t too big a deal because the number is not all that large, but changes in party registration do not go into effect until after the next general election according to NYS election law. That being the case, a person may ID themselves as a Democrat at this point and may have already filled out the paperwork to register that way, but for this coming election he is still a registered Republican. If he votes Dem, you’d have to consider it crossing the line, when it is only because of a legal technicality. The second problem is that only about have of registered voters in our county are registered with a party. If you’re only going with party registration and not ID, you’re ignoring about half of the electorate or their vote is skewing your results.

    Now, onto the actual study. Let’s look at Collins last year because that’s one where a good number of voters, namely Dems, had to cross lines. Let’s be very generous and say that 1/3 of all Dems crossed party lines and voted for Collins. (If that’s actually true, the Dem party in this area would be in great trouble.) That’s an exageration for our example, his numbers weren’t quite that good, but we’ll run with it. If Dems have a 2-to-1 edge in our county (it’s not quite that large, but it’s close) and only about 50% of voters are registered with a party that means that only about 8% of the voters crossed lines in this race. The number of Republicans crossing lines to vote for Keane had to be miniscule if at all because if Keane couldn’t keep party registrants that would be more amicable to his message he’d have a hard time convincing registrants of the other party to cross over to him and the election results play that out. So, in this election alone, about 8% of registered voters crossed lines. I was saying it was somewhere between 5% and 15%. You objected, but this is still in line with that. And this is the best case scenario in recent Erie County elections.

    Now, consider that there were other elections last year, seats for town boards and county legislature were up. Most of those, if not all, were pretty much decided along party lines. Look at BP’s run. His vote percentage was almost exactly the percentage of Dems in his district. So, if you factor in 4 more races all decided along party lines with the results of Collins’ race, that 8% of voters only crossed 20% of the time. That means we’re down to less than 2% party crossing in the last election in our county.

    Sure, there may have been a little more party crossing going on in those other races, but even if we had 1/3 of all party registered voters crossing lines in each election, an unheard of amount by any standard in a developed democracy, you’re still only talking about 15% of the electorate crossing lines. Again, within my 5% – 15% range which comes from the technique you despise but don’t understand.

  28. Russell August 6, 2008 at 7:28 am #

    All that being said, regardless of what you think of any of these techniques and your ability to actually speak to their validity, have you seen anything at all that backs your claim that people here in the US or in Erie County cross party lines “a lot”, well beyond my claim of 15%ish?

  29. Russell August 6, 2008 at 7:33 am #

    I just checked the Wikipedia entry you quote from and it says a whole lot more to back up my claims than it does yours. It also states that independence, by just about any measure, is very small in the US. It has been and continues to be so.

  30. Timothy Domst August 6, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    R – The second problem is that only about have of registered voters in our county are registered with a party. If you’re only going with party registration and not ID, you’re ignoring about half of the electorate or their vote is skewing your results.

    only about 50% of voters are registered with a party

    TD –

    says 120,479 of 677,006 aren’t registered with a party. That’s 17.8%.

    R – well beyond my claim of 15%ish?

    TD – Where did I say they had to go well beyond 15%? I objected to the “pigeonholing”, not any specific percentages.

    Half of Erie county are registered Dem, if all of Keane’s votes were Dem then that means 14% voted for Collins to make up his 64%, if the people who showed up to vote were representative of the whole, and if every non-Dem voted for Collins. Heavily Democratic Erie County has elected 6 County Executives, 5 of them Republican.

    I need to go to bed now, I have to get up early to go to my job which DOESN’T involve haranguing innocent people with life-stealing telephone polls.

  31. Russell August 7, 2008 at 8:11 am #

    You clearly said:

    “…people cross party lines a lot, yet you say they don’t.”

    I have stated a number of times that party loyalty is between 85% and 95%. Thus, 15% to 5% cross lines. If you characterize what I’m saying as people don’t cross party lines and to counter that you say they do a lot, then you’re obviously saying it is much more than 15%.


  1. The Buffalo Bean » Blog Archive » Jon Powers: Former Republican - July 30, 2008

    […] UPDATE: Looks like Buffalo Pundit missed the point… […]

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