Since Bush's first win in 2000, there has been a proliferation of literature about how the Republicans won that election. It seemed so illogical, and it seemed to make a profound statement about the people living among us. And, apparently, the explanation "Bush promised tax cuts and, when that didn't work, stole the election" isn't good enough.
Well, after that I think that liberals and progressives have given far too much credit to Republicans for being good at organizing and marketing. Yes, they did have some skills in that area. But I think that we still believed that their wedge issues, like same-sex marriage and American flag lapel pins, had much more cache than they actually did with Americans at-large.
Take, for example, their hating on San Francisco. For the past several years you couldn't pay attention to politics without hearing a Republican hate on "San Francisco values" (*wink* *nudge* teh gayz). Well, someone finally polled Americans on the topic and found out that we like San Francisco 65-24. It makes sense: I wouldn't want to live there because of insane property values, but I have nothing against the city.
Other geographic bogeymen, NYC, France, and Europe, had favorable ratings at 66-26, 61-32, and 63-29, respectively. So the next time a conservative pundit whines "But we'll be like Fraaaaaaance," just know that they're speaking to a minority. Which makes sense, because for all that Americans supposedly hate the froggies, I saw quite a few American tourists here in Paris this past Spring Break week.
This leads to a larger point, which is that we really don't have any idea what the politics are of the people in our own country because we generally assume that it's just so big and everyone who we know isn't representative. That's true, but that doesn't mean that we don't count.
It also doesn't help that we have political media that's completely out of touch with what Americans in general are actually thinking about any given issue. Take, for example, the Clinton impeachment. I don't know how many people think that the issue proves that Americans are crazy-ass moralizers willing to take down the country to punish a blow job, but here are the actual polling numbers from right before the impeachment hearings:
Pew Research Center Poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates. August 21-24, 1998. N=1,001 adults nationwide.
"Bill Clinton has told the American people that he had an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky but misled the public earlier to protect his family. In your opinion, should Clinton's statement be enough to end the matter OR do you think Congress should still consider impeachment hearings?"
Enough to end matter 61
Still consider impeachment hearings 32
Don't know 7
And what percentage of that 32 just plain didn't like Bill Clinton and was looking for an excuse to get rid of the guy?
That didn't change the fact that Congressional Republicans and a strong majority of our political media were dead-set on hanging the guy for having sex improperly.
Also, in 2004, after all those amendments to ban same-sex marriage were passed, and everyone was blaming that for Kerry's loss, in the face of actual number-plugging that proved otherwise, one would have gotten the impression from the teevee that Americans are really willing to put up with Bush just to stick it to teh gayz, instead of, I dunno, the fact that a war-time presidential incumbent is almost impossible to unseat and that John Kerry ran a pretty terrible campaign.
All of which should go to show that you can't turn on the TV, listen to CNN, and get a general impression of what Americans feel on a particular subject. One would think that Americans hate France, San Francisco, and Europe, but apparently nothing could be further from the truth.
So, it turns out, Democrats can't just co-opt that language, they have to actually explain why their policy is superior to that of the GOP. The horror.