Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stan Greenberg's Assorted Thoughts

Stan Greenberg, who was Bill Clinton's pollster during the 1992 campaign, was at Town Hall Seattle last night to sell his new book and talk about assorted topics. Like most folks who end up getting extremely close, they tend to think that successful politicians are more honorable than the public gives them credit for. Here are some notes from what he said:
  • Almost all of Greenberg's answers emphasized the fact that voters aren't idiots and tend to think in broader terms than specific issue polling.
  • He thinks Obama's approach on health care is looking good. He likes the idea of trying to bring 'all of civic' life into the conversation. Second, he likes the fact that there's space in the budget for health care, so that in effect, the debate on the budget is a debate on how whether or not the government will invest in health care and at what level. This contrasts with the Clinton approach, which was fully designed by White House staff and tried much harder to keep costs off the government's books.
  • I asked him what he thought about the shift among white college educated voters shifting towards Obama, while white non-college voters stayed with Republicans, and what it would mean. Greenberg responded with a broader observation about how politics is defined by who is mobilized, then mentioned that 2008 saw higher levels of mobilization among African-Americans and Latinos than ever before. Then he said that the white working class abandoned Bush and the GOP in 2006, but "they paused there", so there is some question as to which direction they will turn going forward. Then he finally got to the youth vote and the upscale suburbs, observing that Macomb county is now "uninteresting" in the sense that it went for Obama by a modest margin, but that the surprising action is in the wealthier and more educated Oakland county, where Obama won by an even larger margin. He further claimed that the Republicans' post-election antics as the Know-Nothing party will further alienate these upscale suburban voters. Sadly he didn't have a chance to get into the question of how it would change progressive politics.
There were more, but those are the ones I can remember.

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