The Washington Post has an article headlined Independent Voters Favor Democrats by 2 to 1 in Poll, but in the article I found this paragraph:
Independent voters may strongly favor Democrats, but their vote appears motivated more by dissatisfaction with Republicans than by enthusiasm for the opposition party. About half of those independents who said they plan to vote Democratic in their district said they are doing so primarily to vote against the Republican candidate rather than to affirmatively support the Democratic candidate. Just 22 percent of independents voting for Democrats are doing so “very enthusiastically.”
That paragraph tells me that many other independent voters are feeling like I do. We’re not happy with the Republican Party, but we’re not all that excited about the Democrats either. Part of the problem is that both parties have become embroiled in packaging and media blitz but don’t really let any substance get out to the voters. I understand that there are many voters out there who can be manipulated by this stuff, but there are also other voters who would like some actual information about the candidates. And we would also like you to have some idea of what you’re going to do.
Let me speak just for myself now. You see, I have many concerns. I think the Iraq war was a strategic mistake that has been compounded by a number of tactical mistakes. (I’ve blogged on that in the past and will do so again in the future.) But I don’t see where the Democrats have a plan either to deal with the aftermath of that war, or with the war in terror in general. They’re going to do things differently than the Republicans, which is good, but what are they going to do? More diplomacy is good, but I’d like to know where Democrats will draw a line. What could happen internationally that could cause you to go to war? How much force would you use?
I have concerns about education, but other than believing that budgets are low, what are the Democrats going to spend my money on in educational budgets? I’m actually willing to pay more taxes for education, but I want to know that the money will actually be improving education. I have concerns about social welfare programs. I actually don’t mind having some of my taxes go to safety net programs, but I do want to know that the money is actually solving problems rather than creating more, and right now I’m afraid I’m not convinced that the safety net money is being used wisely.
I could go on and on. But instead of answers to these questions I get more criticism of the Republicans. I already got that. I know what I don’t like. But for anyone running against an incumbent, I want to know specifically what you’re going to do better.
And as for the media, you can start by not using words such as “favor” in a headline when what is actually going on is that independents are turning away from Republican candidates, many of whom they voted for with their nose held, and turning to Democrats while still keeping their nose held because there are so few alternatives.
The Democrats aren’t doing well; they’re just there at the right moment when the Republicans have run a number of bad plays.