Folk Wisdom vs. Punditry

I come from Pennsylvania, whose political map has been described as Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other, and Arkansas in between.

Lately, that’s also been a rough portrait of the U.S. as a whole, a schizophrenic Jekyll/Hyde that’s about to be tested once again this November.

This morning an analyst on CNBC recited the common wisdom – that Democrats are vulnerable in a number of states, stretching their resources, while Republicans are sitting on mountains of cash surrounded by gloating Supreme court conservatives and ferocious billionaires; so they are bound to take over the Senate as well as the House this fall.

It could all be true – especially in red states armed with gerrymandered districts and racist, anti-minority, anti-democracy voter suppression laws cloaked as anti-vote-fraud measures.

The only vote frauds in sight are the voter suppression laws themselves, which in a perfect world would be punished as treason.

But wait a minute. This week results of the latest (January) Pew Research Center poll were crisply summed up by Charles M. Blow in the Times, and those sentiments seem to hint at a different story. If voters are speaking the truth to pollsters, the nation may no longer be so easy to mislead as Republicans are assuming. To wit:


Asked which party is more willing to work with the other party, 52% of respondents said the Democrats. Only 27% said Republicans.


Which party is more concerned “with needs of people like me”? Again, 52% said Democratic, 32% said Republican.


Which party governs in a more honest and ethical way? 41% Democratic, 31% Republican.


Do Republicans outscore Democrats on anything? Oh, yes:

Which party is more extreme in its positions? Republican 54%, Democratic 35%. Which is more influenced by Lobbyists? Republican 47%, Democratic 30%.


Underscoring the voters’ disgust, the most recent Gallup poll asked them what should be done to fix Congress, and the most popular answer was to throw the rascals out — fire every one of them. Another favored choice: term limits.

What should be done about the Supreme Court? It’s a good thing nobody asked.

As folk wisdom has always advised, hope for the best but plan for the worst.
We’ll soon see how folk wisdom fares — after running a gauntlet of three more months of lying, smearing TV ads — when next the folk go to the polls.

This entry was posted in Beltway Anthropology by Al. Bookmark the permalink.

About Al

Editors of The Horse You Rode In On (listed below) hail from Boston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. All contributions are signed. When guest contributors are included, their comments will be signed in a manner consistent with their needs for discretion, witness protection, or yearning for personal adulation.