This poll, unsavory as it may be, seems to be teaching a very specific lesson. While the great debate has been whether or not Democrats will lose “the vital center” if they push hard for aggressive health care reforms, a greater debate which is being ignored is whether or not the Democrats lose their own base if they punt on the issue.
And there is no shortage of evidence to suggest that the base should be the Democrats primary concern. Our “generic ballot test” asks voters whether they would rather see more Democrats or Republican in Congress next year.
Democrats only hold 70% of their base on that question. The Republicans hold onto 85% of their base. This strongly correlates to the (growing) conventional wisdom that the Democratic base may do something as bad as vote Republican–they may simply choose not to vote.
And here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice to the Obama White House–ditching critical parts of health care reform to appease Republicans, over 90% of which don’t like you anyway, is not the magic elixir that will inspire Democrats to vote in mass numbers.
Sep 04 2009