For those of you who aren’t so crazy partisan to not be able to see reality, you can certainly say three things about liberal polling/stats blogger at the FiveThirtyEight Blog, which recently was bought by The New York Times. You can say he’s extremely intelligent, you can say his statistical analysis is among the best of the best, and you can say that he does usually look for an angle that helps his particular viewpoint, like any partisan.
So its encouraging that he, like many bloggers in the center, also sees some scenarios where a well funded centrist candidate would see some daylight between the GOP and Democrats, and have a shot at winning a presidential race.
As I’ve said elsewhere, I think 2012 is premature (maybe sometime in the 2020’s – it will take a long time to build a national centrist network of organizations), but I agree with him that a well funded roughly centrist candidate could break through given a extremist GOP candidate and circumstances that lead to Obama getting approval ratings perhaps in the 30’s.
The best part of Silver’s post is a fifteen point list talking about some variables that could make this sort of thing possible. Here are a few that stick out to me:
1. Voters have extremely low opinions of both major parties — much lower than in the period from 1992-1994, when electoral constituencies were being re-shuffled and when Mr. Perot lost his bid.
2. By some measures, an increasing number of voters prefer to identify as belonging to neither major party.
4. The employment picture is likely to improve only modestly by 2012, according to most economists, which could contribute toward continued dissatisfaction with Washington.
5. Whichever party wins control of the Senate and the House in November, its majorities are liable to be narrow, which is likely to lead to gridlock and the inability to make good on its campaign promises.
7. If Republicans win control of the Congress, a third-party candidate could point out that the country had cycled through all four permutations of Congressional and Presidential leadership within the previous four political cycles: a Republican president with a Republican Congress (2005-06), a Republican president with a Democratic Congress (2007-08), a Democratic president with a Democratic Congress (2009-10), and a Democratic president with a Republican Congress (2011-12).
8. There is one major issue — the national debt — that neither party has much credibility on. A candidate who presented a “serious” plan to balance the budget could possibly gain traction that way.
10. There are two further issues, energy and immigration, where voters are unhappy with the status quo, but which appear to be in political stalemate.
14. There are also some blocks of dissatisfied liberal and Democratic voters. For instance, a candidate who took a more affirmative stance in support of gay rights could gain some support among gay and lesbian voters.
The upside to many of these points are that they aren’t just true for potential presidential candidates, they’re true up and down the ballot. These are all forces that, I would predict, will result in even more local, state and national level candidates running as centrist and moderate independents in coming years – even more than the record we saw last election, in recent times anyway.
Another upside is most of these variables show no sign of going away, and are most likely to get even worse. This means that, even if it doesn’t happen in 2012, the breach between the two parties might just be even wider in 2016, 2020 and on.
The question is – when are we going to start organizing? We can’t win with a tiny fraction of the organization, like we have now. We need a hundred times more if centrists want to make a serious dent.
Must read article of the week – go check it out folks!