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Sam Smith: The Politics Of Anger

The Politics Of Anger

By Editor Sam Smith

If Americans voted at the same rate that they did in 1964, 17 million more voters would show up at the polls this fall. And most pollsters would not have added them to their equations. The polls would likely be badly wrong.

Poll samples are based on the assumption that people are going to behave the way they normally do and the results are usually pretty good. But what happens when that isn't the case?

In New Orleans, for example, a poll taken a few days before the runoff election found Mitch Landrieu ahead by ten points. What happened? We don't know yet but it is safe to say that the sample didn't match people's actually behavior on election day.

We recently ran a report that found nearly three-quarters of young voters saying they were planning to cast ballots this fall. In a country that barely brings out 55% of the total voter in a presidential race this would be extraordinary and would dramatically alter the results.

A Washington Post story finds latino voters turning against the Republicans: "Democrats were viewed as better able to handle immigration issues than Republicans, by nearly 3 to 1: 50 percent to 17 percent. Pitting the Democrats against Bush on immigration issues produced a 2 to 1 Democratic advantage, 45 percent to 22 percent. . .

"Even if the GOP does maintain Bush's margins among Latinos in 2008, another study found that Democrats are likely to achieve a net gain in future elections, simply because Hispanics are growing as a share of the electorate.

"Ken Strasma, a Democratic strategist who specializes in using demographic data to target potential voters, and the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University conducted a study concluding that, if past voting patterns hold, the growing Hispanic population means that Democrats will increase their 2004 vote totals by nearly half a million votes in 2008."

And what if latino voters are mad enough to vote in significantly larger numbers than normal? More room for surprise.

The Review has been exceptionally accurate on its projections based on averaging the last three polls. But we gotta say our gut tells us this year could be different.


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