by Milo Clark
(Swans - July 17, 2006) Under predictions for 2006, I ventured that the Republicans would retain control of Congress in this fall's elections. There are many who disagree. I am not sure that disagreement is adequate reasoning, though.
Gerrymandering is not restricted to any one party. However engendered, gerrymandering tends to keep incumbents in their jobs if they want them, guaranteeing about 90% will stay. To oust the Republicans in 2006, rather massive swings in voting patterns will be needed. Question remains, will feelings translate into votes?
DeLay's signature gerrymandering of Texas remains essentially in place along with the change in Texas delegation more strongly favoring Republicans. Colorado backtracked some without changing much. The grossly gerrymandered nation, accumulations of years of diddling and fiddling Congressional district boundaries, stays and will benefit incumbents as usual.
In disgraced Duke Cunningham's San Diego area district, given the gerrymandering, the Republican candidate squeaked through despite the scandals. Same with a strong challenge in California's Central Valley.
No doubt poll figures appear to represent factors about which politicians claim to be concerned. Interesting to me is that, low as they are, Bush's poll numbers are not as low as most recent presidents suffered, especially during second-term muddling.
My mail is flooded with polls from all sources. As my father's name was the same and as he was an ardent Republican, I get polls from that side, too. Notable for all polls is the bias and slant built into them. There is no such thing as an unbiased poll. I enjoy the tricky wording of questions designed to distort opinions and confirm biases.
George W. Bush, for whatever reasons as yet unknown, went to Harvard Business School (HBS), graduating with the class of 1975. After Exeter and Yale, I suppose HBS seemed logical to him. The timing helped to get him out of the service, too. Given his record in management, apparently he continues to forget much he could have learned there.
HBS, officially and unofficially, maintains a cloud of unknowing around Bush. The June 2006 HBS Alumni Bulletin class notes for 1975, while voluminous, contain nary a word about him. As one alumnus (1962), I remain embarrassed to mention my degree in polite conversation. I suppose there must be others who share my feelings.
Therefore, much to my delight, the class secretary for HBS 1960, Merle Bushkin, wrote about a poll he took of his classmates. Embellishing the droll listings of accomplishments, marriages, children and grandchildren so common to alumni affairs, Bushkin took up a page or two discussing results.
Question 1: As a country are we headed in the right direction? Wrong direction? Right: 21%, Wrong 79%.
Question 2: Would you vote to reelect your congressman/congresswoman? Senator? Congress: Yes: 64% No: 36%. Senator: Yes: 73% No: 27%.
Question 3: Rank your major concerns in order of priority (1 is high, 5 is low). Ranked 1, 2 or 3: Polarization 22%, Terrorism 19%, Energy 19%. Social Security 12%, Globalization 12%, Federal Deficit 7%, Environment 4%, Healthcare 3%, various issues 2%.
Question 4: If you had the opportunity to vote for president today, would you vote the same as you did in 2004? Same: 77%, Differently 23%.
The extended comments Bushkin summarized snarled about Bush much more than I would have expected from HBS types. The alumni of the class of 1960 now are mostly retired, pushing into their upper 60s in age and living in retirement security. Hardly a hotbed of radical thought.
Says one identified as a life-long Republican who nevertheless voted for Kerry in 2004, "...I'm not sure he learned a thing about management or communication at HBS."
Bushkin's poll is intriguing in results. Things are going the wrong way, yet strong majorities would keep incumbents in office or vote the same given a chance.
I'll stay with my prediction that Republicans will retain control of Congress this year.
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