Ever see survey results reporting over 70% of the American people support x, y, or z like keeping abortion safe and legal or enforcing LGBTQ+ rights or common sense gun laws, but then come the next election, the candidates who are actively campaigning on and working against all of them get elected by substantial margins. Ever wonder about the disconnect between survey and election results? Well, if you’ve ever spent time scratching your ass over this, Ye Olde Blogge has the answer, and the answer is MEH!
We’ve been reporting on the results of a Bright Line Watch survey that we first found on Mock, Paper, Scissors and later found discussed on the Politics Podcast on FiveThirtyEight with Bright Line co-founder, Brendan Nyhan. It covered a lot of ground from the opinions of expert political scientists to rank and file Democratic, Republican, and Independent voters on everything from what they called hardball constitutional practices (more on that later) to experiments on who would support which policies espoused by Republican politicians and opinions on secession. Most of the results spelled one conclusion to Ye Olde Blogge: We’re so fucked. And, we’re going to offer you one more nail in our democratic coffin courtesy of the Bright Line Watch June 2021 surveys.
Constitutional Hardball Practices
Constitutional hardball practices are political strategies that fit into our constitutional framework, in some instances, barely, but break our constitutional norms and usual ways of doing things These include many of the things that you probably think they include: gerrymandering, the filibuster, adding states, expanding the courts, impeaching presidents, refusing to increase the borrowing limit, refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee, passing voter suppression and nullification laws, refusing to certify elections, and state legislatures picking slates of electors contrary to the state vote. You know all the shit we’ve seen either done — by the Repubes or threatened by the Dems, well, except for impeaching a president — over the past decade or so.
Sure, we can gerrymander our districts so that our party gets 60% of the legislative seats with only 40% of the vote, but should we? Sure ,we can refuse to extend the debt ceiling, but should we? Sure, we can filibuster every bill that the other party presents in the senate, but should we? Sure, we can write up articles of impeachment for Clinton in October 2016 and Biden in December 2020, but should we? There’s lots of stuff we can do, but that doesn’t mean we should do it, right? Not if we want a healthy vibrant functioning democracy. Not if that is what we want, but what if it isn’t what we want, well, then… hmmm… maybe? Maybe let’s see what the voters will let us get away with.
Most voters tell pollsters that they are against these practices. Very little of it is approved of by anyone, even the experts. It just doesn’t seem fair or right or sensible to use these constitutional hardball tactics, yet, we’ve seen all of them used in the past decade and the politicians doing them getting re-elected by substantial numbers.
- Ted Green Eggs and Ham Cruz shuts down the government, threatens the full faith and credit of the US in 2013 but gets re-elected in 2018.
- Mitch McConnell famously denies Merrick Garland a hearing when he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016, yet was reelected in 2020.
- In three states, Dems won the majority of votes, but Repubes retained control of their state Houses of Representatives in 2018.
The constitutional outrages keep stacking up, but the voters keep responding with MEH! Remember, authoritarians test the limits of what will be tolerated. It is how democracies devolve into autocracies.
Let’s take a look at the results of the Bay Watch Live, er, I mean, Bright Line Watch 2021 surveys. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll post their graph of their results. If they want me to take it down, I will. Hopefully, no hard feelings will be had.
As can be seen with some difficulty for those of us who have difficulty seeing small things, the survey respondents have been broken down into three affiliations, each associated with a color: Experts, green; Democrats, blue; and Republicans, red. The respondents were asked whether they agreed with the policy positions. The positions were presented in a random order.
As you can see, most of the positions did not get a majority approving of them from any of the groups. Only five of the policy positions got a majority of any group to agree with it. We’ll list them here:
- DC and Puerto Rico Statehood: Experts overwhelmingly thought that adding DC and Puerto Rico as states would be okay with 80+% in agreement and a large majority of Democrats, 60+% agreeing.
- Abolishing the filibuster: Smaller majorities of experts and Democrats agreed that abolishing the filibuster would be okay, with 70+% and 50+%, respectively, agreeing.
- Impeaching the president due to unfitness: Note that by unfitness, they mean not being fit for office and not having committed high crimes and misdemeanors as Trump has done on multiple occasions and has been impeached — in a bipartisan way — for twice. Barely a majority of Dems thought it was okay and less than 40% of experts thought so.
- Refusing to increase the borrowing limit: Only Repubes thought this was okay with 55+% agreeing. 55+% think it is okay to threaten the full faith and credit of the US and default on our debt.
- Routine filibusters by the minority party: Just over 50% of Repubes thought it was okay for the minority to routinely filibuster bills.
Abolishing the filibuster has seen an interesting change in its support since 2019, when it was roughly the mirror of what it is now. In 2019, when Dems were in the minority only 20% supported abolishing the filibuster and nearly half of the Repubes did. Interestingly, in 2019, only 47% of experts thought the filibuster should be abolished, but now over 70% do.
The experts were asked to predict which of those policies would be enacted in the near future. We’ll review them in descending order and make some kind of snarky, sarcasticky, profaney commentary on them:
- Gerrymandering: Considering that the Repubes already gerrymandered their ways to legislative majorities with a minority of votes in multiple states, of course 97% of the experts expect them to do it again. Democrats will have to get 70% of the vote to overcome the gerrymandering, and voters have already demonstrated that they just aren’t that concerned about it, so with the new Repube voter suppression and nullification laws, they’ve got themselves permanent majorities.
- Blocking a Supreme Court nomination: 72% of experts think that if there is a Repube majority in the Senate, they will block a Biden SC nomination because they already did and weren’t punished for it. Why wouldn’t they do that shit again? Why not two years? Three years? Hell, with the GQP voter suppression and nullification laws we may never have anything but a Repube majority in the Senate, so there may never be another Democratic president putting another Justice on the Court.
- Local officials refusing to certify an election: Considering they are already beginning the process in Georgia, I think this one is a little more likely than the 55% of the experts who thought so in June. I don’t know why people are so focused on 2024, the shit will hit the fan in the 2022 election. Georgia ain’t going to certify no Raphael Warnock win. It ain’t happening, y’all.
- State legislature picks its own slate of electors: Ain’t that cute? Only 40% of the experts think this is gonna happen. They’re wrong. It is 100% going to happen. If a state with a GQP majority in the state legislature votes for the Dem candidate in 2024, they ain’t going to give their electors to them. If you think Clarence “Just Give All the Moneys to Jenny” Thomas, Samuel “The Country was made by and for White People” Alito, Kneel “Suck It, Garland” Go-suck, Brett “Debt Free and I Like Beer” Kavanaugh, Amy “Let Them Use Coat Hangers” Barrett, and John “Post-Racial Society” Roberts are going to say otherwise, you haven’t been paying attention. They’ve been working for, paying for this moment for a long long time. They have finally bought themselves a majority on the Supreme Court and they are going to flex in 2024.
- Congress refuses to certify the 2024 election: If the Repubes take the Congress or just one of the houses of Congress in the 2024 election — remember, it is the Congress elected in 2024 that will be certifying the 2024 Presidential election, not the one elected in 2022 — they are not going to certify the election. If there is a GQP Speaker of the House, they damn sure ain’t going to be certifying no election. Hell, they’ll even elect Trump Speaker just to give him the presidency. This is 100%. For what it is worth, 39% of the experts thought this would happen. Bah!
The GQP no longer thinks they are constrained by elections, the electorate, or the Constitution, and they may be right. Voters tell pollsters that they hate hate hate with a capital H and an 8 these constitutional hardball tactics, but they don’t punish the politicians who are enacting them by voting against them.
This has always been the problem with liberals puffing out their chests and claiming that a majority of Americans support their various policy positions because polls say they do. The only poll that has ever mattered is the election, and during the elections, the voters don’t support Democratic policy positions at least not in sufficient numbers to overcome the GQP’s gerrymandering and structural advantages in the Senate and electoral college and now in their voter suppression and nullification laws.