Sunday, August 22, 2010

Scott Rasmussen, Polling and the Ruling Class

This weekend' s WSJ has an excellent piece on Scott Rasmussen, who has been described by the left as a Republican pollster. What I found most interesting was that his polls have some confirming data about the existence of a "ruling class" or "political class" party within America as differentiated from the mainstream or "country party" as Professor Codevillla describes it in his brilliant essay. To tell the mainstream from the political class, Rasmussen asks this:

Whose judgment do you trust more: that of the American people or America's political leaders? Has the federal government become its own special interest group? Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors? Those who identify with the government on two or more questions are defined as the political class.His recent polls show huge gaps between the two groups.
. . .
While 67% of the political class believes the U.S. is moving in the right direction, a full 84% of mainstream voters believe the nation is moving in the wrong one. The political class overwhelmingly supported the bailouts of the financial and auto industries, the health-care bill, and the Justice Department's decision to sue Arizona over its new immigration law. Those in the mainstream public just as intensely opposed those moves.
Rasmussen makes the point that Obama and the Democrats misread the 2008 election results. Most people were expecting more tax cuts, as Obama kept promising, instead they got grudging tax cuts and huge new government spending. My take is that the public has become increasingly sophisticated and understands that spending will have to be paid for. Obamacare was sold on the CBO scoring that it would not increase budget deficits. The public knows better and further believes it will harm the economy. That the Democrats could think that using subterfuge to get a positive CBO score wouldn't be detected by the public is proof of how out of touch they are.

The Republicans look set to capitalize on Democrat hubris, but what will they do with it? I asked this in a different way yesterday. Here is how Rasmussen puts it:
Mr. Rasmussen tells me that understanding the tea party is essential to predicting what the country's political scene will look like. "This will be the third straight election in which people vote against the party in power," he says. "The GOP will benefit from that this year, but 75% of Republicans say their representatives in Congress are out of touch with the party base. Should they win big this November, they will have to move quickly to prove they've learned lessons from the Bush years."
The wedge issues like flag burning, school prayer better not make a come back if we see a Republican victory. I want to see more of the Freedom Coalition agenda and the Tea Party agenda. Only by reversing the growth of government, which is what mainstream America truly desires, will the Republicans maintain majority status.

The article notes that Mr. Rasmussen is the co-founder of ESPN, so it's hard not to like the guy.

But Mr. Rasmussen has an interesting entrepreneurial story. He grew up in Massachusetts and New Jersey, the son of a sports broadcaster. Absorbed with hockey in high school, he joined his father in working for the New England Whalers. They would often bemoan that they couldn't get the team's games on broadcast stations. In 1978, trapped in a traffic jam on the way to the Jersey shore, they came up with the idea of an all-sports network on cable TV.

Using $9,000 charged to a credit card, they created the Entertainment Sports Programming Network, or ESPN. They soon scored a major investor in Getty Oil and launched in 1979. Within a few years, they had millions of viewers. Mr. Rasmussen was 22 years old.


  1. Great post. Already sent it to the progressive Mrs. V.

    Will link this evening.

  2. The secret of CBO scoring is that CBO must uncritically accept all assumptions presented to it. So if a bill says that the US Government will earn $3T from bottling Unicorn Farts, then CBO must add $3T to the income column whether or not they think there's a market for said farts.

    While CBO hasn't actually come out and said, "Dude, I did a lot of acid in the 70s and never saw anything like this," they have dropped hints to that effect (pun intended).

  3. W.C.
    Thanks for linking.

    Nice point. The CBO has done a creditable job given their constraints.