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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It's Hard to Find Good News for Republicans These Days

CNN has an interesting poll. It shows that the mood in the US is anti-incumbent and voters are pissed off.

Most Americans are angry about "something" when it comes to how the country is run, and they are more likely than in previous years to vote for a challenger this November, a new poll suggests.

A majority of Americans surveyed -- and a higher percentage than recorded during the same time last year -- said things in the United States are going "badly." Among this year's respondents, 29 percent said "pretty badly" and 25 percent -- up from 15 percent a month ago -- answered "very badly." By comparison, 37 percent described the way things are going as "fairly well," and 9 percent answered "very well."

Of these people, 76 percent said there was "something" to be angry about in the country today. By comparison, 59 percent felt that way when polled in February.

What are we angry about? When CNN asked, "Which of the following will be MOST important to your vote for Congress this year: terrorism, the situation in Iraq, the economy, immigration, or moral issues such as same-sex marriage and stem cell research?" 28% worried about the economy, 25% about Iraq, 18% about terrorism, 15% about 'moral issues', and 14% are freaked out about immigration. So the right's re-election campaign of 'let's all hate gays and immigrants -- grrrr!' is pretty out of touch. 'Get scared about terrorism!' isn't doing a lot better.

"It's the economy, stupid!", with a side of Iraq. The Bush administration has been trying for months to convince us all that this is a booming economy, but the ABC news/Washington Post Consumer Comfort Index is at -19, more than twice the -8 it was at the beginning of the year.

And, if you look at the averages, people do seem to be doing better. But the problem with average income is that when people who are making a hell of a lot of money start making a hell of a lot more money, the average increases -- regardless of whether or not anyone else is any better off. If we look at median incomes, which aren't thrown by averaging, we see that the people in the middle of the economic ladder aren't doing very well at all. Washington Monthly shares a map showing median income changes by state. The states showing upward changes are Montana, N. Dakota, and Wyoming -- with Wyoming doing incredibly well with a 4.1% increase. But the things is, those states are practically empty, so these increase benefit almost no one.

States doing the worst are Utah, N. Carolina, and Michigan -- with Michigan showing a 12% drop. Ouch! My own state, Wisconsin, sucks pretty bad with a 8.2% drop in median income.

The reason is simple, if we dig through the happy horseshit at the Dept. of Labor's page, we find that "In 2005, real hourly wages were 1.9 percent higher than in 2000, compared to the 1.1 percent rise in wages between 1990 and 1995. This means that wages are increasing at a rate that's more than 1½ times faster than that of the early '90s."

Wow, bold and italic. They sure want you to focus on that arbitrary comparison of two sets of numbers. Currently, inflation is 4.1%. So if people are making 1.1% more, but the money buys 4.1% less, then in terms of constant dollars, people are actually making less in terms of buying power. During the '90s, inflation was much slower.

It's awfully hard to convince people they have more money than they think they do. Which is why republicans are trying to get you all freaked out about things that polls show you don't really care about. On the two issues that people do care about -- the economy and Iraq -- republicans suck.


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