The numbers in the Research 2000 exit poll released Wednesday by MoveOn.org and Democracy for America speak for themselves: The Massachusetts election was not a call to go back to conservatism. It was, as Robert Borosage on our site said earlier today and as such commentators as Katrina vanden Heuvel are saying, a call for Democrats to be bolder, more audacious and unapologetic in pursuing the populist reforms the public thought it was going to get after the 2008 elections.
The poll focused on Massachusetts residents who voted for President Obama in 2008 but who either voted for Senate republican candidate Scott Brown or did not vote at all. These responses from Brown voters should stand out:
· Generally speaking do you think Barack Obama and Democrats in Washington, DC are delivering enough on the change Obama promised to bring to America during the campaign?
Not sure 12%
· Do you think Democrats in Washington, D.C. are fighting hard enough to challenge the Republican policies of the Bush years, aren’t fighting hard enough to change those policies, or are fighting about right?
Not Enough 37%
About Right 21%
Too Hard 15%
Not Sure 27%
· If the Democratic Congress passed a bill that laid down stronger rules of the road for Wall Street and cut bonuses for the executives of companies that received government bailouts, would that make you more likely or less likely to vote Democratic in the 2010 general election?
More likely 53%
Less likely 14%
No effect 33%
· What would do more to improve our nation’s economic conditions: Decreasing government spending OR tightening government regulation of Wall Street and corporate executives?
Cut spending 43%
Tighten regulation 25%
· Democrats in Washington are more on my side than on the side of the lobbyists and special interests, OR Democrats in Washington are more on the side of the lobbyists and special interests than on the side of people like me.
The lobbyists 47%
People like me 23%
Not sure 30%
· (Asked of people who opposed the Senate health care reform bill:) Do you think it goes too far or doesn’t go far enough?
Too far 23%
Not far enough 36%
· Would you favor or oppose the national government offering everyone the choice of a government administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans?
Not Sure 4%
It’s also noteworthy that in each of those questions, people who self-identified as independents were nearly identical in their views to self-identified Democrats.
The bottom line: It ain’t that complicated. A progressive populist message on kitchen-table domestic issues is a winning message, even in a time when voters are wary of government and concerned about deficits.