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March 10, 2009

I Hate To Be The One To Tell You This...

But Rush is not a popular guy. He just isn't. The evidence isn't the slightest bit ambiguous on this point. Janny Mae comments:

[The media] do not "know" that Rush is widely disliked. They BELIEVE that, because they believe their own propaganda.

No, they believe that based on long-standing empirical evidence. The fact is that outside the conservative bubble, Rush Limbaugh generates more negative than positive reactions:

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From another source:

Rush burst onto the scene in the early 1990s, and immediate enjoyed a base of favorable supporters, amounting to 25-30% of the public. Initially there was substantial lack of awareness of him as well, as we'd expect with new media figures. Those unaware or unable to rate him were over 40% initially. But as his visibility exploded, this lack of awareness shrank sharply to about 20%, where it has remained ever since 1995.


But growth of awareness was not accompanied by a gain in favorable audience. Instead, favorable response has remained virtually unchanged since the early 1990s. Favorability has fluctuated between 25 and 30%. What has grown is unfavorable evaluations--- from 30% before awareness expanded to a stable 50% unfavorable rating that has also been largely stable since 1995.


So the first point of perspective is that Rush's base has remained stable and consistent from the beginning. He has not gained any share of favorable evaluations since 1993. That strong base of listeners has been hugely valuable to him but his influence does not rest on gaining widespread admirers. Rather it rests on devoted listeners who have stayed with him for 15+ years, which is a remarkable achievement.

Second point of perspective: The PPP survey is way out of line with 16 years of polling on this. PPP finds only 10% unable to rate Rush, while other polls remain around 20% unaware. Gallup in January found 11% not heard plus 16% unable to rate. Democracy Corps in November found 13% not heard and another 13% neutral. So PPP seems to have tapped a population more willing to rate or more aware than other national polling. This is an IVR poll with the very low response rate such polls generally have.


As a result, while discussion of the demographic breaks in the PPP survey are interesting, the levels of favorability reported among both men and women is substantially greater than any other poll taken over the past 16 years. PPP found 46% favorable. The highest since 2000 is 34% by Gallup in 2003, and the three polls since then have been 26%, 23% and 28%.

Bottom line, PPP has substantially overstated the level of favorability Rush enjoys among the public. His popularity and influence don't rest on the size of his supporters as a percent of the population but rather their loyalty and their share of radio listeners, a different population than adults nationally.

Rasmussen. Note that NO ONE has a higher "very unfavorable" rating than Rush Limbaugh.

No one. No one else even broke 20% highly unfavorable. [Ed. note: damn these Costco reading glasses!!! Both Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly broke 20% highly unfavorable. Thanks for the correction.] Rush's highly unfavorable score nearly twice as high as Coulter's and O'Reilly's. This isn't a close question.

FAV/UNFAV RATING VERY FAVORABLE SOMEWHAT FAVORABLE SOMEWHAT UNFAVORABLE VERY UNFAVORABLE

TIM RUSSERT 50% / 22% 20% 30% 14% 8%

KATIE COURIC 48% / 42% 16% 32% 24% 18%

BILL O'REILLY 44% / 41% 22% 22% 18%

23% BRIAN WILLIAMS 41% / 26% 16% 25% 18% 8%

PAULA ZAHN 41% / 31% 11% 30% 23% 8%

WOLF BLITZER 40% / 36% 12% 28% 22% 14%

CHARLES GIBSON 37% / 31% 12% 25% 25% 6%

SEAN HANNITY 37% / 30% 20% 17% 13% 17%

JON STEWART 37%/ 34% 14% 23% 25% 9%

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN 36% / 32% 9% 27% 20% 12%

LARRY KING 35% / 46% 8% 27% 28% 18%

BRIT HUME 34% / 31% 14% 20% 20% 11%

ANN COULTER 33% / 40% 11% 22% 16% 24%

RUSH LIMBAUGH 33% / 62% 14% 19% 21% 41%

CHRIS MATTHEWS 26% / 37% 7% 19% 26% 11%

MAUREEN DOWD 27% / 31% 7% 20% 20% 11%

ALAN COLMES 24% / 35% 5% 19% 19% 16%

MATT DRUDGE 20% / 36% 4% 19% 22% 15%


Ideology doesn’t appear to be the determining factor when it comes to ratings for reporters. While Couric tops the list of favorables, Bill O’Reilly is in second place at 46%. The highest unfavorables are earned by Rush Limbaugh (62%) and Larry King (46%). Couric (42%) and O’Reilly (41%) are the only other reporters to top the 40% mark in unfavorables.

I'm not pointing this out to piss anyone off.

I'm pointing it out because that's what the evidence supports. Lots of evidence. From many different sources. And I don't see how it profits us to huddle down inside our own echo chamber and scream "La la la la, I can't hear you" every time someone tries to point out that not everyone agrees with us. Elections are not won and lost inside an echo chamber - they play out in the real world.

It's generally a better tactic to find out what people think rather than assuming everyone thinks like we do. I know people don't want to hear this, but Rush isn't widely approved of. He just isn't.

Speaking of polls...

Posted by Cassandra at March 10, 2009 02:38 PM

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Comments

Funny enough, The Husband and I were just talking about Rush last night. He was arguing that Rush was one of the "Icons" of the Conservative party... I was arguing that he has a very small captive audience... I, for one, do NOT listen to the radio for news... just sayin...

Posted by: Delta Whiskey at March 10, 2009 03:40 PM

I don't like Rush either. I never have but I have to say I agreed with many points in his stirring CPAC speech. I think he hit a nerve to say the least. I'm no ditto-head but I am glad he was televised and I am glad he spoke out about the conservatives needing to pull together instead of being distracted and pulled apart.

Posted by: Red at March 10, 2009 03:41 PM

I listened to Rush every day when I was in California. I was there for 2 years.

I've listened to him in the car several places I've lived.

I don't hate the guy, but like Don I think he is more often a distraction than not. Like Ann Coulter, he chooses to make valid points in a way that alienates and angers people. I think that makes it easy to dismiss conservative ideas, and I wish he'd use his formidable reasoning and verbal skills to help the party rather than build ratings.

But after all, he's a businessman and sensationalistic content, like sex, sells. I'm not so stupid that I can't see that.

I don't want that to be the image people have of conservatives either. We criticize Dems for their scorched earth rhetoric but condone the same tactics when they're used to promote conservatism. As amusing as I find Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, I don't think either makes a good spokesperson for conservative ideas. They're both far more interested in promoting themselves than they are the party.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 03:46 PM

I am glad he spoke out about the conservatives needing to pull together instead of being distracted and pulled apart.

I don't fault him for speaking up, Red. I agree with him some of the time.

But there's a responsible way to make points and a frivolous and irresponsible way to do the same job. All too often, Limbaugh picks the irresponsible way.

Ironically, his brother is one of the most articulate and compelling pundits I've run across. Is he famous?

Nope. He should be. He's a hell of a lot smarter than Rush. But we like red meat. I think that's kind of a sad comment, but there it is.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 03:50 PM

Thus proving he's immensely popular with the people with whom he's popular.

*shrug*

He's also the "Oooooh! Shiny!" keeping the public's attention away from Obama's latest bit of Hope'n'Change -- the fanfare announcing the Won's diversion of one Iraq-bound Stryker Brigade to Afghanistan while quietly slipping another one into Iraq...

Posted by: BillT at March 10, 2009 04:16 PM

Heh. I used to listen to him when traveling. I liked his monologues. I loved the Shanklin spoofs.

I *hated* his ditto-heads with their vapid, insipid "Mega-dittos Rush, yer a God, and I agree with you because (paraphrase what Rush said) level of commentary. I'd switch over to NPR or G. Gordon Liddy (who's a hoot) until the top of the hour when you might get a monologue again.

I actually really dislike the call-in radio format, so I don't listen to it much any more.

Rush has a pretty good eye for things, and in that he's useful. He's running a business, and for that he has to pander to his audience, as Cassandra noted, like Coulter.

Or fill-in-the-blank leftoid.

He certainly has a knack for keeping an audience, which is his greatest strength. But I think his rise to exposure now has more to do with Democrat strategy and need for a demon straw-man and the utter lack of a leader on the Republican side with any charisma.

Posted by: John "Danger is my cognomen" Donovan at March 10, 2009 04:31 PM

It says something that Rush is still the topic of so much conversation when I ONE! & Co. are such a target rich environment. Now what exactly, it says, I'll leave to everyone's imagination.

Posted by: bthun at March 10, 2009 05:12 PM

"I don't fault him for speaking up, Red. I agree with him some of the time.

But there's a responsible way to make points and a frivolous and irresponsible way to do the same job. All too often, Limbaugh picks the irresponsible way."



I don't know about being irresponsible (maybe you mean politically -- alienating folks? or personally - oxycontin issues) but Rush has always come across to me as a very blunt salesman that likes to play the "talk louder and over you' game. I'm not so sure Rush has a responsibility to anyone except himself and the party he serves for quite often he totes the party line so for me he lacks the credibility I would lend someone who wasn't so deeply entrenched. My husband likes to say "bought and paid for".



I felt his speech was impassioned and hit many critical points however I am not a fan. He is right there along with Ann Coulter (hateful), Michael Savage (way too angry), and Bill O'Reilly (snide) as far as I'm concerned. It's their tone and their style -- their approach that is quite off-putting and extreme. I don't care for unyielding extremes on either side.

Posted by: Red at March 10, 2009 05:45 PM

Let us define our target group. When I listen to Ward Churchill, Bill Ayers, Bernadette Dohrn, Wright/Pfleger, Weather Underground advocates, the professors who hire and promote like-minded souls teaching revolution in propaganda classes at our institutions of higher learning, Rush sounds positively moderate.

When I talk to students who don't know the timeline of WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War I and II, I wonder what is being taught at taxpayer expense regarding U.S. history.

My Point is that recognizing when the opposition party is playing "good cop, bad cop" is the first step in dealing with them intelligently. We are so far behind in this psycho war that we haven't convinced the current generation that the media is shilling for the opposition.

What Limbaugh and Coulter are doing is what we refer to on the street as "an attention getter." Are we so gentile that we kill the messenger because we don't like his method of delivering the wake-up call? Of course my frame of reference is slightly different than most. In boot camp I remember being roused from deep sleep by the dulcet tones of a trash can bouncing down the floor between the beds at 3:30 in the morning.

My Drill Instructor was never on my Christmas Card list in the military. Like Rush, he is the guy you love to hate. It came to pass that the Drill Instructor was correct because eventually when someone called "INCOMING" at an inopportune moment my 'trash can' training saved the day. I didn't roll over in my bunk and pull the pillow over my head.

I appreciate your position Cass. Please assist me in understanding how staying on defense advances our cause in the face of assymetrical propaganda attacks emanating from the left-wing democrats? Where was the outrage when a liberal politician said in words to the effect that people who don't study and go to school end up in the military?

Maybe I am too thin-skinned! No cocktail parties for me! LOL..

Posted by: vet66 at March 10, 2009 06:15 PM

"Extremism in defense of Liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of Justice is no virtue." - Barry Goldwater, 1964

Just pulling your chain, Red. :)

I think John Donovan has it pegged pretty closely, plus the need to find a demon on the R-side, now that the dreaded Booosh! is no longer President (and that black hearted dog Barney, too!). The absolute lack of any visible figure on the Republican side means there is no figure to attack. These guys need a target.
I do find it interesting that many of the Democrat talking heads and the cable guys need to find time to denounce him (Rush) periodically, or even everyday sometimes. Perhaps, Limbaugh does this on purpose? You think?

Rush was actually very cogent today (for the few minutes I was listening at lunch), discussing Federalism, separation of powers, and the need for checks and balances. He tried to tie all this into the argument that it is not about Obama succeeding or failing, it was about the country succeeding or failing. At his best, he can be very compelling; at his worst, he provides plenty of soundbites and fodder for the Democratic talking heads to attack those mean Republcans.

By the way, there is no "Conservative Party", unless you are in New York.

But the poll that Cassandra sites means little, until you do something like weight the audience. Limbaugh has an audience something like 10 times that of the nearest cable guy or talking head radio personality. Of course, he is going to elicit negatives; he is the biggest target. Many of the cable audiences are miniscule by comparison.
If millions of people were somehow listened (forced, the only way!) to Air America everyday, or watch Keith Olberman, they too would have immense negatives. They are not particularly attractive viewing or listening except to the true believers.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 10, 2009 06:33 PM

Actually, I'm not advocating staying on defense, vet66.

What I'm advocating is not engaging in pointless turf battles. Winning elections is not about beating your adversary over the head.

Winning elections is about convincing more people to like you and your side than like the opposition. And you don't make people like you by being confrontational or outrageous. Obama (as we saw) won this last election for two reasons:

1. He successfully positioned himself as a moderate even though he wasn't. LOTS of moderate voters voted for him. Only now are they realizing their mistake. But he is in office now, isn't he?

2. He was flat out better than McCain at seeming congenial and trustworthy.

Study after study has shown: most Americans are not issues voters. They vote either party preference (and we're not going to win over too many hard line dems) or they vote for the person they trust. Being a hard ass and telling your opponents they're deranged doesn't build trust.

With respect, the majority of Americans have not been through anything like boot camp, so they would just be outraged by being forced to do anything. Not having had your experience, they don't see the value of it. You have to persuade, not coerce.

My Point is that recognizing when the opposition party is playing "good cop, bad cop" is the first step in dealing with them intelligently.

I agree. But I think the solution is just to call them on what they're doing "Why are we talking about Rush?" and then move quickly to reclaim control of the conversation.

Indulging them, when they only gain by associating conservatives with an unpopular (both for good reasons and more specious ones) talk show host is akin to negotiating with terrorists: every time they demand that we explain/defend Rush, we reward them by doing just that! Why?

How does it serve our interests? Why not save our energy for the fights that count? If you scatter your forces, you're less effective. What we need is more message discipline and a more well-articulated message.

*That* will pay off far more than defending remarks the vast majority of folks don't really care about. If we spent our time bombarding the media with carefully assembled evidence and found some articulate and charismatic figureheads, we'd be ahead of the game instead of scrambling to fix the bleeding.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 06:35 PM

It depends on who's being polled, Don.

If, like that positive poll, you only poll radio listeners, you've got a skewed sample.

That's why I cited several polls. With one exception they've all said the same thing for literally decades: more people have a bad impression of Rush than have a good impression. We don't care about the vast majority of radio listeners b/c voting isn't limited to radio audiences.

What you want is a sample that reflects the voting population. And it doesn't matter what they think of other pundits when it's Rush the media is trying to associate us with. What matters, is what most people think of Rush.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 06:39 PM

I've been a bad boy. I need discipline!

Your'e correct of course. I remember something else the D.I. said; "Quiet in the ranks!"

I love this job...

Posted by: vet66 at March 10, 2009 07:02 PM

I've been a bad boy. I need discipline!

*Snort*

I'd threaten to spank you but you'd probably like it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 07:23 PM

BTW, minor error: Two other people DID hit >20% "very unfavorable": Batshit Bill O'Reilly and "Perfected" Ann Coulter.

Posted by: prison rodeo at March 10, 2009 09:56 PM

Thanks for the recognition...I think.

I believe that you MAY have missed my point, though, based on this:

"No, they believe that based on long-standing empirical evidence. The fact is that outside the conservative bubble, Rush Limbaugh generates more negative than positive reactions:"

My point was that people, including people in the media, have "unfavorable opinions" of Rush Limbaugh because of the successful way that the media has demonized him, and much of it is by misquoting him and mischaracterizing what he says.

Many of the people who have "unfavorable" opinions of Rush Limbaugh have them, not because they have LISTENED to him and don't like what they hear, but because they have BOUGHT into the negative characterizations of our media.


Posted by: JannyMae at March 10, 2009 10:57 PM

I am afraid that I must also take issue with a few other things you said, Cass.

You said this, in the post:

It's generally a better tactic to find out what people think rather than assuming everyone thinks like we do. I know people don't want to hear this, but Rush isn't widely approved of. He just isn't.

While you're chastizing people for "assuming that everyone thinks like they do," maybe you ought to consider that concept yourself:

But there's a responsible way to make points and a frivolous and irresponsible way to do the same job. All too often, Limbaugh picks the irresponsible way.

Don't assume that everyone thinks like you do. Don't assume that everyone agrees with you about what constitutes a "responsible way to make points."

Because this person disagrees, and I'd guarantee you that most of Rush's "fans" disagree with you too. And that's a lot of people. A whole lot of people.


Posted by: JannyMae at March 10, 2009 11:04 PM

Okay, one more, and I'll stop picking on you. This is very interesting:

That's why I cited several polls. With one exception they've all said the same thing for literally decades: more people have a bad impression of Rush than have a good impression. We don't care about the vast majority of radio listeners b/c voting isn't limited to radio audiences.

I am afraid that I do care about radio listeners, because people who don't listen to Rush Limbaugh do not have a freakin' clue about what he is about. They only know what they have heard about him from other people who have never listened to him.

On a side note, I have to laugh at the Rasmussen poll. There are fewer people on that list that I would characterize as, "journalists," than NOT.

Posted by: JannyMae at March 10, 2009 11:15 PM

He was a uncommonly good liar, for those who don't care to learn the truth; he's a shining example of how fraud can be abetted by the MSM; who are mostly frauds to one degree or another.
John Stewart and Chris Matthews being on the most extreme end of that, no poll of Olbermann. They have lied for 5-8 years or more about everything.
On the other hand, a good and decent man, and a public spirited good woman, were continuously libeled during the campaign. They see their life savings evaporate, their future earnings haved
by carbon taxes, higher taxes at all levels, and
they want more devastation, They see our allies insulted and our enemies appeased; and their mouths lie agape. They are willing to entertain
talking with the 'moderate Taliban' and you talk to me of Q ratings, which is what we're talking about.

Posted by: narciso at March 11, 2009 12:24 AM

Posted by: JannyMae at March 10, 2009 11:15 PM

Hmm. You do care about radio listeners because people who don't listen don't have a clue? Shouldn't you change that to be "I don't care about people who don't listen to the radio because they don't have a clue."?

And yet they vote, don't they? So if they have a negative view of Republicans/ conservatives because of the image Rush purposefully gives, you don't care because obviously they got that viewpoint out of ignorance? Sooo... what? We just say Heck with 'em, we don't need their vote anyway?

The base of a party are the people who will vote one way regardless of silly gossip stuff like this. It's those squishy, middle grounders who don't listen to radio, but vote for the likable guy who will decide an election. These people don't care about or listen to the issues. They listen to Katie Couric and Oprah. And if KC and O are playing soundbites of Rush looking and sounding like an ugly anger driven partisan and are calling him the leader of the Republican party, then they WILL vote for the other guy.

Sounds like a great way to loose an election. (oh wait...)

Posted by: Red Bird at March 11, 2009 03:05 AM

Wow, I am now convinced! I will wet my finger from now on, stick it in the air to determine which way the wind is blowing, and follow that wind. This is the essence of leadership, yup.

I will be like a reed blowing in the wind (check the biblical reference), and the people will love me for it! Yes! We! Can!

Posted by: a former european at March 11, 2009 03:22 AM

Are we to believe that the denizens of Kos or those lemmings who follow the Obama are likely to listen to Rush or have a favorable rating for him. Or are they more likely to hate him as he shows the idiocies of the Left to the American public.

No other radio figure commands the base that Limbaugh does. And this is what matters, his influence is beyond measure.

Posted by: Thomas Jackson at March 11, 2009 04:02 AM

Never much cared for him, myself.

However, I do agree with a lot of what he says...

Posted by: camojack at March 11, 2009 04:10 AM

Thanks for the correction, prison rodeo :)

I was in a hurry (I did this on a late lunch break) and missed that when I scanned down the column

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 05:14 AM

Cassandra -

I appreciate and believe your analysis. I understand, sympathize with, and even agree with your conclusions.

However, when I heard excerpts from Rush's CPAC speech, I had tears in my eyes. I heard a man give one of the most passionate defenses of what most of us here hold dear and know to be true and necessary for America to be successful and strong.

Is Rush bombastic and does he occasionally step over the line? Yes. Sure, he does his 3 hour show unscripted every day so of course it is only to be expected that he will sometimes say things that are less than ideal. And sometimes, he purposely says things that are controversial, provocative, and difficult for those who do not listen to him to understand.

But Cassandra, the vast majority of the left DO NOT CARE about reason.

People like you could spend the rest of your lives writing well-thought out pieces that explain why conservative thought is necessary, right and best AND IT WOULDN'T MATTER. The left is largely (but not entirely!) made up of people who are either rabid ideologues, firm believers in fairy tales and magic dust, unable or unwilling to follow reason and logic, or living off taxpayer money and therefore indebted to leftists ideology and not willing to change their opinions.

I am confident that there are many in the middle and on the left who are open to reason and would be very likely to change their minds and vote more conservative if they spoke to people like you as opposed to hearing Rush.

In the meantime, I and I suspect many others in America, are lying awake at night, scared to death at what we are seeing happen to our country. Cassandra, I am terrified. I'm more scared now than I ever was after 09/11.

We are being OVERRUN by leftists and their minions. They are hell-bent on destroying America and anyone who stands in their way. And we are supposed to REASON with these people? Even the leftists who are pleasant, educated, and well-meaning (these are the ones that fall into the fairy tales and magic dust category) do not want to hear reason. I know plenty of people like this, friends and family, who simply dismiss concerns brought up by conservatives and, when asked to read a brief article or book that outlines the reasons behind a particular conservative idea, say proudly that they “don’t read such garbage.”

I don't know. I don't know the answer. And again, I understand and appreciate your point.

But I suspect that many conservatives are in for a rude awakening if we think that spending the time to find out what leftists think (like we don't know!) and reasoning with them is going to work.

Deana

Posted by: Deana at March 11, 2009 05:18 AM

Again, with respect, I think a few of you are missing the point of this post.

It wasn't that Rush isn't immensely popular with his listeners. One of the linked excerpts explicitly says that:

PPP has substantially overstated the level of favorability Rush enjoys among the public. His popularity and influence don't rest on the size of his supporters as a percent of the population but rather their loyalty and their share of radio listeners, a different population than adults nationally.

Now to Janny Mae :)

First of all, if I misunderstood your point, I'm sorry. I took the literal meaning of your words to be saying that the media were wrong to think linking Rush to the Republican party is damaging b/c he's far more popular than they think he is:

[The media] do not "know" that Rush is widely disliked. They BELIEVE that, because they believe their own propaganda.

It's hard to read this any other way than to say that you think more of the general public like/agree with Rush than the media do. The point of this post was to refute that assumption by looking at not just one, but several polls that are pretty darned consistent and have stayed so over decades.

I think the polls do that fairly well.

And the fact is, it really doesn't matter whether radio audiences have a higher favorable opinion of Rush because the voting population is made up of far more people than that. It doesn't matter whether their negative impressions are based on fact, or mischaracterization. Many people's negative beliefs about George Bush were based on distortions.

Can you honestly tell me that didn't affect the election?

How many barrels of digital ink were consumed in refuting the many lies about Bush? Were they effective?

NO. Largely because the people who potentially could have been convinced by vigorously defending Bush weren't reading conservative blogs, but also because there are so many sources of information out there so for every post refuting a distortion, several news sources repeated it over and over again. They've done studies about how people take in information and they show that once a notion gains a bit of traction (and it does as soon as it's widely reported) most subjects never listen to denials or defenses. In fact, they only confirm their pre-existing opinion (which is that the distortion was based in fact).

*That's* what I meant about understanding how people who don't think like you, think JannyMae.

It wasn't meant as a personal dig. I think you know me better than that, and if I offended you I'm sorry. I argue a point forcefully, but never with malice.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 05:27 AM

Deana:

I think maybe the time has come for me to pick up that Jonathan Haidt lecture again.

I don't believe the majority of lefties are deranged. I don't even believe that they aren't "logical".

As Haidt demonstrated rather well, it's simply that a lot of the arguments we make fall on deaf ears when we're talking to people who don't reason the way we do.

It's not so much that we CAN'T reason with them. It's that when your trying to convince someone whose values are slightly different, you HAVE to pitch your argument to appeal to the things they believe are most important, not the things you believe are most important.

I think that Haidt thing is really, really important. I have a LOT of friends and family who are Dems and I can tell you he is spot on with regard to how they think. This is why they can look at the exact same evidence and often come to a different conclusion: they aren't considering or "weighting" the evidence the same way we do.

This means we have a tougher job to do, because we have to pitch our arguments two ways: one calculated to appeal to the base (gotta keep them loyal) and one calculated to appeal to reasonable moderates. Liberals find only two of Haidt's 'moral matrix' elements persuasive:
harm/care and justice/fairness.

So you pitch the tax argument thusly:

I know Barack Obama says raising taxes on the rich is more "fair". But you should oppose this for the following reasons:

1. The tax code is already very progressive and when you factor in the effects of per-household government spending (how much, dollar for dollar, do various income groups receive BACK for each tax dollar paid?) the tax code we already have only gets MORE progressive and "unfair". We are ALREADY taxing the working affluent far more heavily than the working poor.

That may be OK if the aim is to spread the burden of paying for government services we ALL enjoy in such a manner that the poor aren't taxed into going on welfare. At least here, everyone gets at least SOME benefit from progressive taxes. But it's a far different thing to do what Obama proposes.

2. He says it's "unfair" that person A earns more than person B, and his remedy is the take part of A's paycheck and simply hand it over to B! Now how is that "fair"? This means that in return for a large part of A's work day, he has to hand over part of his paycheck to someone who may be a very nice person, but who didn't earn it.

3. The harm/care part. Obama says raising taxes will increase government revenue and allow him to pay down the deficit. But decades of tax data show the reverse is true: raising taxes actually REDUCES tax revenue. (and then you explain why).

So not only is Obama's tax plan manifestly "unfair", but it's also "harmful" to everyone because tax revenue will go down.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 05:42 AM

And FWIW, I've tried those arguments out with liberal friends and neighbors and found they resonated. They agreed with me that it didn't make sense and also that it was likely to be counterproductive, even though they voted for Obama and aren't conservatives.

We need to do a better job of "pitching" our argument for ears that hear and evaluate things differently than we do.

We ain't trying to convince the base. They already agree with us. It's reasonable moderates we need to convince, and we're failing miserably.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 05:45 AM

I agree that Rush has high negatives. I doubt it's solely his fault, but rather is a cumulative result.

Name me another private citizen who's been subjected to a similar sustained attack from the Left, but who has higher approvals?

The attacks on Rush didn't start with Obama. The Left has been demonizing him for decades. People who've never heard him utter a word are convinced he's Evil because that's what they've been told by all the "reliable" and "mainstream" news media.

Okay, so he's no good as a spokesman for the movement. That doesn't mean he's not right, it means the smear campaign is working. Demonize Rush, then demonize anybody who agrees with him, and you kill conservatism with guilt by association.

Find another spokesperson? Somebody who can go head-to-head with James Carville, David Axelrod, Rahm Emmanual? Great, who?

You go to war with the army you've got. He's what we've got. Attacks on him are attacks on us.

.

Posted by: Joe Doakes at March 11, 2009 09:58 AM

Demonize Rush, then demonize anybody who agrees with him, and you kill conservatism with guilt by association.

That was exactly my point :)

Find another spokesperson? Somebody who can go head-to-head with James Carville, David Axelrod, Rahm Emmanual? Great, who?

Well, it's hard to argue independents and moderates should vote Rethug if we can't do better than we have been of articulating our ideas, Joe. Voters want competence, and they have a right to expect it.

So do I. And those three aren't that good. I think we can do it.

A big part of our problems right now are people within the party who want to purge anyone who demonstrates insufficent 'reichyness'. The left has the same problem.

I don't know what to do about it except to say that when we've lost enough elections, they'll come around or someone charismatic enough to unite us will step forth.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 11:30 AM

No the voters don't want competence, otherwise they would have never voted for someone who's never done anything in his entire life, and don't get me started about Biden. They didn't care about
facts, or truth, or anything tangible; if not they would have voted for McCain and for Sarah as well. It would be an abject lesson to be entertained by this, but frankly we all lose, it's only a matter of how big the loss will be.

Posted by: narciso at March 11, 2009 12:04 PM

No the voters don't want competence, otherwise they would have never voted for someone who's never done anything in his entire life, and don't get me started about Biden.

Well, I agree with you there. But then I don't happen to think the vast majority of voters are particularly rational, either :p

I think voters do want competence. I just don't think it's their most important consideration.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 12:09 PM

Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. When he first broke on the scene, I enjoyed listening to him because he was the only one who was broadcasting a lot of what I was thinking.

But I fell out of love with Rush. I find him a sneering, arrogant blowhard. He's a smart man, with his ideas in the right place, but his delivery is not entertaining to me anymore, so I just don't listen to him. I have many more options now with Sirius satellite radio. I listen to Hannity, Wilkow, Gibson, and rarely O'Reiley (whose Radio Factor will soon be gone) and Bauer and Rose.

I don't listen to Savage or Levin, because I don't find the "continuously angry" schtick entertaining.

But Rush is not a visionary, he's an entertainer, and a damned good one too judging from his audience.

Posted by: Tony at March 11, 2009 12:59 PM

Hi Cassandra -

If you find that Jonathan Haidt' lecture that you reference, would you post it please? I would very much like to read it.

Please do not think that I run around treating leftists badly. I have many who are friends and family members. I love them and know they would never KNOWINGLY harm anyone.

But in their eyes, I am "not very smart" because I am a conservative (even though I have spent much more time in school than they have). I don't get the big picture, you see. I don't get the nuance and I "don't care" about fellow human beings.

And for what it is worth, when I give them suggestions of things to read, it is reasonable sources (not Rush) such as Dr. Victor D. Hanson, Powerlineblog, etc. And I'm still met with looks of disbelief and incomprehension that I "actually believe that stuff."

Anyway, thanks for your thoughts on this issue. It's made me think.

Deana

Posted by: Deana at March 11, 2009 05:14 PM

Yeah, I get the same thing from my family. If it isn't ABC, CBS, NBC, or CNN it's "Far Right Wing"

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 11, 2009 05:25 PM

AFE,

I know we've been through this before, but I'll say it again. There is a big difference between changing your conclusions and changing your rhetoric. We are advocating the latter, not the former.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 11, 2009 05:49 PM

President Obama is popular. Katie Couric is popular. Rush Limbaugh is unpopular. What is the point?

Posted by: Thalpy at March 12, 2009 08:29 AM

Try reading the preceding post.

Posted by: I Fail to See How This Conversation Helps Michelle's Children at March 12, 2009 08:32 AM

To be more precise, this post was a response to a reader's argument with a statement I made regarding the Rush Limbaugh brouhaha.

What I said was, "The media constantly confront prominent Republicans with controversial statements made by conservative pundits (and whether it's a manufactured controversy or not doesn't matter for reasons I'm about to get into). They do this in order to link the Republican party with an unpopular pundit hoping the dislike will be transferred from the pundit to the Republican (IOW, viewers will come to associate Rush with Republicans in general).

For many liberals, all they need to dismiss a person is to hear, "Oh, he watches Rush/Faux News". From that point on, they cease to listen to anything that person has to say

I likened this to impeaching the credibility of a witness - they use guilt by association to damage the credibility of Republicans. And then I said, "Contrary to what many if not most conservatives seem to think, Rush is NOT liked by those outside the conservative community."

JannyMae then stated,

[The media] do not "know" that Rush is widely disliked. They BELIEVE that, because they believe their own propaganda.

This post attempts to refute that statement on factual grounds rather than relying upon opinion.

Ironically, right after I wrote it, this poll came out.

Now I looked at the poll for quite some time, looking for errors in methodology or evidence that the sample was biased, but as far as I can tell, the sample was representative of the distribution of party affiliation in the general population and the questions weren't overtly biased in one direction or another (when you consider the purpose of the poll, which was to find out how a cross-section of likely voters view Rush Limbaugh).

And likely voters are the ones most "likely" to show up at the polls. Which underscores my general point: the media continually try to associate Republicans with Rush b/c Rush is unpopular outside the conservative community.

Given that we need moderates and swing voters (as do our opponents) in order to win an election, this matters.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 12, 2009 09:22 AM

I give the Democrats credit for being smart enough not to eat their own, not to attack their own base. Even though Code Pink, La Raza, MoveOn, ACORN and the lot are far more extreme than their counterparts on the Conservative Right, you’ll never hear Democrat party leaders attack them the way Republicans attack the C-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n Coalition, the Minutemen, and Talk Radio.

Posted by: V the K at March 13, 2009 09:04 PM

That's an excellent point.

I never understood why Michael Steele felt it necessary to call Rush 'ugly' and 'incendiary'. That was a big mistake, and as I've said more times than I can count I don't understand why the chairman of the RNC felt it was appropriate - much less wise - to comment on or criticize a talk show host.

That was insulting to many conservatives who listen to him and it handed a great sound byte to the Left.

That said, I also don't understand - or care for - those on the right who go up in flames when anyone dares to express even obvious points such as "Rush is perceived differently - and is for the most point a liability for the RNC - to the extent the Left is allowed to link the RNC with Rush."

Good heavens. I read last night that James Carville cooked up a strategy to hang Rush around the RNC's neck like an albatross precisely because he's widely disliked outside the conservative community.

These things are facts, even if some don't want to hear them. It's also true that Rush expresses conservative ideas very effectively and keeps the base fired up. So that's a net benefit for us.

The thing is, conservatives need to decide what image we want the party to have. I understand and agree with the desire not to apologize for our ideals. I am less interested in seeing the party leadership tied to a talk show host who admits he likes making people mad and purposely says outrageous things.

To me, there's a difference between articulating and defending ideas and shoving them in people's faces. I think the former is more likely to persuade than the latter and considering the results of the last election and the way this country seems to be headed, I'd say we have a lot of persuading to do.

Posted by: Cass at March 14, 2009 05:26 AM

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