Before You Think, Vote!


Two public polls (well, one private but leaked to the Washington Post) on hot U.S. Senate races reveal an interesting aspect of how we elect our fearless leaders. First, Democrats conducted a poll in the Maryland Senate race that shows 44% of black voters could abandon the party if they "hear the messaging" of black Republican Michael Steele. Second, a poll by Rasmussen Reports shows signs of life from dead-man-walking (and man-on-dog) Sen. Rick Santorum—but only if voters in Pennsylvania learn that the National Organization for Women has refused to endorse Santorum's anti-abortion opponent, Democrat Bob Casey.

The connecting tissue here: Ignorance. In both cases, political consultants realize their worst-case scenario is that voters get to hear the candidates explain themselves and interest groups explain their positions. The consultants, then, are looking for ways to blot out or muddle their opponents' messages, then sit back and win. This isn't breaking news, but it's nice to have it spelled out by the pollsters themselves.

In February, Kerry Howley spoke to Going Dirty author David Mark about how politics might be more responsive if everything—ideas, scandals, whatever—just got out into the open.