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Spreading the Wealth, Wooing the Base

By Matthew Yglesias on October 31, 2008 at 4:21 pm

"Spreading the Wealth, Wooing the Base"

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Reader B.L. got Gallup to give him the partisan breakdown behind their recent polling that shows most voters want to spread the wealth around. This chart compares the number of people saying they “feel that the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed”:

spreadit.jpg

Granting that you can’t demonstrate causation based on correlation, but what seems to have happened here is that McCain started articulating an unpopular, anti-egalitarian message. But his endless repetition of the message “taught” a significant number of self-identifying Republicans than their previous egalitarian views were “wrong” and brought them around to the orthodox conservative position. A small number of independents seem to have gone along for the ride as well, which isn’t surprising since we know many independents are covert partisans and there’s also the possibility of statical noise. And Democrats didn’t move at all. But in essence, McCain’s message seems to be persuading his base to change their minds about an issue, rather than persuading undecided voters to turn against Obama. The underlying oddity is that both before and after McCain seized on the idea that spreading the wealth around is bad, the public appears to be broadly supportive of the idea of spreading the wealth more equally.

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