Remember all of those record voter turnout stories from this year’s presidential primaries? Well, it turns out they didn’t collectively measure up to the Gold Medal hype they got from Democrats, who said it was all due to the energy their candidates sparked.
“Average voter turnout in the 2008 presidential primaries rose to its second-highest level ever, falling just a half percentage point short of its apex in 1972,” says American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
Notably, average voter turnout in statewide primaries for governor and the U.S. Senate that were not held on the same day as the presidential primaries “fell to a record low,” the center said in a report released Wednesday.
“The level of presidential primary turnout speaks to the intense interest in this year’s presidential election. The turnout level for the other primaries speaks to the poor health of American democracy and the diminishing religion of civic duty,” said Curtis Gans, the center’s director.
“That combination makes it difficult to predict the level of turnout in what is still likely to be a high turnout in November’s general election,” Mr. Gans said.
Presidential primary turnout studies have shown there is no relation between high primary turnout and general election turnout. The 1972 record holder is a prime example of that. That was the year when Sen. George McGovern’s heavy turnout primary victories won him the Democratic nomination. He lost to Richard Nixon in a 49-state landslide.
CAUGHT ON TAPE
“You may have seen a YouTube that’s been zipping around the Internet over the past week featuring clips from a congressional hearing on Fannie Mae that took place in late September 2004 (as of this writing it has registered more than one million views),” Tom Bevan writes in a blog at www.realclearpolitics.com.
“The eight minute and thirty-seven second video attacks Democrats for thwarting oversight of Fannie Mae and shows Republicans voicing support for increased regulation,” Mr. Bevan said.
“One clip in the video offers what looks to be damning proof of Rep. Barney Frank declaring there are ‘no safety and soundness issues’ with Fannie Mae. Another shows Rep. Maxine Waters saying there is ‘no crisis’ and touting the ‘outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines‘ — the head of Fannie Mae who was forced out shortly thereafter in disgrace for accounting fraud that took place under his watch. Yet another shows Rep. Lacy Clay calling the hearing a ‘political lynching of Frank Raines.’
“Playing a bit part in the video was Armando Falcon Jr., the director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). Mr. Falcon, who was appointed to the position by Bill Clinton in 1999, went before the committee to present OFHEO’s preliminary findings on accounting irregularities at Fannie Mae.
“In the video, Mr. Falcon comes in for some rough treatment at the hands of Rep. Gregory Meeks …
“I tracked down Mr. Falcon and spoke to him briefly [Wednesday] by phone. I asked him if he’d seen the video (he had) and whether he felt the selective clips in the video presented an accurate representation of what took place that day.
“‘It was an accurate depiction of how that hearing went,’ Mr. Falcon said. ‘As someone who worked for the Banking Committee for eight years, I was disappointed by the reception I got when I tried to submit the report on the findings for Fannie Mae. They gave me no benefit of the doubt that I might be right.’”
TRUTH ABOUT TAXES
“Conventional wisdom says tax cuts have lost their political power,” Karl Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal.
“‘Cutting taxes has run its course,’ ‘America’s great fever for lower taxes … has cooled,’ and ‘Republicans relied too easily on tax cuts’” are among the assertions I’ve seen recently from different pundits,” Mr. Rove said.
“One reason offered for the alleged decline of tax cuts as a potent issue is that since 2000, tax cuts have taken 13 million filers off of the income tax rolls. Today, one-third of all filers have no federal income tax liability and nearly 40 percent of all federal income taxes are now paid by the top 1 percent of taxpayers (60 percent by the top 5 percent). The fewer people who are paying taxes, the fewer people who care about tax cuts, or so goes the reasoning.
“But don’t tell the presidential candidates tax cuts are unimportant. Mr. McCain promises to renew the ‘01 and ‘03 tax cuts and proposes new tax cuts for health care, education and business.
“Mr. Obama says he’s for ‘middle-class tax cuts.’ He has pledged to cut taxes in at least 16 speeches in the past month. Polls and focus groups have clearly convinced the Obama high command that advocating tax cuts is critical to victory.
“Taxes still matter because they are highly visible and unpopular. In a July 2008 Pew Poll, 52 percent of Americans said it was ‘difficult to afford’ taxes. By comparison, 46 percent said the same about health care, 49 percent about home heating/electric bills, and 38 percent about food.”
“Katie Couric is a master sneerer. She’s never done a fair interview with a conservative woman — ever,” Michelle Easton writes in Investor’s Business Daily.
“It’s hard to imagine why campaign strategists waste Palin’s time preparing for and sitting through Couric’s brand of liberal ‘gotcha’ journalism,” the writer said.
“Couric’s half-lidded eyes and unbearable condescension toward a woman whose achievements, personal and professional, are so superior to her own were excruciating to watch. But we could have predicted Couric’s disparaging questions and snide looks before the interview aired.
“Viewership of Couric’s ‘CBS Evening News’ show has been in the tank ever since she took over. Letting her interview Palin elevated attention for Couric in a way she couldn’t do on her own.
“Palin should stop wasting time on mainline media interviews that are predisposed to be critical. She should spend her time addressing the crowds of tens of thousands who want to see her whenever they can.
“If press interviews are granted, the criterion should be: ‘Has the interviewer ever done a fair interview with a conservative woman?’ That would save the governor a lot of energy and let her share her message with the millions of Americans hungry to hear more from her.”
• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or email@example.com.