Saturday, January 03, 2009

Poll: Tough on crime messages don't resonate with critical swing voters

Last month Hill Research Consultants, a GOP polling firm based in the Woodlands, issued a public poll aimed at demonstrating to decisionmakers and the Republican base the need for the GOP in Texas to change tactics or risk a near-term toppling by Democrats in statewide elections within just a few cycles. (See the report.)

Without going into the details, which are well worth a read, to judge by these data, the GOP in Texas faces a tough row to hoe rebuilding its post-Bush image. The number that stunned me, in particular, was the answer to the question of which party "cares about the concerns and problems of people like me." Nineteen percent said Republicans while a whopping 50% - of Texans - answered Democrats. As HRC said, "Long term, this is simply untenable."

David Benizon at the Lone Star Times has already admirably adumbrated the poll's main details, but I wanted to point readers to a couple of tidbits related to criminal justice policy:

HRC segmented the electorate into groups based on their relative commitment to the major parties and discovered surprising trends. Among "enduring GOP" voters, 38% considered themselves "law and order conservatives," while just 17% of "emerging conservatives" thought thusly. That's a big dropoff in intensity. I take from this that those not already firmly ensconced in the GOP base aren't as attached to tuff on crime messages as their more hard-core brethren among "enduring" Republicans. Crime was not mentioned as a significant concern of "critical middle" voters.

Asked which party was "committed to fair and impartial justice for all," the GOP trailed Democrats 42-32 among all voters.

Asked to list their "top of the mind," biggest issues, just 2% of the electorate offered answers related to "crime, drugs, gangs and prisons," compared to 10% who answered healthcare and 29% who answered the economy. Illegal immigration also came in at 10%, with 6 of the top 9 self-offered issues related to pocketbook economic concerns.

Speaking of which, said HRC, "Like it or not, [critical middle] voters don’t care about illegal immigration or traditional values with the same intensity as our [GOP] base." HRC estimates the GOP must win 80% of so-called critical middle and all the "emerging GOP" voters to retain control of the state in the medium term.

Many have wondered why crime did not become an issue in the 2008 presidential elections, and perhaps the answer is that crime has become a much less dominant issue among voters - especially centrist swing voters - than has been the case for the last couple of decades. Even in Texas.


Anonymous said...

Get ready for a false flag event to swing voters back to the law-and-order fanatics. Even after 8 years of world prison gestapo Bush regime republicanism, people will still fall for it.

Ron in Houston said...

I still don't underestimate the power of fear mongering.

Anonymous said...

Back to the law and order fanatics. Shame on those people for wanting law and order...

Anonymous said...

More and more of the population are becoming "victims" of the Justice system.

We're getting pretty close to the time point where folks fear the Justice system more than the "criminals".

Tough on crime is tough on voters.

Anonymous said...

I think people consider both risk and vulnerability when they think about the chances of becoming a crime victim. In general risk depends on where you live and vulnerability depends on age and physical and mental disability.

My take is that people tend to overestimate risk and vulnerability. I think we also need to do a better job in teaching people how to reduce both risk and vulnerability.

Anonymous said...


I hate to break in on an ongoing conversation but there's a breaking story on Yahoo and WFAA-Dallas about the Montague county Jail.

It was closed today.

Anonymous said...

It is my hope that the increased presence of video cameras and their recording of police misconduct as well as DNA exonerations and the brave exposure of prosecutorial misconduct by this blog, Craig Watkins, Ronnie Milsap and others will continue this trend's momentum.

We can only hope, eh?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To 1:36 - Ronnie Milsap? The blind country singer?

Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

"Tough on Crime" has done nothing for Texas but take our money and hurt people. There is no rehabilitation, no health care and no caring about each other whatsoever. I think everyone, not just the GOP need to stop and think what if that were my family; maybe then, something would be done to stop the Judges and Prosecutors and sorry defense lawyers from hurting families and lives. There are many in prison in Texas who do not deserve to be there and were put there due to corrupt Judges, Prosecutors and sorry to worthless defense attorneys.

Texas is the laughing stock of the United States along with California and the whinny Governors crying their States are going broke. Stop and do the math, we spend $49.00/day for each person in prison, who gets this money? The University of Texas for one and I would not doubt if A&M does not get some money off this fund as well. We could save millions by helping those we imprison, and yes, I do realize some are not interested in being helped and will more than likely go out and continue the same wrongs they committed when they were imprisoned, but there are many who do not belong there and should be sent home and if rehabilitation has not been tried, how would anyone know the difference? They would be taxpayers and not have to depend on Texans to pay for their up keep.

Just thought I would add my two cents to the conversation and if any of you tough on crimes want to take me on, I can stand as tall as I have to.

Anonymous said...

response to Anonymous , who stated that
""Tough on Crime" has done nothing for Texas but take our money and hurt people. "

Not true. It's created jobs!

Anonymous said...

Jobs?? The only jobs "Tough on Crime" has created is prison jobs and some of those hired need mental help or need to be in prison themselves.

Apparently, you think I am going to give you my name; well, I was not born out on a rock and I will not give you my name, but I stand by my statement. Jobs, get a grip!!

Anonymous said...

I believe another posters comments are about more of the population becoming victims of the so-called justice system is on the mark. There was an early post and conversation concerning the overcriminalization of just about everything, which I commented on as well. This is exactly the problem. Texas specifically, but even across the US, legislatures and Congress and criminalizing every aspect of daily life to the point that people fear the police more than they fear the criminals. I am one such individual. I avoid dealing with ANYONE in law enforcement in any way possible. I wouldn't call 911 if there was a dead body on my front porch. I push it into the street and leave it there. I don't talk to police for any reason, ever. I'm an analyst for a software company and do contract work for a defense company. I make a very good salary, but I have long hair and beard and have ridden a Harley for 25 years. I've been treated like a criminal and with such disrespect by LEOs in a multitude of locations and circumstances to the point they are viewed by me as more of a danger to my health and welfare than any so-called "criminal." If I need help, I'll call a Bandido or an HA before I'd ever call 911.

Anonymous said...

YES, I agree need more TOUGH on CRIMES, every Texans should mount their 6 shooter on their hip and that will eliminate anymore need to be tough on crime. Texans loves their guns let us use them for good stop crime and gather food. People Against Prison Abuse aka PAPA

Anonymous said...

"There are many in prison in Texas who do not deserve to be there and were put there due to corrupt Judges, Prosecutors and sorry to worthless defense attorneys."


Anonymous said...

People become victims when they are unimformed. It's alarming how many people do not know their rights.
More often than not my encounters with law enforcement officers has been unpleasant. They are hostile and suspicious and seem to assume that evryone is guilty until proven innocent. They become angry when citizens simply exercise their rights and often engage in retribution. It is up to the citizens to expose any government agency that is corrupt with power and dirty dealings. Law enforcement officers are public servents. At this point in my life I believe that I am more likely to be harrased by the police that I am to be victimized by a stranger. I think they don't understand what tough on crime means. They seem to believe that everybody they encounter has just cooked up a batch of drugs or they are about to. A friend of mine and I were fossil hunting in a creek one summer evening and it got dark on us before we made our way out. When we did come out our vehicle, which was legally parked, was gone. We ended up being interrogated by a highway patrolman for over an hour. in the sally port of the sherrifs office. He accused us of cooking drugs in the creek and claimed h towed the truck because the door was left open with cell phones and a purse in it and there were some old batteries and a fire extinguisher in the back. Ridiculous! I believe a reasonable person might be concerned about the safety and well being of the passengers. Not he, he never even bothered to try to find us by his own admission. He then noticed the poison ivy on my arms and declared that as proof positive I was cooking. It was outrageous! I kept cool and repeated my rights over and over until he had to let us go. I think they are ignorant pee wees with way too much power and little understanding of what being tough on crime means. It is really our fault that they behave this way. Our society seems to believe that government is our daddy and therefor expect it to do everything for us. Our society expects government to fix all of our social problems and bail us out when we screw up. That scares the hell out of me. Democrats and Republicans that are so unreasonable, so unyielding that they can't do anything but hate and blame each other make me sick. It is just foolishness. What is all this gestapo Bush crap? That is so stupid, what are you talking about? I don't see that career politicians do much of anything productive. GAG ME. Go away big brother. I don't like you.