Before you read this story, play this video below to set the proper mood:
Now read this poll:
Losing NY-23 candidate Doug Hoffman became the latest in an increasingly long line of conservative politicians to blame his problems on ACORN yesterday despite the complete lack of evidence the organization played any role in his defeat.
The Republican base is with him though. PPP’s newest national survey finds that a 52% majority of GOP voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately. Clearly the ACORN card really is an effective one to play with the voters who will decide whether Hoffman gets to be the Republican nominee in a possible repeat bid in 2010.
Belief in the ACORN conspiracy theory is even higher among GOP partisans than the birther one, which only 42% of Republicans expressed agreement with on our national survey in September.
The ACORN line has been largely promoted by talk radio hosts, then picked up by politicians — yet another sign of the talk radio political culture at work.
Once upon a time, Republican politicians exploited the far right and conservative talk show hosts who could be counted on to get far right members of the party’s political base to the polls to vote Republican. Now, increasingly, the tail is wagging the dog in terms of some prevalent beliefs, talking points and some matters of party strategy. It’s yet another sign of the GOP’s weakening center, which is also reflects the country’s sagging center in an era of intensifying partisan and ideological polarization — as well as a sign of today’s less assertive elected Republican party leadership.
Some Democrats still charged after 2000 that George W. Bush lost the election. But the party leadership in general didn’t question the legitimacy of the Supreme Court’s election (remember Al Gore’s 2000 concession speech?) and the de-delegitmizing George Bush was not the key opposition theme during his presidency But — as in the case of centrists, independents and moderates — Republicans are not a monolithic block, as this poll shows. This poll seems to represent the Glenn Beck fan portion of the party which will pick up the ball and run with anything that can be used to argue that Obama is not a legitimate President. But here in lies the danger for the GOP.
Writes My DD’s Jonathan Singer:
Overall, the American people roundly reject the notion that ACORN somehow stuffed enough ballots — at least 9,500,000 of them — to somehow steal the election from John McCain and give it to Barack Obama. (This theory also compels the conclusion that ACORN somehow forged every single pre-election poll, including even those from Fox News (.pdf), the trend of which tracked almost exactly with the ultimate election results.) Indeed, Americans say no to this theory by a 62 percent to 26 percent margin — including a 72 percent to 18 percent margin among Independents.
If the Republicans want to continue to live in their own world with their own “facts”, they can certainly go ahead and do that. But it’s not so easy to woo new voters to one’s cause when those being wooed think those doing the wooing have only an attenuated relationship with reality.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.