Let’s Have a National Referenda on Key Issues

Gallup is out with a poll today on political reform. Here are the results:
national referendaObviously, a national referenda isn’t going to happen. But if we did, it would clearly show that the vision most Americans have for their government is not realistic.Public Rejects Cuts

For instance, a Pew poll in February found that 70% of Americans, including 65% of Democrats, wanted the President and Congress to act on deficit-cutting legislation this year. But another Pew poll released just a day (PDF) later found that Americans don’t want to cut any individual programs except foreign aid (to the right).

Of course, it’s not that surprising that no one wants to cut any of those programs. They all sound very useful. But how are we going to reduce the deficit – as voters say they want – if we don’t cut anything. Well, how about we raise taxes? I’m very confident in saying that if we put tax increases up for a national referenda, it would lose badly.

Here we get to an impasse. Voters don’t want to cut individual programs, don’t want higher taxes but want to reduce the deficit. Those three things together are not possible. In the mean time, voters get angry when spending cuts pass (they don’t like the sequester), hate higher taxes (remember how hard it was to raise taxes on the richest Americans?) and are demanding cuts to the budget deficit. One party demands spending cuts, the other wants higher taxes and both clamor about the budget deficit. This all stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the capabilities of the US government.

Maybe a national referenda is just what we need – at least then Americans would have a better understand of what its government can and cannot do.

Debate Reaction

The final debate came and went last night and if you follow me on my twitter, you saw absolutely nothing from me on it. Why? A couple of reasons:

First off, I had the luxury of watching with my class of students with none other than Karl Rove. He debated Howard Dean earlier during the day at Duke and stuck around to watch the debate with us. Of course, we were all focused on the actual debate but it was still very cool to be sitting just a few feet away from him during it.

But, plenty of my classmates were on Twitter during it and Rove was as well. I chose to stay off because I wanted to judge it without the nonsense of Twitter. I thought last night was particularly partisan. The first debate Romney clearly won in a landslide. Obama won the second by a little. But throughout last night’s debate and afterwards, any Democrat or left-leaning journalist I follow seemed to think Obama dominated and any Republican or right-leaning journalist thought Romney dominated. It was split decisively along party lines. It was quickly clear to me that I wasn’t going to get much from reading Twitter and I certainly wasn’t going to add anything to the discussion as well. So I stayed away and I’m glad I did so. It actually felt kind of nice to watch the debate away from social media (mostly – I snuck a peek every once in a while).

President Obama and Mitt Romney during their third and final presidential debate.

As for my thoughts on the debate, I thought it was a dead draw. Obama responded well on Israel/Iran while Romney seemed to do better on China (something that infuriates me – more on that later). I thought the rest of the issues were about even. The polling after the debate seemed to show a Obama victory, but remember my way of judging the debates: the winner is the person who convinces voters to vote for him.

Here are the snap polls:

CNN

Who won the debate? Obama 48%, Romney 40%

Who are you more likely to vote for? Unchanged 50%, Romney 25%, Obama 24%

Public Policy Polling

Who won the debate? Obama 53%, Romney 42%

Are you more or less likely to vote for President Obama?

More likely 37%
Less likely 31%
Unchanged 30%

Are you more or less likely to vote for Governor Romney?

More likely 38%
Less likely 35%
Unchanged 26%

CBS News

Who won the debate? Obama 53%, Romney 23%, Tie 24%

Once again, CBS annoys me and doesn’t have any more info on their polls (or if they do, someone please point it out to me). As for the CNN and PPP poll, clearly it was about a draw. The PPP poll actually shows Romney with an advantage among independents. Thirty-two percent of independents said they were more likely to vote for Obama after the debate while 47% said they were less likely. In contrast, 47% of independents said they were more likely to vote for Romney afterwards with 35% saying they were less likely.

Some numbers point towards Obama, some towards Romney and my gut reaction was a tie. Thus, I’m going to call it a tie until I see further polling. We (and by we, I mean Nate Silver) will have plenty of polls to sort through during the next two weeks. (Image via)