Poll Searching

By Bill Maher

A recent Pew survey finds most Americans don’t know which party controls Congress. Only 40 percent get both houses right. The other 60 percent get only one right, or neither. My question is, “Who will control the Senate after November?” and the average American wants to know, “Who controls it right now?”

Data heads all seem to be predicting pretty much the same thing: the House stays Republican. Put a fork in it. We’re gonna flip a district, but that’s where the good news ends for liberals on election night. It’s also looking like Republicans will gain seats in the Senate.

Three Senate seats are basically already lost – South Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana – a triptych I like to call “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being.” The Democrats are only really even competing for two Republican-held seats, in Georgia and Kentucky, not places known for loving Democrats. And they have to defend seats where the terrain is just as bad or worse – Louisiana, Arkansas, Alaska, and North Carolina. But there is one bright spot for Democrats: Xanax is covered under Obamacare.

Why are Republicans going to do so well? Nobody likes them. Only six percent of likely voters think Congress is doing a good job. Only 14 percent think it’s passed any legislation that would improve their lives. Democrats have most of the issues on their side by big margins: 88 percent want background checks on gun purchases; 90 percent support an equal pay law for women. Sure, Republicans have the Obamacare haters. Until you tell them what it is. Then Democrats have that issue, too. So why is the range of predictions anywhere from good night for Republicans to GREAT night for Republicans? 

It’s counterintuitive. You’d think since the President has a 42 percent approval rating, and Congress has a 13 percent approval rating, his party would win big. But no, apparently, it’s all about him. Exclusively. All that matters is him being over 50 percent. Americans don’t consider alternatives when they vote; that would require holding two ideas in your head at the same time. 

The sitting president’s party almost always loses seats in midterm elections. A lot of people vote in midterms just to send a message to whoever’s president, and usually that message is, “Screw you.”

Nobody votes to say thank you. They go because they’re pissed off, right? And they don’t know which party to be pissed off in either house of Congress, because they don’t know who controls either house of Congress. But they know Obama, so Democrats bear the brunt of it. 

Yeah, nobody votes to say thank you. People are starting to talk about “the Obamacare disconnect” in states where Obamacare has done remarkably well but it’s not benefiting Democrats who supported it. Kentucky cut its uninsured rate in half in the first year of Obamacare, but it’s the last thing the Democrat running against Mitch McConnell, Alison Lundergan Grimes, wants to talk about. North Carolina’s uninsured rate also plummeted – they signed up over 357,000 people. But the Democratic senator there, Kay Hagan, treats Obamacare like a four letter word. Why? Because talking about it motivates the angry more than the grateful.

How much does cheating – I guess the polite word for it is gerrymandering – have to do with the House already being called for Republicans? Americans cast 1.4 million more votes for House Democrats in 2012, but Republicans maintained a solid majority.

Check out the numbers for individual states and it feels ridiculous to even call this a democracy: Obama won Pennsylvania by 6 percent, but House Republicans hold 72 percent of the congressional seats; Obama won Ohio by 3 percent, but Republicans hold 75 percent of the seats; Michigan by a landslide, 9 percent, but Republicans hold 64 percent of the seats; Wisconsin by 6 percent, but Republicans hold 63 percent of the seats; Virginia by 4 percent, but Republicans hold 73 percent of the seats; Florida by 1 percent, but Republicans hold 63 percent of the seats. Really, the only election that matters is the one every ten years, when the party that wins gets to redraw congressional districts. Unfortunately for Democrats, last time was 2010, their worst night ever. So now they just have to hold their noses and wait for 2020, when maybe they’ll get a crack at stacking the deck.

Isn’t there a pretty solid case that gerrymandering violates our constitution? A judge in Florida recently voted that it violates its state constitution.

From the late 60s to the early 90s, Democrats couldn’t win the White House and couldn’t lose Congress. Now, it’s the opposite. Why is that?

Voters in America are getting less white, which has made it harder for the Republican Party to win the White House. How come the browning of America doesn’t seem to be affecting midterm elections nearly as much?

Take a look at this recent headline:

“Democrats lose fight to overturn Hobby Lobby, 56 to 43.”

Usually, when you score 56, and the other guy scores 43, you win. Except in the United States Senate. So how much does it really matter who controls the Senate over the next two years? It’s not like either party is going to have a filibuster-proof majority.

Most polls just show that people are confused and don’t know what they’re talking about. For instance, a recent poll of Millennials shows they prefer smaller government if it means higher taxes, but they support raising taxes to spend more on the poor. They want smaller government and larger government, higher taxes and lower taxes. And a pony. And a unicorn.

If we put some of the money we spent on polling towards education, wouldn’t we be better off?