Making Up Narratives for Fun and Profit.

It goes without saying that if Republicans win big in November, Democrats will fight among themselves for the right to shape their part of the election's narrative. Of course, this is all a little silly; 90 percent of November's results will have already been decided by the economy and other external conditions. Slapping a story on it doesn't actually tell you much. That said, if you were trying to shape a narrative, there are a few things you can do. If you were trying to lend credibility to your story, you could publish poll results that say exactly what you believe about the Democratic Party, reality notwithstanding. For example:

In another potentially troubling sign for Democratic candidates, three in five independent voters in key House districts say Congress’s Democratic leadership is to the left of them on the political spectrum. [...]

“That’s a very significant finding that tells you where independents are likely to go,” said Mark Penn, president of Penn Schoen Berland, which conducted the poll. “In terms of independents, Reid and Pelosi are viewed as out of step.”

This comes directly on the heels of another poll, by the same firm, that showed voter discomfort with rampant extremism in the Democratic Party. Yes, that's right; in a year nearly defined by a political movement dedicated to living out Barry Goldwater's infamous maxim -- "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice ... moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." -- Penn Schoen Berlan has found voters to say that the Democratic Party is home to radicals and extremists.

This smells ... suspect, and not just because Democrats are the furthest possible thing from "extreme." Mark Penn and Doug Schoen have made a name for themselves as professional Democratic concern trolls, whose main job consists of telling party leaders that liberalism is for the rubes. They have a lot to gain from an election narrative that faults progressives for losing the House. These results read like an attempt to turn Democrats away from progressives and toward the preferred pro-corporate agenda of Penn and co. These polls look bunk, and my guess is that they probably are.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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