Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roundhouse Roundup: Tiresome Champions

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 30, 2011

Last week in this column, I boldly took a bold stance against politicians overusing the word bold. This week, if I may be so bold, I'd like to talk about another word that politicians love to use but has become tiresome:


At least he'll never claim to be "tireless."
It seems that everyone running for political office these days seems to think that he or she has to convince voters that they are tireless advocates, tireless champions, tireless workers, tireless fighters.

It's enough to make me bleary-eyed.

Former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez is the latest major New Mexico politician to declare his tirelessness. In his 4 1/2-minute video announcing his candidacy for the 1st Congressional District seat, Chavez says if he's elected, he'll be a "tireless advocate of investments in education."

A quick Google Desktop search of my email shows that U.S. Senate candidate Heather Wilson, according to an endorser, is "a tireless worker, and she knows how to get things done"; former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is "a tireless fighter for New Mexico families" who has "fought tirelessly for the children of New Mexico"; former Gov. Toney Anaya was "a tireless advocate for everyday New Mexicans" (that's from Judge Linda Vanzi in accepting Anaya's election endorsement last year). GOP gubernatorial contender Janice Arnold-Jones last year traveled the state "in a seemingly tireless effort to introduce herself to voters." Last year's Republican attorney general candidate Matt Chandler displays "tireless service on behalf of (crime) victims."

The list goes on.

Don't these people ever sleep? Do they ever blink or yawn? It's almost as if they want us to believe they are superhuman, that they don't need to slow down like lesser mortals.

Maybe someone should tell these folks to give it a rest. Until then, "tireless" politicians will continue to be a tired political cliché.

Poll talk: In the battle for New Mexico's five electoral votes next year, there's good news and bad news for President Barack Obama in a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday.

In the poll, Obama leads most potential Republican candidates by 15 percentage points or more. There are two exceptions. The president is ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by only seven percentage points. And, according to the poll, long-shot GOP contender and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson would lose to Obama by a mere three percentage points — which is within the 3.6 percent margin of error. Johnson actually leads Obama among independent voters and those in the 37-to-46 age group.

The bad news for Obama is that while he wins every matchup in this poll, his margins have dropped significantly from the last time PPP polled here — just four months ago. His margin over Romney, for instance, dropped by nine percentage points since February.
The poll found 50 percent of New Mexico voters approve Obama's job performance, while 44 percent disapprove. That's down from a 55-40 percent approval rating in February.

The company, which uses automated "robo" calls, surveyed 732 New Mexico voters between June 23 and Sunday.

PPP is a Democrat polling company, but no candidate or political organization paid for the New Mexico poll.

Despite its Democratic ownership, New York Times polling expert Nate Silver has found that, on average, PPP's 2010 surveys slightly favored Republican candidates. Molly Ball in Politico observed earlier this year, "Plenty of conservatives deride PPP as a liberal shop when they don't like its numbers, only to turn around and cite the firm when the results are more to their liking."