4 out of 5 wingnuts surveyed...

When both Kansas senators, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, turned colors and helped bring down the McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill last in the 1997 session, a lot of reform supporters were angry (but cynically unsurprised).

Sam's propaganda-mill is trying to create a sense of public support for the way things are. "We've been getting mail and calls since April, and it's been running 5-to-1 against McCain-Feingold," said one of Brownback's Washington staffers.

This ratio almost certainly is a fiction. First, even if they were counting actual calls, there are wingnuts who make it their civic duty to jam the switchboards with opinions like this. Reasonable people have better things to do.

Second, Sam's staff is not all that accurate in its opinion-tallying clerical skills. The present writer contacted Brownback's to complain about one of Sam's votes a couple of years ago, only to receive a form letter a couple of weeks later that began, "Hallelujah!" -- and went on to welcome me into the fold of like-minded bigots.

Third, there's really no reason not to assume that "5-to-1" is a number pulled out of the clear blue sky. How would you prove them wrong? Break into their computer?

Fourth, the ratio does not reflect the real world. People who actually talk to people, as opposed to just tallying phone calls, get a much different picture. Sam's assessment certainly surprised Frank Neff, a member of both Common Cause and Public Citizen. "From the people I talk with, it seems they want a change."

Source: the Kansas City Star, "Reform supporters start pressure on Kansas' senators," Jim Sullinger, 10/09/97
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