Add to Technorati Favorites Presidential Politics for America: Presidential Politics banter Part 2

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Presidential Politics banter Part 2

A continuation of the July 17 emails. (Part 1 yesterday.) Darren in blue. Me in red. This should not be mistaken for political affiliations.

Ian: I assume you meant Dems in general and not these three candidates.

I think, when it comes to domestic issues, both sides are pretty genuine. I mean, a lot of people disagree on universal health care and abortion, whether they're politicians or not. There's enough of a faction on both sides of the big issues for a candidate to be elected regardless on which pole he resides. Therefore, you say what you believe and try to find a district that will elect you.

The gray area comes in when you try to soften your language to appeal to a broader constituency. If Giuliani is talking to Democrats in New York, he says that a woman has a right to choose. If he's talking to Republicans in South Carolina, he says it should be left up to the states. Is that flipflopping? I'm not sure.

One thing is for sure - truth serum in these candidates would be a lot of fun.

Which begs the question, of all major presidential candidates, which is being the most honest about what they believe, regardless of political implications? Which most champions the issues that mean the most to them?

Darren: Yes, I do mean Dems in general. I don't think it's flip flopping unless the issue is being raised and discussed on a national issue and the candidate is wavering. Truth serum. I would love that.

As for your question, I have to say that on the Democratic side, I think Obama is sticking to his guns and is dealing with issues that he sees as fundamental. For the Republicans, it's gotta be McCain, and Ron Paul, but I guess he doesn't count. Paul can afford to tell the truth. McCain couldn't and look at what happened. I think there are probably some issues where he may change his message, depending on the audience, but I don't think he's revising that message to assuage different groups of people. Hilary seems genuine on some things and on others not so much. I think Edwards is probably the least genuine. I'm not so sure about him. The $400 haircuts aren't a big deal, especially in the age of personality politics and looking-good-for-voters. Since 04, he's kind of done some shady things, like that job he took at the financial firm that foreclosed loans or whatever. Not exactly helping to alleviate poverty.

I: People who care about the poor are allowed to be rich. Look at Robert Kennedy, and to a point, his more famous brother.

D: They served their countries in various governmental positions. I never said he's not allowed to be rich. Read this and this. And then tell me you believe every word he says?

I: I'm not at all troubled by those articles. The first was ingenious. Is it bad that Edwards furthered his presidential campaign by helping the poor? What's wrong with a win-win? Besides, if he wins, he can do a lot more for them anyway. The poverty issue has never been a vote getter. I think he's as genuine and charismatic a politician there is in this race, he just doesn't look like he's supposed to be because he's a brilliant, good looking white guy with a $400 haircut.

D: I'm not saying he wouldn't hold true to his promises or again I will reiterate that it's bad to further his campaign or be rich and campaign for issues of poverty. He lived the experience. But, 1. How does he not know the hedge fund he's working for gets into subprime loans? 2. A lot of poor people were made poorer because of subprime loans. 3. Regardless of his sincerity, he looks hypocritical. 4. I think he's not as genuine as wants us to think.

I: All right, if a Democrat feels the way you do, at what point does electability become an issue for a Democratic voter. Edwards matches up the best in head-to-heads against the leading Republicans, while Hillary Clinton matches up poorly Obama not as poorly (basically, the exact opposite of the national polls for the Democratic Primary). At what point does a Democrat voter get desperate to take back the White House? Might Hillary's unfavorables in a general election still play a factor in a Democratic voter's mind in the primary? On the flipside, for the Republicans, Rudy Giuliani is not the perfect conservative candidate, but it's more likely he'll beat a Democrat compared to say, Mitt Romney. So, what are your thoughts here: Would electability influence your primary vote?

D: Electability influences the average primary voters in every way. The top three candidates are vying to be the most electable to the Democratic population. Once the winner is chosen, their message will soften and move closer to the center to make the candidate more electable to the national population. They downplay their unfavorables and play up their favorables. We live in the era of personality politics where electability counts above all. I don't think the average voter looks at the head to head polls to see what Democrat matches up best against the potential Republican candidates in a national election. It's the candidates job to try to persuade the voters that they are the most electable.

I: Did you mean that electability in the general election "influences the average primary voters in every way?" If so, how could they possibly avoid the projected head-to-head polls? If the candidate hasn't persuaded the primary electorate that he/she is the best candidate to win the general election, then we're both implying that could really hurt them in the primary. Therefore, poor numbers against candidates of the opposing party would seemingly be a death knell to a campaign.

Let's take a look at Clinton and Giuliani. These two national poll leaders are very interesting in regards to electability. Clinton leads the national polls for the Democrats, but thus far, is considered the least electable of the Dems' Big Three, and that issue could be her ultimate downfall once Obama and Edwards prey on that in December and January. (The reason they wait is obvious: bringing that issue to light now gives the Clinton campaign six months to change the minds of Democratic voters.) Meanwhile, for the GOP, Giuliani leads, but he matches up the best against the Democrats, and that issue, more than national security and foreign policy, could ultimately garner him the nomination. (Worth noting: He leads nearly all head-to-head polls against Clinton.)

First, tell me this: would you rather your dream candidate get the nomination with a 40% chance to win the general election, or would you rather your third or fourth candidate get the nomination with a 60% shot to win the general election? Second, is that a question the average primary voter asks themselves?

D: Very interesting questions. I just read this great series where Bill Clinton described the voting habits of the American public, "Democrats prefer to fall in love with their candidates and Republicans fall in line." I think Bill is exactly right. Dem voters choose who they connect with most whereas Republican voters choose who will advance their socially conservative agenda best. One major criticism of the Democrats (which can also be seen as a positive) is that they are too varied in their stances on issues. Republicans basically have the same agenda. You can't really stray too far from it because the base won't vote for you (which is what I think we'll see happen to Giuliani). I was talking about electability in the Democratic primary, which does translate to the general election. Those head to head polls influence the candidates and the ways that they campaign, but I don't think they necessarily influence the primary elections in the way you say they do. Hilary's unfavorables were there before she started campaigning. It's now her job to convince voters otherwise. I really don't think Democratic voters vote for who they think will win the general election. I think they vote for who they see as most in line with their personal issues.
I: You stole my thunder for my next topic - the voting trends of each party. I think the risks are too great for the Democrats to nominate anyone but their best chance of getting a Democrat in the White House. I'm not saying Clinton doesn't have a chance to win in November, nor am I saying Obama or Edwards have a better shot than her. What I am saying is that if it becomes clear one of those candidates avail themselves as the most electable in a general election, then the Democrats would be wise to vote for that person. Do you realize only one Democrat in the last forty years won with more than 50% of the vote? Republicans have more success in campaigns for precisely the reason Bill Clinton outlined.
So what do you think about Democratic tendencies to be more spread out in their support of candidates and be myopic in the primary process? Hasn't it hurt the Democratic Party? I mean, if it wasn't for the President, the Republican Party would still control both houses of Congress and be pushing through the Republican agenda. Meanwhile, Democrats might still not know how to win elections (It was the general consensus that the GOP lost in 2006 more than the Democrats won).
So if Democrats can't figure out how to look at a candidate and their electability in a November election, they deserve another loss. To stubbornly stick by a candidate and swing for the fences every time results in a lot of striking out. To nominate a candidate with the greatest chance of winning and then string some hits together and score a few runs down the stretch, that's the smart play here. After all, could a Clinton supporter be that upset with an Edwards Administration? Would an Edwards fan be that inconsolable if President-elect Obama is putting together his cabinet? The answer to both is no. So why not find which Democratic candidate could do the most damage in a general election and nominate them?

D: Great points - I completely agree. Why not nominate the candidate who has the been chance of bringing the party back to the White House? I think the Democratic voting population is definitely more varied in their issues than Republicans. In general, Republicans want a social conservative to provide a socially conservative agenda and transform the nation. Democratic voters have different needs and wants throughout the country. The best candidate the Democrats can nominate to win the election and be the most effective leader is Hilary. Obama offers a fresh perspective and hope. If either of these candidates win the Democratic nod, it's highly unlikely that they win the general election. Edwards certainly has the best chance to give the White House back to the Democrats. Why? He's white, male, and from the South. In a general election, I think independents (who have more influence in the g.e.) vote with what makes them feel secure and comfortable. Sadly, that's a white male as leader. If what I just said is true, why then, is Edwards trailing Hilary and Obama? Democratic voting tendencies tend to be much more spread out than Republican. Republican politicians barring the Northeast and Southern California are pretty much generic in their platforms. A Democratic politician in the South is completely different than one in New Mexico who are both different than the one from Chicago. Democrats seem to be disorganized in their voting tendencies because voters priorities are much more varied and diverse than Republican ones.
I: Right. It's significant that you, a non-Edwards supporter, realizes that Edwards has the best chance to win in November 2008. However, as we've now articulated ad nauseum, the average Democratic voter is myopic in the nomination process. They want, they need, their perfect candidate to be nominated. The reason Edwards is trailing Clinton and Obama is, because, in the Democratic Primary, being a southern white guy is not an advantage. How could Edwards possibly be a more progressive than a woman or an African-American? It seems counter-intuitive, despite Edwards' liberal agenda. At the same time, if he were to get nominated, that counter-intuition would work in his favor, as conservatives and independents, like you correctly outlined, would find themselves drawn to Edwards' traditional looks and Clintonian potential. His liberalism wouldn't scare away nearly as many voters as Clinton's or Obama's liberalism, for obvious and unfortunate aesthetic reasons.


The Culture King said...

I think you guys sell the Conservatives short. There is a great variation between conservatives in the way they vote, as many of the economic conservatives abhore the Theocracy Right. I do agree they band together in the name of victory quicker, like all inbred hicks.

Just as I feel Gore is a centrist, you guys do not, and my homies will be the ones to eventually fall in line and vote for whoever wins the primary, like all socialist blowhards.

I think by next January the DNC should get the top three together and play a games of Competitive RPS, just like Rutherford B. Hayes.

darren said...

It's true, I was definitely generalizing about Conservatives, but in general it seems that their candidates are not as varied as the Democrats. I think there is a greater diversity in the way Democratic voters prioritize their issues based upon where they live in the country. I guess I should have qualified the word Conservatives as referring to a more specific subgroup of Republican voters: the Religious Right. We all know they are a large chunk of the Republican voting base and it seems that the Republican candidates pander to them much more than any other group. Democrats don't have such a large unified base which is why I think they can't agree on which candidates they like until it's too late, as we've seen over the past 8 years.

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