Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Electability

If electability is your only concern in the Democratic primaries, then let's just nominate McCain. If he runs unopposed, he'll definitely be elected.

8 comments:

  1. It is not my only concern, but it does matter. When you have two candidates, probably not terribly disimilar in views, in your own parties primaries, and one is likely to beat McCain by 20 points, the other, might beat him by 5 points, might lose to him, then there is definitely an argument to go for the one that beats him by 20. Especially when the reason for the margin is that Republicans actually like that candidate and would vote for him over their own party's candidate (and at the same time would NEVER vote for the other candidate, and would actually turn out to oppose that candidate in a way that exceeds their enthusiasm for McCain).

    I'm not saying "anyone but Clinton" - I think she is the second strongest on Electability - certainly way more electable than any of the other candidates but Obama. Only half of the equation here is Clinton - the other half is Obama - he appeals across party lines. Kerry certainly never did. Neither did Gore. Frankly, if Kerry or Gore were in the race right now (and Obama wasn't) I'd rather see Clinton as the nominee.

    I understand your argument - that some have said that we need to get anyone but Clinton because of her negatives - but that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying if the choice is between Clinton and Obama, then that effect is greatly magnified to the point that to ignore it is to risk the election.

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  2. I understand your point, I just think you're mistaken.

    First, I don't think that Obama is any more "electable" than Clinton, at least on the negatives.

    Second, "electability" is one of those shoot yourself in the foot ways of over-thinking. If Obama really were more "electable" in any substantive sense, it would be only because he's more conservative.

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  3. And why would I want to nominate a candidate based on his ability to get conservative votes? That's like appointing a general of the Grand Army of the Potomac based on how well he can cooperate with Robert E. Lee.

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  4. I agree it is stupid to go for electability if it means electing a GOP clone with a D after his or her name. Why even bother voting, then?

    But I don't think that is the case with Obama - what makes him such a great candidate is that he is clearly a liberal, not a conservative, yet he still appeals to GOP voters. I'd say Clinton is to his right, though probably not by much.

    I would never select a candidate on electability alone - that isn't even the strongest reason I'm for Obama - it is just something I think is important to consider. If I thought they were equally electable, I'd still be for Obama over Clinton. There, electabily only would come into play if it was clear that Obama was just about guaranteed to lose the general election - then it would be rather dumb to nominate him just so we can lose to McCain.

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  5. [Obama] is clearly a liberal, not a conservative, yet he still appeals to GOP voters.

    What are you smoking? (And why didn't you offer me any?) In precisely what sense would a someone clearly liberal appeal to GOP voters?

    And in precisely what sense is Obama clearly a liberal?

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  6. Don't get me wrong: As conservatives go, Obama isn't that bad, and isn't very much more conservative than Clinton. It's not that Obama is especially bad, it's that it's bullshit that he's especially good.

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  7. You are right, when you get right down to it, there isn't that much difference between Clinton or Obama - I'd be happy to see either as President, though I wouldn't hold my breath that it would utlimately make that much difference, given how fucked up the Dem party is.

    Which is precisely why I think it is important to look at electability - if they really are close to each other in positions, then it is salient to ask, which one can win the general election? If we don't have to sacrifice anything in our candidate (because they are equivalent) then why not maximize the chances of getting our package of qualities into office?

    It may be bullshit that Obama is especially "good" - just like it is bullshit that there's anything wrong or worth hating about Clinton - the trouble is, the perception is out there, and that perception is what ends up being reflected in the voting booth, right or wrong. Recognizing this and using it to our advantage is just good politics (or is that an oxymoron?)

    If I thought Clinton were truly and clearly a better candidate (and better for us to have in office) than Obama, then I'd say screw electability - if she has a reasonable chance to win at all, just back her and hope we get her in there. But I don't see that - I think both are basically centrist Democrats with some liberal views and that both would be competent in office and would put in place competent people.

    And I want to win. If McCain wins, I'll feel like blowing my brains out (actually, after reading your post above this one I was about ready to blow my own brains - if only there wasn't so much evidence to back up your pessimistic take on what will probably happen).

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  8. [T[he trouble is, [Clinton's negative] perception is out there, and that perception is what ends up being reflected in the voting booth, right or wrong.

    Two mistakes here. First is that you yourself, being an intelligent person, are better off ignoring other people's perceptions and simply voting your preference (i.e. vote for Obama only if you actually prefer him on his merits.) Otherwise you're voting against yourself because other people will vote against yourself, which is self-defeating.

    Secondly, it's not really relevant that Clinton's negative perception is out there. The Republicans will have months to catch up after the nomination; indeed they've already started.

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