Identity Over Issues

by: Chris Bowers

Sat Jan 12, 2008 at 20:20

In the New Hampshire primary, according to exit polls, 44% of voters who said that the economy was their top issue voted for Hillary Clinton. Also, 44% of voters who listed Iraq as their top issue voted for Obama. Leaving aside the 5% or primary voters who indicated that they wanted to keep troops in Iraq, the following factors were all more determinative of someone's vote in the New Hampshire Democratic primary than any of the candidate's position on any issue:

  • 60% of those under 25 years of age voted for Obama
  • 52% of Christians who are neither Catholic nor Protestant voted for Clinton
  • 51% of unmarried women voted for Clinton
  • 50% of unmarried men voted for Obama
  • 50% of those making less than $30K a year voted for Clinton
  • 48% of those over 65 years of age voted for Clinton
  • 48% of those who did not attend college voted for Clinton
  • 46% of women voted for Clinton
  • 45% of seculars voted for Obama

Age, gender, marital status, income, and education were all more determinative of how someone voted in New Hampshire than any issue. In other words, the New Hampshire primary, just like the Iowa caucuses before it, was determined by identity, not issues. Sure, 58% of those vote took the exit poll claimed that issues were more important to them than personal qualities, but the other exit poll numbers show otherwise. People want to think that they are voting on issues, but in reality most of them are not.

Now, I have been writing about the intersection between identity politics and elections for three years. In fact, it is one of my most frequent topics of discussion, as a glance at the demographics archive of both Open Left and MyDD will demonstrate. However, I admit that most of this discussion has been triumphalist, in that I argue demographic trends point to a nearly inevitable Democratic dominance over Republicans, and to a nearly inevitable progressive dominance over centrists in the Democratic Party. What I wasn't prepared for was to face electoral defeat in the Democratic primaries as a result of the identity scales tipping against my favorite candidates.

The problem I face is that it now seems to me that Clinton is positioned for victory in the Democratic primary because, as it is presently constructed, the identity politics coalitions within the Democratic primary electorate favor her. She has women, older voters, and lower income voters who are not African-American. Even though I had assumed otherwise, right now, it seems like that coalition can win a national Democratic primary against a coalition of African-Americans, young voters, seculars, and high education voters. As someone who falls primarily within the latter coalition, I admit it doesn't feel good when the identity politics are stacked against you. To put it a different way, I actually write about identity politics all the time, I just don't like when I am on the losing end of elections based on identity politics (which is, actually, almost all elections).

I don't hate identity politics, as I see it as an unavoidable factor in the American political system. If you want to play in American politics, you better be willing to play in identity politics. Granted, as we have seen in numerous recent remarks from the Clinton and Obama campaigns, it also isn't the most edifying form of discussion around. I left academia because, after several years, it seemed like a series of incredibly smart, stimulating discussions about issues that weren't really that important. Unfortunately, at least partially due to the dominance of identity politics, I have found being a political professional to be exactly the opposite: a series of pretty stupid arguments about incredibly important issues. But there is no way to avoid it, and if you want to play in American politics, you better be prepared to play in identity politics. Identity is far more determinative of ideological and partisan tendencies than any "issue" could ever be. This even goes for dominant issues like Iraq.

Whoever wins this nomination will ultimately do so because s/he put together a larger, identity-based coalition. I wish that weren't the case, but I don't think there is a way to avoid it. If you support a candidate, and want to help him or her win the nomination, you would be wise to start thinking of ways to effectively connect that candidate to the identities of those voters with whom you come into contact. As far as I can tell, on both a micro and macro level, that is the key to the nomination.

Chris Bowers :: Identity Over Issues

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I Don't Doubt The Importance of Identity Politics, But... (4.00 / 4)
I don't see how you construct an argument here that identity mattered more in New Hampshire than issues did, for the simple reason that I didn't see that much issue differentiation. If there had been stronger issue differentiation, then maybe things would have changed.  And maybe that possibility may even move Obama to differentiate himself more explicitly in the weeks to come.

In particular, when all the candidates have generally similar positios on Iraq, and health care, and Edwards' voice is drowned out and/or spoofed on the economy, and those are the top three issues, then how could issues possibly matter much more than they did?  If anything, you are overclaiming the importance of issues, when you note:

44% of voters who said that the economy was their top issue voted for Hillary Clinton. Also, 44% of voters who listed Iraq as their top issue voted for Obama.

since there is no clear correlation between thinking those issues are most important and having a clear policy difference result from that choice.  It's just not the same as McCarthy running against LBJ.

The bottom line is that the candidates themselves appear to have decided that issues don't matter that much, and that's the sort of campaigns they have run.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

Amen! (0.00 / 0)
Voters who think the economy is important voted for Clinton.  Lower-income voters voted for Clinton.  Might it be that lower-income voters could be more worried about the economy than upper income voters?  The whole methodology is flawed.

In addition, wanting to put a woman in the White House isn't a simple matter of identity.  As a man, I think doing so would transform America regarding the culture war.  As a white man, I think putting a Black man in the White House would also do so.  One could argue that either would be transformative, and while I prefer to not pit them against each other, either can be argued without bringing identity into it.  The culture war is a not insignificant issue.

I fear that Bowers' understanding of issues is very traditional, but the times they are a'changing, and identity and issues are intertwined.  If women think another woman would be a stronger fighter for defending abortion rights, for instance, reducing that to identity politics trivializes both the people and the issue.

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
I guess that I just doubt that (0.00 / 0)
Even if there was great issue separation, that still wouldn't matter. Maybe its just a guess.

[ Parent ]
It's The Issues Chris (0.00 / 0)
When you total up all the various multiple choice answers to each of the categories they add up to 100% in each category regardless if it an issue or something else.

In the Age, gender, marital status, income, and education categories everyone asked automatically fell into one of those categories when they were asked about an issue.

People don't determine how they are going to vote based on age - well except for Tennyboppers For Obama. But seasoned adults don't. They vote for a candidate on an issue or experience and automatically fall into the married or unmarried category, or an age category. But regardless of marital staus or age each and every one of them still were polled for various issues and the majority, 58%, said they were issue voters. If the majority were issue voters and Clinton won the majority of the issues, and she did, then that is why she won. More issue voters voting for her = She is the issue candidate.

Now that said I would agree that Clinton is poised to win the nomination because of Issues and Experience primarily. Now if you want to parse the exit polls to see who is voting for Issues and Experience then you can divide them by age, income, etc and come up with your political coalitions and those coalitions may well point to her victory when compared to the remaining coalitions like Teenyboppers For Obama.

But the age, income, etc are only subsets of what most voters voted on which is Issues and Experience.

[ Parent ]
I Think It's More Fluid And Interactive (4.00 / 1)
I think that identity is partly expressed and defined in terms of issues, as well as the reverse. So a wider issue separation would create the potential for a different dynamic.  Not any guarantee.

But we can't know from this data in this particular election, because we have what we have, not what we might want.

p.s.  You're also not talking about the massive on-the-ground organization Clinton had.  The very same identity biases could all be in place, but shifted over 5% because of a less effective ground game, and Obama wins by 2% instead of losing by 3%.

The flip side of this is that Clinton very well may have peaked in terms of endorsements.  It seems quite plausible that most everyone who was going to endorse her already has.  So maybe the intangibles are going to be more against her in the future.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
What about "risk aversion"? (4.00 / 2)
I've got the impression the lower-income demographic has a lower risk tolerance now because of the economic downturn. This might cause them to flock to Hillary because they were better of in the nineties under Bill. I can fully understand that issues is considered to be a luxury when your identity is taking a hit because of economics. I can also understand lower income families feel they take a gamble with Obama or Edwards (because of electability) on the final day of the elections and feel they can't afford such a gamble.
I don't have the impression that they reject the issues, just that it is a second concern.

[ Parent ]
huh? (0.00 / 0)
What's the "that" that you doubt?  Or is it all of the above?

Full Court Press!

[ Parent ]
If they had a clue.... (0.00 / 0)
People want to think that they are voting on issues, but in reality most of them are not.

If they had a clue and the economy was their number one issue, they would be voting for Edwards.  All they remember is the good part of the Clinton economy and not the dismemberment of the middle class that they left behind.  To this day, Hillary and Obama haven't met a free trade deal they don't like and haven't voted for.  With Edwards blacked out, how would people possibly get to see the Clinton legacy.


[ Parent ]
Economic issues (0.00 / 0)
I agree with you about the importance of economic issues--and that Edwards is best on this issue, but your graph shows the biggest drop in the post-Clinton years.

[ Parent ]
The economy is line a big ship. (0.00 / 0)
It takes time to gear up, slow, and turn.  NAFTA passed in 1994. 

Growing trade deficits with Mexico and Canada have displaced production that supported 1,015,291 U.S. jobs since NAFTA took effect in 1994 (see Table 1-1b).


The 10 hardest-hit states, as a share of total state employment, are: Michigan (-63,148, or -1.4%), Indiana (-35,157, -1.2%), Mississippi (-11,630, -1.0%), Tennessee (-25,588, -0.9%), Ohio (-49,886, -0.9%), Rhode Island (-4,482, -0.9%), Wisconsin (-25,403, -0.9%), Arkansas (-10,321, -0.9%), North Carolina (-34,150, -0.9%), and New Hampshire (-5,502, -0.9%) (Scott 2005, Table 1-3). 

The briefing paper is dated 2006.  I would urge you to read it. It is full of fascinating data.

[ Parent ]
Edwards (0.00 / 0)
If they had a clue and the economy was their number one issue, they would be voting for Edwards.

No one knows this but the blogosphere.

So they're left with the woman and the (half)-black guy.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
I have mixed feelings when the subject of 'identity politics' is raised, (4.00 / 3)
and that's probably because the discourse around the term often implies that it is a more emotive, and thus inferior, basis upon which to make a political judgment than an assessment of the 'issues'.

This may be well-trod academic ground, I don't know, but - don't identities affect our lived experiences, and thus our ideological beliefs, in ways which are predictable and correlative?

Given that we are witnessing an election in which the ideological differences between the three main Democratic candidates are not incommensurate, and given that it is an article of popular belief that politicians rarely keep their campaign promises, is it really irrational to vote based upon a shared sense of identity, if that shared sense of identity also assumes a shared set of lived experiences and understandings?

It might not be a conscious product of logical thought, but it is by no means irrational. Then again, just because it's explainable does not mean it's excusable.

The political is personal (4.00 / 2)
The original meaning of the phrase "the personal is political" is that the political has personal consequences. Generally speaking, a woman or black or white male politician will vote in ways that represent his or her interests.

Looking at the lifetime progressive ratings again (I wish I had Edwards' scores), Clinton's lowest scores were
war and peace and human rights in civil liberties
and Obama's lowest scores were human rights and civil liberties and family planning. If he were the woman candidate, he wouldn't score low on family planning. I think Clinton scored lowest in those two categories because she's a woman and has to look tough.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
Great post (0.00 / 0)
Chris, very good piece - I agree with you on identity politics, but I'd ask one thing further: are economics the ultimate "identity" this year? Both Clinton and Obama are strong on domestic progressive issues (as if Edwards, perhaps more so) so I find it fascinating that working poor identify with Clinton.

Secondly, it's all moving in the right direction. If Clinton wins, it's not that you're wrong or that her coalition, as you put it, isn't the right one. And Obama, win or lose, has done a wonderful job of charging up that new, young demographic. And he's not going to leave the scene, either way.

Did you see the latest Pew study on millennials? Good stuff there.

The working poor have no clue.... (0.00 / 0)
They just remember Bill feeling their pain; and with the media blackout on Edwards, there is no way to show them otherwise.

[ Parent ]
Expanding Obama's coalition? (4.00 / 1)
Obama's identity-based coalition might not be big enough to defeat Hillary, but as mentioned before, it's big enough in places like Philadelphia to work.  Or his previous run for the Senate seat.  Certainly it won't hurt to elect local and state politicians in areas where the young, the progressive, the secular, and minorities can win a primary.  Especially as in the long term these groups can eventually forge a national majority in the Democratic Party.  And when that day comes there will be experienced progressive politicians in place ready to run and win.

Doing exactly that (0.00 / 0)
I have been working expanding Obama's coalition here in Philadelphia.  Given current trends the high African American population should help Sen. Obama here, but I have had a very good reception in the Hispanic communities here that belies national polling.  We certainly draw heavily from the 18-24 year olds, but we also have a lot of middle aged Caucasian women who are organizing for Obama.

My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington- Obama
Philly for Obama

[ Parent ]
Yes, BUT (4.00 / 2)
This is basically what I said on Mike Lux's post, that given the identity nature of the current democratic party, Obama is going to have trouble, especially since NH is actually pretty favorable to him, based on identity politics.

Still, Obama is working those issues - with, for example, the union vote in Nevada, and the african-american vote in SC.  Given Obama's actual WORK in organizing communities, I'm thinking he may be able to pull out a way to attract the "beer crowd", instead of just being identified as a progressive candidate.

Even if Obama has some wins though, February 5 is going to be hard.  May be worthwhile for Edwards to stay in it to the end, and then have a brokered convention where they ally their votes against Hilary.  (But that is a fight that may destroy the chances come November).

Sometimes though, you can't really figure out "identity politics".  Look at Edwards.  He comes form a poor background, in the South, has that smooth southern speaking thing going.  And at the same time, is SPEAKING to the progressives, and fighting for the little man. 

Given that, identity politics analysis, does it apply to Edwards?  And if not, doesn't that show that "identity politics" isn't a hard and fast thing?

One small aspect though, that you leave out.  In THIS election, as so many people have noted, there isn't that much difference in actual policy positions, between all three candidates.  So given the general uniformity of policy positions, doesn't it make some sense, that since there aren't any large policy gaps, then the next level that voters would look at, is whether the candidate is smart/effective (and all three are), and following that, who they feel comfortable with?

So, it's not ALL identity politics. 

If you forgive me for saying this, because I mean it tongue-in-cheek, and it is something you already know. But I HAVEN"T seem you acknowledge this formally. (you may have, I just haven't seen it).

Progressive' identity, the Howard Dean's/Bill Bradley's/Obama's of the world, this group will ALWAYS, again, ALWAYS, one last time, ALWAYS, be a smaller percentage of the democratic coalition.  Not to mention much smaller than the United States voting base (which would include republicans and independents.)

So the best thing for a progressive to do, of course, is to find both:

a.  Issues that are "right", and that appeal to both progressives and mainstream dems
b.  Candidates that can also appeal to both progressives and mainstream dems.  (For example, Kos's enthusiasm over Brian Schweitzer).

You've mentioned before - and mention above - that you actually see progressives dominating and implementing changes.

Not so much.  Only to the point where the mainstream dem values match the progressive values.  (Of course, that begs the question - what is mainstream and what is progressive?  Voters tell us this, when they vote, and when they like a candidate.  IF they don't buy into the junk spewed by corporatist media.).

Identity politics (0.00 / 0)
does it apply to Edwards? doesn't that show that "identity politics" isn't a hard and fast thing?

He's the "son of a mill worker."

who they feel comfortable with? So, it's not ALL identity politics

People aren't comfortable with the unapologetic feminist or they're comfortable with the half-white, half-black guy or white guy. 

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
Identity matters for Edwards (4.00 / 1)
Edwards had a combative and strongly economically populist stance. Yet in Iowa he won conservatives. I'd put that down to identity politics.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Well of course (0.00 / 0)
Even though I had assumed otherwise, right now, it seems like that coalition can win a national Democratic primary against a coalition of African-Americans, young voters, seculars, and high education voters.

Of course.  Obama always had a much harder battle than clinton. 

That being said you still think like you are in academics.  (In other words you have no idea to relate your thoughts on things to yourself, only to other people.  You naturally think of yourself as dispassionately removed from all this stuff and that is just your own blinders working.)

of course (4.00 / 2)
Yes, Chris is completely divorced from what he writes.  He doesn't push issue campaigns, support candidates, or try aggressively to affect conventional wisdom to help progressive candidates.  He's just a pushy egghead elitist.

It is weird though how he starred in a Richardson campaign ad pushing the no residual troop campaign he started, helped direct $1.5M to Democratic candidates last cycle, spearheaded the Google bomb campaign against Republicans, and built the conventional wisdom around Bush Dogs. 

[ Parent ]
Chris (0.00 / 0)
built the blogosphere and Gore invented the internet. ;)

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
divorced (0.00 / 0)
Divorced in the sense that he is essentially saying "everyone else does identity politics, not me".

[ Parent ]
Quote Please! (4.00 / 1)
Since I can recall a variety of different posts over the years in which Chris has written about his identity in a variety of different contexts.

But, more significantly, his most fundamental posts have concerned matters of identity, the need to build a strong progressive coalition identity, the need to take down the conservative label, and the factors involved in doing so.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
It's Saturday Night, Live! (0.00 / 0)
I had no idea you were such a comedian!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I've been thinking about.... (4.00 / 1) much thinking goes into how a voter votes....heh, li' repetition there.

Seriously, Paul's analysis from last week about how folks pollsters generally consider 'populist' broke heavily for Clinton and not Edwards was indicative of something important going on. I myself am one who believes that it would be great if we could drown identity politics in the bathtub and get down to 'issues' but, from what we see happening and research on evolutionary psychology, we can be certain that that won't happen. Politics activates too many hard-wired decision making processes in our brains for rational analysis to be able to be more than a part of the process, maybe a small part.

Man, rambling all over here. Here's a question. Does anyone here ever think about how the noosphere the voter is operating in differs from the one where we are? The phrase, 'How can they be so dumb...' is missing something important I believe. The average voter doesn't have any where near the information about the candidate that we do. Nor are most of them aware of any lack. They 'know' Obama...they 'understand' Clinton.

I find it no real surprise that I can't make heads nor tails of what the voters are voting for or why. Because we have no good handle on what information they are using to make their decisions with.

I'm pretty positive, knowing a little about social scientists, that this info is gathering dust somewhere.

Be interesting to take a look at it.

Peace, Health and Prosperity for Everyone.

[ Parent ]
A lot of voters .. (4.00 / 1)
go with what they know ... Clinton has huge name recognition advantages ... as someone pointed out on MyDD .. when Clinton was polled in 2003 .. she was whipping Dean .. even at the height of Dean's popularity .. I've come to the conclusion .. that most voters don't look at the issues in the primaries ...  it's based on personality .. and name then it is issues

[ Parent ]
Agreed. (0.00 / 0)
It is very very hard for the super-high-information voter to imagine the mind and decision calculus of the low-information voter.

My mom told me in 2004 that she was voting for Bush because "he said he was inalterably opposed to the draft."  My head exploded.  Conyers had made some rhetorical points involving the draft and shared sacrifice, and I COULD NOT convince her that Bush's warmongering, with Iran especially, was more of a danger than anything Kerry could possibly do.

Could not.  The low-information voter is a beast of its own.

[ Parent ]
Yet the demographics were different in Iowa (0.00 / 0)
You are over analysing.  This is identify politics, not identity politics.  These people are not Hillary's natural constituents, but they are people who don't have time to pay attention to politics. Obama and Edwards simply didn't reach them with their pro working class antiwar views.  They clearly campaigned more in Iowa.

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Question (4.00 / 2)
What is a Christian who is neither a Catholic nor a Protestant? Doesn't that about run the gamut?

Eastern Orthodox, Confused (0.00 / 0)
Two obvious possibilities are Eastern Orthodox, and people who are simply confused.  "I'm not a Protestant, I'm a Methodist," or "I"m not a Protestant, I'm a Christian."

My money is on more of the latter than the former.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
It doesn't run the gamut (0.00 / 0)
Some Christian groups which don't identify as either Catholic or Protestant (or Orthodox) are Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Churches of Christ, and Quakers.  It's been a while since I've looked at the data, but my impression is that the numbers in the data samples that I looked at weren't large enough to be statistically significant, but for some reason still led me to believe that non-Catholic, non-Protestant Christians were probably closer to evangelicals than mainline Protestants in their political beliefs.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Quakers? (4.00 / 1)
Surely they count as protestant? In the UK they fall under the heading of non-conformist, which basically means protestants who aren't part of the Church of England.

I thought the Churches of Christ were protestant too. My understanding was that they'd grown out of Presbyterianism or something similar.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Aside From the Mormons, Those Are ALL Protestant (0.00 / 0)
The Mormons, who knows?  To the extent that they're Christian at all, they're Protestant, but how much is that saying???  On the exit polls, they were listed separately (at 0%).

But all the rest are clearly Protestant, and it's only ignorance, confusion or both that prevents folks from recoginizing this.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
It depends upon your definition of Protestant (0.00 / 0)
Some people who self-identify as liberal or progressive probably don't fit your definition of those labels.  All the groups that I cited have members who sometimes decline to self-identify as Protestant.  The ANES actually has the question text

When you say "Christian" does that mean the denomination called the "Christian Church Disciples of  Christ" or some other Christian denomination, or do you mean to say "I am just a Christian"?

as part of the religious identification questions.  Many of the denominations that claim to lie outside of the Catholic-Protestant split tend to fall under the "restorationist" category and/or claim to be non-denominational/anti-denominational.  It is often a conscious, informed decision for some people to self-identify as non-Catholic, non-Protestant Christians.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both

[ Parent ]
Weird category (4.00 / 1)
I thought it was a mistake.

[ Parent ]
The exit polls are balony (4.00 / 1)
How can a Christian be neither catholic nor protestant?

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Why identity politics turned southward (0.00 / 0)
I understand your frustrations with identity politics.  In my view, identity politics is a mixture of the truly progressive pluralistic and regressive ethnocentric (groupthink, pre-rational individuation). 

The error was made in the seventies.  The new green left failed to make the disctinction between relaivitsic pluralism, in which value judgements about levels of depth and development and consciousness of various cultures is discouraged as "elitist" or "heirarical", which is is seen as oppressive in the old imperalist mode --- failed to distinguish between THAT and an integral pluralism that celebrates roots, and rises above them in the struggle for equality of rights and opportunities with progressives, and rises above all that (and "rises above" means "expands", since it includes what it is transcending at the same time) in common essence-hood, and yet distinguishes LEVELS of development and depth among cultures without judgement, but with an eye to facilitate the best, healthiest expressions and growth.

difference between IO and NH (0.00 / 0)
Chris, as a poll-expert, I hope you could shed some light on this. I've got the impression low-income families with small kids were underrepresented in Iowa because of the caucus and that that was also factor for Obama winning in Iowa and Hillary in NH (primary).
I've tried to compare the entrance poll from IO and the exit poll from NH and the problem is that they have different age groups in both. In trying to calculate the difference, I got the impression that in NH, the age-group 30-45 was more than 10% greater than in IO, while other groups were more or less similar.
I'm Dutch and I'm less familiar with other demographics but it seemed to me Hillary's support groups had a lot more trouble to attend a caucus in IO than they had in getting to the polling stations in NH.

Identity over Issues (0.00 / 0)
" seems like that [Clinton] coalition can win a national Democratic primary against a coalition of African-Americans, young voters, seculars, and high education voters."

I think it's imporant to remember that African Americans have constituted a principal bloc in the Clinton base of support. Sen. Clinton is likely to win the nomination if she doesn't leak too much African-American support from her "coalition." (Fewer gaffes by her husband and other surrogates would help in this connection.)  If Sen. Obama obtains anything close to Jesse Jackson-like levels of support from African American primary voters without losing nonblack support in the process, however, he'll have the inside track to the nomination.

And if my mother had 16 multiple warheads, she'd be a ballistic missile submarine. 

the culture war -- bring it on! (4.00 / 1)
I think one difference we have -- although not evident in this post -- is the assumption that the culture war is a diversion.  We are on defense, the right forces it on us, but we would rather engage in real issues.

Au contraire.  As a matter of fact, while the 60's got us Nixon, we won the culture war, and the degree of freedom we see in social mores -- even under assault -- was our most lasting gain.  As a boomer, I remember when divorce was scandalous, abortion was not only illegal but shameful, the woman's place was in the kitchen and gays -- at least in my small town -- didn't even exist.

Hillary and Obama push that further.  For a change, the progressive movement is on offense, even though kicking and screaming.  We are attacking the status quo "below the belt" as well as below the Beltway.  That's why the right is freaked.  Obviously, many progressives are uncomfortable with this, and would rather concentrate on more traditional policy positions, but this is the election we got.

The war is on, and we can't allow our discomfort to lead us to unilaterally disarm.

Full Court Press!

We're Winning In Real Life, But Losing In Politics (0.00 / 0)
And, since conservative don't give a damn about reality, works for them.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Obama needs to do to America what Deval Patrick did to the irish and (0.00 / 0)
italian old bulls within the Democratic Party establishment when he beat them for the Dem nomination in Massachusetts.

Patrick got well-educated, secular voters, gays, young people, and new voters.  The Italian and Irish guys who ran against him ran on identity and got the more conservative, older, ethnic voters.

Patrick won.  And, he beat two guys who split the vote.  However, on the bright side, he got 50% of the primary vote (enough to have beat any of them one-on-one) in a state where the "identity politics" appeared stacked against him.

They wanted change.  Obama needs to stick with what got him to the prom:  change.

For some reason, it seems that Obama has some pathological and deep-seated psychological need for Republicans to like him.  Seriously.  It's weird.

Patrick (4.00 / 1)
is having a lot of trouble delivering on the progressive promise. I voted for him and would again, but the problems in the state economy are still with us. School and local funding is in crisis where I live in the Western part of the state.

If progressives promising "hope" and "change" can't deliver some economic meat, we're going to be vulnerable to attack from right-wing populists like Huckabee.

[ Parent ]
identity is weakly explanatory (0.00 / 0)
Identity and issues both weakly correlate into how voters decide. They matter, but impressions, message and positioning matter more. There are three sources of power: money, people and narrative. You're forgetting the third one! This is why demographically favorable candidates - including Dems as a whole - lose all the time despite what look like identity tailwinds. And it's why all the demographic triumphalism sounds so hollow to me. There's juts so much work to do to make use of the spaces the demography is opening up.

Chris I think your analysis of the campaign would be a lot stronger if you delved into how message and positioning works. For a primer on this I strongly recommend Ron Faucheux's Running for Office, chapter 4. The coverage of it in the Camp Wellstone training manual isn't bad either, but the Faucheux description is a little more detailed. I just ordered a stack of campaign books from Amazon; if I come across a better description of how it works I'll let ya know.

Also keep in mind that the identity coalition you're describing is (shockingly, I know) split between two candidates. Looking at it that way, the more progressive wing is about 2/3rds in the states that have voted/caucused so far. We'll see what happens from here. Barack's field campaign here in CA is hard to believe - I was at a training yesterday that had 300 people show up, all of whom signed up to be precinct captains, and the campaign is deploying an incredible toolset out to the precinct level. And that was just the first one of two that day.

Yes (0.00 / 0)
impressions, message and positioning matter more

We have the "depressing" coalition of the poor, elderly, women, unmarried, minorities for Clinton and the New Age JFK Camelot ethic for Obama. He needs to work that change-unity-hope narrative.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
Obama (0.00 / 0)
has a latte-sipping, Volvo-driving vibe that appeals more to whites, Independents and Republicans than the "depressing" coalition. Maybe he can unite the country because he's also half-black and a Democrat.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]

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