By Staying In The Campaign, Edwards Helps Obama

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 11:46

As the arguments against Edwards begin to mount online, I want to point out something that should be obvious to Obama supporters, but which I have rarely seen mentioned. By staying in the campaign, Edwards is helping Obama in most states, particularly those with large African-American populations. Consider, for example, that Clinton would instantaneously pull even with Obama in South Carolina if Edwards were to drop out:

Meanwhile, on the Dem side, the poll has Obama with a nine-point lead over Clinton, 40%-31%. Just asking: With Obama way out in front of Clinton with African-American voters (56%-25%), but trailing both Clinton and Edwards among whites (39%-28%-20%), is South Carolina at least one contest where Edwards still being in the race actually helps Obama? It sure looks like Clinton and Edwards are splitting the white vote…

Obama is dominating Clinton among African-Americans nationwide, and even stronger in states where campaigning has actually taken place. Edwards draws very little of the African-American vote from Obama, but is competitive for white southern votes. This means that in states like South Carolina (Jan 26th) and Georgia (Feb 5th), Obama's lead is largely dependent on Edwards staying in the campaign. In Alabama, which will take place on February 5th, Obama leads Clinton 36%-34%. However, that lead would be gone if the 9% of voters who support Edwards, most of whom are white, have to choose only between Clinton and Obama. While there are no recent polls out of other February 5th states, like Kansas and Missouri, given the strength of Edwards in those two states, I imagine the situation is very similar. Further, while Obama's winning or losing in Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Tennessee is not dependent on Edwards staying in the campaign, for exactly the same reason I cited in the previously mentioned states, Obama's delegate totals from these other states will probably be better with Edwards in the campaign than with Edwards out of the campaign. In every case, Edwards will take a larger bite out of Clinton's advantage among white voters than he will from Obama's advantage among African-American voters.

With Hillary Clinton nudging ahead in Nevada, right now Edwards dropping out would be absolutely devastating to the Obama campaign. If Clinton won Nevada, and Edwards dropped out, Illinois and Georgia might be the only two remaining states where Obama would have an advantage. Barring a spectacular Clinton collapse, the campaign would be all but over. Clinton's advantage would be insurmountable.

Obama's only chance in this campaign is if Edwards stays in the race through February 5th, and stays in the double-digits in just about every state through February 5th. If Obama can put together a string of victories from January 19th through February 5th, he might be able to compete with Clinton one on one. Right now, however, he can't do that. So, if you are an Obama supporter pissed at Edwards for staying in the campaign, or frustrated that Edwards has maintained large support online, remember this: if Edwards drops out, or sees his poll numbers collapse before February 5th, this campaign is over. If you don't believe me and all of hte states I have cited so far, just look at the difference between the two Nevada polls were Edwards is strong (Clinton and Obama are tied in those polls) and the two Nevada polls where Edwards is weak (Clinton leads a 7.5% lead in those two polls). Right now, unless he wins Nevada, Edwards is functionally acting as a spoiler to Clinton, and in favor of Obama. If he does well between now and February 5th, Obama might be strong enough to challenge Clinton one-on-one. However, he isn't strong enough yet, and he needs help from Edwards to get him to that point.

Chris Bowers :: By Staying In The Campaign, Edwards Helps Obama

Tags: , , , , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

isn't Obama's a coalition (0.00 / 0)
of white liberals and African-Americans, which has been pointed out on Open Left before?

in this case Edwards would be drawing from Obama's base.

the only way your reasoning holds is if Obama's only voters were African-American (unless i misunderstand you).

Obama's lead among white liberals (4.00 / 2)
Has disappeared. He runs even with Clinton in that group now.

Further, Edwards actually draws more support from moderate and conservative Democrats than from liberals, among whom Clinton holds large leads.

[ Parent ]
Yes. (0.00 / 0)
For Obama (and his supporters), the race at this point is incredibly delicate.  Barring any major game-changers between now and February 5th (and beyond), he needs to hope that he doesn't bleed too much support amongst middle-aged white women, and conservative and moderate democrats.  If he does, or if Edwards drops out and Edwards supporters move towards Clinton, he is toast.

Here's a question, Chris: how conscious do you think Edwards is of this dynamic?  He clearly prefers Obama to Clinton and has to know that his chances are pretty slim at this point.  Might he stay in just to try and help Obama over the top? 

[ Parent ]
ideology vs. identity (4.00 / 1)
for a while you've made the interesting argument that we vote our identity, not our ideology (do correct me if i'm wrong).  to the extent that our ideology can be reduced to our identity or demographic membership in ways perhaps unconscious to us, this makes sense.

but findings like the above are just bizarre.  the most left-leaning major candidate gets the most right-leaning voters?  this has stopped making sense to me.

i want a coherent understanding of voter preferences, but simply dismissing ideology or identity doesn't rest comfortably with me -- there's a synthesis in there somewhere.

[ Parent ]
I'm confused (0.00 / 0)
Chris said "Edwards actually draws more support from moderate and conservative Democrats than from liberals, among whom Clinton holds large leads," which prompted Gaucho's comment that "findings like the above are just bizarre.  the most left-leaning major candidate gets the most right-leaning voters?  this has stopped making sense to me."

It also doesn't make sense to me, and seems to raise puzzling questions about actual voter motivations and the meaning and predictive value of self-described political identities (e.g., liberal, moderate, conservative).

Can Chris or anyone else speak to this seeming inconsistency in Edwards' support?

[ Parent ]
It's simple (4.00 / 1)
People don't vote on clearly defined, left-right ideological specturm. Most people don't even really know what the left-right spectrum is, or whether their overall political philosophy actually is left wing or right swing.

Most voting decisions takes place in the more convoluted, and less linear, ideological spectrums of identity politics.

[ Parent ]
So, why does anyone bother with it? (0.00 / 0)
I agree.  But doesn't this raise big questions about the value of asking and analyzing survey questions about left-right self-identification and referring to them in any meaningful way in discussions of voting behavior?

I've felt for a long time that these labels and imposed self-ID scales aren't helpful in understanding voters and crafting electoral strategy.

My question is why do pollsters keep asking and analyzing these survey questions if they only add noise to an analysis/model they're trying to develop? If their meaning is so squishy and individual, aren't they worse then useless?

[ Parent ]
These questions do have value (0.00 / 0)
If nothing else, they show that trying to forge a Democratic Party that is the result of a purely ideological alignment is not a particularly pragmatic goal.

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

[ Parent ]
Its called reaping the rewards of identity politics (4.00 / 1)
The average American knows little to nothing about the candidates and their policies.  People really think Hillary is a hard-core liberal and Edwards is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink Southern Democrat.

Yglesias links to an interesting Pew poll where people put themselves and the candidates on a political spectrum.  The average American sees themselves as a bit on the conservative side of 'moderate'.  The average Democrat sees Obama as more liberal than Hillary and themselves but all are set closer to moderate than liberal on the scale.  (No Edwards in this poll unfortunately, but I bet he would show up farther to the right of the other Dems.)  The Republicans in the poll see themselves as much more conservative than the average Democrat sees themselves as liberal and they put themselves and to the right of most of their candidates but see themselves as ideological identical to their president (and Huckabee and Romney)...scary.  Republicans see Hillary as beyond liberal and put Obama just to the right of liberal but well clear of moderate.

What would have been interesting would have been if the poll then had them rate various policies without attaching them to the candidates.

[ Parent ]
do you have that link? (0.00 / 0)

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

[ Parent ]
The Link (0.00 / 0)
Yglesias: http://matthewyglesi...

Pew Center: http://pewresearch.o...

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

[ Parent ]
thank you. (0.00 / 0)

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

[ Parent ]
Voters are different and complex (4.00 / 2)
High-informnation voters vote mainly ideology (and often against their economic interests), but in asking where their ideology comes from from, we are back many times in the realm of tribalism and formative political/economic experiences.  (I.e., parents who were the same party; shocks like the Depression; rebellion against parents who were the opposite party; what we used to call "radicalizing" experiences like exposure to gov't abuses of power, loss of job, health insurance etc.)

The lower information the voter is, the more the choices seem less rational to irrational if one is expecting ideological conformity .  For example, the number of anti-war and anti-Bush GOPers who support McCain, and the support of lower middle class folks for the GOP.  Here the votes are much more based on a sort of gestalt of who the candidate is based on imperfect information and identification of the voter with one or more traits or positions of a candidate.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
My theory is that Obama has probably benefitted from the distorted (0.00 / 0)
perception that the black candidate would be the most progressive. This has been helped along by his vague policy pronunciations and the MSM's refusal to cover the issues.

Edwards no doubt gets a bump from his share of identity voters who might  tend to characterize themselves as "conservative" to compensate for the anomoly (or in some quarters, the perceived anomoly) of being white Democrats.

[ Parent ]
Vague? (4.00 / 2)
Personally, when I go over to Obama's web site I find far more detail than I expect any president to actually have control over.  For example, he plans to

...expand the highly-successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all 570,000 low-income, first-time mothers each year. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families.

and he has stuff about keeping drinking water safe from terrorist attacks, and so on.  I'll admit if I go over to Edwards site he seems to have more stuff, which implies more detail, but the difference isn't huge.

I hear this complaint a lot, but I think it has more to do (ironically) with style than substance.  Some people (wonks) prefer the style of discussing details on the stump while other prefer discussing the big picture.  But they all have details available if anyone is interested.

Now, go to a Republican web site to learn the true meaning of vague.

[ Parent ]
Low-information voters yo. (4.00 / 1)
You know there are plenty of voters who have just seen a little bit of the candidates on CNN.  Among them, there are blue-collar guys, and probably some older people too, who are just more comfortable with Edwards the Southern White Guy than with either of the others.

A lot of them are going to break for "the Clintons" were Edwards to drop out.  In the blogosphere, it's all high-information voters for Edwards and most of them seem prepared to break Obama should they have to, but Edwards' low-information voters are not all that similar to his high-information voters.

[ Parent ]
Second Choices (4.00 / 1)
It is getting to the point that knowing who Edwards's supports support as a second choice would be very useful in decided who he would help by dropping out.  I can make the argument either way for who his supporters would go to if he dropped out.  I talked to a friend who canvasses for Edwards in Iowa, he said that many of Edwards's supporters were undecided between Clinton and Obama.

Depending on how we analyze Edwards's coalition we can predict that it goes different ways.  Conversations online are probably biased towards thinking that they will break for Obama because online they probably will.  Offline though, I am not sure.  My sense is that so long as Edwards remains above 15% and thus viable then for the most part he isn't hurting Obama's chances, assuming that he will support Obama at the convention.

It is when Edwards stops wining delegates that he should consider very seriously where his supporters would go, and what he believes is best.

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

[ Parent ]
Reflected in the DKos poll (4.00 / 3)
Your points are good ones.  It does seem that even in the DKos poll that Edwards loss was Hillary's gain, or that Obama's gain from Edwards voters was offset by his loss of some voters to Clinton.

BTW, for participants in the "Obama & Reagan" debate, I suggest you look at Obama's discussions with the SF Chronicle editorial board.  He is much more explicitly progressive here, in effect clarifying the points that bothered people.  They have transcript excerpts, plus audio and video.  Obama's ability to constantly absorb and deal with criticism without being obvious about it is a great strength IMHO, although I understand others will see it as an example of his chameleon-like perfidy.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
As A White Liberal, Obama Has Done Little To Win (4.00 / 3)
me over. Of course, I'm one of those "dirty fking hippies" who was around to fight the wars of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Funny thing, unlike Obama, I think we are fighting many of those same wars today.

[ Parent ]
the white left is about to select Kerry again (4.00 / 2)
After its brilliant effort in 2004 to select the dullest and least able candidate, the white liberal segment of the Democratic electorate is about to select Hillary Clinton as our standard bearer! Well done, white liberals.  Senator Clinton's powerful position on Iraq will make "voted for it before he voted against it" look harmless. Her reliance on Mark Penn will make Kerry's use of Bob Shrum look brilliant!

[ Parent ]
Wasn't White Liberals Like Me That Selected Kerry (4.00 / 5)
White liberals like ME went Dean all the way. The fact that I am not enthralled with Obama does not automatically mean that I support Clinton. Politician make choices. Obama chose to discount and downplay efforts made by other generations to appeal to the younger generation. He could have chosen to frame it in such a way that the younger generation was building on the efforts of the past. He did not do so. So his rhetoric while succeeding with one group and was off putting to some in the other. Since I like Barney Frank, I will let him speak for me.

I think it is important to express my discomfort with a major theme of Senator Obama's campaign. I am referring to his denigration of "the Washington battles of the 1990's" and, usually implicitly but sometimes explicitly, of those who fought them.
. . .
I cannot think of a cause that I cared deeply about then that I felt it appropriate to abandon as I aged, nor an important issue in which I had no interest then, but which now gets my attention.
. . .
More importantly, the only way I can think of to avoid "refighting the same fights we had in the 1990's", to quote Senator Obama, is to let our opponents win these fights without a struggle. Barney Frank

[ Parent ]
fuckin A well-told!!!!!!! you are dead-on!!!! (0.00 / 0)

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

[ Parent ]
Let's hear how Bill could have led - specifically (0.00 / 0)
Real quick, if you don't mind: can you sketch out a plausible way that Bill Clinton's legacy could have been positive?

Can you sketch out some plausible proposals that, given his early mistakes (he's human - like botching the gays in the military - though well intentioned) he could have passed prior to '94 and after?  What would be the strategy?  Assuming that he didn't exhaust all his political capital on the '93 budget deal? 

Now, you can't just say, "stand up for single payer!" because that is naive.  You need to be plausible, and remember attitudes about crime and welfare that were deeply ingrained. 

Do you really believe the playing field was NOT stacked against a Democratic President in '92?  Do you really believe a Progressive majority could have been "created" by a D back then, purely through the bully pulpit?

[ Parent ]
he spent his capital on NAFTA. (0.00 / 0)
and Bush sure built a conservative governing coalition to enact an agenda.  Clinton could have as well.  Unless he was less talented than BUSH.

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

[ Parent ]
9/11 (0.00 / 0)
Everyone gets a honeymoon so Bush had no problem with his first round of tax cuts, which aren't hard to pass, anyway.  The only other accomplishments were compromises with Democrats on drugs and NCLB.

All the real power came after 9/11.  But let's face it, from a political point of view 9/11 is like a soft, easy pitch right down the center.  Any good (at politics) president should get a home run out of that.  Bush actually sucks, only got a double, but still, 9/11 gave the president huge amounts of power.

Without 9/11 I tend to think both Gore and Bush would have been moderate, one term presidents.  (Not saying they would be the same at all, but neither would have done much good nor as much harm.)  But with 9/11, the whole game changes.  Gore would have been one of our greatest presidents ever.  Bush became the worse.  The times and events mean everything.

[ Parent ]
Maybe, or maybe not on Gore. Ironically, it seems that his loss (0.00 / 0)
in 2000 allowed him to become himself and find his sealegs on the environment.  Whereas if he had won, perhaps with his eye on reelection Gore may not have been as dedicated to the issue of climate change.  But I could be wrong.  It's all pure speculation.

Just on the Supreme Court picks alone, Gore's presidency would have ushered in many great progressive changes.  And that's just the changes the Supreme Court would have made with their decisions.  Just think if the SCOTUS had decided that money does not equal free speech?  We'd be well on our way to massive election reform and perhaps even public funding of elections.

Instead, we have Bush, war, recession, and a fascist, corporate-driven police-state.

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

[ Parent ]
the corporate media factor (0.00 / 0)
You ignore the fact that this was pre-internet and all mass media were owned by giant corporations. Big corporations have a conservative agenda. They favor Republicans. Given the uneven playing field, comparing Clinton's success to Bush's success is comparing apples to oranges.

[ Parent ]
Can we jettison the "white left" (0.00 / 0)
Uh, the evil White Left is part of your coalition.  If you think it's monolithic, then how is this not a borderline racist post?

[ Parent ]
In My Opinion, We Were Discussing Demographics (4.00 / 1)
So unless you consider the standard discussion shown below as a borderline racist post, that dog won't hunt.

Obama dominates among black voters, favored by 65 percent to Clinton's 18 percent, but they make up just 10 percent of likely caucus-goers. Hispanics make up 15 percent of likely caucus-goers and favor Clinton over Obama by 50 percent to 29 percent.

[ Parent ]
you still seemed to be blaming a racial group..... (0.00 / 0) that is in your coalition.  I'm in your coalition, and I don't think Kerry was so horrific given that support for the Iraq war was over 50% and Bush's personal approval was hovering at 50% on election day 2004.  Repeat: the war had not gone sour in the eyes of a majority of Americans. 

There was no widespread majority sense of economic unease, so there went Edwards' opening that year. 

Who is perfect in this race? When did a perfect Presidential candidate run? 

But like demonizing Bill Clinton, many like to demonize Kerry to make a point. I don't think any candidate who ran could have done better, yet it seems obvious to the demonizers that  someone else could have.  That's fantasy. 

[ Parent ]
There May Be Some Confusion Here (0.00 / 0)
I may have misread the thread and though you were responding to me. I'm not the one that wrote

the white left is about to select Kerry again

I didn't demonize Kerry.  I said; " As A White Liberal, Obama Has Done Little To Win me over in response to the demographics of Obama's support.  IOW, I am a proud member of the evil white left.

Still and all, I don't view either comment as borderline racist and think that label is flung far too quickly to be helpful. It's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

[ Parent ]
"fantasy" (0.00 / 0)
There are many obvious reasons to think that Dean would have done much better. You state that any such reasoned speculation is "fantasy" without presenting any argument at all to back up that notion.

[ Parent ]
oh, brother. (0.00 / 0)
stop shitting on the thread.  it's analysi, not racism.  get.  over.  it.

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

[ Parent ]
Indeed. (4.00 / 5)
We are still fighting a lot of the same battles.  The problem, for the left, is that we have been systematically put on the defensive in many of these battles.  I'm thinking of the backlash against feminism (esp. w/r/t abortion rights), or the reversals on racial equality, or the gutting of the social safety net. 

I am planning on voting for Obama in the primaries, in large part because I think he may help us get back on the offensive in a lot of these struggles.  I know this sounds counterintuitive...

Basically my thinking is as follows: Political debate generally is organized around binary oppositions, and in nearly all cases, there is an implicitly over- and under-valued term in each binary construction.  What the Reagan revolution (I use this phrase very loosely to describe lots that happened in the 70s and 80s) did was basically re-orient the coding of a lot of political debates.  A lot of things associated with the 1960s left came to be coded as negative, as "excesses."  At the same time, Reagan helped recode as "American" and "patriotic" a lot that had previously been coded as fringe, "right-wing" ideology.  Left positions have been marginal since the 1980s.  Sometimes, we on the left have fallen into the habit of seeing our marginality as a virtue.  But our marginality is cold comfort to people who suffer most acutely from political reaction. 

What I think Obama does rhetorically is basically move what could be understood as a blocked dialectic forward another step.  If the "Left" position is, at the moment, marginal and fringe, and the Right position is normative, what Obama does is try and introduce a new position into the mix that is (substantively) very close to the Left position, but that, rhetorically, involves a new departure (and an implicit or, more often, explicit marginalization of the Right position).  This rhetorical reconstruction can be thought of also in terms of how various positions are talked about in relation to history (i.e. which positions are associated with the past, present and future).  While many of us would like, in certain respects, to "go back to the 1960s," this is a losing (i.e. marginal) position.  It is also logically incoherent.  The future is what lies ahead of us, not the past.  So, what is needed is a way to articulate a future-oriented vision that restructures the logic of political debate in a way that systematically advantages the Left.  I think that, more than any other candidate, Obama offers this possibility. 

It is, I would be the first to admit, a dangerous proposition.  And there are eerie echoes of the "Third Way" in Obama's rhetoric, which is basically a way of putting a nice face on capitulation to reaction.  In fact, it is almost certain that Obama would govern in a way that would be, in comparison with mid-20th century liberalism, to the right.  To be honest, with the global economic transformations that have taken place since 1970ish, I'm not sure if we can hope for anything much better than this, at least in the short term.  For me, Obama constitutes the first step in the right (Left) direction -- he can give us a little bit of breathing room, while making progressivism mainstream again.  Then the real work begins. 

[ Parent ]
Good analysis (4.00 / 5)
You say much of what I've been trying to say much better than I ever said it.

I'm a little more hopeful about what a President Obama could accomplish.  By recoding the debate, as you put it, he makes room for possible solutions that haven't really been put on the table yet, new ideas to cope with a changing world.  It's his stress on pragmatism and actually trying to solve problems rather than reiterate some interest group's favorite issue or give a knew-jerk reaction to everything, and his attempts to be inclusive rather than demonizing potential coalition members that give me hope. 

In his comments to the SF Chronicle he criticized the Clintons for trying to develop health care solutions in secret while the insurance cos mobilized outside the room.  He said he'd have everyone at the table, but the big interests would no longer be able to buy all the seats, and, moreover, he'd put the discussions on C-SPAN so that the people could have some participation.  Talk about a way to marginalize obstructionists and kill back-room deals . . . .

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Thanks :-) (4.00 / 2)
I think your point about pragmatism is a useful corrective to the formalism of my analysis.  What is so appealing to me about Obama is that, rhetorically, he is working on both of these levels at once: he marries pragmatic concreteness with generality in a way is, IMO, exemplary. 

There is another side to this whole discussion that I think is often ignored -- namely, the possibility of flipping conservatives to a progressive/Democratic political orientation through compelling, inspirational, inclusive leadership, rhetoric and action.  I think many of us on the Left assume -- based on the model of people like Rush Limbaugh -- that conservatives are never going to give us an inch, and are going to fight against us, en mass, for the foreseeable future.  Why are we so pessimistic about the possibility of fundamental political realignment in this country?  Particularly considering that, according to our social/political analysis, 99% of the population derives no substantive benefit from conservative governance.  In my opinion, we could see a really significant political realignment if we had a figure (or a group of figures) who got a lot of media play, who disarmed some of the conservative pundits some of the time, who recaptured from the right ideas like "patriotism" and "Americanness," and who was genuinely charismatic.  I think Obama is keenly aware of this possibility, and is trying to be one such figure.  In my view, he's doing a pretty damn good job so far.  I hope he gets a chance to do it from the bully pulpit for the next four years. 

[ Parent ]
I think this does work (0.00 / 0)
For example, a friend's husband is a nominal Republican, Asian-immigrant family, a high-tech Silicon Valley executive.  He likes Obama precisely for these reasons.  I know other nominal Republicans who like his tone and are, therefore, receptive to his proposals. 

One thing that Paul R. keeps bringing up here is that people support a lot of Dem positions.  But the fact is that either Dems don't package their ideas well, don't communicate them well, don't understand advertising or average voters, and/or allow themselves to be demonized without countering the narrative, or some combination thereof.  We need to understand why it is that people who ought to be receptive to the Dem message aren't so much of the time.  I think Obama is trying to address this, and people who expect him to refight all their old battles are missing the point.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
How about a "sausage-making" channel? (0.00 / 0)
Thanks Mimikatz for bringing up the SF Chronicle comments. I look forward to reading them.

I love the idea of putting legislation-related discussions on C-SPAN (and on the web, with the ability to submit comments, questions, expand discussion, etc.).  As I've said in other comments, I think the "transparency" ("more light, not necessarily more heat") elements of Obama's approach to governing can provide a powerful lever for, as you say "marginalizing obstructionists and killing back-room deals.".  And I think he's got the right disposition and communication style to skillfully employ that lever.

[ Parent ]
OK Here Is My Take On That (4.00 / 3)
The left has been systematically put on the defensive in many of these battles because far too often members of the Democratic party have been more than willing to talk out against them using much the same themes used by the Republicans. This has been the tactic of the DLC, The Third Way etc. They have enforced and perpetuated the idea that anyone to the left of center right is a wild eyed crazy who they need distance themselves from at all costs. Of course, they don't use the words like wild eyed crazy, they just imply that they are definitely not like those people. Personally, I don't see any difference between what Obama is currently doing than what the DLC and the Third Way (same ideology - packaged with a different name) has done.

Now you have faith or maybe hope, that Obama is different even though he uses much the same rhetoric and uses much the same political tactics. I do not share your hope. I have seen nothing during Obama's U.S. Senate career that would substantiate that premise.


[ Parent ]
This is a very interesting conversation, IMO... (4.00 / 2)
and gets to the core of what I think is the ambivalence that a lot of progressives feel about Obama. 

Personally, I think that the most compelling and trust-building things Obama has done in his career have been around issues of criminal justice reform (I'm thinking especially of his work on death penalty reform in Illinois, and his refusal to back down to Clinton's attacks on his opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenders).  He is also pretty consistently to the left of Clinton on foreign affairs issues (particularly revealing in this regard, IMO, was his vote for a resolution banning the US from giving other countries cluster bombs -- a resolution that Clinton voted against).

But ultimately, I agree with you that there is little in his record that distinguishes him fundamentally from a "Third Way" type politician.  (I purposefully use the term Third Way instead of DLC, because I think that there is a difference, and that the DLC is further to the right than most advocates of "Third Way" politics).  I don't think Obama is as far to the right as the DLC. 

In terms of your fundamental point, though, I agree with you in a lot of ways.  I talk about this in my last paragraph, even going so far as to say that Obama is, without doubt, to the right of mid-twentieth century liberalism (I put in a caveat here, though, saying that, given the national and international political and economic climate at the moment, Obama's agenda may be more-or-less the best we can hope for in a presidential nominee). 

What I would challenge in your argument is the idea that Obama's rhetoric is entirely indistinguishable from DLC-esque rhetoric.  I agree that Obama often uses (old, almost taken-for-granted at this point) stereotypes about the Left in an effort to say: I am not scary like those people.  However, at the same time, he effectively marginalizes the Right in a way that is much more powerful and substantive than his marginalization of (a stereotype of) the Left, and he criticizes (or renders irrelevant) the Right in a way that DLC politicians (and democratic politicians more generally) rarely if ever do (I'm thinking of the rhetorical turn he makes around the issue of September 11th in his stump speech).  That, coupled with the fact that I think he has the potential to flip conservatives to a substantively (more) progressive position, the fact that he seems to disarm some conservative pundits some of the time (I consider the vast majority of nationally syndicated columnists to be conservative, so this is no small consideration), the fact that he is bringing huge numbers of young people into the democratic process, the fact that he seems more likely than Clinton to help Dem senate candidates win in 2008, makes me at least cautiously optimistic that Obama will put us in a better situation for the foreseeable future than Clinton would. 

[ Parent ]
Agree, It Is Any Interesting Conversation. (0.00 / 0)
While I still disagree (and good people can) with some of what you said, you have given me food for thought on some things I hadn't thought about. IMO that is what I think debate is all about.

Have to throw this out there though. I don't agree that members of the Third Way are not as far right as members of the DLC. My senator is a honorary Vice Chair of the Third Way and she votes in lock step with the right on the war, FISA and immigration.

[ Parent ]
Interesting.., (0.00 / 0)
Maybe I am confused about the "Third Way."  My understanding of this ideology is derived basically from its European iteration (both theoretically and practically).  But I would not be surprised, now that I have read your post, if there was a US version that was basically indistinguishable from the DLC....

I agree with your comments about the value of discussion in these forums: the best one can hope for is some clarification and food for thought.  Thanks for engaging me. 


[ Parent ]
Another Point (0.00 / 0)
Republicans did not move the country to the right by talking against the people to the very far right of their party no matter how far out or crazy they were. They spent their time labeling anyone in the Democratic Party as crazies and turning liberal into a dirty name. They either kept silent on what were considered the party extremists or supported them. They did this until what was once considered extreme is now considered mainstream or moderate.

OTOH, the Democratic Party spent more time agreeing that there were people in their party that were too extreme than they did labeling the Republic party as extremist. They kept backing up distancing themselves until what were once considered moderate ideological ideas were labeled not only left but far left.

Which way did the country move? How did the Democratic ongoing strategy that Obama is employing in his campaign work out?

[ Parent ]
We are fundamentally in agreement here... (4.00 / 1)
at least up until your last paragraph.

The Democratic and Republican parties function in fundamentally different ways.  Here is my take on why:

From the perspective of American capital (or, I should say, those who identify with the drive of capital to reproduce itself on an ever expanding scale), the left is the real enemy.  The threat of socialism -- a "threat" raised in an at least somewhat credible way in the late 1960s -- is THE threat that American capital is truly concerned with.  The Democratic party (and the Labor party in Britain) is dependent upon capital ("big business," whatever you want to call it).  We do not have an independent labor party in this country.  I wish we did. 

To appear credible to capital (and thus enjoy its continued support), Democrats have to continuously conjure forth the specter of "the Left" in order to differentiate themselves from this specter (or, to keep with the metaphor, in order to put it to death again).  Republicans aren't in the same position.  The Republican party is, as a party, more aligned with the (short-term) interests of capital.  They are the "A-team" (this is especially true now that the Fordist model of capitalism has been superseded -- something that happened not because of contingent events, but because of a structural transformation in the global economy).  So Republicans remain credible in the eyes of big business even when they court far out Christian fundamentalists.  Big business representatives recognize that Republicans have to scare up votes somewhere, and the fundies are generally satisfied with a few scraps here and there... So Republicans can get away with pandering to fringe groups without being cast by the media as "crazy."  Democrats do not have the same luxury.  Under current conditions (i.e. unless and until we have a truly independent labor party), Democratic politicians are more-or-less always going to distance themselves from "the Left."  It is the only way they avoid losing the donors and at least moderately balanced media coverage that they currently enjoy. 

[ Parent ]
Yup. (0.00 / 0)
Left and right are in fundamentally different relationships with capital (ie, the People Who Matter).  At the end of the day, that's why the It's Ok If You're A Republican rule exists.  Different rules pertain to right and left, Republicans and Democrats because they're in completely different standing with capital.

This is also why people who want us to emulate precisely what the Republicans have done are often wrong.  Different rules pertain to us and them; if we filibuster for instance we're typically obstructing the will of capital, whereas if they filibuster they're defending it; hence the wildly different treatment of such events.

[ Parent ]
Patriotic (4.00 / 1)
One thing I think most liberals miss is Obama's message is deeply patriotic.  The number one, worse problem facing the left, imo, is the way the right took over patriotism.  I can't even display a flag without feeling I'm supporting a stupidly destructive war.  If we can redefine patriotism as Americans getting together to solve our problems, we win.

[ Parent ]
Good point (0.00 / 0)
Whoever the nominee is needs to steal Edwards' line about "being patriotic about something besides war".

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

[ Parent ]
Not blocked, but Obama wants to shore it up (4.00 / 1)
What I think Obama does rhetorically is basically move what could be understood as a blocked dialectic forward another step.

I disagree with this hypothesis completely, which is why I am so frustrated about Obama's bipartisan rhetoric. The dialectic is not blocked.  Indeed, the reverse is the case.  The dam is about to burst and water is ready to pour in a torrent toward our side of the river. But Obama, instead of pulling blocks down from the dam, keeps trying to shore it up so that the dam doesn't burst but instead trickles into uselessness. 

This may make sense for him electorally, since he is making Independents, the youth vote, and those who have tuned out from the political system his base, but it doesn't do diddly for taking advantage of the nearing tipping point to make vast progressive change. It's enough to make some of us feel him more of a threat to progressive change than Clinton.

The dialectic is pointing one way; Obama the other.  He is trying to skip the necessary confrontation from which synthesis can be achieved. 

A PROGRESSIVE synthesis.

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

[ Parent ]
Nearly off-topic, and at the risk of getting all (0.00 / 0)
Gail Sheehy, is Obama's DFH aversion an expression of resentment for his mother, the unconventional free sprit who essentially dumped him with her parents and went off to live on another continent?

[ Parent ]
No way... (0.00 / 0)
I know a lot of people in Hyde Park who are close with Obama, and many of them are good old fashioned leftists.  He doesn't have a compulsive or unconscious "aversion" to leftists.  He just doesn't. 

His rhetoric can be explained, IMO, in much more mundane ways... 

[ Parent ]
Not all white Dems are liberals (4.00 / 1)
Arguably, the Edwards message resonates most with white non-liberals in the Democratic Party.  Indeed, Edwards might be doing better if he had thrown a few bones to culturally not-so-liberal Democrats alongside his populist economic rhetoric.

If Edwards ties up some white non-liberals, is he keeping them from going to Barack Obama or to Hillary Clinton?

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

[ Parent ]
Or staying home? (0.00 / 0)
Or McCain, or even Huckabee, in an open primary?

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Edwards message resonates with those who get to hear it (0.00 / 0)
Arguably, the Edwards message resonates most with white non-liberals in the Democratic Party.

You've got to be kidding.

Who was it again who was yelling at Congress to send Bush a funding bill with a withdrawal timetable attached and if he vetoed it to keep sending it back again and again?

Who is it who came up with the first comprehensive health care reform plan (and one that included mandates) among the top Dems?

Who is it argued that Fox news had no place hosting a Democratic debate and led by withdrawing so that finally the debate was cancelled?

Who is it who's centered his campaign around economic justice, eliminating corporate control of our democracy, and supporting organized labor?

Who is it who refuses to support the building of more nuclear power plants?

Who is going to get the troops out of Iraq in the first year of his presidency?

John Edwards IS the candidate with the most liberal platform in this campaign.  He is also the candidate with the most progressive rhetoric, which is why both Clinton and Obama have been copying him so much of late.

The problem isn't that liberals don't like his message, it's that a hell of a lot of them still haven't heard it.  Others  are choosing the other candidates either because of the historic nature of their candidacies or because they consider them more viable to win the nomination.

But it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with his message not resonating with liberals.  That is just nonsense.

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

[ Parent ]

And It's Not Just The Polls (4.00 / 4)
It's also the presence of another voice for change in the debates, who also gets some local media coverage and runs some ads, even if he doesn't get national coverage respect.

This has to have an additional more intangible effect, and in a race this fluid and hard to track, that can't be ignored, either.

"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

Good Luck Trying To Convince Obama's Supporters (4.00 / 2)
on this. A large percentage of them are throughly convinced that the only thing that is keeping Obama from the nomination is Edwards.

Facts like this haven't had much effect to chance this meme at least over at DKos.

As a weak Edwards supporter, I'm completely undecided about where my vote would go if Edwards dropped out after NV or SC. Right now, I'd prefer the option of voting "None of the Above." 

see my comment above (4.00 / 1)
I am strongly for Obama, and while I think that most of the bloggers who suppoert Edwards would choose Obama over Clinton I am not sure about that when we look at all of the voters.  I would like to see more evidence.

Doesn't really matter what I think though, I am just an armchair quarterback and a foot-soldier (well maybe an NCO).

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

[ Parent ]
Some people think (4.00 / 1)
That anyone who supports someone other than Clinton must have Clinton as their last choice. Just doesn't work that way. As I noted below, I know a Kucinich first choice, Clinton second choice, in my small circle of friends.

[ Parent ]
I know a (0.00 / 0)
Ron Paul first choice, Obama second choice, Giuliani third choice. And he also likes Clinton. I guess she's a fourth choice.

If you can figure this one out, you're crazier than I am.

[ Parent ]
Feingold on the Primaries, Critiques Edwards (0.00 / 0)

On the Democratic presidential candidates...

The one that is the most problematic is (John) Edwards, who voted for the Patriot Act, campaigns against it. Voted for No Child Left Behind, campaigns against it. Voted for the China trade deal, campaigns against it. Voted for the Iraq war … He uses my voting record exactly as his platform, even though he had the opposite voting record.

When you had the opportunity to vote a certain way in the Senate and you didn't, and obviously there are times when you make a mistake, the notion that you sort of vote one way when you're playing the game in Washington and another way when you're running for president, there's some of that going on.

On whether he'll make an endorsement in the Feb. 19 Wisconsin primary

Probably not. I'm having a hard time deciding between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as are many people. Those are the two I take the most seriously.

I go back and forth, to be honest with you. I'm torn on this whole issue of who's more likely to be progressive and really seek change vs. who's ready to do the job today. It really is a true dilemma in my mind.
Source: http://www.postcresc...

We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join and fight for progressive change.  

We've seen this already on this blog, among others (4.00 / 2)
It's kind of silly for Feingold to admit that he doesn't favor a guy who's running on his own platform, while he might actually endorse Clinton.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Feingold has always admired (0.00 / 0)
backbone, steadfastness, and principle over the long-term. I can see how that would be problematic for him. On the other hand, I work in the field of persuasion and activation of other Democrats, so I like it when people change and become more progressive.

[ Parent ]
That's one reason for my support of Edwards (4.00 / 1)
I'd rather take the person who's moving in my direction than the person whose trend is away from me. Not to mention rhetorically scoring points off me from time to time.

Join us at the Missouri community blog Show Me Progress!

[ Parent ]
Functionally a Spoiler ? (4.00 / 3)
I think not.  At this point John Edwards remains an alternative to Clinton and Obama.  I for one (and apparently millions of others) continue to support him and are continuing to contribute money.  I know that if Edwards drops out before my caucuses on February 5 (which I know he will not do) I will simply caucus uncommitted because I don't really want either Clinton or Obama as the nominee.

Edwards role right now is to continue to push the agenda to the left (clearly both Obama and Clinton would be alreadty sitting in the middle if unopposed right now) and to gather as many delegates as possible to be available should either the Clinton or Obama campaign implode before anyone has a working majority of the delegates.

It is not the strategy I was hoping for pre Iowa,  but it is a valid strategy.

Absolutely right (0.00 / 0)
I have supported Obama from the time he declared forward, and I am very happy that Edwards has stayed in the race. I hope he continues to complete. I think this helps Obamama, and anyway I like Edwards a lot and would be a strong supporter if he somehow managed to win the nomination.

Kucinich is actually a bigger problem (0.00 / 0)
At least here in CA.  He can draw a few percentage points from Edwards and Obama from diehard purists.  Yesterday at the Farmer's Market in Berkeley there were Obama and Kucinich tables.  Same thing Tuesday, per my sister.  Many Obama signs and bumper stickers around town, nada for Clinton.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Possibly, but (0.00 / 0)
Possibly, but at the same time, my brother's long-term girlfriend has Kucinich as a first choice, and Clinton as a second choice. They are out there. We don't necessarily know who Kucinich voters would side with. I haven't seen any polling data on the subject.

[ Parent ]
Many of them are going to actually vote for Kucinich (0.00 / 0)
in the primaries where he is on the ballot.  Second choices don't matter to some people in the Feb 5 races.  I see no possibility Edwards would drop out before Feb 5, or Kucinich before the convention vote, so if they vote their favorite, second choices don' matter.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
Correlation != causation (0.00 / 0)
The theory you put forth is possible of course, but only if there are no extra unaccounted for variables.  So you don't have any scientific evidence for your opinion. 

That being said I think that Obama does better face to face because of his unknowness so a larger crowd benefits him.

Polls (4.00 / 1)
When properly done, public opinion polls are scientific evidence.

[ Parent ]
New Hampshire Exit Polls (4.00 / 1)
The exit polls show that of those that voted for Edwards, over half have a negative opinion of Clinton, while only 37% had a somewhat negative or negative opinion of Obama. 


(scroll down near the bottom)

So maybe your assumption based on race is not true.

obama supporters (4.00 / 6)
who think edwards should drop out need to stop talking.  I'm tired of people telling others to drop out of a race in which they weren't given equal or fair coverage.  I wasn't a Biden, Richardson, or Dodd supporter, but each had an interesting and important message worth fighting for, and that voice was really not heard by the majority of democrats in this campaign.  As an Edwards supporter, I fundamentally reject that Edwards and Obama are the closest of candidates.  Actually I think they are the farthest apart.  Of the 6 major candidates, Edwards was my favortie, Obama my least favorite.  Despite Clinton's conservative views on foreign policy, I have no doubt she'll work to roll back many of the horrors of the Bush administration, although not nearly as much as Edwards.  Obama on the other hand has a message I find utterly unattractive and quite discouraging considering the last 7 years.  Praising Reagan, talking about bringing people together instead of talking about the deep problems created by Bush, and attacking democrats from the much more evidence do we need that this guy is a narcisist first and a progressive second?  I'm with Krugman.  In any event, edwards' breakdown of support is not as clear cut as everyone thinks (and it doesn't necessarily have to do with race. As in my case it has to do with rhetoric, attitude, and life experience).  And I hope Edwards stays in even if it helps Obama because what he has to say is worth fighting for.

Maybe Obama brought up Reagan (0.00 / 0)
just to piss us off.

Banned for posting five straight diaries.

[ Parent ]
If that was his purpose, (0.00 / 0)
it worked.

[ Parent ]
Edwards' delegates (0.00 / 0)
How does it work if Edwards endorses a candidate?  Are they obliged to vote that endorsement, or are they given free will?

John McCain won't insure children

Edwards can release his delegates (0.00 / 0)
at which point, they can vote for whoever he wants, no matter who he endorses. They might, of course, take that endorsement into consideration.

Until he releases he delegates, they are legally obligated to vote for Edwards on the first ballot. If there is a second ballot, they can vote for whomever they wish.

[ Parent ]
Thank you (0.00 / 0)

John McCain won't insure children

[ Parent ]
You mean vote for whoever they want if released. (0.00 / 0)
Not who he (Edwards) wants.  I think you meant to say that.

John McCain--He's not who you think he is.

[ Parent ]
agreed (4.00 / 1)
I have found all the comments on the netroots blogs about how Edwards staying in the race hurts Obama to be really bizarre.  It's as if people substitute their own individual preferences (or those they view among their cohorts on the net) as those of the electorate overall.  Edwards dropping out now would give Clinton a huge boost, starting in South Carolina.

Anyway, Edwards has his own independent message.  He adds value by staying in the race and putting it forth.

Obama supporters urging Edwards to drop (0.00 / 0)
out are also not doing themselves any favor browbeating Edwards supporters and bad-mouthing Edwards as a candidate.  The effect such behaviour is having on me is to merely lower my opinion of their candidate -- unfair, but there it is.  I'm voting for Edwards on February 5th, but in November, if Obama is the nominee, don't you want Edwards supporters to be enthusiastically working their butts off for your man?  This ain't the way to accomplish that.

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

And ironically, though I agree Edwards (0.00 / 0)
hurts Clinton more, her supporters don't seem to be as obsessed about putting Edwards down or pushing Edwards supporters to give up and go home.

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

[ Parent ]
Obama Has No Chance Against Hillary (0.00 / 0)
JRE is helping Obama by staying in the race, but Obama will not get enough democrats to support him.  Obama is dependent on independents and repugs which will definitely not help him in a GE.  The unions messed up by going with Obama instead of JRE.  Obama convinced the unions he would be more competitive which is turning out to be not true.  Obama had all the money and all the support to try to beat Hillary and he is not getting the job done. 

Edwards (0.00 / 0)
In all fairness , i doubt Edwards is the best candidate to beat Hillary since he just can't draw black or latino support....Obama can at least draw support among black folks , but Edwards would be shut out from all minority group...In the south and midwest , Hillary would have a coalition of women , black and latinos and she would easily defeat Edwards.

[ Parent ]

Open Left Campaigns



Advanced Search

Powered by: SoapBlox