The Deep Logic of Edwards For VP--Part 3

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun May 25, 2008 at 19:53


Part One. / Part Two.

The purpose of this diary is three-fold.  First, to re-state and expand upon my basic thesis.  Second, to address some recurrent mistakes in responding to the polling data and arguments presented in part 2.  Third, to present new information from the cross-tabs in the SUSA polls.

The premise of my argument is that Edwards is particularly strong VP candidate because he helps accomplish historically important tasks for the Democratic Party, which Chris has previously illuminated.   The SUSA polls are cited to reinforce the larger argument, but they are not the foundation for it.

(1)  The liberal/Democratic coalition and the conservative/Republican coalitions were relatively evenly matched for a long period of time, with a balance of power held by reformers whose primary orientation was outside vs. in, rather than left/right.  

These reformers were most historically visible via the record of repeated third party efforts over the course of a century, in which the ostensible ideology varied significantly, but the outside vs. in orientation did not. The strongholds were in the less populared regions of the Northeast (Maine, rather than Massacusettes), the Midwest, Great Plains and Mountain West.  The South was notably absent.

The right successfully wooed the bulk of these people from the Perot coalition from 1994 onward.  However, as the GOP consolidated power and showed itself to be increasingly insular and corrupt, the potential for a realignment mushroomed for bringing the reformers over into an alliance with the Democrats.

(2) Barack Obama unexpectedly emerged as a candidate representing the reformers, and his record in the primaries and caucuses reflected the characteristic geography.  His orientation had distinct parallelsd with the classical Progressives of the early 20th Century. At the same time, though he could not raise the money to compete nationwide, polling showed that Edwards was a powerful general election candidate who scored well with traditional Democratic constituencies, and registered as a populist-styled outside vs. in reformer.  Thus, the two candidate had the potential to run together as reinforcing candidates-which Chris has argued is a more powerful way to structure a ticket.

(3) While the DC establishment remains fundamentally hostile to outside-in reform, the country as a whole strongly favors it-as seen most strikingly in the 80%+ "wrong track" numbers.  Not surprisingly, DC-favored VP candidates are not particularly strong.  Although Survey USA did not pick a good field of Democrats, the two strongest VP picks were both Southern populists of a sort-Huckabee and Edwards.  Edwards strength in the VP matchups thus does not exist in a vacuum, but is a confirmation of large-scale trends that have been at work for some time.

Despite the weakness of the Dem VP field polled, the only major figures who conceivably might do as well or better than Edwards are Gore, who clearly will not run and Clinton, whose bitter attacks on Obama and politically powerful husband make a VP slot for her decidedly problematic, as well as a far cry from a reinforcing ticket.  Thus, flawed though it is, the Survey USA VP polls provide unique and valuable insight into the continued validity of the above theoretical reasons to see Obama/Edwards as the superior choice for building the Democratic Party's future.

Paul Rosenberg :: The Deep Logic of Edwards For VP--Part 3
Some Counter-Arguments Countered.

(1) This is just a measure of name recognition, nothing more.  By the end of the campaign whoever runs will have close to 100% name recognition.

Counter-argument 1: Name recognition surely plays a role, but is hardly determinative.  Edwards outperforms Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell in his home state, and Rendell has virtually no noticeable advantage in next-door Ohio.

Counter-argument 2: Name recognition comes along with favorable and unfavorable impressions and is something that politicians work hard to earn. The fact that Edwards has higher name recognition and is a more formidable candidate is not something that we can simply assume a less-well-known candidate could make up for-particularly if they do not fit into the analysis summarized above.

Counter-argument 3: Name recognition at the end of the process is irrelevant.  What matters is what the candidate brings to the ticket, and name recognition plus strong polling as a VP is certainly a definite advantage.  Someone without that advantage should have compelling arguments to make as to why they would be better in the long run-and the fact that they will eventually have higher name recognition is not such an argument.

(2) Hillary should be on the ticket. She earned it.  

Counter-argument 1: There is no precedent for this.  Candidates have chosen to take the runner-up as their running mate sometimes, and have passed them over other times.  This, the only precedent is that it is the candidate's choice.

Counter-argument 2: Clinton clashes with the logic of Chris's realignment argument above. She is an expert insider politician, and she campaigned as an expert insider politician.  This directly contradicts the logic of the realignment that Obama is facilitating.

Counter-argument 3: Clinton's conduct and attacks on Obama's lack of experience, coupled with her praise for McCain would make her a particularly discordent VP candidate, the exact opposite of a reinforcing one.

Counter-argument 4: The strength of Edwards as a VP candidate shows that Obama does not need Clinton, despite hurt feelings that remain among many of her loyalists.  The voters as a whole have moved on.

Counter-argument 5: As will be seen below, the Obama/Edwards ticket does just fine with female voters.

Counter-argument 6: Clinton would better serve the party as Senate Majority Leader.

(3) The poll questions put unrealistic and disproportionate weight on the VP slot.

Counter-argument 1:  It's a standard practice to ask people questions about possible running mates. If candidate preferences are firm, then little variation will be found.  The fact that wide variation is found can only be explained if two things are true: (1) Support for the presidential candidates is still significantly fluid.  (2) At least some of the VP candidates have significant impact.  These are logical necessities.

(4) This poll is unrealistic, because in the long run, the importance of the VP will fade.

Counter-argument: There is certainly some truth in this, as other issues are bound to emerge over the course of the campaign.  However

Counter-Argument 1: The choice of a running mate is a key indicator of judgment that will have enduring importance and will not go away over the course of the campaign.

Counter-Argument 2: Short-term advantage can help determine the course of the election early on-and in this case the advantage gained from Edwards is decisive in key swing states.

Counter-Argument 3: The argument laid out at the beginning of this post concerns the identity/issue structure of the party.  Even as the importance of the VP as a person may fade, these other factors will not.  Thus, a VP choice who is in synch with the argument stands a high chance of not having their impact fade, even though it is not their personality per se that is responsible for the impact.

(5) You are claiming that Edwards is the only one who can deliver these states, and that's just not realistic.

Counter-Argument 1: No, I am not claiming that.  I am only claiming that he is the only one who can reliably deliver them now, and thus provide us with the momentum to keep the GOP playing defense.  Since the GOP is playing defense in both House and Senate races across the country, keeping them on defense at the presidential level in key swing states as well is a powerful means for keeping them off-balance and error-prone throughout the entire election cycle.  It's not a long-term guarantee-there is no such thing in politics.  But it's a very good way to start out.

(6) There must be something wrong with these polls.  I can point to a number of results that just aren't believable.

Counter-Argument 1:  Unbelievable results turn up all the time.  Just because you don't believe something at first glance doesn't mean it's not true.

Counter-Argument 2:  Even being extremely generous, and throwing one poll out as completely flawed, all four of the remaining polls would all reach the same conclusion: Edwards is the clearly superior Dem VP candidate.  With SUSA's reputation, it simply defies reason and experience to claim that all five polls are flawed.  This argument takes wishful thinking to the level of religious faith-and beyond.

There are certainly other arguments that could, and no doubt will be made.  But this is a good roundup of the ones seen so far, and why they do not carry great weight.


Analysis of Cross-Tabs

And now, onto the analysis of cross-tabs.  For this analysis, we will look at each state in turn, taking cross-tabs in the same order throughout.  SUSA does not provide intersecting cross-tabs, so we don't have figures for white males, for example.  But a good surrogate can be constructed by multiplying the figures for these two categories together, then multiplying by 2-an approximating "renormalizaiton" that accounts for the fact that males are roughly 50% of the voting population.  Since we're using the same measure for everyone, and are only looking for general trends, this approximation should do just fine.  We use it for white females as well.

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania overall, Obama has a solid 8-point lead:

Governor Ed Rendell helps Obama in every matchup except Huckbee, where he gives only a little ground, but Edwards is consistently better:  Hagel and Sebelius lose ground against every GOP pairing.


Turning to voters over 65, McCain has a 9-point edge--a 17 point swing from the 8-point edge that Obama has among voters as a whole.

While Edward only gives Obama an outright edge against Pawlenty, he cuts McCain's lead with every running mate in the over-65 age group.  As Rendell's performance shows, all that's really needed in this demographic is to hold McCain's margin to what it is in the two-person matchup.  However, Edwards runs strongest among this demographic, too.


Obama enjoys a slight 3-point edge among independents-less than half his overall edge.

This is a rare instance where Huckabee outperforms Edwards-and does so decisively.  Edwards is just barely better than Hagel here. However, Edwards continues to outperform Rendell in all other matchups, and the rest of the Dem VP showings are quite weak.


The story with moderates is dramatically different-a 23-point Obama edge.

Both Edwards and Rendell manage to improve on the large 23-point Obama edge, except for Rendell vs. Lieberman, where the loss of ground is tiny.  The other candidate lose substantial ground, from 5-13 points.


Obama enjoys a comfortable 11-point edge with white females-hardly an indication of a lingering Hillary problem:

Once again, Edwards and Rendell both improve Obama's edge across the boards, with Edwards leading the way.  Tellingly, Sebelius does not show any superiority to Hagel, or to her general level of performance seen so far.


Among white males, Obama manages a narrow 1-point margin:

Again, Edwards shows across-the-board appeal, strengthening Obama in all matchups.  Edwards basically holds the line, making headway only against Pawlenty.  Sebelius and Hagel lose badly, except for Hagel vs. Pawlenty, where the loss is more modest.

In Short: Edwards shores up potential weaknesses with white males, independents and voters over 65.  At the same time, he pumps up the already substantial margins with white women and moderates.  Rendell has a generally similar profile, but with a weaker effect and some holes.  The only Edwards hole is against Huckabee with independents.


Ohio

Turning to the ultimate swing state, we find Obama with a solid 9-point lead:

Outside his home state, Rendell is weaker overall than Sebelius.  Only Edwards reliably extends Oboama's lead, doubling it against Pawlenty.


Obama is even weaker with seniors in Ohio than he was in Pennsylvania, loosing by 15 point:

Edwards holds the line across the board, reducing Obama's loss modestly in two cases, slightly in one, and drawing even against the hapless Pawlenty. The other three show little variation in their showings against the different GOP VPs though Pawlenty is weaker as usual, while Romney is surprisingly strong.


Obama is also significantly weaker among independents, at minus 10:

This is Edwards' weakest showing so far. He loses ground vs. Huckabee, holds even against Lieberman, and cuts Obama's losses against Romney.  The only flat-out win is against Pawlenty.  But he's solidly ahead of all the rest in every case, and overall there's no striking difference among them.


Again, with moderates is strikingly different as Obama has a 29-point edge:

Even at this high level, Edwards extends Obama's lead against every opponent except Lieberman, and scores nearly double the margins of the other VP candidates who are tightly bunched, and do not hold Obama's margins even against Pawlenty.


Obama holds another daunting advantage among white females, 15 points:

But only Edwards can improve things for Obama, as the others all lose substantial ground.  Huckabee is particuarly effective.  Only Sebelius manages to hold a slight lead for Obama.


Among white males, Obama has a good 6-point lead:

Again, Edward is the only one to improve on this lead, all the rest turn it into a modest or substantial loss, except against Pawlenty.

In Short: Edward is the only one to hold and improve Obama's substantial leads overall, among moderates, white females and white males.  He cuts losses against all comers among seniors, and against two candidates among independents, holding even against one more.  Huckabee is only one to best him in that single category.


Virginia

Obama leads in Virginia by 7 points overall:

Again, Edward is the only candidate who reliable wins Virgnia with Obama, increasing his lead against all comers.  The rest hold slight leads against Pawlenty, while Sebelius just squeaks past Huckabee.


Over 65 again favors McCain by a whopping 15 points:

This time, Edwards losses ground-though only slightly--against three of four candidates.  He only makes significant gains against Pawlenty.  The others are fairly uniformly worse, with a slight nod to Hagel.


Among independents, Obama has a modest 4-point lead:

Only Edwards maintains Obama's lead, increasing it significantly in three cases, while yeilding ground slightly against Lieberman, but still maintaining a win.  The rest lose badly to Lieberman, less badly to the rest.


Again, Obama does an outstanding job among moderates, with a 31-point lead:

Edward yeilds a single point against Lieberman, but otherwise increase Obama's lead.   The others yield ground significantly, especially against Huckabee and Lieberman.


Among white females, Obama is down six:

Edwards alone takes Obama into winning territory against all 4 GOP VPs, a feat none others manage even once as they double, triple, even quadruple the margin of his loss.


Amongst white males, Obama's loss is double that among women-12 points:

Edwards pulls close to even with Huckabee and Romney, cuts the loss almost in half with Lieberman, and rolls up a handsome little margin against Pawlenty.   The others repeat their dismal performances among white women, but with an additional loss of five to ten points.

In Short: Edwards again is the only one to consistently increase advantages and cut losses in most cases, though even he has a harder time in Virgnia in some cases.  The rest are almost uniformly miserable, if not downright disastrous.


New Mexico

Obama is tied with McCain head-to-head in New Mexico:

Again, the difference is clear: Obama wins with Edwards, and loses with everyone else.  Even Pawlenty gives McCain solid leads of 4 points or more, while Huckabee wins by double digits.


Obama loses New Mexico Seniors by four points:

Edwards improves in every category-still losing slightly to Huckabee, but beating everyone else.  The rest all get worse-modestly against Pawlenty, significantly against everyone else-though Hagel is consistently the least weak of the three.


Obama loses independents by a substantial 13-point margin.

For once, there is no significant Edwards advantage.  In fact, Hagel outperforms him slightly.  Edwards does cut Huckabee's margin by a hair's breadth.  Hagel cuts it more, and cuts Lieberman's margin as full three points.  Sebelius cuts Pawlenty's margin by two.


Obama cleans up among moderates, however, with an even stronger 19-point lead:

Here, too, Edwards re-asserts his dominance, improving Obama's massive lead against all opponents, while the rest barely hold on to a fraction of Obama's lead.  Only agains Pawlenty are all three in double digits.


With a substantia non-white population, Obama loses white females by 14 points:

Edwards improves Obama's performance in every category, winning outright against everyone but Huckabee. His seven-point loss against Huckabee is half of Rendell's loss against Pawlenty-the next best performance by another DEM VP.  Huckabee more than doubles McCain's margin against Hagel and Rendell.


Obama has an identical 14-point deficit with white males:

But Edwards cannot help as much this time  He only wins outright against Pawlenty.  But he still improves against all the rest. No other Dem VP improves against any GOP VP, though Rendell holds even against Pawlenty.
.
In Short:  This is the roughest state so far, the first one Obama doesn't win outright.  But Edwards still improves performance in every matchup, except among independents.



California

Obama leads by 8 in California:

Edwards improves Obama's performance against all comers, the rest lose ground, and two lose outright to Huckabee.


Obama trails by a whopping 17 among seniors:

Again, Edwards is the only one to improve matters for Obama. Sebelius holds even against Pawlenty.  Everyone else losses ground.


Obama loses independents by 5 points:

Edward wins one, gains ground in one, but loses ground in two.  Everyone else losses ground across the board-embarrassingly so against Huckabee and Romney both.


Obama enjoys a comfortable 16-point edge among California moderates:

Edwards improves on Obama's high standard in three cases, holding steady in one.  Everyone else loses gorund modestly against Pawlenty, more seriously against the rest.


Obama carries white females by 6 points:

Edward more than triples Obama's margin against Lieberman and Pawlenty, but loses just over a point against Huckabee, and gains a similar amount against Romney.  Everyone else loses the white female vote against all comers-includign Sebelius.


Obama has a dramatic 17-point margin among white males:

Edwards increases that already substantial margin across the boards, doubling it against Pawlenty.  No other candidates improves the margin against any GOP VP. Leads collapse almost entirely against Huckabee and Romney.

In Short:  Edwards again is far superior to any other VP candidate.  He struggles occassionally against Huckabee, but routinely outperforms all others, often embarrassingly so.


Conclusion

Edwards is superior to all other VP candidates by margins that persist in virtually every category in almost every state.  This is significant evidence that his appeal is not limited to a single demographic.  More than that, he both improves the margin where Obama is already substantially ahead, and cuts the loses where Obama lags, a clear indication of the breadth of his support.  While none of the other Democratic VP candidates are particularly strong, it is difficult to imagine another VP candidate who could match the breadth of Edwards' appeal.

It is certainly conceivable that Clinton might, and if she had conducted a different sort of campaign, one might even be able to argue that simply by virtue of being a woman she had fulfilled the qualifications of being a reinforcing "change" candidate, if not an outside vs. in one.  But as it is, she does more than fail the test of fitting the theory of realignment that Chris laid out in late 2004-a theory that Obama's success has confirmed beyond Chris's expectations at the time.  She does more than fail that test-she campaigned against its premises as an insider expert.  And for that reason, one need not even consider how she would have done in the SUSA matchups.  Of course, as a nerd I would love to have those numbers.  But Edwards fits the theory and he delivers the needed margins of victory quite comfortably against all comers.

Forget John McCain.  Kang and Kodos don't have a chance.


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presumably Obama is polling all potential matchups (4.00 / 1)
I don't think he will offer it to Edwards. The endorsement came too late for that, in my opinion.

I would rather see Edwards in an important cabinet position than on the ticket, but I agree with you that he would bring a lot to the ticket.

In the unlikely event that Obama did pick Edwards as running mate, he should keep Edwards planted in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those states are all a big concern for me.

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.


Why Not VA, NC as Well? (4.00 / 2)
The upper South is very promising right now, particularly if Edwards is on the ticket.  And we've got Senate races to win in both those states, too.

"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 ]
and any rural part of ANY state we can contend (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1)
I could see him doing a week or two in Montana, North Dakota and Colorado, followed by a week or two in North Carolina and Virginia, followed by a week or two in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, and then maybe, just the scare the bejeebus out of Karl Rove, a week or so in Mississippi, for good measure.

"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 ]
Probably a condition (0.00 / 0)
of Edwards agreeing would be he could do another poverty tour.

That would take him to any or all of those places.

In NC, we will probably need to flip about 230,000 votes assuming similar turnout levels this year as in 2004. I think between 50 and 100,000 of those votes are already in the bag from Democrats moving down here into places like Raleigh and Charlotte (like myself). And the increased turnout in the eastern part of the state. But Edwards could be a tremendous help in rural areas that turned out strong for Hillary (by default I believe). The same areas that Edwards did very well in in SC.


[ Parent ]
Maybe.... (4.00 / 2)
"The endorsement came too late for that, in my opinion."

But it did still come. He's certainly on better terms with Obama than Clinton is (at least he's on speaking terms!). And if you're right, and they are polling all potential matchups, and if that's a big consideration for the campaign, and it becomes clear that Edwards gives them the best chance to win, then I can't imagine that Obama would be so miffed about a late endorsement (that still was very helpful) that he wouldn't offer it to him. He made that point himself the other day in Florida with his Lincoln comments.


[ Parent ]
devil's advocate: doesn't Edwards's later endorsement actually make him a better pick? (4.00 / 2)
Obama could pick someone like Janet Napolitano who endorsed him in January... all other things aside, she would come across as "Obama picks someone loyal to him"

The exact reason that Edwards doesn't have the mark of "loyalty" is the reason that he has the mark of "unity". He spent months cultivating his neutrality and earning his political capital with both Obama AND Clinton supporters. So when

Obama picks Edwards, he's not picking someone loyal to him. He's unifying the party.

That's in addition to the fact that Edwards is by far one of the most electable, and one of the most progressive. And he's ready to be President. What other qualifications are there for VP?


[ Parent ]
One more (4.00 / 1)
He needs to be vetted by the presidential campaign. Oh wait! They already did that in 2004! :)

 


[ Parent ]
If not Edwards, what about Webb? (0.00 / 0)
Paul has produced an analysis that persuades me that, at this point in the election cycle, Edwards would make a formidable addition to the ticket. The only Republican not tested by SurveyUSA that is currently being prominently mentioned for VP on McCain's ticket is Charlie Crist. Crist, governor of Florida, would not add a thing to the ticket except Florida. When Obama is officially the Democratic nominee, McCain should not be worrying enough about Florida to tap Crist. (Jindal can't be a serious option.)

If Edwards holds Obama's lead or improves it against both Huckabee and Romney on the VP line with McCain, it is hard to imagine any Republican candidate (other than the ineligible gov-ernator of California) that would improve McCain's chances against Obama.

My question is this:

Are there weaknesses in an Obama-Edwards ticket that could be exploited by McCain, but that could be neutralized by another candidate who has most or all of Edwards' strengths?

My own answer is Jim Webb. He has a "voice" when he addresses the anxiety of working class whites - his own roots - that I find sounds more genuine and authentic than Edwards' 2008 stump speeches. Even though Edwards is a generation or two closer to blue collar (Webb's at least second generation professional military), I think Webb has a more intuitive connection to blue collar voters (particularly Protestants) than Edwards does.

Webb would shore up the ticket on military/defense credentials, in which an Obama-Edwards ticket is lacking. And we know that military experience will be one of McCain's major themes in comparing himself favorably to Obama. Webb is a "reinforcing" choice on Iraq, too, since Webb opposed both U.S. adventures in the Gulf. The Democratic theme on Iraq is likely to be "free up all the money we are spending over there so that it can be used to address our problems at home." But Webb on the ticket would greatly neutralize McCain's line on Iraq.

Webb also is not vulnerable to any of the "filthy rich" zingers that McCain can lob at Edwards, such as "worked for a hedge fund," "$400 haircut," or "greedy trial lawyer."

Webb's vulnerability from stereotypical remarks he made many years ago about female cadets at Annapolis was weathered quite well in the 2006 campaign, as was the baseless charge on the Drudge Report that Webb wrote misogynist passages in his novels.

My thoughts on the merits of Webb for VP were summarized in a recent TPM Cafe comment (eighth comment at the hyperlink):
http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsme...

Many of my points parallel those mentioned by observers with much more impressive credentials than mine, such a Gerald Pomper, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Rutgers who has written about presidential campaigns for the last thirty years:

http://rasmussenreports.com/pu...

Webb is not perceived as being particularly progressive. I think he is considerably more progressive than others mentioned as possible "military credentials" candidate:  Wesley Clark and Sam Nunn, for example.

Webb would probably not start out running as strongly nationally with low-information working class whites as Edwards is running today, but I think that Edwards leaves the ticket vulnerable to attacks for lack of military/foreign policy experience and for "elitism" that Webb would do a lot to foreclose. Working class whites would also respond warmly to the fact that Webb's son recently served a tour of duty with the Marines in Iraq.

Overall, I think Webb's the best pick. I'll sure vote for Obama-Edwards, though, if that's the ticket!


[ Parent ]
Because Republicans won't attack someone with military experience? (4.00 / 1)
No need to reply to me. Send your message to Max Cleland, or John Kerry.

[ Parent ]
Webb Is NOT A Progressive (4.00 / 3)
Maybe for Virginia he is, but not for America.  He's one of the few Democratic politicians in America who still thinks we could have "won" in Vietnam.  That's veering into neocon lunacy land. And comparing him favorably to Sam Nunn is not saying a lot.

In fact, your whole comment reads like a script from tv punditland. This, in particular:

Even though Edwards is a generation or two closer to blue collar (Webb's at least second generation professional military), I think Webb has a more intuitive connection to blue collar voters (particularly Protestants) than Edwards does.

What the hell is it based on?  A "more intuitive connection to blue collar voters"?  Didn't Edwards make a personal fortune connecting to to blue collar jurors?  What exactly is the difference between blue collar jurors and blue collar voters?

Finally, I don't get the premise of your subject line.  "If not Edwards..." Why not Edwards?  I've still yet to see a good argument against his candidacy.  The idea that McCain might say something bad about him?

Let me tell you something--when your VP candidate says something bad about their presidential candidate that's good.  When their presidential candidate says something bad about your VP candidate, that's even better.

It shows he's lost his bearings.

"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 absolutely oppose Jim Webb (4.00 / 1)
in this regard and you should too. I assume you're aware of his votes in the Senate on FISA, Telco and domestic spying in general? Or his  statements on women in the military?

If Obama were to select someone like Webb, whose basic instincts as a "Reagan Democrat" will cause him to side with Bush on this issue rather than with the Constitution, I'd consider that a huge tactical error, and the first sign yet of political cynicism in the Obama campaign.

I agree that Sam Nunn is not much of a progressive, (and I doubt he's being seriously considered for Veep anyway) but you're mistaken about Webb versus Wesley Clark.

Clark is pro-Choice, pro-labor, pro-affirmative action, Anti-Patriot Act.

He spoke out against the Iraqi invasion and has been a tireless critic of the war.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

He has spoken out in favor of negotiations and has actively set out to undermine the Bush administrations attempts to beat war drums on Iran.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

As I alluded, he's a defender of civil liberties who absolutely opposed the Bush FISA bill and is a major critic of domestic spying.

He opposed drilling in the Arctic and spoke out against the Bush administration's failure to adopt the Kyoto accords. Etc; etc.

Just research this a bit and I think you'll see that Wes Clark's track record as a progressive is considerably stronger than Jim Webb's. Considerably.

http://www.michaelmoore.com/wo...

http://sybil4clark.wordpress.c...
http://lesbianlife.about.com/c...

Watch him here speak out in very passionate terms (in Alabama) on the Don Siegelman case:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...


[ Parent ]
Clark Was One of the Most Progressive Candidates In 2004 (0.00 / 0)
More progressive than Dean, in fact, if you look at the full spectrum of issues.

The idea that he's anywhere near comparable to Webb is simply founded on either ignorance or delusion.

Too much of both of those going around, I'm afraid.

"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 ]
The endorsement came "too late" for what? (0.00 / 0)
Sorry, I don't see how that makes any difference whatsoever in a decision of this magnitude and importance.

First, let's not forget that Edwards isn't simply one of the dozens of state and national political figures whose endorsement was being sought by the Presidential candidates... he himself was a candidate, (albeit one who had suspended his campaign) with a platform, an agenda, supporters, donations and pledged delegates.

It's perfectly reasonable that he should wait on the sidelines to see how things shook out; how Obama and Hillary responded to challenges that came their way.

And secondly, Edwards actually did choose a favorable moment to endorse Obama, (immediately on the heels of Hillary's victory in West Virginia). We can't know whether or not  this was per the request of the Obama Campaign, but the timing was certainly more meaningful than if it had come 4 or 6 weeks earlier.

In any case, the fact is that the Vice Presidency isn't handed out as some sort of reward for those with the longest standing loyalty to the candidate. This is a historical decision that will help determine who is elected President of the United States, not one about who to invite to a birthday party.

The Vice Presidency will be offered to someone because:
A)  Obama and his staff consider that person to be qualified to serve as President if need be;
B) Because they believe that person will give a boost to their chances in the general election; and
C) Because there's good rapport and chemistry between that person and Barack.  

If Edwards meets those criteria you can bet he'll have as good a chance as anybody, including those who've endorsed Obama from the outset.



[ Parent ]
Now (4.00 / 3)
How do we get David Axelrod to read this analysis?

After That Pie Fight On Eliminationism (4.00 / 1)
I dare not joke about kidnapping him and locking him in a room with a printout.

I dare not wonder if Jack Bauer does briefings as well as de-briefings.

I must not think bad thoughts.
I must not think bad thoughts.


"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 don't understand the objections to Edwards (4.00 / 2)
"Edwards doesn't want it." Do you think he'd turn Obama down?

"We need someone more electable." Honestly, who is more electable than Edwards? Even back in January, he had the best numbers against John McCain when he was running for Pres. These numbers reinforce that.

"But it's just name recognition." Really? How is he beating the governor of Pennsylvania in his home state? And even if it was name recognition... is there some kind of constitutional amendment to switch to a "blind ballot" where you elect based on biography?

"But he lost in 2004." And he can help us win in 2008. Look at those numbers.

"But he didn't deliver North Carolina." And to that I respond that NC is the only southern state where Kerry outperformed Gore. Obama is gonna run a 50 state strategy, unlike Kerry. North Carolina is in play this time.

"But there are more progressive senators/governors." Right, but do they even have a fraction of the electability of Edwards?

The only person who can hold a candle to Edwards in terms of progressiveness X electability is Gore, and maybe Richardson. Even then, I'd still argue Edwards is ahead by a nose. But I wouldn't be disappointed with any of those picks.

The only question is if Obama would offer it. Good question. And as people in the blogosphere, we owe it to our party to make the case for the best VP pick possible. That's what we're doing here, not playing "crystal ball".  


It Puzzles Me, Too (4.00 / 1)
I'm not saying there couldn't be an argument against Edwards.  But the ones I keep hearing are so lame.

"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 ]
North Carolina (4.00 / 2)
"And to that I respond that NC is the only southern state where Kerry outperformed Gore. "

Add to that the fact that they were also against an incumbent president in 2004. And that the person on top of the ticket was not Southern whereas they were in 2000. This state has been slowly but steadily trending Democratic in federal elections.

Wake county (where Raleigh and I live) I think is a good indicator of that.

Here's the presidential election results for Wake county going back to 1976, the last time North Carolina elected a Democrat. The far right-hand columns are the gain in votes for each party from the previous election. Since NC has been growing rapidly since the 1970s, there is always at least some increase in voters for each party, even if there is a decline in voter participation.

     Dem        Rep             Other     Dem Gain Rep Gain
1976:  44,005    44,291         479
1980:  49,003    49,768       6,422       4,998      5,477    
1984:  50,323    81,251         297        1,320     31,483
1988:  61,352    81,613         539      11,029         362  
1992:  88,979    86,798     31,690     27,627      5,185
1996: 103,578   108,780   13,400    14,599     21,982
2000: 123,466   142,494     2,206    19,888     33,714
2004: 169,909   177,324     1,601    46,443     34,830

A couple things stand out to me.
1. Change elections REALLY change things. Look at 2 pairs of elections, 1980 is to 1976 as 1992 is to 1988. In each change election you get a huge jump in participation or vote switching for the winning party and basically anemic growth for the losing party. For the Democrats in 1992, the huge jump was just enough for them to win Wake county since they started at such a disadvantage. But in 1980, it was enough to produce a landslide for Reagan since the GOP was already near parity.

2. Third term elections produce weak growth for the third term candidate. Bush the elder and Gore both had anemic growth (Gore's was strong historically, but weak compared to the GOP and compared to the explosion in growth in Wake county by that point).

3. This is both a change election and (hopefully the Obama campaign will make it) a third term election. In addition, the Democrats are at where the Republicans were in 1980. We are at parity and actually ahead of the GOP in terms of registration.

4. Bill Clinton only won in 1992 because of Ross Perot. Obama needs to shore up the Perot base that is attracted to McCain by making this a change and a third term election.

Conclusion....at least in Wake County, we are headed for an Obama blowout in 2008. I think these trends indicate that North Carolina will be very competitive in 2008.  


[ Parent ]
Screwed up my own analysis (4.00 / 1)
I just realized that 1980 was NOT the big change year for the GOP. That was 1984. When there was a northerner on the ballot and a popular conservative incumbent. Oh well..I guess that didn't work as well as I'd hoped.

Still I do think the trends show that the Democrats are poised to make major gains in the most populous counties in NC that have not been solidly Democratic yet.  


[ Parent ]
?? (0.00 / 0)
Nothing says "change" like running the same guy in the same slot again. Oh wait. I mean everything says "change" more than that.

You Do Realize, Don't You (0.00 / 0)
that TV-pundit logic like this is developmentally equivalent to about the third grade?

At which point, pretty much all of us had already learned, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

"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 <3 You Too, Paul (0.00 / 0)
nm

Question (0.00 / 0)
(And forgive me if you've already covered this, I haven't had a chance to read everything in this series yet). How would we counter the corporate media's incessant hammering of an Obama/Edwards ticket as having no foreign policy/military experience?

It's criminal how the 24 hour talking head corporate media dictates the terms of the "debate", these days more than ever what with cable being so ubiquitous. They're already saying Obama needs to have a military/foreign policy person as the VP to "balance" his "inexperience". I'm afraid their non-stop yammering about this (once again playing on people's fears) would push the poll numbers down on Edwards. What do you think? Can an Obama/Edward ticket weather that inevitable storm?


Look What "Experience" Gave Us! (0.00 / 0)
I'm really not very worried about that.

In fact, McCain's been making such a jackass of himself of late that I almost wish the media would draw more attention to foreign policy.

The real bottom line is that I just don't think media attacks will necessarily hurt them.  Folks are not all that loving of the media of late.  And all the media attacks on Edwards didn't really hurt his popularity all that much.  They discouraged fundraising, maybe.  But I think so far as popularity is concerned, a lot of those attacks just backfired.

Would it be different if the subject were lack of foreign policy expertise?

Maybe.  Maybe if the "wrong track" numbers were closer to Obama's age than to McCain's.

"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 ]
Kind of a dilemma. (4.00 / 2)
If Obama picks 'experienced' VP, then the yammering about about how he's gonna depend on Richardson or Webb, how he's in over his head with that stuff and needs a 'Cheney' there to hold his hand.

If he picks Edwards, it's the opposite. But if he picks Edwards, he reinforces judgment over experience.

Maybe?


[ Parent ]
"Experience Is Worth Nothing If You Don't Learn From It" (4.00 / 3)
A very simple retort, IMHO.

And all they really need to say on the subject.

"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 ]
"And all they really need to say on the subject." (4.00 / 3)
Over and over and over and over again

Until the media finally starts saying it as well. Because right now they aren't.  


[ Parent ]
Precisely! (4.00 / 1)
Keep it simple, stupid!

KISS and tell.

"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 ]
Precisely Redux (4.00 / 2)
Which is (yet another) reason why Edwards makes sense.

He voted for the war, but he learned from his mistakes.  


[ Parent ]
Judgement vs. Experience (4.00 / 4)
If McCain really wants to attack on foreign policy "experience" (and he will), it's an easy pivot for Obama to respond that McCain's experience hasn't led to wisdom or sound judgement. He can then brush off McCain's "experience" by saying it's the same "experience" Bush's people had when they decided to invade Iraq, the same "experience" that led McCain to say he'd be OK if the US stayed in Iraq for the next 100 years, and the same "experience" that allows McCain to continue to sabre rattle about Iran when it's clear the US military is already stretched to the brink.

In other words, if someone plays that card on Obama his response should be to outright ridicule McCain's so-called "experience", and the beauty of it is that it'll feed right into Obama's narrative about being the outsider change candidate with the judgement to fix the mess that the "experienced" insiders in Washington have made. It also, implicitly, draws attention to McCain's age as well. So, it works on a lot of levels for Obama and that's why there's no way he needs to choose a foreign policy heavyweight for a running mate. To the contrary, choosing someone like Webb or Clark will allow the media to drone, "Obama chose him because he knows he's weak on foreign policy." That would undermine Obama's narrative and weaken his hand.

He ought to pick someone who has strong kitchen table economic bona fides, and try to dictate the debate to McCain. Fight it on your home turf: the traditional Democratic domestic issues that the large majority of Americans side with Democrats on. And when McCain goes off on foreign policy, succinctly El Kabong him by ridiculing him on his lack of judgement and then get right back on message about the economy. That's the winning game plan. If Obama can do that and limit unforced errors, he'll crush McCain.

Sherrod Brown. Mark Warner. John Edwards. There are probably a handful of others that fit the bill too. These are the types of candidates who can help Obama take McCain and the Republicans out behind the woodshed in November.


[ Parent ]
Thanks for your feedback (4.00 / 2)
to my question, everyone.

Since he dropped out of the race, my first choice for Edwards has been for him to be Attorney General because I think he could actually do a lot of good there. But it certainly doesn't matter if Obama isn't elected, so whatever helps him get elected is OK by me. If it's Edwards being Veep, so be it. I'm not optimistic that he would take it, or even be offered. It would truly be a bold choice given all the conventional wisdom that Obama needs to choose a foreign policy/military person, or even a Republican, like Hagel. Maybe someone high up on Obama's Veep search team is reading the posts and good comments here.


[ Parent ]
I enjoyed your analysis.. (0.00 / 0)
but I'd like to see what the numbers look like with Schweitzer, Clinton, or Richardson as well as Edwards.  Heck - I'd like to see us add Biden in there as well.

I don't think a female on the ticket is a good idea - I think the backlash and cynicism is too strong right now for a female vp to do any good, and she could potentially backfire and do harm - with the exception of Clinton, that is, and she comes with her own STRONG negatives.  Still - I'd like to see the numbers.

My favorite candidate persists in being Bill Richardson.  I think shoring up the new coalition and THEN outreaching back to the working class white constituency, and being sure to have everyone represented and onboard is the best strategy.  But Edwards looks very good in this analysis.

QT

Visit the Obama Project


WindOnWater.net




another counter-argument (4.00 / 1)
I think you left out the most important counter-argument to using those polls in post #2 (I'm referring specifically to those, not the crosstabs here, which I haven't looked at yet).

These polls are being taken now, before the general election campaign has happened.  Among other things, this means that these various pairings have not developed their messages, and have not communicated those messages to the voters, let alone campaigned together, done field, run ads, or even had a strategy.  All you can measure now is what voters think without any of that stuff - stuff that will be very important in determining the final outcome.

If, for example, an Obama/Sebelius pairing might come up with a brilliant message and strategy, and play off each other really well when campaigning together... well, that hasn't happened yet, so it can't be reflected in these polls.

This doesn't, in and of itself, undermine your otherwise very solid analysis.  I just believe, very strongly, that your analysis has to rely entirely on other data and reasoning, and not on "who would you vote for today" polls.  You have plenty of other more solid data: historical voting patterns, thoughtful analysis, and logic, that all make your case pretty well.  But do not be fooled into thinking that these polls bolster that case.  They add nothing except deception, IMO.


This Is Really A Variant On Arguments 1 & 5 (4.00 / 4)
in that it's saying, "you're only talking about now, you're not taking into account the future."

And, of course, that's true.  Because (a) there's not a whole lot of data-centered ways to take the future into account, and (b) the strengths that different people have now will have a considerable impact on what sorts of futures are possible.  

If, for example, an Obama/Sebelius pairing might come up with a brilliant message and strategy, and play off each other really well when campaigning together... well, that hasn't happened yet, so it can't be reflected in these polls.

Maybe in a Ouija board?

Seriously, what you are suggesting is flying blind.  And then you turn around and claim this:

But do not be fooled into thinking that these polls bolster that case.  They add nothing except deception, IMO.

That's just more projection on your part, as you're the one who's arguing for ignoring what we can know, and depending on what we cannot.

It's one thing to argue that polls give limited information.  That's absolutely true.  But to say they add nothing but deception?  That's going around the bend.

"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 feel what they are really saying is they dont want Edwards (4.00 / 4)
It's like the argument over name recognition. What is actually a strength that the public knows Edwards so they can't negatively define him anymore than they already have it turned here into a case against. I don't get the argument. If he's so high on the name recognition curve that's a good thing to me for your argument rather than a bad thing. The other side won't have the advantage of this headstart. Whoever McCain chooses must be introduced to the public. That takes time. Obama needs to hit the ground running. That's the advantage of all of this to me.

[ Parent ]
You've got it wrong. (0.00 / 0)
Actually, I'd love it if Edwards were the VP nominee (though I think he doesn't want it, unfortunately).  And I said in my comment above that I think this analysis is pretty solid on other grounds, regardless of the polls in part 2, so I'm somewhat convinced by it that Edwards would help the ticket more than I thought before I read it.

It's very frustrating when I make a detailed point, supported with reasons, and people turn around and pretend that what I'm actually doing is not making the point I made, but attacking everything associated with it, and my reason is that I don't like the conclusion that everything associated with it was pointing to.


[ Parent ]
if you find it frustrating to make a detailed point (3.00 / 4)
and have people question you, then try as Paul done to answer your detailed points in other diaries including this one, only to have you once again ask a variation fo the same questions that have been asked and answered.

[ Parent ]
huh? (0.00 / 0)
A) I didn't ask the same question.  Paul misunderstood (and I'm answering in other comments).

But,

B) how's that relevant.  You're not raising an objection to what I said, so much as dismissing what I said by pretending I said something entirely different and more sweeping, and attributing it all to motives you imagine for me that contradict what I actually believe.


[ Parent ]
you don't think saying the question has already been answered is an (0.00 / 0)
objection?

[ Parent ]
for the record (4.00 / 1)
your core quesiton is- we can't be sure what the other pairings mean int he future.  

[ Parent ]
oh (0.00 / 0)
and stop zero rating me merely because i am not a a front pager.

[ Parent ]
Cos, (0.00 / 0)
I don't understand exactly what bruhrabbit means in this post either, but trollrating him/her is just silly and inappropriate.  Please educate yourself about circumstances under which the comments of others may be trollrated.  -- Thanks.

Republicans can't fix our country; they're too busy saddlebacking.

[ Parent ]
deceptive polls (0.00 / 0)
It's one thing to argue that polls give limited information.  That's absolutely true.  But to say they add nothing but deception?  That's going around the bend.

In the summer of 2003, polls showed Joe Lieberman with a commanding lead in the Democratic primaries.  I knew, for various reasons, that Joe Lieberman didn't have the slightest chance in hell of being one of the serious candidates (let alone a shot at the actual nomination).  So to me, all those polls told me was "we're still polling voters who aren't paying attention and don't know anything about the candidates".  This was a situation I knew would change: by their state's election day, because it was their state's election day, a majority of those who actually voted would find out something about the candidates.  (And very very few of them would vote for Lieberman).  But to a whole lot of people who "know" politics, these polls meant that Joe Lieberman was a serious contender, and they talked about the race as if that were true.  That was deception, and saying so isn't "going around the bend."

When you poll people about an upcoming election before the campaigns have taken place, and ask them "who would you vote for if the election were held today?", you're not asking a meaningful question directly, because the election is not being held today and everyone - especially the voters and the candidates - knows this.

That doesn't mean there's no information in there.  For example, there are trends: You can track the change from last month to last week to this week, and figure out what has happened to cause the changes you see.  This does not predict who is likely to win, but it does help you figure out what sorts of events are likely to have positive or negative effects on different candidates.  Polls also have other more useful questions, that can tell us how many people have heard of which candidate, how they react to certain messages, etc.

But using the "who would you vote for today?" as a way of predicting election success is complete folly.  It's a common practice in the press and punditry, but it is deceptive and worthless.


[ Parent ]
Sure Pollls CAN Be Deceptive (0.00 / 0)
And the polls showing Lieberman as a serious contender were an obvious example.  Anyone outside of Versailles at the time could see that.

But Edwards is the exact opposite.  Versailles hates him, they trash him incessantly, and yet people continue to view him very favorably.

So why are you acting just like a Versailles pundit?

I mean, it's not like Edwards skipped the Iowa caucuses completely because he knew he didn't have a prayer.  He came in a very strong second, despite being massively outspent.

These polls are not an illusion, and you have presented no reason why they should be regarded as one.  Not even a bad reason.

"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 ]
faulty associations (0.00 / 0)
Now, I'm not suggesting flying blind.  I think there are plenty of ways to analyse and make informed predictions about the future, and I think you're very good at a lot of them.  I found your analysis convincing overall.  Your reasoning about messaging is sound, your historical voting data is instructive.  I'm specifically challenging the use of "who would you vote for today?" poll numbers as predictors of future election success, because they aren't predictors of future election success.  They're predictors of fictional success in a current election that isn't happening.

You're making two associations in this comment that I think are faulty.

First, you say that my objection is a variant of other objections.  But the other objections you list are specific scenarios, whereas my objection is the meta-scenario.  I don't know which of the many reasons (some enumerated in your post, some not) will render these polls erroneous or not, but I know that we can't think of them, and that the polls don't reflect what intelligent, deliberate players (voters, candidates, campaigns, etc.) will do about those things as they happen.  It's not a random assortment of factors, the seeds of which are here today, it's an intelligent system in which people with real goals will try to pursue those goals based on the seeds that are here today.  Polls like this show one small bit of the currently present seeds, but present that small bit as if it were the end result.

It's like saying, "reform-minded nonideological voters vote republican, therefore, put them on the Republican side of the column for the election prediction".  You're smarter than that.  You look at it, analyse it, and figure out what we can do with it, and conclude that we're likely to switch them over.  Polls don't lend themselves to that kind of reasoning because they look like election results, and the basic "who would you vote for today?" numbers don't contain within them any of the ingredients you need to analyze the ways in which the poll numbers are not going to be like the election results.

So, secondly, you say that because I object to using the "who would you vote for today?" numbers, that must mean I object to talking about the future, or to use any data about the present to talk about the future.  That, too, is a faulty association.  We can use data and knowledge about the past and present to talk about the future intelligently.

For example, looking at past election results, and patterns that emerged, is very useful.  But those were real elections.  They show how people actually voted, after real campaigns with goals and strategies were actually run, when everyone knew when election day would be and planned accordingly, and voters paid attention.  In other words, they show something that has a lot in common with the real election we're preparing for this year, and if there's a strong pattern that we can see from those elections, that's a pattern we can use in planning for this one.


[ Parent ]
ALL Polls Need To Be Taken With A Grain of Salt (0.00 / 0)
But you are arguing for all salt, and no polls.

It's just absurd, no matter how hard you try to dress it up as a reasonable position.

"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 ]
Free Trade Voting Record (4.00 / 2)
A lot of people have brought up Edwards voting for the war as one red flag regarding his possible selection as VP. Certainly, for anyone who was in Congress at the time of that vote, it is an important part of their portfolio and it would certainly be helpful for Obama to have someone on the ticket who also opposed the war. It's not a deal breaker though because the large majority of Americans were originally pro-war. Edwards' admission that he was wrong is similar to many people's coming to terms over the time with the fact that this war should never have been fought.

I think the votes that are more important than the war vote, or war funding votes etc, are the votes on free trade. McCain's got a titanic weakness against Obama on free trade that hasn't been mentioned prominently on the blogs that I tend to frequent.

McCain's got a record of voting for free trade laws as long as Yao Ming's arm, whereas Obama has the virtue of being almost completely clean on free trade due to his short duration in the Senate. McCain supported NAFTA. McCain supported GATT. McCain supported CAFTA. McCain supported admitting China to the WTO and giving them NTR status. McCain supported Fast Track. He was rated 100% by CATO as being pro-trade. He's got nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Want to know how Barack Obama's going to win Ohio and put Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania away early? That's how. He's going to pummel McCain on free trade, and McCain has even been kind enough to supply plenty of recent soundbites on the issue during the Republican primaries that are ready made campaign ads for Obama to use to hammer him on the issue. It's going to be devastatingly effective and McCain has little or nothing to fight back against Obama with. What's he going to say? "Yeah, well you voted for free trade with Oman!" That's the only comeback he has and it's a weak one.

So it's critical that Obama picks a VP candidate who is as spotless on free trade as he is.

Edwards is pretty good on free trade from what I can see. His only real blemish appears to be voting to normalize trade relations with China in 2000. I was actually expecting to see more red flags during the pre-2004 Southern DLC Clinton-clone phase of his career before his sudden political conversion into a progressive populist. Kudos to him.

But, Sherrod Brown is better. After a brief, compulsory look, he appears flawless on free trade despite the fact he has a significant voting record to look at in the House and Senate. That's a big plus for Brown. He doesn't appear to give McCain any crutches whatsoever on free trade. That's why I believe Brown's the best candidate for the gig. He's not a progressive out of political expedience. He's a progressive out of principle, and he's proved it over and over again for years. And, he's proved he can win elections on those principles.

Governors like Warner and Sebelius don't have a voting record for McCain to exploit, although I did find that Warner is on the record as supporting NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO. Bill Richardson, having been a member of the Clinton Administration, has similar red flags as being in support of NAFTA, GATT, and the WTO. The key in the vetting process will be making sure these candidates don't have any damning free trade quotes that McCain can use as life preservers.

Claire McCaskill hasn't been in the Senate long enough to cast many free trade votes and the one she did was a nay on trade with Peru. Again, Obama's people will have to make sure she doesn't have any damaging quotes when she was in state government in Missouri.

Long story short: I believe free-trade votes and quotes are going to be critical for Obama's people to look at. Probably more important than any votes on the war. They have to avoid giving McCain anything that will allow him to say, "Your VP voted for free trade before he was against it." If they get a VP candidate that's clean as a whistle they're going to have license to take pot shots at McCain at will and there's absolutely nothing he'll be able to do to defend himself on it. And that, my friends, will be huge, because it'll deliver the Midwest to Obama on a silver platter.


Please let's NOT go back to December 2007 (4.00 / 2)
"He's not a progressive out of political expedience. "

I really really don't want to get back into those fights again. You have no idea if Edwards was progressive for "political expedience." If I'm not mistaken, working on poverty and have an overtly class-based campaign has not been the most expedient way to win a presidential nomination (even in the Democratic Party) in the last 40 years. Just ask Dennis Kucinich. And Edwards had his two-Americas (ehh gadds! Class-consciousness!)theme stretching back to 2003 while he was supposedly still be conservative while secretly plotting his future presto chango recantation.

Yes Edwards has progressed. But I haven't seen any evidence that he's changed his stripes solely to win an election.  


[ Parent ]
I Agree That Trade Votes (They Ain't Free!) Are Important (4.00 / 2)
The first lobbying I ever did against fast track was in 1989, so you're preaching to the choir here.

But I think it's a mistake to worry about a single blemish.  That's simply assuming that they're going to be able to run the same old ludicrous "gotcha!" game, when, in fact, we should be running hard against that whole way of doing politics.

Yes, we want people who are good on trade.  But it's much more important to have someone who's aggressive, committed and articulate going forward than to have someone with a spotless record--possibly only because they haven't had much of a chance to screw up.

And, of course, we want to make sure that we have something positive to offer for 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 ]
I am wondering something ... (0.00 / 0)
obviously Obama is for free trade(remember that from a month or two ago now?) .. but shouldn't we make sure it isn't "free trade" .. but fair trade? .. because free trade is just an excuse to exploit workers overseas .. and ship jobs from here .. overseas .. so we can have super cheap crap to buy at Wal-Mart .. I think that is an issue we should be pushing

[ Parent ]
Clean Shots (0.00 / 0)
Unfortunately, the Republicans and their media apparatus are excellent at muddying the waters in order to obscure the fact they're obviously on the losing side of an issue. The cleaner the candidate, the more effective Obama's narrative can be and the easier it will be for him to pour it on.

[ Parent ]
If They Can Smear A Triple Amputee War Hero, They Can Smear Anyone (0.00 / 0)
You should have learned this back in 2002.

Stop chasing an illusion.  Anyone we pick they will smear.  We will not win by trying to avoid getting smeared.  We will win by going on the offensive and staying there 24/7 until the day after election day--at least.

"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 ]
Minimize the Target (0.00 / 0)
Having concrete votes to pin the smears to make them that much more effective. If Cleland didn't have that DHS vote for Chambliss to attack, the smear wouldn't have worked nearly as well.

It's about making sure you don't offer them a big target to fling their mud at.


[ Parent ]
But It's A POINTLESS Strategy (4.00 / 2)
There's very little to be gained by minimizing the target.  We tried that with Kerry in 2004.  A fricken war hero running against a deserter.  It didn't work.

Why?  He played defense, not offense.  That's the key--we play offense, they play defense.

And choosing the basis of the campaign is the strongest, most fundamental act of offense that there is.

"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 ]
A Fricken War Hero... (0.00 / 0)
He was a fricken war hero that also became an anti-war activist when he came back home and threw his medals back on the White House lawn. Let's not forget that. Kerry was not exactly the stereotypical blood n' guts all-American apple-pie and flag waving soldier, and it made him an easier target for the smear merchants. That's why Gore didn't choose him for a running mate in 2000.

That's not a dig on Kerry, who I respect a great deal, but it's illustrative of a natural and important part of the vetting process. You're looking to pick someone with very few negatives for the other side to exploit who will reinforce your narrative, and the less you give them to shoot at, the more time you'll have to be on offense. You don't casually pick someone with red flags whose record you know is going to need political rehab down the road.

So, in my mind, picking someone as clean as a whistle on trade is a very very important criteria. McCain's record as a free trader is indefensible unless he muddies the waters by co-opting some fair trade language from our side and tries to claim that Obama and his running mate are free traders too.

If McCain and his right wing gaggle of pundits get to drone endlessly that, "Obama supported free trade with Oman and Edwards supported free trade with China. They're hypocrites who are criticizing McCain for the very thing they've supported with their votes in the past," that might give McCain a reprieve from the full fury of that issue in the Midwest. If I were McCain's campaign advisor (I would take up drinking, because he's an awful and flawed candidate) that'd be the way I'd try to get out of free trade hell in the Midwest, and his people probably ask God every time they hit their knees at night that Obama picks a VP with enough pro free-trade votes and dicey pro free-trade quotes over the course of their career to allow them to pull that strategy off.

So I guess that's my question to you, Paul. If Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly start vomitting all over the airwaves that in defense of McCain, "Obama supported free trade with Oman and Edwards supported free trade with China. They're hypocrites who are criticizing McCain for the very thing they've supported with their votes in the past," what's the comeback? What's the sharp, incisive pivot that puts the right wing back in their place and doesn't lead to a gigantic finger pointing, truth obscuring argument about CATO Institute ratings and the details of the opening up trade relations with China that will be too wonkish for the general voting populace to fully grasp? If you've got it, then great! I'm less worried about picking Edwards then. If you can't think of a snappy way to make that pivot, though, then maybe Brown or one of the governors who are clean on trade are the better choice, because they don't even give McCain and the right wing media the chance to make that argument.


[ Parent ]
Arianna Huffington Explained Long In Advance How Kerry Could Win (0.00 / 0)
And none of any of that had to be a negative.

It was Kerry's attempt to avoid talking about the whole of his story that set himself up for being attacked.  It let others define him instead of defining himself.  This is, like, Politics 101 stuff.  And he totally blew it.

Somehow, you think that the intensity with which you embrace rightwing logic is a source of strength.

But, in reality, not so much.

"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 ]
Edwards has two REALLY strong positions: trade and lobbyists (4.00 / 2)
which are going to be KEY to getting those independent voters. Trade reform is necessary to get the Perot voters. Lobbyist reform is necessary to get the "throw all the bums out" voters.  

[ Parent ]
Devil's Advocate Projection (0.00 / 0)
Does picking the white guy that finished in third place over the white woman that finished a very strong second to the black man that has already been tagged as tolerating, if not running, a sexist campaign underscore the alleged misogyny of the Democratic Party?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


Karl, Is That You? (4.00 / 2)


"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 ]
Devil's Advocate, not (0.00 / 0)
the devil.

So, you figure that the disaffected democratic women voters will find a way to support this ticket?

As strong a case as you make, I don't think that the polls and numbers you used address this issue.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
But (4.00 / 1)
They certainly did show that Edwards helped with white women in nearly all states didn't they?

I have a hypothesis that could be wrong or right (by definition!) so I don't want to act like this is gospel truth, but:

1. I think Hillary's strong support comes from two groups: suburban/urban white women and white blue collar workers.

2. Following on "1." I believe that...
  a. White blue collar workers moved to Hillary out of affinity for the Clintons, distrust of Obama, and because Edwards dropped out of the race. With Edwards in as VP, I think he would bring many of these voters back into the fold and serve as a "vouch" for Obama.

  b. Suburban white women will be brought back into the fold as soon as they realize that McCain is anti-choice and wants more Scalia's and Scalito's on the bench and that they realize that John Paul Stevens is 85 years old.  

So what I'm guessing is that the women who would be pissed off that Obama picked a man, are probably also the voters that are most likely to come back into the fold because of McCain's anti-women positions.

Be interesting to see some polling on this.


[ Parent ]
Sounds reasonable (4.00 / 1)
But, I must say, I have been taken aback by the depth of anger expressed by some female posters on this site and others. Reading through the posts and links, I've come to see their point and I don't begrudge them. Most of the examples of misogyny by the M$M were on cable channels I don't get with my basic package, so I missed them until such were categorized and listed.  

Thinking about the polls, I suppose they kind of address the issue in a way.  When polling about Obama and any VP that is not Clinton, the issue is addressed, indirectly, as it were.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Actually, They Do (0.00 / 0)
Obama does quite well with white women, and Edwards helps him do even better. Sebelius, in constrast doesn't help him.

And that's just now, at a time when Clinton is still stoking the bitterness.

"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 ]
Should this type of analysis really be determinative? (4.00 / 1)
Look, I commend the attention to detail here, and the reasonable effort to extrapolate whatever is possible out of existing polls.  But the conclusion that "Edwards is superior to all other VP candidates by margins that persist in virtually every category in almost every state" does not give enough credence to dynamic elements and the ability to persuade. Perhaps this point is obvious and assumed, but I think it bears underscoring.

My point isn't that any of the analysis here is wrong, but rather that this type of analysis simply should not be the focus (though I guess it is necessary).  Personally, I would much rather concentrate on how various narratives are likely to play out with each potential VP selection (as the initial "reinforcing" analysis seemed to do).

Incidentally, I think a reasonable argument can be made that Edwards is best even by focusing on such potential narratives.


No one said this was determinative. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
I Have No Problem With That Sort of Analysis of Narratives (4.00 / 2)
I think it could be quite interesting, in fact.

But it would necessarily be quite speculative.  In contrast, we already have Edwards' endorsement speech, and we know what his narrative would be, and how it would elaborate the narrative Obama has been articulating all along.

I am simply looking at the best data we have available.  If we had polling on various narratrives, I would eagerly analyze and write about that.

But, failing that, it's simply mistaken to argue:

But the conclusion that "Edwards is superior to all other VP candidates by margins that persist in virtually every category in almost every state" does not give enough credence to dynamic elements and the ability to persuade.

My conclusion is based on all the available data.  It's not an attempt to mindread (how people would respond to narratives they haven't heard) or be a fortune-teller (how people would respond if so-and-so were nominated).  I am sticking to the known facts.  And that conclusion reflects the known facts.

"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 ]
The idea that Clinton voters would go for McCain instead of Obama is totally illogicaly... (0.00 / 0)
At worst, some might stay home (that won't cause Obama the election).

They are going to look at McCain and Obama a lot more between now and November and realize there are 1 million reasons they don't like McCain and that the only reason they don't like Obama is because he beat their favorite candidate (crushing a lot of peoples hopes and dreams-which would have happened either way). There may be other reasons they dislike Obama, but none nearly strong enough to out-weight their distaste for McCain. Even these white working blue collar types will come around.

End this war. Stop John McCain. Cindy McCain is filthy rich.


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