Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible Primary Ratings'

When I first saw these rankings of the 2008 contenders, I thought maybe ABC should just have titled the report "Netroots: You Are Irrelevant." But perhaps that's unfair. After all, they do include as part of their rankings a "Netroots" score, even if it isn't weighted very heavily. And in all honesty, this isn't a completely terrible ranking, even if it is quite early for rankings. They're broken down by a number of criteria -- the aforementioned "Netroots,""Polling / Name ID,""Money Potential,""New Hampshire," and so on. They point to the fact that their ranking of the 2004 contenders at this same point in 2002 found the number one and two spots going to John Kerry and John Edwards, respectively. Not bad, but I'm still not convinced. After all, in mid-2002, Kerry and Edwards had been knocked down by Gore and Gephardt, and Gray Davis came in at number nine. A lot can happen in two years.

On the GOP side, the top five, in order, are John McCain, George Allen, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee. For the Democrats, it's Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Warner, John Kerry, and Tom Vilsack. Though they do offer some explanation of their methodology, it seems there's a lot of boilerplate conventional wisdom in here. Is Vilsack really in the top five for the Democrats? Does he really outrank Bill Richardson and Wes Clark? Personally, I doubt it. And among the Republicans, I can't buy Rudy Giuliani at number four. Now, maybe that works. But in two years, with his social life the talk of the GOP primary circuit, not so much.

So those are my issues with the overall rankings. What do I think of their more specific charts? Honestly, I don't feel well-equipped enough to dissect every list here. "Polling / Name ID?" That's a matter of hard numbers, hard to argue, unless you're going to talk about their relevance this early in the game. "Fire in the Belly?" Well... okay. Here's how they describe the category:

Fire in the Belly: How badly does the candidate want it? How hard is he/she willing to work? Will he/she do "what it takes" to win, including shedding or at least temporarily freeing himself/herself from other responsibilities and distractions? Are they ready to ask strangers for $4,200 contributions and sleep in bad hotels away from the family night after night?

On our side, the winner in this category is Mark Warner, with Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Bill Richardson tying for second place. What, no John Kerry? This strikes me as too nebulous a characteristic to rank accurately, but in terms of gut instinct, I'd say again, it's not terrible. I do disagree with putting Russ Feingold in the middle of a four-way tie with Tom Vilsack, Evan Bayh, and Wes Clark for seventh place, however. If "fire in the belly" is defined by willingness to twist one's self like a pretzel to placate every constituency, Feingold is certainly not the winner. But if it's defined by willingness to put one's self out in public as a strong advocate for his or her beliefs, then Feingold is massively underestimated here. Point being, once again, I think this is too vague to be considered serious criteria.

And finally -- for the purposes of this post, anyway -- the "Netroots" ranking. ABC figures that Russ Feingold is in solid first place in the Democratic blogosphere, with Wes Clark in second. Obviously, they've been paying attention to the straw polls. However, they put Kerry in third here, and I'm going to have to disagree. Kerry's certainly been courting the netroots vigorously, but does that really earn him the number three spot? I still sense a lot of skepticism of Kerry after 2004, here and at other sites. And Kerry also tied Mark Warner in third, which I don't agree with. By all means, Warner has earned the spot by both reaching out to the netroots and taking advantage of people like Jerome and Nate. But other than his e-mail list and posting diaries, Kerry hasn't come close to matching that effort.

At the end of the day, rankings like this serve to define the conventional wisdom as much as codify it. Of course, the media's already defined Hillary Clinton and John McCain as the front-runners, so ABC isn't really doing them any favors here. However, I can't help but feeling there's a not-so-subtle message in here directed at candidates like Russ Feingold and Chuck Hagel, that they really shouldn't bother, and neither should their supporters. But I don't really like taking my marching orders from the vaunted "Gang of 500," and I'm fairly certain I'm not alone in that.

Tags: 2008, Blogosphere, General 2008, George Allen, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain, mark warner, Mitt Romney, Russ Feingold, Wes Clark (all tags)



On the liberal/conservative blogs

The way I see it, the 2008 elections will prove once and for all who is more powerful: the liberal blogs or the conservative blogs.

- If McCain gets the nomination and Hillary does not, then we're more powerful.

  • If Hillary gets the nomination and McCain does not, then they're more powerful.
  • If both get the nomination, then neither are that powerful.
  • If neither get the nomination, that's a display of power for both sides.

by mikeinflorida 2006-03-23 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible


I think the 2 Million people e-mail list puts him that high on thew list. It's probably the same reason

Whether you think e-mail lists don't matter or not. I think most camp[aign managers will take 3,200,000 people who have once supported your candidate over 12% of a poll of 14,000 people.

Jerome will certainly figure out how to change those numbers because I am sure he is good at recuriting people with e-mails, but right now Kerry has a big online advantage -- starting with 4 to 5 times as many people as Dean ever had on his list in the primary.

by CAModerate 2006-03-23 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible
In 2007, that email list will not be very useful. Any three year old email list will be satured with dead emails.
by Chris Bowers 2006-03-23 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible

Money bring in more money
Supporters bring in more supporters
and E-mails bring in more e-mails

The list will matter -- if they use it correctly for the next 9 months (not 3 years).

by CAModerate 2006-03-28 08:41PM | 0 recs
ABC Forecast: 100% Chance of Bush Lite

Much as I like reading the Note from time to time...these rankings tell me nothing.

So much for ear-to-the-ground journalism. Other than the quantifiable categories like fundraising, you would think these ratings were gleaned from listening to Air America and watching Fox News.

The biggest problem I have here is that McCain and Hillary are putatively running as Bush Lite. Given how unpopular he is, I do not see how in anyway that happens in 2008. I've said again and again that guys like Hagel are very well positioned to capitalize on Bush's (un)popularity by striking a different tone. McCain in theory could, but has been latching onto the Commander in Chief quite a lot.

Warner and Feingold both tap into that Kerry-gret and Gore-over that Democrats can almost taste. Make no mistake that both nominees are going to have to run as "outsiders" not as insiders to capture public sentiment in '08. How those rankings comport to that reality...I don't know.

by risenmessiah 2006-03-23 08:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible
I'll gladly bet anyone at the note a lot of money that Vilsack finishees dead last behind abyone who runs in eveyr state outside of Iowa.

Anyway, I remember when I used to do rankings like these. They don't work.

I don't knwo what is going to happen in 2008 any more than these guys do, but at least I don't try to cover up my ignorance with a lot of useless rankings that are bizarrely weighted together.
by Chris Bowers 2006-03-23 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible

I'm not at The Note, but I'll take that bet.

by ItsDrewMiller 2006-03-23 10:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On 2008

If Daschle and Biden are still in the race they'll give Vilsack a run for last place.  Don't get me wrong, though, I wouldn't take that bet for any amount of money because what you say could very well happen.

Ranking the candidates is like trying to rank sports teams.  Take March can gather some of the best minds to rank the 65 teams, but the fact is you have to play the game to find out the results.  And the "best minds" are often wrong.  Until the political races begin and the people who decide the race, the voters, all of the pundit talk and numbers are just and numbers.

by dumbledore 2006-03-24 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible

This is my comment from the hotline's post about the poll:

They have John McCain as #1 for Republicans on Rationale/Issues/Record. That's dumb times ten. Hillary Clinton shouldn't be #1 either for Democrats either. Doesn't it seem ridiculous that McCain is ranked so high in that category and Russ Feingold so low?

Frankly I think Bill Frist's cat-killing ways ought to keep him from cracking the top three for biographies. Tom Vilsack and John Edwards both have WAY better biographies than Hillary too. There really isn't anything special about hers as far as I can tell.

I'm not sure how they're weighting Iowa, but obviously whoever wins the Republican nomination will get a much much bigger boost than Vilsack would if he won Iowa. I think Edwards could be second, or would at least finish a close third. Russ Feingold is definitely undervalued here - I mean he's the Senator from a midwestern state just like Daschle, except he won in 2004.

I think they overestimate Kerry's chances in NH.

I'm not sure what makes Hillary more electable than Tom Vilsack.

They just keep giving Hillary 3s even for the things she's bad at - hanging out? Pshaw.

Hillary won her only election ever because of her retail politics, not because of her TV presence. She also underperformed Al Gore by a lot. Yet she's #1 for TV? Wtf.

I don't think they're implying the netroots will only support one candidate - merely that some will get more support than others. Their order looks ok to me for Democrats, except John Kerry is way too high.

They underestimate Russ again in name ID. That's something that probably can be proven empirically.

Fire in the belly is such an arbitrary category.

Tom Vilsack is quite underrated for Party support. Remember when he was more or less considered the frontrunner for DNC chair?

I've heard of at least one important person doing some work for Feingold, and no one for half the people on that list of staff/consultants. He definitely shouldn't be last.

So, pretty much I think this thing is crap. Getting Kerry and Edwards right in 2002 isn't all that impressive, considering they were a semi-obvious choice at the time. If they had called Kerry/Edwards in sep 2003 or so when both were kind of in the dumps, I would be more impressed. Maybe they did?

by ItsDrewMiller 2006-03-23 10:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible

When they give Hillary a 1 on TV, it has to be for media saturation instead of presence... I really couldn't justify that any other way.

I have two problems with this poll:

  1. Why is Tom Daschle above ANYONE, even if it's above just Feingold (whose number should at least be a slot or two higher)?
  2. John Kerry at 4... someone should just take him behind the ol' wood shed and put him down; he's been hurting for a while, it'd be a show of mercy.

Also, when they added "And Spouse" to one of their categories, were they just finding an excuse to bump Hillary?

by flyingplates 2006-03-24 01:14AM | 0 recs
These numbers are quite bullshit

For example, Feingold has the best TV ads of any canidate I've ever seen.  Look: hp

Name a canidate who has better ads than that.  I double dare you.

by Geotpf 2006-03-24 06:15AM | 0 recs
Re: These numbers are quite bullshit

You're right -- Feingold uses his ads more effectively than any other I've seen.  They're refreshing, quite frankly, much like Russ himself.

Feingold doesn't belong that low in the rankings. He's not in the upper tier yet, in my opinion, but of anyone he stands the best chance of moving up.  He may not win, but mark my words...he'll have a big impact on the election by helping to frame the Democrat's vision.  If they don't let Feingold and his agenda lead on a number of issues they'll really be hurting themselves.

by dumbledore 2006-03-24 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008 'Invisible

There seems to be a ton of problems with these lists largely stemming from the fact that many attributes are hard to measure and even more because they seem to pick peoples overall chances and then make lists based on their overall rankings especially in the harder to measure categories. I wouldn't be surprised if Guliani is currently #2 as only him and McCain have any id (besides Newt Gingrich who I imagine has high negatives even from republicans) and because McCain is still seen as moderate (would someone please tell the media the difference between a maverick and a moderate) and Guliani's views aren't known so he is "the conservative option" as both real ideologies become clearer there supporters will switch and many will abandon Guliani but with his id, money ability and popularity he will still have a chance in what I imagine to be a fractured primary.

Now the overall listings:
Mitt Romney doesn't deserve 3rd place he is from MA and while running to the right on social issues he is an obvious flip flopper in this respect, being Mormon will hurt at least a bit with the southern Baptists which might be he best audience for the recent run to the right on social issues and I don't think any of the early states have many Mormon voters (which I think he might do well with due to social issues and people wanting to vote for one of their own). Frist who has little charisma and almost no publicity (except with the possibly funny stock business) and is regarded as a pathetically weak leader. Chuck Hagel at least initially would seem to compete with McCain but not really, he should be up there in case the republicans want an anti Iraq war candidate without the relative liberalism of Chafee. Pataki is a poor version of Giuliani (who was at least conservative on non-social issues, although I don't know about immigration) and is too high on the list. Tom Vilsack, maybe they forgot that it doesn't matter if he wins Iowa. Richardson is too low. As is Feingold, you think we will vote for an election loser (Daschle) over him?

Now the money listings: The republican list seems good, Tancredo may get some money from anti immigrant sources but many business/ rich interests wouldn't give a penny. I think that as Feingolds name id spreads so will his ability to get many small donations (conversely as Clinton's record becomes more circulated her huge small money donations will substantially shrink) but most importantly they greatly underestimate the connections of Richardson, although many connections are clintonites.

Now the Rationale/Issues/Record lists: McCain's true conservative positions help him (except on immigration cause he is pretty liberal on that and the war because by then it will be too unpopular) but that is not what the GOP currently believes so he isn't number one, Guliani would be #1 if you took a snapshot but he is a social liberal so he is ok where he is on the list. The war will be unpopular so Hagel should go up a space or two. He is the full "religious right package" so Brownback moves up a spot or two (and if we ever get back to talking about Sudan he can bring up his human rights cred). Tancredo is the main proponent of immigration deform, a subject which the main GOP have tried to avoid (although Frist is talking about a bill) and the main contender is a liberal on immigration move him up two second (cause of the shrillness or first on Rationale/Issues/Record.

more later

by rtaycher1987 2006-03-24 03:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On 2008

If Hillary is the nominee, the only person in America more divisive than Bush and currently proving she is "Republican Lite", '08 will be a blowout for the Rethugs. More and more she comes across as an unprincipled, cowardly politician adopting positions according to where the wind blows that day.

Beside, NO CANDIDATE that fails to support Russ Feingold's efforts to censure Bush will ever get my vote.

by Bill Arnett 2006-03-24 07:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Preliminary Thoughts On ABC's 2008

I know it's not just me...I have yet to really hear any support for Hillary Clinton outside of the News Media.  And I have been keeping my ears and eyes wide open (I have a newly launched potential presidential power ranking site, so I always have my ears open for any and all info and public sentiment).  Sure she has a boat load of money, but it takes more than money to win a primary...let alone the general election in which she'll get clobbered.

To paraphrase William Sapphire (man I hate even writing his name): Hillary Clinton is the best fund-raiser the republican party has ever had.

As for the other candidates: there will be a lot of jockeying for position.  Warner will use the internet to his advantage better than any of the others (at least he has been thus far). Edwards starts out this election as a "known" instead of an "unknown" and Bayh could could be a real sleeper.  These are the only viable candidates I see emerging at this point.  There's still a long way to go.

by dumbledore 2006-03-24 07:26AM | 0 recs
Never Again Kerry

After blowing 2004 so badly, Kerry should never get another chance. He had his shot and he blew it.

Waldman over at has a post on how Bush and other Republicans never give a straight answer on whether or not they support overturning Roe v Wade. Bush has never even been posed this question. At least not while he was in the White House.

Why did not Kerry ask him this question? Or point out in the debates that he won't give a straight answer on it?

Kerry is imprisoned by the Washington consultants.

Never again.

by Mister Go 2006-03-24 08:17AM | 0 recs
Tell the truth about these fakers and thieves

Does anybody besides me follow the work of The Free Press in Columbus?  If you would, you'd know that Hagel is extremely vulnerable on charges that he helped set-up the "black box" voting system by his co-founding of ES&S Voting Systems, and the use of those machines to help steal his first Senate race in '96 (magically overcoming a big pre-election poll deficit and almost totally flipping the predicted outcome numbers in his "victory").

Hillary is doing nothing but pandering to every group that will not vote for her under any circumstances.  How else can you account for her support of a FLAG BURNING AMENDMENT!  This alone should turn the stomach's of any true progressive, and should cost her her Senate seat!

I am especially disappointed in the MD Governor's race, where you have both major Dem. candidates unwilling to oppose an environmentally ruinous highway project because they have sold out to developers, and refuse to do anything about deporting illegal aliens arrested for committing crimes in MD, or cracking down on employers for hiring illegal aliens.  This is about saving union jobs and having decent wages for those of us either born here or legally here.  It is also about the environmental nightmare of overpopulation here as well as in the rest of the world.  This is not about racism, as the illegal immigrant/open borders people would have you believe, although I'm sure many racists support closing the borders for their purposes, as well.  

I am truly fed up with the spinelessness of the so-called "expert professionals" in the party, like DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel.  These people are running roughshod over truly progressive candidates they feel might not run well against Republicans, instead of staying out of primaries and letting the registered Dems. decide who they want to represent them in the general election.

We need to support true progressives, whether it is "smart" or not.  Until the people have real choices, the Republicans are going to keep eating our lunch because they can turn out their base, while progressives like us sit on our hands in deep disappointment over the lack of courage of those in control of the Democratic party.

by 1truthteller 2006-03-24 08:36AM | 0 recs


Advertise Blogads