Electability Isn't Everything

This is a very short diary, I know. The point is simple, though: electability isn't everything. The superdelegates aren't supposed to base their decision solely on who will be the most electable. Some of you, and you know who you are, should stop saying this.

You know who would be really electable? John McCain. Who's to say that the superdelegates and pledged delegates can't just nominate him as the Democratic nominee? He'd be running with the endorsement of both of the dominant US political parties. He would be unstoppable. The answer, of course, is that electability isn't everything.

Ultimately, our nomination is a sor of tradeoff-gamble. Generally, we want to nominate the most progressive candidate possible. But we don't want to nominate someone who has no chance of getting elected in November - and thus none of his progressivism ever becomes policy. On the other hand, we don't want to find some moderate who's almost Republican anyway (and who can syphon off enough of their votes) who isn't going to do jack shit for progressive causes. There is obviously more to the equation than this, but you get the point...

Anyway, I'm not going to talk about the tradeoffs of each candidate in this diary, and why I support Obama. The only point I want to get across in this diary is that electability isn't everything, and it's not the job of the superdelegates to pick the most electable candidate. It just isn't. So to those of you who keep saying that it is, kindly, STFU...

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BREAKING (Gallup): Dukakis takes 17 point lead over George Bush!

Since projecting Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. based on today's numbers is all the rage, it might be helpful to reflect on the fact that presidential polls predict nothing in late July, much less in May.

Dukakis Lead Widens, According to New Poll

Published: July 26, 1988

LEAD: In the aftermath of the Democratic National Convention, the party's nominee, Michael S. Dukakis, has expanded his lead among registered voters over Vice President Bush, the probable Republican nominee, according to a Gallup Poll.

In the aftermath of the Democratic National Convention, the party's nominee, Michael S. Dukakis, has expanded his lead among registered voters over Vice President Bush, the probable Republican nominee, according to a Gallup Poll.

This was among the findings of a national public opinion poll of 948 registered voters conducted late last week for Newsweek magazine by the Gallup Organization. The telephone interviews took place on July 21, which was the last night of the convention, and on the night after that.

Fifty-five percent of the 948 registered voters interviewed in the poll said they preferred to see Mr. Dukakis win the 1988 Presidential election, while 38 percent said they preferred to see Mr. Bush win. The poll had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Read the rest here:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.ht ml?res=940DEFD7113EF935A15754C0A96E94826 0

The basic point is that anyone referencing presidential polling in May as an argument towards "electability" is either being dishonest or hasn't the slightest idea what they're talking about.  The only value of these polls is to help candidates choose where to spend their time in their general election campaign.  That's it.

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Obama's so called EC weakness

So the meme is that Obama can't win the swing states, and it's all about the EV's. Well, the second part is true. But let's take a look at states in play, shall we?

I'll take my numbers directly from www.electoral-vote.com.

They show Obama down 237 - 290 (with Indiana's 11 EVs tied).

But:

Florida
Ohio
Michigan
and New Mexico

In each of these states, totaling 69 EV's, Obama is polling down by one. One point. Add Indiana and that's 80 Electoral votes that are essentially tied.

Nebraska, South Carolina, and Wisconsin (My state - we'll deliver for either candidate) are all within 4, and total another 23 EVs within 5.

His weaknesses currently polling blue? PA and CO; a total of 30 EV.

Clinton has similar weaknesses in WA, IA, HI, and CT for 29 votes at risk, but only shows 38 red state votes within five points; Obama has twice that polling within one point.

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The Clinton Talking Points

I whole-heartedly agree with Jerome's point in yesterday's "Deal With Defeat", but I don't think he took it far enough. Yes, Obama supporters should be prepared to lose West Virginia (as well as Kentucky), but so too should Clinton supporters be prepared to lose the nomination.

Jerome is right. Clinton is going to do well in West Virginia, and blindly accusing that state of racism doesn't make any more sense than blindly accusing North Carolina of sexism. Truth be told, this is one Obama voter who is happy to see Clinton pushing hard in WV and Kentucky. Assuming both candidates are capable of running positive campaigns, I welcome sending them to states Romney and Giuliani didn't even dream about. We are registering millions of new Democratic voters, and if Obama and Clinton can focus on McCain rather than on each other, the remaining primaries will be wonderful opportunities for our party.

But even if Clinton wins landslides in WV and KY, this nomination seems just about locked up. As far back as March 21, Clinton advisers were privately putting their chances at a mere 10 percent. If it was just 10% all the way back then, what is it now that North Carolina and Indiana have spoken and the superdelegates have turned?

I am sympathetic for Clinton's supporters. I've been on the losing side myself - Howard Dean and John Edwards in 2004, and Joe Biden in 2008. There's a reason I call myself an Obama voter rather than an Obama supporter. It hurts, but reality is reality, and none of the remaining Clinton talking points make sense. You've heard most of the arguments before, but I'd like to sum them up in one post.

  • Clinton will win the popular vote once MI and FL are settled: There are three things wrong with this argument. First of all, it assumes that not a single person in all of Michigan supports Obama. Real Clear Politics has Obama up by about 846,801 without those two states and up 113,498 with them, but that latter figure does not give Obama any of Michigan's "uncommitted" vote. If you're determined to count every vote, you certainly can't ignore a full 200,000 voters. Second, the results of those two states are in no way reflective of this campaign. If my memory is correct, Indiana is the only state where both candidates have aggressively campaigned and Clinton's lead has not narrowed (or disappeared altogether). This pattern would no doubt have held in MI and FL, where no campaigning took place and Obama's name recognition had not yet taken off. A true reflection of those state's sentiments would certainly lean towards Clinton, but probably by a narrower margin. And third, even if you assume Edwards did as well as Obama and award him only half MI's uncommitted vote, he still picks up 119,084 votes and leads Clinton by well over 250,000. Do we really think that WV and KY will net her that many votes? To put it in perspective, Pennsylvania didn't, and it has a larger population than KY, WV, and PR combined. Throw in Oregon, Montana, and South Dakota, and I can't see Clinton catching up.

  • Clinton is more electable because of the big states: As before, there are three things wrong with this argument. First of all, it's just silly to claim no Democrat can win the White House without Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you want to bind us to the electoral map of 2000 and 2004 for the rest of time, perhaps you'd have a point, but the map has changed before and it will change again. Obama took swing states like Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, and North Carolina, and he's likely to take Oregon. These swing states matter, too. The second problem with this argument is it contradicts any notion that the popular vote matters. If you want to argue for the popular vote model, you can't obsess about Ohio and Florida while ignoring Louisiana, Idaho, and Mississippi. The Clintonistas are trying to have it both ways. Finally, primaries test only the Democratic electorate, and so hardly predict general election results - does anyone really expect Clinton to win Tennessee in November by 13 points, or McCain to swamp California? By this logic, Bill Clinton should have lost New Hampshire in 1992 and John Kerry should have won Iowa in 2004.

  • Clinton is more electable because of Obama's scandals: It's certainly true that the Jeremiah Wright scandal received more coverage than the sniper fire story, and that Obama's "bitter" comments dwarfed Clinton's elitist inability to pump gas. The last few months, however, are hardly the standard by which to gauge coverage of the coming election. Obama had the decency not to bring up Whitewater, the 1994 health care debacle, or the candidate's spouse's extra-marital affairs, but the Republicans won't be so kind. Yes, Clinton can argue that those scandals are old news, but that won't matter as long as they are THE news. I guarantee that Republicans will harp on her past as much as they will Obama's, reminding voters what they didn't like about the 1990s. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming this is a good thing or that it helps Obama; I offer this only as a counter to the Clintons' talking point. The Wright scandal and "bitter" remarks are certainly powerful, just no more so than the equally unfair coverage Clinton will receive.

  • Clinton is more electable because Obama can't close the deal: Of all the Clinton talking points, this is the one I am probably the most sick of. Thank God it has largely faded since NC. As recently as February, Clinton had a 20-point lead in national polls; today, Obama leads by 2. A year ago, he was an afterthought and she was inevitable - yet we're supposed to believe that because he can only gain 22 points and become only a slight frontrunner, he's not good enough? How exactly is this an argument for someone who LOST 22 points? Isn't Senator Inevitable the one who can't close the deal against the young upstart? The latest reincarnation of this argument is that a frontrunner should be able to win WV and KY - perhaps, although I wasn't aware they'd changed the definition of "frontrunner" to "the candidate who wins every single state."

    I don't want Clinton to drop out. Unlike some of Obama's other voters, I don't despise her; she's done impressive things in New York and Washington. I do, however, want her to apologize for implying that the superdelegates should take African Americans for granted, but once she's done that, I'm thrilled to have her go on to WV and KY and register thousands of new voters. This race should be settled on June 5, not May 11 - but just as Jerome wants Obama supporters to be cool about WV, so too should Clinton supporters be cool about the popular vote, the pledged delegate lead, the superdelegate lead, and the Michigan uncommitteds. Last year we kept talking about our abundance of riches and our wonderful slate of candidates. That's still true, folks. These are the same people we had running last year, with the same potential.

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  • questions

    So much has been said about the gas tax but there are of couple of questions still not dealt with. The reader can answer those  for himself and decide whether the gas tax holiday made sense
    What is the purpose of the federal gas tax? is it meant to lower the usage of gas or for road construction? Is it important whether the buyer(us) or the seller(gas companies) pay the tax? Would holding the gas price at this price or twenty cents lower lead to increased usage?
     If it is ok for richardson , Deval ,susan rice, robert reich to  disregard their loyalty to the clintons in campaigning against Hillary in the name of the country then why would it not be ok for the clintons or their supporters not to actively support Obama if they felt it was in the larger interest of the country?  In other words loyalty for the country good for some but not good enough for  Clinton supporters?

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