Do Presidential Coattails Still Matter?
by bruh21, Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 08:09:33 AM EDT
What would be nice- really really nice -- is that people should start googling and researching the issues rather than coming to a position based on candidate support. Do presidential coattails still exist? On this topic, because I was challenged with a similar "well coattails don't matter anymore and haven't mattered in 20 years" (yes, he added 20 years) comment by a candidate supporter, I decided to do a little research. What I provide below should put to rest the question of whether there are presidential coattails. The real question which I don't answer here or try to answer is which candidate will have a negative, positive or neutral impact because honestly- sometimes you have to settle the basic question first so the debate isn't always based on denial of the basic facts.
I am writing this diary because of the tendency of some here to deny that there is even a such thing as a presidential coattail. An argument which seems silly on its face given that the Presidential nominee and the eventual President is the face of the party. Just as Bush is the face of the GOP, so will whoever is our nominee become the face of the Democratic Party. No amount of spin will change this. I suppose it is useful to pretend that such a relationship doesn't exist. But its not very helpful or fair to the undecideds. This diary is for them.
It's by no means thorough. It was actually written in response to a question in another diary. I am just posting it here so that if people are interested, they can do further research on the issue rather than listen to the spinmeisters.
Here are a list of articles for the mid terms in 2002 about Presidential coattails:
The map here again matters- toss up races where they occur.
Here are a list of article regarding 2004 presidential coattails:
Bush coattails were limited- I might argue due to the nature of where we were running. Many of the states he would have impacted, etc had been impacted in 2002 already.
Here an article regarding 2006 presidential coattails.
expectations on paper: http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystal ball/2006/senate/
I've got to go back to my real work, but here's at least one that shows the outcome but-for the Bush factor was expected tob e different last year.
The conclusion: Coattails matter in the swing districts that are tossups or leaning but not quite are GOP strong holds. It matter at the margin. What no one is discussing is that several of the districts won last year, in an off Presidential year, were tight races won by small numbers. We were helped by the fact it wasn't a Presidential year. I am no even going into whether Clinton, Edwards or Obama will help with messaging, polarization, race, gender, regionalism etc, but on the simple question of: are there still presidential coattails? The simple answer is yes.
Honestly, most diaries on this subject are not well written because they assume the basic question. It allows for peo to turn this into a partisan discussion rather than first establishing whether coattails matter so that others can pretend there is some debate about whether it does or does not matter. The debate is not whether it matters (it does), but instead, where and whom it will impact. If you want to argue that Clinton will not have a negative- please explain how. If Obama or Edwards- please explain in detail how? But to argue that she will not have any coattail is just false. The same is true of the others.
Incidentally, what's interesting is that much of the literature, if you go through it is amusing, in the sense right before elections there are always these articles predicting the death of coattails, and then afterwards, many discuss how indeed Presidential coattails impacted races. This veiw of no effect seems to happen in cycles and reflect a lack of historical memory from one cycle to the next of how these things occur. Similar I would add to the arguments made here.
Finally,for what its worth here is the artcile written on the concerns over Clinton several months ago (I didn't look for the original Roll Call article so I assume this one is correct):
I wish the article had gone into much greater detail about presidential coatttails in general so that people would have a background beyond mere opinion. The thing is this is extremely fact specific. A good diary on the subject would have to literally go state by state, find the expected toss up races, and then use that data to determine whether Clinton will impact the race. Neither this diary or any other has done that detailed analysis. However, neitehr has the other side done anything but denied the potential impact. Both are wrong.
If you are curious- here are some additional articles:
One other by the way. the other concern is 2010 as well. What's clear is that if Clinton or anyone else goes into office without mandate and plays it cautiously so that the American people have no contrast with what went before - the result willb e what is called the balancing act. What people may do- and this is also a theory from the research- is elected the other party as a general condition in the swing districts and in senator races. Now, this is a somewhat flawed theory since people tend to vote for their incumbent, but to the degree that the general environment is shaped- it can move small enough percentages in the swing districts and states to effect outcomes.