What I mean by that is that in the final analysis the voters have to be comfortable with their choice or else they will vote for the opponent. I believe that issues are important but equally important is the personality of the candidate and his/her ability to articulate what he/she will do with the office.
In looking for a candidate to support, look for people who can express their views in about 12 seconds. Reagan could do it as in this formulation: Government is too big, make it smaller, defense is too weak, make it stronger, and taxes take too much money, make them less.
Clinton could do it as in It's the economy, stupid, change vs more of the same, and don't forget healthcare.
Bush could do it as in I will make you safer.
What was Kerry's 12 second pitch or that matter, Gore's? When talking with your friends, neighbors, etc., what sentence could you use that summed up why they should vote for them other than "they are not Bush"?
Part of the problem is that Democratic candidates tend to be people who are into policy and they often speak in terms of programs and not philosophies or overriding policies.
Of course most of us don't think in terms of 12 second pitches when we think about our politics. We think much more in terms of programs or issues. But then most of us are not running for president so our inability to put our thoughts into one sentence doesn't matter.
Voters have a lot of stuff going on in their lives. They worry about their kids, jobs, spouses, friends, mortgage payments, homes, etc., politics ranks very low for most people. Their time is limited and they want a quick reason why they should support a candidate. We need to give them such a reason.
Not in Ohio they weren't. According to the CNN exit poll for Ohio Bush got 16% of the black vote in 2004 as compared to 9% in 2000. I believe black voters were over 700,000 voters. A six percent gain of black votes is a 42,000 vote pickup,which in a two way race is a swing of 84,000 votes, ie, add 42,000 to Bush and take 42,000 away from Kerry. Considering that Kerry only lost Ohio by 119,000 votes, an 84,000 vote swing is highly significant.
I don't have a pet peeve issue on gay rights. I voted against Issue One in Ohio and think it is going to be bad for our state. I am however trying to find out why Kerry lost Ohio after increasing the turnout by a substantial margin over what it was in 2000.
Although we increased our turnout by around 500,000 votes so did Bush. Given the horrible economic problems in our state compared to 2000, Bush should not have carried Ohio,but he did. I believe, and will continue to believe, that the presence of Issue One on the Ohio ballot led to Bush carrying Ohio. Issue One wouldn't have been on the ballot without the Mass. Supreme Ct. decision on gay marriage.
Originally, though, my question was whether it was more important for Kerry to carry Ohio than to have the Mass. Sup.Ct. make its gay marriage decision. I will continue to believe that it was more important,although I recognize that there is no way to prove the point one way or another.
When we speak about agendas, though, it is important for Dems to keep in mind that we are a coalition party and don't all have the same issues in the same priority. Here is what I mean by that: I am a Democrat more for economic reasons and, although probably less so, for reasons relating to racial relations as opposed to issues relating to gay rights or abortion.
Does that mean that I support the Republican position on those topics? No. It does mean, though, that I rank issues such as Social Security, universal health care, job security and protection, etc higher than abortion and gay rights. Other Dems have a different priority.
Now if we are to remain a coalition party, then we can't be riding people out of the coalition when they don't agree with us tactically. We aren't big enough to have that luxury.
This is from an article on Alternet.org concerning the black vote in Ohio:
In the right place and under the right circumstance, black evangelicals posed a stealth danger to Democrats. As it turned out, the right place for Bush was Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida. These were must-win swing states, and Bush won them with a considerably higher percent of the black vote than he got in 2000. In Ohio, the gay marriage ban helped bump up the black vote for Bush by seven percentage points, to 16 percent. In Florida and Wisconsin, Republicans aggressively courted and wooed key black religious leaders. They dumped big bucks from Bush's Faith-Based Initiative program into church-run education and youth programs. Black church leaders not only endorsed Bush, but in some cases they actively worked for his re-election, and encouraged members of their congregations to do the same.
Why is it that if I question whether the existence of Issue One on the Ohio ballot cost Kerry the election in Ohio I have an agenda? What does that mean to have an agenda? What agenda do you think that I have? For that matter, what agenda do you have?
Consider these statistics from the CNN Exit Poll on Ohio's voters:
14% of Ohio Voters hadn't voted before 2004.
Of that 14%, 59% voted for Issue 1.
Of the yes votes on Issue 1, 81% voted for Bush over Kerry.
Total number of votes in Ohio for President:5,627,903.
Assuming CNN Exit Poll is accurate, first time voters constituted 787,906 voters.
Of those voters, again assuming that CNN Exit Poll is accurate, 464,865 voted for Issue One.
Of those voters, Bush picked up 376,541 votes.
Now since he only won Ohio by approximately 119,000 votes, and since first time voters who voted for Issue One gave him 376,541 votes, you can follow my reasoning that had Issue One not been on the ballot, he wouldn't have won Ohio.
Can I prove that is the case? Obviously not because I don't know any polling data on whether Issue One in Ohio was the only motivating factor getting those voters to the polls, but I think it is a reasonable assumpation that had Issue One not been on the ballot, Bush doesn't carry Ohio.
You are right, he did not, but what happened was that the religious right used the gay marriage amendment to get people to the polls and it is my contention that enough of those people then voted for Bush to put him over the top.
Kerry's position, which by the way seems to have adopted by Bush himself right before the election, got lost in the translation.
You wrote: But there is a lot of evidence that people have no clue what Democrats stand for, and that people think Democrats are flip-flopping opportunists who will say anything to get elected. Do you have any links to polls that show that result?
You wrote: Every time we do one of these "blacks to the wolves!" "gays to the wolves!" "women to the wolves!" deals after an election loss, we just reinforce that notion.
Is raising the questions that Starr is raising or for that matter that I am raising really throwing people to the wolves? Shouldn't Dems be able to debate these issues among ourselves?
In his article Starr doesn't suggest throwing anyone to the wolves but he does suggest that using court decisions to advance social causes can be counterproductive.
Courts are anti-majoritian institutions. They don't base their decisions on what the majority wants, but on what the law dictates. When you have a anti-majoritian institution make a decision that a significant number of people don't agree with, there will be a backlash.
You write Kerry would have been far better off taking a principled stand against the gay marriage bans based on an equal rights justification, rather than his wobbly "I'm against gay marriage but for civil unions" stance. Do you have any polling data that shows that what you call a principled stand would have made any difference in the way the final vote came out?
I don't think that questioning tactics is not the same as questioning strategy. Is Starr really questioning the Dems' strategy or is he questioning the tactics? Can you accept such questioning of tactics or do you regard it as off-limits?
In 2000 Bush gets 49.97% of the electorate which represented 2,351,209 votes.
In 2000 Gore gets 46.46% of the vote which represents 2,186,190 votes. Difference is 165,019.
In 2004 Bush gets 2,859,764 votes which represents 50.81% of the vote.
In 2004 Kerry gets 2,741,165 votes which represents 48.71% of the vote.
Difference is 118,599.
If you stop the analysis there, then I can see how you reach that conclusion, but look at the increases in the Republican vote compared to the increases in the Dem vote. The Dem vote went up by around 500,000. So did the Bush vote, but would it have gone up that amount if the gay marriage amendment hadn't been on the ballot?
I don't think so. It is hard to say because we don't know what would have happened if things had been different, ie, no Issue 1. Assume, though, just for a second that I am right, the question then becomes would you have traded no gay marriage decision for Kerry winning Ohio?
The article totally ignores turnout factor, which is why Bush carried Ohio. Give you an example: In my county in Ohio Kerry increased the turnout for Dems by almost 10,000 votes, but Bush increased his vote by over 10,000 votes. I don't believe that Bush would have increased his vote by as much as he did if the gay marriage amendment wouldn't have been on the ballot.
You raise a very good point. I have often thought that each party's strength is also its weakness. Dems are a coalition party.
The strength of a coalition party is that it can reach out and bring people in, a weakness is that the coalition can be split and another weakness is that in trying to keep the coalition together it ends up looking like it doesn't stand for something.
Republicans are much more homogenous. The strength is that, as you note, they are much more cohesive and unified but the weakness is that it is harder to reach out and bring in new members.
If Joe Biden thinks that he is going to be able to work with Rice, I got a bridge I want to sell him. This is the problem: Republicans care about winning, Dems care about solving problems and governing. But here is the drawback: if you don't win, you can't govern.
So was having the Mass. Supreme Ct. recognize gay marriages worth losing the presidency? Because as a Dem voter in Ohio, I can tell you that the Mass. Supreme Ct. decision led to Kerry's defeat in our state.
Kerry loses Ohio by around 119,000 votes. Issue 1, the issue that was marketed as the "anti-gay marriage" amendment to the State constitution, passed by around 60% of the vote. Take that issue off the ballot and we carry Ohio and win the election.
To me having George W. Bush as president for the next 4 years is worse than having the Mass. Supreme Ct. not recognize gay marriage, but that is just my opinion, I could be wrong.