Independents in Virginia and Maryland

February 14, 2008 on 12:44 pm

Washington Post exit polls for the February 12 primaries in Virginia and Maryland indicate Sen. Obama’s continued strength among Independents in each of these states. In Virginia, where 22 percent of those polled self-identified as Independent, 66% went for Obama, more than double the 32% who went for Sen. Clinton. Of those who self-identified as Democrats, 61% reported voting for Obama.

The polling data was similar in Maryland. Here, 62% of those self-identifying as Independent went for Obama against 27% for Sen. Clinton. Among those identifying as Democrats, Obama won 59% to Clinton’s 40%. What makes the Maryland results most interesting is that it was a closed primary; i.e., only those registered as Democrats or Republicans could vote, and only in their party of registration. And of those registered as Democrat, 13% identified themselves to exit pollsters as Independents and 3 out of 5 of these chose Obama.

Wisconsin (February 19) is an open primary. Watch it closely for how Independents vote there. In Wisconsin, citizens can register to vote at the polls the day of the primary. It is in effect, a double open state. If you can get to the polls, you can vote and vote for whomever you like. No excuses here for anyone, especially Independents, not to vote.   


Hugging Your Enemies

February 12, 2008 on 1:06 pm

Richard Nixon was nothing if not political. While a person has to be careful about taking his advice, he once offered the following: “Hold your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

This would seem to be the advice that Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, certainly never a fan of Nixon and not known to be one of John McCain, offers to the latter in his column today The Real McCain. “Nothing recommends McCain more than than his enemies,” Cohen notes and then goes on to cite attacks on McCain by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and others.

Also in the article, Cohen notes that both McCain and Sen. Obama have done quite well with Independents in their respective campaigns. Moreover, in a head to head match, he sees McCain as the tested war hero, a man who “staked his life on his principles,” and Obama as the yet to be truly tested political prodigy. Richard Cohen giving the nod to a Republican over the emergent Democratic front runner? 

This is the Perfect Election.




A Hinge Election?

February 11, 2008 on 1:46 pm

With John McCain the all but certain Republican candidate and Senators Clinton and Obama the only two Democrats left standing, we are now at three. Given Obama’s wins this weekend and his expected dominance in the six remaining contests in February, there is scant prospect of a Democratic winner until the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, and no one really expects it to end by then.

What is emerging in each party, though, are clear and powerful forces, certainly urges, to break from a recent past. In the case of the Republicans, it is breaking the grip on a national party by its “conservative” masters. For the Democrats, it is a matter of party leadership; i.e., will the last Democratic administration extend its leadership for another four years.

The quotation marks on “conservative” above were added to make clear that the term has a wide range of application and expression. Reaganism, the gold standard of recent years, was built on strong defense, less government, lower taxes and a high regard for individualism and self help. Reagan’s ultimate belief was in the American people and practical solutions. While he cut taxes in his first year in office, two years later he signed the theretofore largest peace-time tax increase in the nation’s history. His ultimate drive was to make the government serve the people where it was needed and to get out of the way where it wasn’t.

More than practical application of conservatism, though, there is expression. Absolutely central to Reaganism were individual rights - each American citizen living, thinking and speaking free. The claimed keepers of today’s conservative flame are talk show demagogues and bullies, along with religious herd drivers and minders. They are, in fact, the antipathy of traditional conservative thought in this country, the foundation of Reagan’s success. As these condemn McCain, they strengthen him and offer new prospects for the Republican Party.

With the Democrats, it is a matter of the approaches and the abilities of the candidates to achieve what are clearly shared goals. In claiming her experience, Hilary Clinton cannot escape a demonstrated and strong inclination to large government solutions which, ironically, run counter to President Clinton’s proclamation of 1996 that “the era of big government is over.” Moreover, there was the ascendency of partisanship during the Clinton Administration that led George W. Bush to run and win as a “uniter, not a divider.”  The change she offers is from the Bush Administration, not from the Democratic Party of her breeding and instincts, one that appears to reach back prior to the Clinton Administration’s centrist orientation.

Obama’s call for change is specifically away from the hyperpartisanship that President Bush has perfected as a way of doing business. He wants to separate current problems from past approaches by attacking partisanship rather than using it. Whether he can succeed in this is unknowable at this time. The point is, though, that he wishes to separate himself from a recent past and has had great success in mobilizing and energizing large numbers of Democrats in this effort. As of Sunday, February 10, nearly 700,000 of his supporters have contributed well over $100 million to his campaign, $32 million in January alone.   

We’ve been talking about Election 08 as a possible hinge election, one that more defines our political future than it reflects our political past. With McCain the candidate presumptive for the Republicans, one of the two necessary pieces appears to be in place. Should Obama win the Democratic nomination, this indeed will be a hinge election, with Independents seated front row, center for the ride. 



February 11, 2008 on 2:14 am

Douglas Schoen’s piece in Feb 10 WP ( identifies Restless and Anxious Moderates (RAMS) as the likely driving force of the 2008 election. A former Bill Clinton pollster, he argues that “anger with the staus quo has already had a profound, if unrecognized, impact on the race.” He cautions Demoracts that if they ”ignore the restless moderates’ desire for cooperation and fundamental system wide change, (they) will leave the door wide open to McCain, or perhaps even to a pragmatic third-party alternative such as Bloomberg.”

The Perfect Election Continues

February 7, 2008 on 12:54 pm

The Perfect Election continues. (See

Super Tuesday wasn’t the end of the primaries as many had expected. Of the two remaining Democratic candidates, Sen. Clinton made some gans in the delegate count, but is low on cash and faces an Obama campaign flush with it, and with strong prospects in the nine primaries remaining for February. For the Republicans, Sen. McCain has taken a commanding lead, emerging now as the clear front runner.  While Gov. Huckabee had a surprising showing in the South, it is seen far more for its negative impact on Gov. Romney’s prospects than as a serious challenge to McCain.

Of the nine contests remaining in February (Louisiana, Kansas, Maine, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, Washington Wisconsin), the pundits, and senior Clinton campaign aides, give Sen. Obama the edge. Of these contests, the latter four are open, i.e., Independents can vote in them. There are six primaries in March (Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming, Mississippi). Of these, the must wins for Sen. Clinton are seen as Ohio and Texas, both of which are open, as are Mississippi and Vermont.

For the Democrats, the issue is not the issues. With some variations admitted, there are no philosophical differences between Clinton and Obama. The differences are not a matter of what, but whom. The Clinton whom is a structure, some call it a machine, that reaches to every corner of the Democratic enterprise and has its founding in President Clinton’s two terms in office. The Obama whom is built on a vision, a perspective, that has created its own structure which has proven remarkable in its ability to raise funds and attract volunteers, all in the space of a year. It is a contest not of the core beliefs of the Democratic Party, but of who will win control of that Party’s apparatus as a vehicle to the presidency.            

Not so the Republicans. What’s happening in the Republican Party is a contest as to whether it will continue to under the control of its Conservative elements. I avoid the term “Conservative wing” because for the last twenty plus years the words “Republican” and “conservative” have become interchangeable, all but synonymous. As noted in Republicans Win in South Carolina (January 21 posting), 2008 is shaping up as the year these words may again become politically distinct. More and more we hear of exit polls numbering those who see themselves as “moderate Republicans.” This is a political identity that has had few claimants, and virtually no practical application, for some time.

Election 08 continues to have strong prospects as a hinge election, one that more defines our political future than reflects our political past.

Of the 15 remaining primaries in the February and March, more than half (Virginia, Hawaii, Washington, DC, Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, Mississippi) are open. Get out there and vote. And remember, look for exit pollsters. Let them know you’re there, that you care, and how you voted. Remember: Exit polls are key to Independent voters’ recognition as real players in the electoral process.


Super Tuesday

February 4, 2008 on 1:09 pm

The day is upon us – Super Tuesday.

Of the 22 state primaries or caucuses up for grabs, eight are open, i.e., both parties’ polls are open to any registered voter, whether or not they are registered with a specific party. They are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee. In seven states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Utah), at least one party’s poll is open or voters can change party affiliation at the polls. The closed states are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Oklahoma.

If you are in an open or mixed state, do what you can to get to the polls and vote. And if you are approached by a pollster after having voted, tell him/her you’re an Independent and who you voted for. The exit polls are key to Independent voters’ recognition as real players in the electoral process.


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