American primaries upcoming

2007-02-17

in Politics

The primary season that precedes American elections is always an interesting time for strategizing. As a supporter of either party, you want to achieve two things: the election of the most appealing or electable candidate for your party, and the election of the most appealing or least electable candidate for the other. The tension in the latter pair is probably the most interesting bit. Should committed Democrats try to help a centrist like Guliani get elected (a particularly pressing issue in states with open primaries, where registered Democracts can vote in the Republican primary and vice versa) or should they try to push the Republicans towards a hopeless candidate?

The risk averse option, and the one that seems the most sensible, is to choose the most electable option for the party you support (provided their platform is not seriously objectionable) and the most tolerable option for the other party. For this election cycle, it isn’t quite clear who would fill either role, but my guesses right now would be Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani. That said, I am reasonably willing to tolerate moderate fiscal conservatism, as long as it isn’t accompanied by culture war conservative values fodder. American voters may well feel otherwise. For instance, an atheist candidate is essentially unelectable in the US, but would probably be slightly preferable for me.

From the perspective of someone who is not a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of either party – and both have plenty of ugly features – the strategies that yield relatively centrist candidates are probably the most desirable. Anyone who is able to excite the party faithful to a feverish level, but not reach out to the intelligent independents who must ultimately represent the balance of opinion, is both unlikely to win and unlikely to govern very well.

It will be interesting to see what we learn about the candidates while they are tramping around New Hampshire and Iowa: another curious feature of American electoral politics.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymosu February 17, 2007 at 4:56 pm

“Condoleezza Rice was confirmed by a vote of 85, 13, despite a contentious but futile protest vote by democrats. By the way, for a fun second term drinking game, chug a beer every time you hear the phrase ‘contentious but futile protest vote by democrats.’ By the time Jeb Bush is elected, you’ll be so wasted you won’t even notice the war in Syria.” –Jon Stewart

Milan March 16, 2007 at 10:17 pm

California moves up 2008 primary

California has brought the date of its 2008 presidential primary elections forward by four months to 5 February.

Milan March 16, 2007 at 10:22 pm

This breakdown of the candidates from the BBC is also useful.

Anonymous March 19, 2007 at 9:35 pm

McCain seems to be suffering a bit from YouTube exposure.

Anon @ Wadh March 28, 2007 at 2:46 pm

McCain is also suffering from how you cannot really be a straight-talker in American politics.

R.K. April 11, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Good Obama video

I hope he wins the primary.

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