Irrational Exuberance - Why Are Dems More Excited than Rs about their Field?

Poll after poll shows the same thing: Democrats are far more satisfied with their field - Clinton, Obama, Edwards - than Republicans are with theirs - Romney, McCain, Guiliani.

But it seems to me that the two parties have the same problem, just on opposite sides of the same coin.

The Republicans have strong general election candidates who don’t hold much appeal for the average Republican primary voter.

The Democrats, however, have strong Democratic primary candidates who have questionable general election appeal.

Of the two, I’d say the latter is a larger problem; the point of running for President isn’t to win your party’s nomination - it’s to win the Presidency.

So I ask: Isn’t the excitement Democrats feel toward their field a bit of irrational exuberance?

I don’t think that any of the Republican candidates would be particularly strong in the general election. McCain might have taken the general election in 2000, given the chance, but there’s no way he’d take it in 2008 unless the democrats somehow ended up nominating Rapey McChildmurderer. Most of the country doesn’t know anything about Romney except that he’s Mormon, and Guiliani… well, he could be a wild card, but personally, I don’t think he’d win. People think Obama has a few skeletons in his closet? Guiliani has a whole fucking graveyard.

I can only speak for myself, plus what I’ve heard directly from other Democrats that I know, but I don’t see any irrational exuberance, or any exuberance at all in fact. Frankly, I think the Democratic field pretty much stinks, in fact. Sure, there are a lot of people jumping on the Obama bandwagon, but I suspect that’s mostly a lack of any other even somewhat palatable choice. Clinton is unelectable imo, Edwards is a stuffed shirt who couldn’t carry even his own South I suspect, Obama is at best a cipher, at worst a clothehorse with soundbites. And the rest are also-rans.

I desperately want a STATESMAN, and there’s just not one in the field.

I think that the dems are excited because the first time in what probably seems like forever the slate is just so much stronger. Obama is basically a blank slate that people can believe whatever they want about, Hillary hearkens back to the good old days of peace and prosperity of the 90s, and Edwards will be a popular vice presidential candidate for one of them.

The Republican candidates just don’t look as good in comparison.

Whether or not the dem candidates are going to do something positive for the country it’s totally their race to lose.

I like Obama but I think there’s some truth in that statement.

And I wonder what kind of “statesman” BennyProfane is looking for … it’s not like Abraham Lincoln or FDR would have had a chance in hell in today’s primary system. The closest thing in my lifetime is someone like Reagan, someone who looks great on TV, gives inspiring speeches, and manages to promote a package of policies that appears at election time to be both consistent and plausible. If Obama can make headway on that last part he’ll be golden, but since I still know no details besides his stance on Iraq, I fear he’ll end up settling belatedly on a platform that looks like weak-sauce triangulation. (Single-payer health care isn’t a sexy sell like lower taxes and beating the rooskies, either.)

Yes, Dems are excited about having intelligent well spoken candidates, but if they think a woman or an African American can win they’re on crack.

Count me among the Obama doubters, as I’ve said before. Edwards is nothing; I don’t understand his “popularity.” On the bright side, the Democrats do somewhat inexplicably have Kucinich. But that’s really it.

As a right-wing idealogue, the Republican contenders are mostly chaff. Giuliani has his own issues (chief of which is I can never spell his name correctly), McCain is the great failed hope of conservatism, Romney is an empty suit that has mastered Sweeping Dramatic Arm Gestures, and the rest of the field ranges from the unelectable Huckabee (who would make a good cabinet member) to the insane Tancredo.

Enjoy the next 4 years in power, Democrats… the Republicans need some time wandering in the wilderness to find themselves, anyway.

The evidence that there’s suddenly going to be a great hidden poll drop for those candidates is surprisingly sparse. This is one of those bits of conventional wisdom that doesn’t have much in the way of support.

Yeah, I think we’ve gotten to the point where both women and ethnic minority candidates are completely viable. There’s very few hardcore racists left that bother to vote, thankfully. Bill Richardson doesn’t even raise eyebrows for his candidacy.

What sort of statesman am I looking for? Well, if I could answer that question, it would probably be by pointing to the example that was available. Since there isn’t one, that’s sorta hard.

I suspect he’d look a lot like Jimmy Carter. Carter is a heckofa statesman, who had the bad fortune to gain the Presidency at probably the worst time since the Great Depression to get it. I don’t believe any president of the 20th Century could have done much better with it than he did, but since then, he’s proven himself to be an amazing person.

Or how about a Boris Yeltsin, minus the alcohol? Somebody who has the balls to stand up to EVERYONE who stood in the way of what was right, the moral authority to rally the country behind him, and the vision to push forward? He didn’t last long enough, but what he did for the Soviet Union/Russia will be remembered by them for as long as they remember Peter the Great, I suspect.

Maybe it is the crush of “The Media” ™, maybe its just the pressure of this solipsistic money-obsessed overprotected underchallenged spoiled-rotten culture we have in the US, but we aren’t breeding statemen these days. Or if we are, they are hiding it well. So yeah, for now, my vote is with Kucinich, same as it was during the primary season last time. Does he stand a chance in hell of winning? No. Does what he says sound the most to me like a genuine thinker and one who cares about the country more than he cares about himself? Yes.

“By now we are fully accustomed to the false public proclamations of politicians themselves. But voters lie too. Consider an election between a black candidate and a white candidate. Might white voters lie to pollsters, claiming they will vote for the black candidate in order to appear more color-blind than they actually are? Apparently so. In New Yory City’s 1989 mayoral race between David Dinkins (a black candidate) and Rudolph Giuliani (who is white), Dinkins won by only a few points. Although Dinkins became the city’s first black mayor, his slender margin of victory came as a surprise, for pre-election polls showed Dinkins winning by nearly 15 points. When the white supremacist David Duke ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990, he garnered nearly 20 percent more of the vote than the pre-election polls had projected, an indication that thousands of Louisiana voters did not want to admit their preference for a candidate with racist views.”

  • Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Are you particularly optimistic about being out of power moderating the wackier elements of the party? I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that the party’s political pendulum gets shoved even further into wacko-land for a little while. The religious right isn’t going to just vanish, and their reaction to the loss might be “we didn’t work hard enough to get our views represented in the party.”

On-topic, I don’t think it’s really all that strange for Dems to be excited about the presidential race, even this early. Head-to-head, the Democratic candidates look pretty strong against the Republican candidates. Combined with the lingering flush of victory from 2006, it seems like there’s good reason to be optimistic.

Generally the party out of power tends to get attacks of sanity, or if nothing else a focus on what needs to be done to attract those outside its base.

The problem for the Republicans is that the candidates need to wander far into crazy base land in order to be elected, and the war has clearly swung the pendulum the other way.

Gays, Iraq, Privacy, Security, and Abortion are all issues that are going to burn the Republican lineup in the general.

Off the top of my head, those were in 1990 in the middle of a crime wave panic, and David Duke’s opponent was incredibly corrupt.

If there’s some studies showing statistical underperformance on election day for women or minorities I’d love to see it, but a Levitt quote isn’t it.

Maybe, but I think that would be balanced out by size and strength of the Republican noise machine vs. the Democrat’s noise machine almost which is almost non-existent. Limbaugh/Coulter etc. are very good at making lots of noise and keeping a constant flow of muck about even minor stuff. There really is no left-wing equivalent.

Yeah, nobody at all. Pity the poor left wing left without loud idiots.

I disagree. Most of the matchup polls between named Dem vs Rep candidates currently give the edge to the Democratic nominees. This could easily change over the next 18 months, of course, but right now Republicans have more reason to worry.

It’s not the loud idiots that are the real problem. The “noise machine” is really the impressive ability of the Republican party to get its talking points heard and repeated in the MSM, and yes, the Democratic party is not nearly as effective at it, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s editorial bias, maybe it’s that there’s more money going to conservative media voices/think tanks, maybe it’s “beltway insider-itis,” I don’t know.

In any case, if you really don’t think that the Republican use of the media hasn’t been a big advantage for the party in the last decade, I’d say you haven’t been paying attention.