Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Elsewhere: Elections Matter, Reporting on Filibuster, EC Again

Lots of stuff elsewhere today. At Plum Line, I got cranky about reporting on the death-by-filibuster of the Buffett Rule in the Senate. The fact that it was filibustered and had majority support really is part of the story, regardless of whether you support or oppose the 60 vote Senate. Meanwhile, I just couldn't get enough of the "ignore the Electoral College" argument, so I went back to spring 2008 and showed that EC speculation back then wasn't very helpful. It's not that there was anything wrong with their analysis as such (Nate Silver is always good at that kind of stuff, and he was in 2008 of course as well), it's just that there's really no value added in thinking about electoral votes this far out.

And at Salon, I got in on last week's discussion about whether presidential elections matter. Two points. One is that while it's true that the presidency is a very limited office, it still has plenty of influence. The other is that some people become absolutists about this stuff, and that's a bad match for political action. Supporting Romney over Obama doesn't mean that you have to believe that Romney would be a great president, or that he would try to do what you want on every issue, or even that he's better than Obama (from your point of view) on every issue. It's a political judgement, not a seal of approval.

1 comment:

  1. I will give you some credit. The usual response to people with, for instance, dovish foreign policy views is a flat dismissal of their concerns, i.e., "if you don't vote for the Democrat, you are helping the enemy". You concede that it's perfectly legitimate to dissent from the bipartisan consensus and to care about issues where the Democrats are no better than, or sometimes worse than, the GOP.

    That said, the bottom line is that voters are entitled to have dealbreakers. I know many pro-choice women who would not vote for the Democratic nominee if a pro-lifer were nominated. Is that wrong? I don't think so. Dealbreakers are a part of politics. Indeed, they are how a base keeps its candidates in line.

    And the point of a dealbreaker is, you have to enforce it even if you believe that in other ways the candidate might be marginally better than the opposition.

    I am sure you have dealbreakers too, Professor Bernstein. It just happens that the Democratic Party is unlikely to nominate someone who crosses one of those lines. But if they did, you'd surely vote against the candidate. Lots of Republican voters, remember, voted against David Duke in Louisiana.

    These disputes are really disputes between voters with different dealbreakers.


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