1) Laura McCallum and I are on with Tom Crann this afternoon talking about this:
(Audio later) Here you go.
Interesting. What I found most interesting in the audio was that this was the first time your Select A Candidate was been used in this public a way, and that Hutchinson originally wasn't eager to participate.
Also interesting was your remark that a "winner" in a select a candidate hasn't won an election.
First question that comes to mind is why. Does that say something about an MPR audience?
Was just looking through the cumulative data again. Looks like Ellison might be your first "winner" to win an election?
No, Jeff, I don't think it does and I tried to get to that in the interview but there wasn't enough time.
The Select A Candidate "audience" isn't the MPR audience. Most of the folks in the newsroom -- judging by the internal controversy the bulletin board caused (unnecessarily) -- haven't even taken it and don't know that much about it.
Somebody said today, in fact, that the survey showed that the people who take Select A Candidate and came out aligned with Hutchinson are "whacky," pretty much diminishing the whole application (same folks who never miss a chance to sniff at the blogosphere).
It's a very viral application and it's spread around the Internet over the last few years. We gets tens of thousands of people taking it and they only count once. It would be nice, I guess, if we had that many lsiteners but I'm in online anyway ...so ... no matter.
Here's what I think it confirms: people will walk away from a candidate they agree with if they don't think he can be elected.
We saw that in the governor's race 4 years ago. Tim Penny was leading by almost every poll -- or was in striking ddistance -- with about 3 weeks to go. As soon as the FIRST poll showed people jumping off the Penny bandwagon, every subsequent poll showed a further eroding of support.
It wasn't that they didn't agree with him, they just dind't think he could win.
As I said in the interview, issues matter. But electability matters more. People have this "thing" about making their vote count. They don't think their vote can count if they make it on a strictly philosophical basis.
The other thing is that I have an old axiom "the ability of a candidate to be interesting is in opposition proportion to his ability to get elected." Candidates who have to make up lots of ground, tend to talk in more plain terms, and say things more direcdtly. Candidates who are frontrunners or nearly so...get all vague and mushy. When you're talking about positions....people don't like vague and mushy, they like direct.
The most direct candidate in the presidential race 4 years ago... was Al Sharpton. You ask any Democrat who was out at the national state chairman convention in St. Paul in 2004 who the most impressive presenter was of Dean, Kerry, Gephardt, Lieberman, Braun, and Sharpton, and they'll pick Sharpton.
He WAS good in spelling out a Democratic agenda. He could afford to be; he was completely unelectable.
And, finally, I think MOST people who are inclined to tkae Select A Candidate are more likely to be in the middle.They legitimately want to learn about the candidates.
The heavily partisans think voters agree with candidates right down the line. Most people don't. They agree with some things and disagree with others. While they might agree with a far right or a far left candidate on some issues, for the most part they're somewhere in between.
Some issues really AREN'T black and white. Even on particular issues, they see parts of one candidate's position they like, and parts of another they like.
Surprisingly, I think this is true with Iraq. No candidate in his/her right mind would appear conflicted on Iraq. But average people? They're conflicted. It all seems so easy and obvious to profesisonal politicians, but it's not for people on Main Street.
Most people, I think, look past parties and really think about what candidate they agree with.
That's what I think Select A Candidates results mean.
By the way, lots of Republicans and conservatives listen to MPR. They just won't admit it in public.
You've taken the Select A Candidate quiz, right?
I have taken the quiz. I ended up selecting Bachmann. Go figure.
I saw she was a distant third in the 6th District selection, behind Binkowski even. The Independents seem to do well in the various selections.
And I'll admit here in public I listen to N/MPR and enjoy it.
I even wake up each morning with Cathy Wurzer talking in my ear.
One thing that got edited out (presumably, for time) was this point I made to Tom. If you look at the cumulative results page on the governor's race -- or any other race -- you see that the two issues that people taking the 'survey" said was most important to them are abortion and same-sex marriage.
Those are two of the famous 5 G's that Hutchinson didn't want to be part of the campaign.
As someone who is independently promoting the IP candidates on some blogs, I think Bob is exactly on target with his comments about 'electability.' Constantly people will say "I like Hutchinson/Fitzgerald, but I don't think he can win." So they go back to the "lesser of two evils" mentality and vote according to their fears, i.e. I believe that Pawlenty/Hatch is more dangerous, so I'll vote for the slightly less dangerous guy, even though Hutch matches my positions better. In other words, negative campaigning works and the 2 major parties have a huge vested interest in stopping instant run-off voting. If we had statewide instant run-off voting for this election, we'd have IP candidates winning a bunch of races. Instead, we'll end up with the 'lesser of two evils' as Governor, Senator, Sec of State, etc.
Yeah, I noticed that marriage and/or abortion tends to be at the top of many of the lists of issues.
Though, judging from which candidates are winning the selections, I'd say a majority of the people taking the quizzes are in favor of same-sex marriage and legal abortion.
The "middle" is something I thnk about, too. I don't know if there is "a" single middle. I think in terms of multiple middles.
I mean, I may not be in the middle of political spectrum of the general populace, but I think I'm in the middle of the conservative population, certainly the religious conservative population.
I'm certainly not in the middle of the average Stone Arch Bridge protest population, but neither are they in the general middle.
I think you can find a number of groups like that, and perhaps one person can be in more than one group.
So, how does a politician run in that kind of environment? Maybe that's why the front runners tend to be vague, they're trying to appeal to these various middles, not just one. And that's how they get to be front runners, they attract the most middles.
Attracting middles that are diametrically opposed is hard to do. It's easier to attract middles that are closer to each other. For instance, middles that agree on touchstone issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. There doesn't tend to be middle ground there. The various middles tend to line up one or the other, and the candidate with the most middles on his/her side of the line wins.
In the First District, marriage and abortion don't seem to be important there, at least to the people taking the quiz. So, a candidate running statewide will focus on different middles in that region.
In the end, a candidate wins by appealing to the most middle, on different issues.
Where I think the Independent Party gets into trouble is they say we'll be in the middle on everything, and they don't appeal to enough of the multiple middles that are clustered more towards either end of the spectrum.