Monday, February 09, 2004

On Clark, Dean and Kerry

Here are a few interesting articles I just read about Clark and Dean (this post
is a lightly edited and expanded version of an email I recently wrote, to a
fellow Australian who is also interested in the upcoming US election).

I don't know if Clark's campaign has any traction with the US media, or much
traction with voters in the primaries, and whether any of this is going to
change for the better, but I still think he would be good, and don't know why
he's being ignored.

This explains the main reason I think Clark is the best choice, by a Cornell
Physics Professor:

here's an excerpt:

In making their decision, Democratic voters should keep in mind the following facts: In the 13 presidential elections since World War II (excluding the 2000 election, where the actual winner is still a matter of debate),

* The incumbent won six of the nine races in which a president sought a second term.
* Democrats who were generally perceived as liberal won 3 presidential elections, and lost 6. Democrats perceived as middle-of-the-road won 4 elections and lost 1.
* Democratic candidates from southern states won 4 times and lost once; those from mid-western and eastern states won once and lost 6 times. (The 1948 Truman victory is not included, since Missouri is both southern and mid-western.)
* No Democrat ever won the presidency without winning at least 5 southern states.
* Polls consistently show that the American people have more confidence in Republicans to manage our national security
* Since 1948, the fraction of voters declaring themselves Democratic has declined from about 50% to about 30%. The Republican fraction has stayed constant at about 30%.

These historical data portend a grim 2004 race for Democrats. To win, the Democratic candidate will need everything going for him (alas, there are no longer any "her" possibilities this year). The ideal candidate will have southern roots, have strong national security credentials, and will not be generally perceived as a "standard democratic liberal". He will have to draw votes from outside of the basic Democratic base, and must win back those Democrats who are concerned with the dangers of a post 9/11 world.

After reading this re-read the mountains of press about Kerry being the most
electable candidate, and how people support Kerry because he has the best
chance of beating George Bush. Chance is intimately related to probability and
statistics. How many people who talk favourably about Kerry's chances of
beating Bush have taken into account the statistics in the previous article.

Also, with all the opinion polls showing Kerry beating Bush, how many people
have acknowledged:

(a) Bush hasn't started campaining.
(b) Opinion polls are often a very poor indication of what voters will write
on their voting card.
(c) There is no prize for winning the most votes. Labor has often done this
in Australia and lost, Kerry could easily follow in Gore's footsteps and
win the most votes but lose the election, by not winning them in the right

Here's an interesting article about use of open source software by the Clark
campaign, including comments by an ex-Redhat employee:

Finally, there's been a few threads on the Clark weblogs about joining the
Clark and Dean campaigns where possible, to avoid Kerry/Edwards. This is
something I think would be very cool.

here is an active thread on this on Dean's weblog:

and here is the letter which started most of the discussion:

If you're interested in creative use of the internet in politics, Dave Winer has an interesting blogpost:

Howard Dean is not a Soap Bar

He deals thoughtfully with the problem of mass-media bias, (I consider it to be more a case of media ignorance and incompetence at their job) and how to 'route around' this. I think however that we're a way away from candidates being able to 'route around' television, newspapers, radio and mainstream websites to win an election - how many marginal voters use weblogs as a primary source of political information?

If you're interested in grassroots and internet based political campaigning in Australia, I'm still surprised why more people haven't signed up for htpp:// . Is it because us Australian bloggers all love John Howard so much? Is it because we're politically apathetic? Or is it just that I've been crap at getting the message out?

This post has been pretty much all over the shop, but I hope it is still of interest to people interested in grassroots politics and the internet.


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