Thursday, April 16, 2015

Who WOULD Vote For Hillary??

Cokie Roberts estimates the number '3' as the count of people who won't vote for Hillary Clinton because of the email-scandal. Neo-Neocon is too jaded and cynical to be shocked and/or appalled by this: She chocks it up to the Democrat's identity politics:
That’s the way it is these days. Clinton’s support (and Obama’s support before her) is untethered from the usual things like performance, ethics, corruption, secrecy, mendacity. That’s one of the beautiful things about identity politics and identity candidates. If a candidate’s support rests not on what he/she accomplishes in office or qualities of character, but instead depends on inherent and fixed qualities such as race or gender, then things like this don’t matter and won’t drive away many voters.
. . .
Hillary Clinton is a woman, an identity candidate. She also happens to be the only candidate the Democrats have got. So I offer a caveat: if the Democrats had another viable candidate, I think the emails would matter (as well as Hillary’ age and general unlikeability) and she would not be a shoo-in for the nomination. In 2008, one of the many things that happened was that Obama’s identity politics—as well as his youth, newness, and general “likeability” (although I’ve never really perceived that latter trait, it apparently exists)—trumped Hillary’s.
The Omnivore is, honestly, a big fan of Neo-Neocon and, honestly, was a bit surprised to see her trot out the Democrats-Are line of discourse. While it is possible to speak in fact-based generalities (Republican base voters are statistically older than Democrats) the pop-psychology approach is lacking in rigor, subject to a myriad of internal biases, and is, really, a projection of what the speaker thinks The Other is like rather than analysis.

The question is why isn't this analysis--is it projection? Is it something else?

Let's Look!
In her post, Neo-Neocon lays out a few "Democrats-Are" precepts:
  1. They vote for the candidate based on who/what he is--rather than what he represents. This is done for ideological reasons (such as because the candidate is black).
  2. The candidate MUST be a Democrat and support the platform--or be further left!
  3. Their unfailing support for Hillary is based on the sense she is the only candidate available. If there were others, perhaps some would be concerned with her unlikablility and age.
The Omnivore asserts there are three possibilities for this cluster (a) she's right! If Neo-Neocon is correct then Democrats, unlike Republicans are clearly and always going for the far-left ideological candidate no matter their failings. (b) It's projection. Does she see in others what she doesn't like in herself? How about (c) It's a confirmation bias error blind spot: there are other rationales for what she's seeing--but she can't see them.

Ideological Leanings
Do Democrats vote for people solely based on the color of their skin--or maybe their gender? Is that the sole reason Hillary is dominating Joe Biden?

It's True: Neo-Neocon can let that one right out: Elizabeth Warren is both a woman and further left than Hillary Clinton. If the Democrats were voting their Communism we'd have 'Fauxahontas' leading the pack.

It's Projection: There is, thankfully, no evidence that Neo-Neocon would include or exclude a candidate based on their intrinsics. She's pretty thoughtful and, while she didn't like Herman Cain much, she did defend him against the allegations when they were pretty baseless (the early days of the Bimbo-Meltdown).

It's A Blind Spot: For this to work there has to be another reason for the Democrat's behavior other than raw She's-A-Woman. The obvious one is that they want to win. Hillary out-polls all the Republicans by a decent amount and all the other Democrats by a land-slide. It's also fair to note that Hillary hasn't slid left--she didn't advocate breaking up the big banks. She hasn't taken an Any-Abortion-Any-Time stance. She doesn't seem to feel the urge to cater to Code Pink.

Any Democrat In A Storm
Neo-Neocon thinks that Republicans, in the position of Democrats, would . . . find another candidate (hopefully?) if their front-runner was as morally damaged as Hillary is. She also thinks that Democrats will just fall in line behind whoever bears the 'D' label because they're brainwashed or something. How's that fare?

It's True: The Omnivore supposes the basis for this is the re-election of Obama in 2012--by a decent margin. How can you square that with his horrible record in office? The answer is that Bush started a war to get the WMD's and came home without WMD's--but a botched Nation-Building attempt and Americans torturing people in the same prison where Saddam Hussein tortured people--just doing it on camera (unlike Saddam who was a savvy enough torturer not to take pictures) and still won reelection over a mushy (but rich) Massachusetts Moderate (John Kerry). Neo-Neocon won't admit it-but she felt a chill up her spine reading that.

It's Projection: The Omnivore doesn't know if Neo-Neocon voted for W. in 2004 but it seems likely. Perhaps she is projecting that event (after all, the economy did melt down on his watch and he launched TARP) onto Democrats? Possible. Consider that she also fell in behind Romney. Now, that's acceptable--but for someone who likes the way, way, way more conservative Scott Walker this time around (Neo-Neocon is also no fool: Walker's a good choice) her warmth towards Romney might be a little . . . suspect. After all, he wasn't really a severe conservative, was he?

It's A Blind Spot: Will the Democratic base pick any 'D' over any 'R'? Probably--jersyism, right? If I'm a hard-blue guy, it's My-Team all the way. But, erm . . . what about . . . Asian voters? Who maybe felt turned off by the GOP's Real-American rhetoric? How about . . . erm, young voters, who maybe see the--dunno--confederate flag at some conservative rallies as kinda racist? Or see the gay-marriage thing through the lens of interracial marriage (or maybe read the Pew polling and recognize that a lot of GOP constituency voters still don't like interracial marriage either?). Maybe those generic young voters are voting 'D' for some actually extant reasons?

What if the GOP really did have branding problems that were turning people off? Would Neo-Neocon see it? Would she understand that the few-bad-apples theory does not end with "the bunch" being just fine? Hmm ...

Concerns About Hillary's Likability
Neo-Neocon conjectures that in addition to being dirty, were there another reasonable candidate, might Democrats get turned off at her not being likable? Hmm . . . maybe?

It's True: Hillary is not especially likable. She's been (or thinks she has been) under assault for decades from the right. That's made her bitter. She's also apparently never been the most likable person in the world anyway. Is that a problem for President? Maybe--but Nixon doesn't seem very likable and he won. G. Bush Sr. wasn't a fountain of charisma either. Maybe voters are keying on other things?

It's Projection: Let's go to the tape--Neo-Neocon's blog:
Newt is not likable, but Romney isn’t especially likable either, for completely different reasons. They both have flipflopped on issues, but (as Krauthammer points out) Gingrich is seen as having advanced a true conservative agenda years ago, whereas Romney is seen as “ideologically unreliable.”
She had concerns--but there was no one else (alas)--so she backed the Romster.

It's A Blind Spot: The Omnivore has it on authority that Hillary may not be super-duper likable but she is likable enough.  . . . no . . . can't keep a straight face either.

What's Going On?
What's going on is a combination of confirmation bias and projection--much of it driven by fear. Losing elections hurts and while Hillary may not be a favorite to win the election, she's a good bet for an even-odds-at-worst candidate . . . and if she manages her roll out? Runs a good campaign? If the GOP makes any of their 'signature' mistakes--if Rush Limbaugh shoots his mouth off about women--or any nonsense like that? Hillary could be a nightmare candidate.

The Omnivore tracked numerous rumors or bits of punditry saying Hillary wouldn't run anyway--that she was very sick--or about to be arrested. The fact is that however bad Hillary is, she's a total winner compared to the other potential Democrats and the Republicans know it. A bunch of voters even see her as the candidate in the race most representing the future. She's 67. Can you believe it?

Fear of another "Obama-ing" is part of the problem. The other problem is that Neo-Neocon has ingested a toxic narrative--that narrative is that Obama is an unmitigated disaster and anyone with their eyes open can clearly see that. To be sure, his intervention in Libya has gone far south. Now it was backed by the international community, yes, much like Iraq--and unlike the WMD, they actually got Kadaffy--but never mind that--his economy has been stagnant (except for the stock market) and gas prices have . . . well . . .

The point here isn't that Obama is great--it's that the big picture is tough to get an objective handle on. Confirmation bias is tricky. Narratives are powerful. To the Republicans, 2012 was supposed to be the I-Told-You-So election where black people, the young, and unmarried women slunk back into their bedrooms, never to vote again, so disappointed were they with Obama's tenure.

That was why the presumed demographics for the GOP looked more like 2010 or 2006 than 2008. This was the "thinking person's" explanation for why they got the polling wrong (of course the actual polling agencies didn't get it wrong--at least not in aggregate--which makes you wonder why they weren't snowed). Still, this narrative blinded a lot of bright people the blatant fact that Obama's favorable ratings were between 45-and-50%.

Clearly a lot of people liked him.

When the mind sees something it can't make sense of, it does what it can. This leads, in the political realm, to extrapolative assumptions that the general electorate is just "checked out," that half the country is just bought off. That black people are "voting their race" or voting for Obamaphones--and so on. These 'explanations' stand in for a real look at the evidence and confound the ability to see another perspective (as someone who knows from the Big Banks, The Omnivore can tell you he's glad Obama's not left like Elizabeth Warren is--and thus, The Omnivore knows at least one line where the Communism stops . . .).

We all have blind-spots--but if you catch yourself making gross generalizations about half of the populace? You're really just saying more about yourself.


  1. It's Cokie Roberts, if it matters.

    And as the Great Hype Machine spins up over the next few months, it may be worth revisiting the contest from the perspectives of some of the representative spinmeisters-behind-the-throne, particularly Drs. Luntz and Lakoff. Frank concentrates on messaging and branding, while George seems to prefer the route of framing the debate. So, politics-as-horse-race consumers out there: who's got it right?

    Why, they both do. Y'all can have that one for free.

    I think the novel and film Primary Colors showed a good understanding of the motivations of Klin-ton (I get my politics from Kang, too): that one can do good for one's constituents only so long as one wins (and holds) office, and that selling one's soul in pursuit of same is an acceptable compromise.

    Nobody's claiming to be Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus any more, that's for certain - and the notion of politician-as-public-servant has been out of fashion for almost that long, maybe even for the full 2400+ years.

    I think your analysis has at least this much going for it: Hilary may be all the Democrats have (E. Warren keeps refusing to be drafted, as is her right), but also polls well on a "least worst" axis. And isn't that what modern politics has come down to? Not inspiration so much as relative lack of disgust?

    (Bad) food for thought.

    -- Ω

    1. Cokie. Cookie. Same thing, right?

      I think what people are missing is that while Clinton is all the Democrats have she is also who the Democrats want. For Warren supporters (and the further left) this is disappointing if somewhat comprehensible (she's in the pocket of Wall Street--but not a Cruz-level disaster so . . . go for what you can get).

      For Red Staters though, as noted above, it's Crapsack World time. They can't understand how their world-view could be anything but utterly true and totally convincing--so it must mean people are not, really, good-at-heart.

      -The Omnivore

    2. "They can't understand how their world-view could be anything but utterly true and totally convincing--so it must mean people are not, really, good-at-heart."

      This is one of the biggest obstacles facing the right, and the country. When one group decides that its version of the truth is the only version, there is not a lot of room for expanding coalitions that are needed to win the White House.

      Now to be fair, the left also has its version of "the truth" - though it does appear to be a "truth" that is found through the scientific method, evidence, etc. as opposed to religion and belief. Rather than "right/left" are we instead dealing more with a "religion/science" debate (or perhaps even a south/north split).