November 4, 2015

Morninng Line: Democrats in deep trouble

In our average of recent polls, Clinton is statistically tied with all the GOP leaders. Sanders is 6 ahead of Trump and 5 ahead of Cruz but is statistically tied with Bush and Carson.

Trump and Carson are statistically tied at 26 and 23 percent. Rubio and Cruz have 12 points. All the other candidates are in single digits;

Clinton has a 21 point lead over Sanders.

If Clinton can't do better against the worst and most incompetent collection of GOP presidential candidates in modern times, the Democrats are in real trouble. Sanders is doing slightly better but not yet good enough.

To understand what is going on, it helps to think of this campaign as an advertising rather than a political contest. Americans, subjected to hundreds of advertisements every day, now consider this sort of propaganda a logical and reasonable part of their lives and so it isn't hard for them to believe that Trump will be as tough and Carson as sensible as they sound.

But judged just from an advertising perspective, Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. She comes across as harsh and didactic, is broadly considered untrustworthy, and that's even before the GOP unloads more problems of her past once she is nominated.

Bernie Sanders has done a wonderful job so far with just the facts and if he could seem as easy to get along with as Carson, he'd probably be beating everyone. But like Obama and Clinton he often seems to lecture people rather than talk with them.

What about Trump? That's not a lecture that's just meant to be a rant by an angry person, like so many Americans.

It's probably not too late for the Democrats to come up with a more easily likable candidate.  Biden would have been a good bet - but there are little signs of any alternative.

Why? One reason is that for Democrats these days it's more important to be politically correct than to be politically wise.

Take the case of Brian Schweitzer, highly popular former governor of Montana, who was seeming a good possibility until he made one small error, as reported by Buzzfeed:
Schweitzer told the reporter that Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader who lost his primary election that month, set off his “gaydar.”
“If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say — and I’m fine with gay people, that’s all right — but my gaydar is 60-70 percent,” Schweitzer says in the story. “But he’s not, I think, so I don’t know. Again, I couldn’t care less. I’m accepting.”

The next morning, MSNBC was talking about it. Everyone was talking about it. Pundits said his 2016 prospects were dead, if he ever had them to begin with.
It's not the way you talk in San Francisco or Manhattan, but if you want to move anti-gay Americans to a more moderate position, a Schweitzer who says things like, "I couldn't care less. I'm accepting" is going to do better than a scolding Obama or Clinton.

And it helps to know how to get your point across, For example, Buzzfeed noted, "Another morning before dawn, Schweitzer put 10 senior citizens on a bus and headed for Canada to purchase prescription drugs at cheaper prices. Along Route 93, he picked up more people, stumping to the group over the bus loudspeaker as they drove north. The idea, he said at the time, was to “embarrass Congress” about the high cost of medicine. He took four more trips and started carrying around a pocket-size Physicians’ Desk Reference wherever he went."

Until Sanders came along, the Democratic Party hasn't had anyone in decades both strong and true to its New Deal and Great Society values. It would be great if he could pull it off, but from a purely pragmatic point of view, the party desperately needs someone who can counter the image of a Carson or Trump with a Schweitzer-like personality and program.

Afraid there are no sightings on the horizon.


Hugh Reitan said...

This is very insightful. My dad told me that George McGovern always talked to people as if they were an audience of college students and never connected with anyone else.

wellbasically said...

Trump and Sanders are picking from the same group of voters.