Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Didn't Watch, But....

I don't watch debates.  They are so scripted and artificial.  But last night was fairly important on the Democratic side, primarily because of who wasn't there.

Clinton's relationship with the press has been fractious since 1992 or earlier.  She's getting hammered for nontroversies like the email server and Benghazi(!).  All of which have led to softening poll numbers and led some Democratic bigwigs to start trying to draft Joe Biden.  Last night, Clinton showed that she remains a formidable debater and campaigner.  No other candidate has ever made Obama work so hard to win an election, and that level of policy expertise and experience was demonstrated last night.

Sanders did what he needed to do, and both he and O'Malley offered only the mildest rebukes of Clinton,  In fact, Sanders' biggest moment was coming to HRC's defense over the email nonsense.  It was a boring, wonky debate that lacked the reality TV drama of the GOP tilts, because that precisely encapsulates the difference between the two parties.  The Democrats want to govern, the Republicans want to make headlines.

What is interesting is when you look at this piece from John Sides.  Republicans, safely ensconced inside the Fox-O-Sphere, think that the key to being elected is being really, really conservative.  Democrats tend to think that moderates stand a better chance of winning the general.  History and theory are on the Democrats side here.

I would argue that the softening in Hillary's numbers over the summer have not been caused by Democrats being upset over the email stuff, but because they worry that the email stuff could hurt her electability.  Her performance last night - combined with Sanders implicit support of her with regards to the email stuff - should recoup some support she lost.  Democrats, in short, are more likely to support someone they think can win in November 2016.  And that's not great news for Bernie.

We've noticed that Donald Trump can't break past that 30% barrier among GOP voters.  I wonder if Bernie has a similar ceiling.

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