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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Clinton. Connecting with Voters?

posted by on January 23 at 13:23 PM

It seems to me that every time there’s a televised debate starring the Democratic candidates, it helps Hillary Clinton.

She was supposed to get walloped in NH. There was a debate. She won the primary three days later.

Nevada was supposed to be too close to call. There was a debate. She cleaned up the popular vote.

In South Carolina there was a debate on Monday that set a national cable viewership record for debatesó4.9 million viewers.

Well, check out the national tracking polls. On the day of the debate (Monday night 1/19) Clinton was leading Obama 38 to 32. She’d been hovering between 37 and 38 for a while. Well, promptly after the debate in SC she jumped to a 42 to 30 lead.

My gut tells me Obama is the better nominee, but Clinton sure seems to score points with the public after televised debates.

Obama is supposed to win SC pretty handily and that might give him some momentum going into February 5th’s primary showdown, but there’s also going to be another Democratic debate in Los Angeles on January 31.

Here’s hoping CNN pulls a Kucinich on Edwards, and we get to see Obama and Clinton really tangle.

RSS icon Comments

1
My gut tells me Obama is the better nominee, but Clinton sure seems to score points with the public after televised debates.

So did Kerry. Clinton probably did fare better in the debate, but it's only one aspect of the campaigning process.

I think your gut has a point.

Posted by tsm | January 23, 2008 1:31 PM
2

The SC debate was on 1/21/08. From your link, here's the polling numbers from that day:
Clinton-41%
Obama-32%
Edwards-14%

Unless they managed to poll everyone after 10 PM EST when the debate ended, then these numbers were pre-debate and the difference between them and today's numbers are statistically insignificant. I think it's a mistake to attribute Hillary's general upward trend of the past week to that debate.

Posted by Greg | January 23, 2008 1:34 PM
3

For all the claims that Obama is a great speaker (I would disagree. Decent preacher, yes. Good speaker, no. But anyway), he doesn't come off that great in the debates. He shifts the trajectory of his sentences often, starting one way and, after the first phrase, restarting and heading another. He also stutters and 'um's quite often. None of these things really inspire confidence in a candidate.

Hillary isn't great with the inspiration, but she speaks quickly and surely, and when she needs a place holder, it's often something like 'what I would like to emphasize' and not 'um.' Of the two, she's much more adept at the debates and often emerges seeming like the most compitent of the three.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Posted by johnnie | January 23, 2008 1:36 PM
4

My gut tells me that the media just sucks at predicting what will happen

Posted by vooodooo84 | January 23, 2008 1:36 PM
5

she's definitely more skilled at debating, no doubt about that. but then debating was/is supposedly al gore's strong suit, and gwb isn't exactly a master of the craft, so i'm not sure you should put too much stock in that theory. besides, how many people are actually watching these debates?

Posted by brandon | January 23, 2008 1:38 PM
6

Despite all the arguing during the debate, Clinton did a great job reminding us democrats that we need universal health care. Honestly, if a democrat can't put forward a plan to cover every American, who will?!

Go Hill!

Posted by WA for Hillary | January 23, 2008 1:41 PM
7

@6 If the Democrat puts forward a plan that scares moderates and idependents, no plan will get put forward, which is far worse then Obama's plan

Posted by vooodooo84 | January 23, 2008 1:45 PM
8

South Carolina polls have Obama with a comfortable lead. Not that that means much given polling's track record this campaign season.

Posted by Ziggity | January 23, 2008 1:50 PM
9

It's too bad for you that Hillary! hasn't put forth a universal plan for health care, not unless you think jailing people for not being able to pay insurance companies is "progressive".

Posted by ru shur | January 23, 2008 1:52 PM
10

Josh, a debate was also a huge turning point for her campaign for Senate. Rick Lazio kept challenging her and he came across as rude. The memorable moment was when he walked over to her podium and asked her to sign some pledge of some sort, and she was like, "Uh, no." and he sort of had to slink away, looking like a total moron. After that, Lazio plummeted in the polls.

Posted by Seth Kolloen | January 23, 2008 1:52 PM
11

I have a hard time swallowing Hillary's position on Iraq. A really hard time. Her media persona is not what you think of as an inspiring leader. But after hearing her speak here in Redmond my gut feels she is the best "man" for the job. The point being that I think it's not the debate, but the chance to see and hear her directly as opposed to media sound bytes and portrayals that moves people into her camp. I think she's going to piss me off on many issues but I also think she will do a light years better job than Obama as president. Obama for cheerleader, Hillary for quarterback - let's face it Obabma's effeminate - nothing wrong with that but it fights against a lot of our f*&$ up culture...

Posted by teabag | January 23, 2008 1:54 PM
12

Why exactly does your gut tell you Obama is a better candidate? My gut is that HC is the smartest, the toughest, the most experienced, and the most likely to beat the Republicans in November. I like Obama, but he reminds me of a inspirational speaker (or a preacher), and my gut has begun to cringe every time I hear him speak. If I thought he could win I would support him over HC, even though I still think Clinton would be the best president. And it's going to take someone awfully good to clean up after GW.

Posted by PJ | January 23, 2008 1:55 PM
13
It's too bad for you that Hillary! hasn't put forth a universal plan for health care, not unless you think jailing people for not being able to pay insurance companies is "progressive".

I suspect that she'll actually just fine people some amount of money. Which would raise the question of why she wouldn't just offer tax credits of the same amount of money for them to buy insurance instead. What's the difference, ultimately? Why choose the equivalent policy that's harder to sell?

Posted by tsm | January 23, 2008 2:04 PM
14

@13, I think that difference has to do with the public interest, or some damn thing.

Posted by tomasyalba | January 23, 2008 2:11 PM
15

America is a one-party state--money--with two wings: the greedier social-Darwinist side, and the more senstive Darwin-believing side. Until Big Money is removed from the equation and the Mainstream Media isn't the kingmaker (Leno, Larry King, CNN, etc), we won't see change.

MSM *wants* Hillary as the candidate because she's easier to cover--they all have her dossier and relationships with the Clinton people going back 15 years.

The media create the polls, write the questions, present the results as they wish, and offer it as a presentation of Reality. (Then occasionally something like New Hampshire happens that defies the Conventional Wisdom).

Posted by Andy Niable | January 23, 2008 2:13 PM
16

well, that's because obama sucks at debating and defending his position. he did better this time around, but his forte really is orating, not debating. he's all ers and ums.


hillary, on the other hand, hardly stops to breathe, so she comes across looking like someone who is freakishly in command of the facts and her own take on pretty much every given topic.

Posted by kim | January 23, 2008 2:22 PM
17

@14 -

@13, I think that difference has to do with the public interest, or some damn thing.

Cute, and totally meaningless, tomasyalba. I'll ask again: what's the real difference between fining someone $100 for not doing something and giving them a $100 tax break for doing it? Either way, the net impact is the same.

Posted by tsm | January 23, 2008 2:25 PM
18

@17:

here's the diff:

when you get that tax break and it's voluntary, many folks still won't buy insurance.

but then WHEN THEY GET SICK THEY SURE AS HELL ARE GOING TO WANT TREATMENT and we are not gonna say fuck you, you die in the street, loser.

So the finances get out of whack.

This is no shocker; for similar reasons we don't make it voluntary to contribute to social security or get auto liability insurance.

To think that everyone will buy insurance even if you give them that $100 tax sounds great and hopeful and inspirational -- everything can work out in such a nice way for everyone! Thre are no hard choices on which we disagree! Kumbaya! -- but in reality is naive and inexperienced.

Posted by unPC | January 23, 2008 2:36 PM
19

I can understand democrats supporting Hillary. I can maybe even understand liberals supporting Hillary. But how the hell does a progressive support a corporate lawyer who sat on the Wal-Mart board for six years?

Posted by KDS | January 23, 2008 2:40 PM
20

@18 - Well, lots of people won't buy insurance if you fine them either. (Surely you know that, being non-naive and experienced.)

But OK, let's assume that more people won't buy insurance if we cut their taxes rather than fine them. This is a problem - if we don't offer any form of public insurance. However, you see, Obama's plan also offers an expanded public insurance plan to cover the otherwise uninsured. Under that scheme, when you reject the tax break and don't buy insurance, you're subsidizing the insurance of others through your increased taxes whether you realize it or not. That's why the non-mandate plan isn't necessarily an issue.

Posted by tsm | January 23, 2008 2:45 PM
21

@18,

In that case, the government should withhold a set percentage of each person's income in order to pay for an insurance policy. Fining people who can't afford to pay for insurance is all kinds of insane.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 23, 2008 2:47 PM
22

"Cute and totally meaningless." I get that a lot, and not often wrongly. Sorry tsm.

Posted by tomasyalba | January 23, 2008 2:48 PM
23

Obama is bad at debates because the debates focus on quick (and pointless) talking points. Obama struggles with this because he like anyone else with any amount of intelligence knows that you not possibly deal with the subject of the Iraq war, health care or the economy in a 30 second sound bite.

Posted by Jesse | January 23, 2008 2:49 PM
24
Obama struggles with this because he like anyone else with any amount of intelligence knows that you not possibly deal with the subject of the Iraq war, health care or the economy in a 30 second sound bite.

Wow. I mean... wow.

But, don't you see that-- wow.

I can't argue with this kind of logic.

Posted by Big Sven | January 23, 2008 3:09 PM
25

@20:
u.r. not. making.sense.

1. No one suggested fining as the main enforcement mechanisn, except maybe you.
I suspect the way it'll work is like social security and tax withholding. Automatic capture of the money. You're insured and you're paying for it and you get less take home pay. Yoiu got no choice.

2. It's not clear what you are saying. You seem to now admit there is a problem with free riders, but suggest that all the free riders will see their income taxes rise, then decide to stop being free riders. Because they're noble or something.

How will that work again?

If they bear the whole cost of their not paying in....in their income tax liability.....and face fines and jail for not paying their taxes....you've turned it back into a mandatory system. The opposite of what you were arguing for.

On the other hand, if they don't bear the whole cost, they still make money by not paying in, the cost of the free riders is shared by everyone (what I was saying) and they have no financial reason to not be free riders.

If you have a beter argument, or I didn't get what you are saying, let's hear it. I'm not against the notion of Obama's plan in principle, but I've yet to hear a good 20-sec. explanation of how it deals with the finances/free rider issue.

And if the principle of voluntariness is so great, what, did we make a big huge mistake in making education mandatory, making social security mandatory, and making auto insurance and unemployment insurance mandatory?

Posted by unPC | January 23, 2008 3:15 PM
26

@19,

Cuz Wal-Mart lowers inflation (dramatically) and has used its clout in to promote environmentally smart practices (no more redundant packaging, promoting green products), has revolutionized productivity by making suppliers cater to consumers, has created a huge market for organics, and inaugurated a low-price health care plan for its workers.

Look, I know Wal-Mart has hurt the labor movement and has a bad record on things like salmon harvesting, but read the Wal-Mart Effect and you'll see it's not black and white.

Posted by Josh Feit | January 23, 2008 3:24 PM
27

Strange, cause the independents that watched it said that Edwards won the debate ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 23, 2008 3:31 PM
28

@25 -

No one suggested fining as the main enforcement mechanisn, except maybe you. I suspect the way it'll work is like social security and tax withholding.

You can't force the unemployed to buy insurance by withholding it from their paychecks!

It's not clear what you are saying. You seem to now admit there is a problem with free riders

No, there won't. Because the "free riders" won't actually be freeriding after all. That's the point.

Again: Under Obama's plan, there will be, in addition to private insurance, a public insurance plan, funded by taxes. If you don't buy insurance, you forego the tax break for insurance. When you forego the tax break for insurance, you provide additional money to fund the public insurance plan. Thus you are not a free rider after all. You're opting to pay for others' public insurance if you don't buy insurance yourself.

Get it yet?

, but suggest that all the free riders will see their income taxes rise, then decide to stop being free riders. Because they're noble or something.

No, they won't "decide". It'll be tacked onto their tax bill anyway.

And if the principle of voluntariness is so great, what, did we make a big huge mistake in making education mandatory, making social security mandatory, and making auto insurance and unemployment insurance mandatory?

This doesn't follow at all. First, the situations you describe aren't fully comparable - Social Security isn't really a "mandate" for all citizens, for example. Second, yes, mandates can work in some areas, but there's more than one way to implement a "mandate".

Posted by tsm | January 23, 2008 3:39 PM
29

@28:

Thanks for trying again to explain it to me. I don't get what you're saying.

I think the problem is earlier you said the tax break one would forego is $100. Maybe that was not a real type number? If the tax break one foregoes is just $100, then you do have a free rider problem, because health insurace would cost 10 or 20 or 30 times more than that.

But ont he toher hand if the tax break you would forego is equal to or more than the cost of health insurance, the Obama plan is actually a mandatory plan with the enforcment mechanism being a massive penalty exacted via the tax return.

It might do to give a few numbers about the tax break you're not going to get, and a few examples for a lower income person, a middle income person and an upper income person.


If the gist of the plan is "If you don't buy insurance, you forego the tax break for insurance" then it's either not a big enough tax break to matter (the free rider problem) or it is (so it's really mandatory).

Just to be clear:
the free rider problem is this:
you don't pay into insurance for years. You maybe forego a tiny little tax break like $100 a year for 15 years. So over 15 years, you paid $1500 more in taxes. No biggie.

Then you get cancer have treatment that costs $500,000.

You saved maybe $300 amonth for fifteen years or $3600 a year or about $50,000 in premiums, then you use $500,000 in resources, throwing the finances out of whack.

The free rider problem isn't that it was literally "free" to you; in this example it wasn't "free" because you lost the trivial tax break of $100 a year. You helped pay for others so you weren't a "free rider" the way you are looking at it (as far as I can tell). But in reality, you are a free rider because you are avoiding the large cots of premiums knowing that when you get sick you are going to be covered anyway. And not left to die in the street.

If that's a big enough consequence, then it's a penalty even if you don't call it that and the whole system is not voluntary. And yes, a tax consequence increasing your tax liability translates into fines and jail if you don't pay the taxes. Not very voluntary.

Or, if the tax break you lose is minimal, you have the free rider problem.

You can't make statements like
"When you forego the tax break for insurance, you provide additional money to fund the public insurance plan. Thus you are not a free rider after all. "

If what you are saying is "pay health ins. on your own, or else we'll penalize you a greater amount on your taxes" then the plan is not voluntary.

If what you are saying is "pay health ins. on your own, or else we'll add back a $100 tax break on your tax bill," you've got the free rider problem.

which seems, um, not to be voluntary to me.


"No, they won't "decide". It'll be tacked onto their tax bill anyway."

Sounds like mandatory spirit.

Hey, I don't care how we make people pay. Foregone tax breaks might be one of the tools to use.

Posted by unPC | January 23, 2008 4:29 PM
30

Maybe a gas tax for healthcare?

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 23, 2008 4:31 PM
31

Hillary! also has a plan to end poverty by making it illegal to be poor. Obviously, anyone who opposes this strategy is pro-poverty.

Posted by ru shur | January 23, 2008 4:57 PM
32

Hillary! also has a plan to end poverty by making it illegal to be poor. Obviously, anyone who opposes this strategy is pro-poverty.

Posted by ru shur | January 23, 2008 4:57 PM
33

Hillary is clearly a better debater. Debates don't mean that much in the primary season because of low ratings. But come October when the whole nation is watching, Obama isn't likely to become magically competent at debating. Republicans always sound good to middle America in the debates because their arguments are so simple-minded. Hillary will kick ass just like she did against Lazio. Obama runs the risk of coming off as unsure of himself--a fatal flaw against Republicans in the general election.

Posted by tiptoe tommy | January 23, 2008 8:09 PM
34

John Kerry was excellent in the debates with Bush but it didn't matter. Maybe because "middle America" doesn't watch debates?

Posted by Mike of Renton | January 23, 2008 8:26 PM
35

Exactly @34, and that's why Sen Obama has more delegates than Sen Clinton does.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 23, 2008 11:58 PM
36

WiS@35:

Senator Obama will make an outstanding Vice President.

Posted by Big Sven | January 24, 2008 10:48 AM

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