Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The VP Picks Compared

Hi Everybody,


Dr. S has repeatedly said that Obama picked poorly by picking Biden.  His reasons for this assertion are that Biden wasn't a "bold" pick, that there was a reason Biden didn't do better in the primaries, that Obama needed to use his VP pick to generate more excitement.  Dr. S. has said that Palin did those things for McCain and Obama - in hindsight - should have done the same.  

However, consider this.  Obama and McCain faced different problems.  Obama's problem is that the media story on him is that he's inexperienced and risky.  The Clintons beat him over the head with that one up until their amazing speeches at the DNC a couple of weeks ago and the Republicans have easily picked up the strategy.  Obama needed to pick someone who would counter that.  He still has 64% of his supporters saying they are "very enthusiastic"  (poll numbers I reference can be found here).  But people are concerned about his experience. 

McCain's problem is that the media story on him is that he's boring, has a problem convincing people he's a maverick and has a problem with the right wing of his own party.  So he picked an exciting, right wing, populist.  

But we can snipe at each other about who's pick was better all day and it won't tell us much other than our own opinions.  What do the polls say about Biden's and Palin's effects on the respective tickets?  The polls below are from pollingreport.com (see link above).  

"Does McCain's choice of Palin for vice president make you more likely to vote for McCain, less likely, or won't it make any difference in your vote?"

.

More
Likely
Less
Likely
No
Difference
Unsure 
%%%% 

9/4/08

25

19

55

1

 

.

"Does Barack Obama's choice of Biden for vice president make you more likely to vote for Obama, less likely, or won't it make any difference in your vote?"

.

More
Likely
Less
Likely
No
Difference
Unsure 
%%%% 

9/4/08

22

10

67

1



Biden helped Obama with a +12 effect.  Palin helped McCain with a +6 effect.  The other thing you'll notice is that Obama's "no difference" number is much higher than McCain's.  This suggests that Obama's VP pick was less important than McCain's.  It may also suggest that Palin is a polarizing pick.  You either love her or hate her.  

The real effect for Palin though is that McCain's supporters are now much more likely to be enthusiastic than they used to be - still not as enthusiastic as Obama's supporters but much closer now.  

12 comments:

Dr. Strangelove said...

While I do not think the difference between "more likely" and "less likely" is a useful statistical measure (esp. given the 4.5% margin of error for the original statistics), these figures are still very reassuring. The big bounce McCain got from the convention suggests otherwise, but I hope these figures will reassert themselves. Biden is a better candidate than Palin for anything except Beauty Queen, and I hope in the long run that will win out. I am glad you brought this poll to our attention, RbR.

But it irritates me that you accuse me of "hindsight" regarding my feelings toward Biden. I have been saying for a while that Obama, "needed to use his VP pick to generate more excitement."

On August 18, I wrote that Obama should pick Hillary because she would "excite the Democratic base" as no other Democrat could. I made a point of saying generating excitement was key.

On August 20, I wrote, "The 'enthusiasm gap' is very important. I think the race may rest on this... I think Obama would do best to choose a VP with good foreign policy credentials who also excites the base. Biden and Richardson are among the many residents of Yawnsville."

And I was not the only one who thought beforehand that Biden would be a bad choice. LTG wrote on August 22, "I think Obama's best shot is to stay away from someone like Biden, who - by trying to compensate - might actually emphasize Obama's flaws."

Bell Curve said on August 18, "I still have hope for Schweitzer, though that hope is dwindling. And I don't believe for a second that it will be Biden."

Dead Parrot said...

Purely a hypothetical question at this point, but do the Citizens think that McCain would have opted for Palin if Obama had chosen Clinton?

Raised By Republicans said...

Dead Parrot,

Absolutely not. If it had been Clinton, McCain would have used his second mover advantage to pick someone who would appeal to white males and conservatives but in a different way than Palin does (she polls better among men than women by the way). I can't say for sure who his response would have been but I would think that with Clinton on the democratic ticket, it would have forced the Religious Right to accept someone like Tom Ridge (R-PA). McCain could have contested the center without having to pander to his base so obviously. They would have been fired up to, as they a popular youtube clip says, "beat The Bitch."

But this is total speculation and I would still raise the objection that an Obama-Clinton administration would be completely unmanageable once in office.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S. I respectfully withdraw the "hindsight" comment. It was not intended to be as important a part of the argument as you perceived it to be.

Regarding the enthusiasm issue. Obama's supporters have been and still are about as enthusiastic as you can get without turning into a cult. Enthusiasm among those already inclined to support him (or any Democrat) is not what is preventing Obama from getting over the hump. His problem is figuring out a way to appeal to independents with a mixed up jumble of ideological predispositions and priorities.

Raised By Republicans said...

To be really fair, we shouldn't even be comparing Palin to Biden anyway. The real comparison is impossible to do - Biden to Clinton or Richardson or INSERT DEMOCRAT HERE.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Thanks, RbR.

Regarding enthusiasm... I notice Obama seems to be turning negative sharply after the conventions. I think Obama is right to do so. But I was just thinking that as I understand it, such attacks satisfy the base but tend to dampen voter enthusiasm overall--is that the general consensus?

USwest said...

I saw Obama on Olbermann last night and I have to say that he has to preform better. He didn't answer a single question, but just kept up with the talking points. It is so transparent a strategy that is it sad. He needs to be willing to get his hands dirty.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S.

From what I've seen negative can (if they hit home by reinforcing people's prior reservations about the target) depress the other guy's turnout but without raising one's own. So if both sides go negative it should reduce turnout over all and reduce the contest to a base vs base election.

I would also speculate that negative attacks would have more effect against a target who's supporters are less enthusiastic. McCain's supporters are still somewhat less enthusiastic than Obama's so I would think Obama has little incentive not to go negative.

US West, what do you mean by "He needs to be willing to get his hands dirty?"

The Law Talking Guy said...

I was as shocked by my own (very positive) reaction to Biden. I think it was a good choice. Choosing Clinton would have energized Clinton primary voters, to be sure, but would have brought a lot of problems. It would have killed his crossover voting strategy.

As for negative attacks, they are not directed at firing up the base normally, but at dissuading 'undecideds' from voting for the opponent (or at all).

Palin's pick tells us something about McCain - it tells us he is a risktaker. That is the main message the public gets from the pick. McCain takes risks. That can help or hurt depending how you play it. Obama does not want to be seen as a risk-taker at this time. The election remains fundamentally about whether Obama is an acceptable president - if not, McCain is the default for many voters.

USWest said...

What Obama has done so far is let other people in his campaign, like Biden, play the heavy.

One thing Olbermann asked Obama the other day is why is was so wrong to call a lie a lie. If people are telling lies, why not use that term. Obama obfuscated.

I was encouraged today, however, when Obama said just that in a speech. He said that this flap over "Lipstick on a pig" was an attempt at fabricating a scandal and that McCain and his cohorts were lying to the American people. That is what I mean by "get his hands dirty". He needs to get more aggressive, more like he did with O'Riley. I also mean tha the has to do more to control the discussion in this election. If Obama wants to stay above the fray, and if he wants to look like the most competent guy in this election, and if he wasnt to be the candidate of change, then he needs to start the serious policy discussions now. Otherwise, McCain will keep trying to distract our attention with antics.

I know Obama wants to incentivize green businesses, he wants to give tax breaks to the middle class, he wants health care for all, yada yada. So tell me, in detail, how you plan to do that. Frankly, I haven't heard any detailed policy since the primaries. My favorite moment, BTW was when Obama and HRC got into it over health care. We need more of that now. I know, RBR, that you say he is very specific in his speeches. I haven't heard it yet. I fear that he is stalling a little bit at the moment, like the big party is over and he is standing there looking at the dirty dishes in the sink, trying to figure out what to do next.

From what I heard on Olbermann the other night, it seems to me that he is waiting for the debates to get specific. I dont' think you can wait for the debates. You have to start now so that McCain has to participate in a real disucssion. As it is now, Obama looks like he is letting McCain run the terms of the election. If Obama doesn't start getting specific with his policies at every campaign stop, then McCain will turn this into the mud sling that Obama is trying to avoid.

Raised By Republicans said...

I don't get it US West. On the one hand you want him to go on the attack and call liars liars and on the other hand you want him to turn his speeches into detailed policy statements.

If you want the details go to the effort of looking them up. He's got them on his website (I've never said they were in his speeches).

Also, I've said this before but it doesn't seem to be sinking in. Asking a presidential candidate for details on their policies - beyond the rough priorities - is 100% pointless. Presidents do not write laws, Congress does. If you want to know the fine print and details of this Obama proposal or another, you'll have to ask a dozen or more leaders in Congress what they think will pass. Asking Obama (or McCain or Clinton) is a complete waste of time.

USWest said...

No, RBR, you are missing the point. I will go look up his policies up. I will make the effort. You will make the effort. The average, red meat American will not. And that is who he has to get on board. He has to show these people he is all business. But he can't let himself be bullied.

He needs to exploit McCain's weakness. And that is policy. McCain is pulling the GW Bush crap where "if I say it, it has "truthiness". So he can fabricate truth.

Do you know who it was in McCain's campaign that responded to the Freddie and Fannie takeover? It was an aid, an economics adviser. It wasn't McCain because he DOESN'T GET IT. He needs someone else to speak for him.

And you are right. On one hand I want attack, on the other I want policy. That is the quandary of the entire Democratic Party right now. We feel like we let the Republicans bulldoze over us in past elections by being the "good" guys, above the fray. Yet we don't want to lower ourselves either. Unfortunately, I think that if you want to win, you have to find a away to do a little of both. If Obama can do just as he did today, a little "high Class" push back, the that is already pretty good. Be he can't appear to be on the defense. McCain isn't going to run a nice campaign they way Obama wants. This isn't HRC and the primary.