A Webb Independent Run

Pure fantasy.

Jim WebbVia Dave Weigel at WaPo:  Jim Webb says he’s open to independent presidential bid if ‘financial support’ arrives.

Let me start with “being open” and actually doing such a thing are two different issues, and the predicate about money is no small one.  I would note that a) he didn’t appear to be engaging in a rigorous campaign for the Democratic nod, so I wonder as to his commitment to a full scale independent run for the presidency, and b) if he had a ready source of funding he would likely have stayed in the Democratic primary race for the time being even if he was pondering an independent run as it would have garnered him additional media attention.

Beyond that, there is this flawed thinking by Webb during a radio interview:

“If you look at the numbers, independents kind of top out at 20 percent. But the political landscape is so chaotic that if it looked like this could be done, and we could get the right financial support – done, meaning successful – then I think we’ll take a shot.”

As I have noted before, and as any political scientist familiar with this question at all will tell you:  just because someone identifies in a poll as “independent” or “moderate” does not mean that they are not consistently a partisan (a D or an R) when it comes to voting patterns.  And, further, it does not mean that their partisan loyalties are easily swung hither and yon.  Moreover, more voters understand (even if they don’t sit around actively thinking about it) that our electoral system forces them to choose to between the top two candidates because a vote for a third party is a) unlikely to lead to that third party candidate winning, and b) it might well lead to one’s least favorite preference winning (ask a bunch of Nader voters from Florida circa 2000 about this).

If we were to eliminate the electoral college and then go to a two-round absolute majority system or an instant run-off, these “independents” might behave a little differently in the first round (indeed, I expect they would), but they are going to overwhelmingly vote D or R in November 2016 under our current system.  Indeed, a brief history lesson:  one of the most successful third party candidacies of all time, Ross Perot’s 1992 bid for the presidency, garnered about 19% of the popular vote and it won him zero (yes, zero) electoral votes.  Jim Webb is no Ross Perot, but even if he was (support-wise), he isn’t going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  BTW:  the only candidate currently in the race who could come close to replicating Perot would be Trump if he goes against his pledge and runs as an independent.  Even then, he would not win 19% of the popular vote–although he would be more successful than the typical third party candidate.

The only interesting question about a Webb third party run (were it to happen) is: from where would he pull votes?  I think he is more likely to take votes away from the GOP candidate than he is from the Democrats.  (Either way, it will be a meager amount should the scenario come to pass, which I think it highly unlikely in any event.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Webb should go back to writing his novels. He really is a man with no party. He is at odds with the Republicans on many issues and at odds with the Democrats on others. Stephen you are right about the myth of the independent voter. I have been a registered independent for decades but the last few years have nearly always voted for the Democrats.

  2. Webb will be lucky to get on the ballot in his home state of Virginia, never mind getting on the ballot in enough states where he would actually make a difference in the race.

    Speaking of which, how exactly would someone who was only polling 1% among Democrats become enough of a factor as a third-party candidate for anyone to notice?

  3. CSK says:

    If Trump turns out to be the Republican nominee, more Republicans than you might suspect could vote for Webb. It would be that or sitting the election out for them.

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    @CSK:

    I’ll probably be voting libertarian this time around but, yeah, I’d vote Webb long before I’d vote Trump.

  5. Tillman says:

    He wrote “pure fantasy,” and now the only song I can imagine Jim Webb’s independent campaign using is the eponymous track from the film version of The Neverending Story.

    The only interesting question about a Webb third party run (were it to happen) is: from where would he pull votes? I think he is more likely to take votes away from the GOP candidate than he is from the Democrats.

    His best bet is the ludicrous scenario that the rubes get their Trump or their Carson and the moderates left in the GOP revolt.

  6. @CSK:

    I don’t get the fascination some people on the right suddenly have with Webb. Speaking as a former constituent, he was at beast a mediocre Senator and he’s did nothing during the course of his campaign to change my general opinion that he’s basically just a cantankerous jerk.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @Hal_10000: So like Doug you can’t help but notice the Republicans have gone off into the ozone, but you’ll do a pointless protest vote for a Libertarian rather than vote for a Democrat because…?

  8. michael reynolds says:

    It hovers right on the line between comic and tragic. The ex war-hero sits waiting at the door, all dressed up, expecting his prom date to appear, throw money at him and whisk him away to the White House. Because: magic!

    This is a man fearing old age and death. Man-up, Jim, the Reaper comes for all of us.

  9. @gVOR08:

    The only pointless vote is a vote for someone you disagree with just because you disagree with someone else more.

    I have enough disagreements with both Republicans and Democrats to rule out voting for either of their candidates in a Presidential election.

  10. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Oh, it isn’t that they love Webb, or even like him particularly. It’s that they truly can’t stomach Trump. And faced with Trump on the one side, and Clinton on the other, they might go down ballot and choose Webb. Or, as Hal says, choose the libertarian candidate.

  11. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The only pointless vote is a vote for someone you disagree with just because you disagree with someone else more.

    Right. Which is why you never drink any beer but the perfect beer, and never eat any burger but the perfect burger, and never watch any show but the perfect show.

    You’re applying purity rules to politics, which is frankly just juvenile. Politics is the art of the possible, it’s not meant to be your opportunity to revel in your own purity. There’s work to be done, and while the rest of us are trying to build the barn you sit there whining that we don’t have your special hammer.

    It’s not brave or principled, Doug, it’s silly and childish. This is the real world.

  12. @michael reynolds:

    Yes, it is the real world. And in the real world I have serious problems with Hillary Clinton with regard to her judgment on foreign policy issues and other matters that would preclude me from voting for her, just as I have serious issues with pretty much all of the Republican candidates for President.

    You can call it “childish” if you wish, I don’t particularly care, but I’m not going to vote for someone that I don’t believe belongs in the Oval Office at all. So, you know, if you guys can all stop obsessing over who I (or James for that matter) vote for, it would be nice. Because name-calling isn’t going to change my mind.

  13. @CSK:

    Yea, but these are conservatives I’m talking about. They aren’t going to vote for a Democrat and in the ten days since they debate they kept talking about how Webb was a “Democrat they could vote for,” which is just not true.

  14. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug :

    The only pointless vote is a vote for someone you disagree with just because you disagree with someone else more.

    The above is actually the argument for not voting at all. In fact, voting for someone that you agree with but who can’t actually win is, truly, pointless. Voting for someone you disagree with less is called “citizenship.”

  15. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    The above is actually the argument for not voting at all.

    I don’t see anything wrong at all with someone deciding not to vote in a particular race if none of the candidates are acceptable to them, or if they don’t believe they are informed enough to make a choice.

  16. Mr. Prosser says:

    @michael reynolds: “…all dressed up, expecting his prom date to appear…” After that line all I could picture was the zipper scene in “There’s Something about Mary.”

  17. humanoid.panda says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Honestly, it’s a very human emotion: plenty of Democrats kept talking about how Huntsman is a Republican could vote for in 2012, because everyone likes to feel fairminded and non-partisan.

  18. humanoid.panda says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Honestly, it’s a very human emotion: plenty of Democrats kept talking about how Huntsman is a Republican could vote for in 2012, because everyone likes to feel fairminded and non-partisan.

  19. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Well, it’s true that the “Trump or Nobody” crew won’t vote for Webb. But they consider themselves the only legitimate conservatives. Some of them have said they’d vote for Clinton if Trump doesn’t get the nomination, in order to “make the country suffer and teach it a lesson.” But these people are insensate with rage.

    The potential Webb voters I’m talking about are the kind of people whom the Trump Fan Club would describe as “moderates” at best and as “liberals” at worst. It’s possible their loathing for Trump might–excuse the pun–trump other considerations. The actual voters for Webb would, though, be a very small group. Others might just sit the whole thing out.

    But I’m from Massachusetts, and Massachusetts Republicans are not Georgia Republicans, nor Texas Republicans, nor Mississippi Republicans. Abortion, gay marriage, religiosity, and immigration are non-issues for them.

  20. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And in the real world I have serious problems with Hillary Clinton with regard to her judgment on foreign policy issues and other matters

    And this is not true of whoever the “Libertarian” candidate of the moment is? You agree with that person on absolutely every issue, trust his* judgment on foreign policy (and everything else), and consider him in all ways to be just as good as if you, yourself, were making the decisions? That candidate totally belongs in the Oval Office?

    Pull the other one; it’s got bells on.

    *It’s got to be a ‘him’, because Libertarian.

  21. @DrDaveT:

    My comment should not be taken to mean I would vote for a Libertarian Party candidate in all circumstances, or that I would never vote for a Republican or Democrat depending on the race and the candidate(s). Nor should it be taken to mean that I wouldn’t exercise my right to not vote at all if there are no acceptable choices.

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    True, but I, like many others, tend to believe that deciding not to vote is essentially ceding any expectation of having subsequent complaints about the outcome taken seriously. Elections are decided by those who show up, and deciding not to vote is taking for granted the greatest opportunity – and the greatest responsibility – that we have as citizens. It’s akin to “I’m taking my ball and going home”.

    Or as Michael put it – it’s childish.

  23. stonetools says:

    Hey, let’s not bother Doug about his vote. He’s made it clear that he’ll never vote for a Democrat, and if that means the alternative is that Satan becomes President of the United States, well Satan it is. The best we can hope for him is that he doesn’t vote Republican, which in his heart of hearts is what he really wants to do, and what he would do with a Republican candidate who is even somewhat legitimate, even if such candidate is inferior to any Democrat. This is what an “independent” voter is like these days.

  24. @stonetools

    He’s made it clear that he’ll never vote for a Democrat,

    No, I haven’t. And, in fact I have voted for Democrats.

    But, then again, who I have voted for and why is neither relevant to this post nor any of your business.

  25. al-Ameda says:

    I have absolutely nothing against Jim Webb, but as a candidate on the presidential primary stage, even in these early days, he has proven himself to be a lot less than the limited “centrist” Democrat hype he gets. He’s dull, and he’s proved it over a 6-8 week period.

    He’s the guy of whom the commentariat say, he can attract ‘Independents’ and Republican crossover – it’s a mirage. There are not enough ‘independents’ or moderate Republicans or conservative Democrats to be had for a guy like Webb to make real headway.

    Perhaps if Hillary was not running … nah … Webb has not distinguished himself as a campaigner or a debater enough to get people interested enough.

    Webb is not happening, he just can’t accept that.

  26. Paul Hooson says:

    Let me tell you the story of the Edsel. Ford hoped that buyers would buy a car more expensive than a Ford but cheaper than the Mercury. As it turns out there was little market there, and the car wasn’t very appealing either. Now. comes Jim Webb, who hopes there’s a market for a candidate who is more conservative than Hillary, but less conservative than Jeb Bush, and not very appealing as a Democrat right now. – No, the Edsel saga proved that there is no market there. Sorry, Jim….

  27. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Here’s the thing, Doug, it’s like baseball. You have two teams. Maybe it’d be great if there were more, but there aren’t.

    If you’re playing baseball, you’re playing on a team. Doesn’t mean you can’t change teams, but in any given game, you have a team. Otherwise it’s not baseball, it’s a kid sitting in the corner throwing a ball against his Motley Crüe poster.

    I think the position you want to play is umpire. But that traps you into a neutrality you are not quite zen enough to achieve. And I have just talked myself into feeling some sympathy for your position.

  28. @michael reynolds:

    Here’s the thing, Michael. Why do you care who I vote for? Because, as I have said repeatedly, it’s really none of your business.

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Some of us don’t care who you vote for, we just like taunting you about it because your protestations are so… well… curious.

  30. Andre Kenji says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    True, but I, like many others, tend to believe that deciding not to vote is essentially ceding any expectation of having subsequent complaints about the outcome taken seriously.

    Deciding not to vote is important because if you are taken for granted by your party you are going to be ignored by them. I would vote mostly for Democrats if I voted in the US, only because the Republicans are horrible, but I understand people that does not vote because they don´t like both parties.

  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    Yeah, pretty much what JNIC said.

    You’re an extremely hard-working blogger, smart and pretty much honest. I have to take the occasional shot.

  32. Kylopod says:

    One thing the Nader fiasco taught us is that even very marginal third-party candidates can end up mattering. He got less than 2% of the vote and yet still helped swing the election. So why do I find myself so indifferent to the prospect of a Webb third-party run?

    It isn’t that I necessarily agree with Doug that he’s likelier to take votes from Republicans. I honestly don’t know, and the effect of centrist third-party candidates is not predictable, especially one who spent significant portions of his career in both parties. John Anderson, despite being a Republican who had run in the GOP primaries in 1980, ended up taking more votes from Carter than from Reagan. Ross Perot, contrary to popular belief, took about an equal number of votes from both parties.

    No, what makes me pretty unafraid is simply the fact that he doesn’t seem to have much of a following. From what I recall, Nader’s supporters were really, really passionate. And even then, his candidacy ended up being a blip that in any ordinary election would have made no difference at all. But 2000 was no ordinary election; it ended up coming down to a mere 500 votes in Florida, compared with the 97,000 votes Nader received in that state. That meager level of support would have been completely irrelevant in the 2004 election or just about any other close presidential race in memory. In other words, it required something as bizarre and freakish as the 2000 election for his candidacy to have the spoiler effect it did.

    If I start to see evidence that Webb garners the kind of passionate following Nader achieved, I might then be mildly concerned. So even the worst-case scenario isn’t much of a reason to enter panic mode.

  33. de stijl says:

    Doug can vote for he wants to. As can we all.

    But when you’re on the masthead (as it were) questions will be asked and they are not illegitimate.

    Doug doesn’t need to reveal nor explain his votes, but if he wants to be a serious analyst, it is also perfectly appropriate to filter his commentary through his perceived worldview and self-revealed voting behavior.

    If you think about it, it’s a crap job. “Here’s what I think will make the world better. Please vote with me to make that happen” is also coupled with dispassionate analysis of the political landscape.

    Maybe it’s a fool’s game to play it both ways: “I’m a natural R with L leanings, but I’ve voted D at some undefined time in the past” is both too much information and not enough. Either don’t reveal your voting patterns and play the analysis straight up, or go full out and lay out your past votes and proselytize on what you truly believe.

    Analysis from a suspect source will always be questioned. Through which prism is this being looked at?

    It’s a hard row to hoe, but I think to be an effective and legitimate analyst, you have to do one or the other.

    ……

    But then. On the other hand. As some would say…

    There a a handful of folks who are both really competent at analysis and are also implicitly or explicitly partisan.

    I’ve never been in the situation, but I think it would be difficult to thread the needle. Am I an analyst? Am I an advocate? How do I differentiate in my written work? Is it ever appropriate to mix the two?

  34. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I have to take the occasional shot.

    I think we should. And not just to tweak him like he was another regular down at the local, but because he wants it both ways.

    And then “Here is why Clinton’s e-mail server is the biggest story of all time” then needs to filtered through an appropriate Doug filter.

    Same for James. Same for Steven. Same for all of us.

    I’m an analyst.

    I’m an advocate.

    I will mix and choose as I please.

    He doesn’t have to reveal, but his voting behavior is definitely on the block in this scenario. Unfortunately for him, he’s self-revealed most of it.

    “I’m a small l libertarian with a strong history of proselytizing for Republican policy outcomes.”

    In that situation, you have to mind your p’s and q’s to be taken seriously as a dispassionate analyst.

    You can’t pretend to be pissed and self-righteous and the “It’s none of your business” deal rings false given the way he writes.

    But voting is a special carve-out that I’ll give him semi-lenience on.

    However, saying “Here’s how I’d like America to vote on this matter” and then getting pissy about folks asking or talking about how you vote is lame.

    But also as lame is people who don’t vote like he does asking him why he votes the way he does. It’s his choice. There are thoughtful and insightful people who don’t agree with your political analysis nor do they vote the way you think is correct. We must deal.

  35. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    another regular down at the local

    OT: back when I was living in the north end of of DT Minneapolis in the early aughts, my local was actually called “The Local”

    Nice little Irish gastropub. Good beer, good food, good people, great combination.

  36. Jay says:

    Here’s the thing, Michael. Why do you care who I vote for?

    Why do *you* care that he questions the rationality of your position?

  37. de stijl says:

    West end, not north end.For some reason, I always had a mental construct that the river was south, even though in the context of Mpls it was east.

    The Local was, at what? 10th – 9th thru 11th and Hennepin. Down that way. Just south of where I lived.

    A couple of stumbly blocks down from Brit’s Pub, but with a much more amenable clientele.

    Brit’s Pub was not a pub. It was an “English” bar for happy hour office dronevolk – guys in ties and whatever the female equivalent of guys in ties is. (Nice lawn bowling, though.) The Local, more often than not , was an actual pub.

  38. @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t get the fascination some people on the right suddenly have with Webb

    It seems mostly tied to his military service.

    (And the fact that he is the most conservative of the candidates running–but they really seem to love the military angle).

  39. @de stijl:

    “I’m a small l libertarian with a strong history of proselytizing for Republican policy outcomes.”

    In Doug’s defense, I would note that on Facebook, where a lot of his followers are on the right, he is constantly accused of being pro-Hillary and a fake L in a way that is opposite of the way he is so accused here at OTB .

  40. My .02 on the whole voting thing:

    1. As much as I am an advocate of voting and participation, I think it is silly to state that one cannot complain/have an opinion if one does not vote. Citizens have the right to complain in a democracy whether they vote or not. (Although I do think they should vote). It is also true that not voting can be a political stance in and of itself.

    2. I would take issue with this from Doug:

    The only pointless vote is a vote for someone you disagree with just because you disagree with someone else more.

    Given the nature of our system, sometimes it actually does very much make sense to decide that if X can’t win I am better off helping Y win because while I don’t like Y, I really, really don’t like Z.

    Indeed, the type of vote that Doug describes can be far from pointless, it can be consequential (again, see Florida 2000).

    Now, if one is making a statement voting for a losing cause, or if one cannot morally support anyone other than one’s sincere preference, that is legitimate. However, it is also wholly legitimate (and perhaps even morally preferable) to vote for the proverbial lesser of two evils if the election is close. If one lives, for example, in a swing state this could matter, but if one lives is a heavily blue or red state, it is another issue.

  41. (Recognizing, of course, that the odds of any one vote mattering to the outcome are so small as to be practically nonexistence.)

  42. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    No, I haven’t. And, in fact I have voted for Democrats.

    Initially, I was pleased to read that and I was ready to write a post saying that happily, I was all wrong about you, Doug. But then I remembered that in the 1980s and 90s there were plenty of Democrats, especially in the South , that were conservative, including to the right of James Webb. Indeed, from your comments, it seems that you didn’t vote for Webb, which indicates that even Webb was too far left for you.(Hopefully, you didn’t vote for his idiotic, race baiting Republican opponent).
    What your comment shows is that it’s useless to predict how “independent” a voter is, based on whether they voted Democratic or Republican.Ideological drift in the parties has made nonsense of that label. The political voyage of Webb is another indication of that. He started out as a Republican who worked for Reagan. As the Southern Strategy took hold and the Republican Party drifted right, he switched to a Democratic Party that under Clinton, aspired to being centrist.
    Right now, he seems out of touch with a Democratic Party that has once again tacked left. In all that time, he has been ideologically around center right.
    What The Great Ideological Sorting means is that the political center is essentially no more. Michael is right-the choice is between two teams or really two programs- a conservative team that has gone off into far right crazy town, and a liberal team that while mildly left of center, is at least about sane, fact based policy. Not to vote for the second is to the consent to the ascendancy of the first.

  43. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    see Florida 2000

    I find it fascinating that the 2000 race and how it was eventually “resolved” (with the never to be invoked again SC decision) has been basically forgotten or ignored by the culture.

    I think it’s just human nature. We adapt to extraordinary things because we must.

    We need a President. Five folks invented a way to make it happen, so we just cope. Fait accompli. What’s for dinner?

    It was an historical occurrence, and it happened just 15 years ago. It shaped this century like no other event other than 9/11 and to most it’s a footnote or an interesting tidbit. Watergate was a THING. Books, movies, careers, cultural resonance. Bush v Gore was just a thing. Seattle beat San Fransisco. High temperature tomorrow will be 68. Fascinating.

  44. @Steven L. Taylor:

    That’s the thing, though, I don’t see Webb’s conservatism except, perhaps on foreign policy. Even there though, Hillary Clinton is hardly a dove and would arguably be even more hawkish than Obama has been were she to become President.

  45. Andre Kenji says:

    Maybe it´s because I´m a Brazilian(meaning, I live in country with a History of authoritarian regimes and vote rigging) but I think that voting is a pretty intimate issue. You don´t have to explain that.

    By the way, after Nader the Democrats knew that they had to appeal to people that voted for him. Maybe sometime in the future Republicans will know that they have to appeal to people like Doug and James if they want to have their votes.

  46. @Doug Mataconis:

    Hillary Clinton is hardly a dove and would arguably be even more hawkish than Obama has been were she to become President.

    Indeed.

  47. stonetools says:

    @de stijl:

    I find it fascinating that the 2000 race and how it was eventually “resolved” (with the never to be invoked again SC decision) has been basically forgotten or ignored by the culture.

    Nope , it hasn’t. The lessons of 2000 has been seared into the minds of liberals for a generation. No sensible liberal is ever going to vote for a third party candidate in a swing state in a presidential election ever again.
    Also too, selection of Supreme Court nominees is even more central to the democratic presidential campaign agenda than it was pre 2000.No liberal can forget that the Supreme Court delivered the Presidency for GWB, who later in turn delivered Roberts and Alito.

  48. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis: @Steven L. Taylor:

    Hillary Clinton is hardly a dove and would arguably be even more hawkish than Obama has been were she to become President.

    Of course, any Republican President would be more hawkish still, by far.If hawkishness were what Doug was truly worried about, his strategic vote would be for any Democrat. Not obsessing about Doug’s vote, just pointing out the logical inconsistency of being concerned about hawkishness, but voting(or not voting) in a way that makes it less likely that the Democrat would win the Presidency.

  49. @stonetools: I would concur that if hawkishness is a concern then it makes sense to strategically vote Democratic in 2016.

  50. Andre Kenji says:

    Many antiwar activists complain that Democrats take antiwar Liberals for granted and then go to simply ignore then when they are in the White House. The choice between an extreme interventionist hawkish policy and a cautious hawkish policy may look easy, but I understand why there are antiwar people that choose neither.

  51. de stijl says:

    @stonetools:

    Nope , it hasn’t.

    Yeah, to you and me it’s a big freaking deal.

    But can you legitimately argue that Bush v Gore and the whole imbroglio is a big deal to the voters at large?

    The legitimacy of Bush’s presidency was never an issue during the 2004 campaign. Perhaps had 9/11 not happened it would have. It became politically unacceptable to question Bush’s office the moment the second tower was hit.

    In practical terms, the resolution of the 2000 campaign did not change voting patterns whereas Watergate did. Kerry won 48% just like Gore and won every state Gore did (IA and NM went Red, NH went Blue so basically a small Bush tilt). Bush won 30 states in 2000 and 31 states in 2004. The resolution of the 2000 race had no residual effect in 2004.

    You could argue that the 2000 race was perhaps a bigger deal constitutionally than Watergate and Nixon’s resignation, but the voting population does not agree nor does the wider culture. Everyone of a certain age knows Watergate. Hell, every scandal now becomes x-gate. If Bernie Sanders vomited on some little girl in Pella, IA after eating an improperly prepared loose meat sandwich, it would be called Maid-Rite-gate.

    Please don’t get me wrong. I believe like you do that it was a big deal. But I think that the ideological sorting process was complete by 2004 so the effect was nearly unreadable in the results. The hardcore partisans were animated, but aided by the 9/11 effect it had no wider impact.

  52. stonetools says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    For most liberals, war policy is just one item on the menu An important one, but just one. There were Democrats who were unhappy with Barack’s policy choices on Afghanistan and drones, but I heard of no one who sat out the 2012 election based on that.
    I’m also certain that no liberal will sit out the 2016 election if Clinton is the nominee.

  53. de stijl says:

    I’ll extend the argument.

    Given that we live in an age where we have ideologically sorted completely (or there are so few outliers it’s foolish to try to count them. Wait, I just did – there are 17) – i.e., there are no longer any political liberals who vote R nor are there any political conservatives who vote D, scandals no longer matter to a party except for the people involved.

    If Clinton has a scandal that renders her unelectable, people who were going to vote for her will find another D to vote for. Same for Team Red.

    Scandals will affect politicians, but not parties.

    Unless it’s one cracking monster of a scandal, that is.

    We’ve reached the point where party identification and voting behavior can be predicted demographically. Age, gender, race, income, educational attainment, population density, geographic location.

  54. stonetools says:

    @de stijl:

    I think that it did affect liberal voting choices.
    Liberals understood after 2000 that voting third party in order to “send a message” was now “off the table”. The stakes were just too high for that kind of petulance anymore. That option has been closed to liberals for the foreseeable future. Doubt this? Go to a liberal website like Balloon Juice and try to defend voting for Nader in 2000. The backlash will be fierce.
    Heck, it affected the Republicans. When the RNC extracted that pledge from Trump to not run third party, that was done with the 2000 election in mind. I also think that the reason the Tea Party ultraconservatives did not go third party was precisely because they did not want a 2000 in reverse.

  55. Andre Kenji says:

    @stonetools: .

    There were Democrats who were unhappy with Barack’s policy choices on Afghanistan and drones, but I heard of no one who sat out the 2012 election based on that.

    From the perspective of antiwar people, both in the right and in the left, that´s precisely the problem.

  56. de stijl says:

    @stonetools:

    Liberals understood after 2000 that voting third party in order to “send a message” was now “off the table”.

    Okay. I see this to some extent. There was a small Green Party surge at the time, but we’re talking small percents here. There are always protest votes on the left and right. Nader was a bit better than your usual SWP candidate, and Nader got 2.7% in 2000 which is actually pretty big for the protest candidate.

    I don’t know the research, and I’m speaking only anecdotally now, but every protest voter I’ve ever known has always voted for the fringe person in every election where they actually get to the voting booth. IOW, in my experience, protest voters are not liberals so much as they are protest voters. The folks I’ve known that voted SWP were neither socialist, nor do I think they were actually workers in the common understanding of that word. The word “party” did apply, but probably not in any way that Marx would understand. My super right-wing bro actually voted for (and contributed to) Jesse Jackson back in the day. Likely his last positive interaction with a black man.

    Even if these folks were ever in the tent or were ever going to be in the tent, their numbers are very small. I think it is a mistake to think that all Nader voters were disaffected Gore voters.

    There is research on this, let’s not just rely on our gut here.

    Buchanan and Browne also got votes. Why no love?

  57. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: In about mid-2004, Bill Maher invited Michael Moore and Ralph Nader on his program. Moore and Maher literally got down on their hands and knees in front of Nader and begged him to drop out of the race.

    Now, you might dismiss the anecdote on the grounds that Moore and Maher are clowns, and certainly it was intended as a joke; obviously they weren’t seriously expecting Nader to honor their wishes. Still, Maher and Moore were among the better known Nader supporters in 2000, and I think they spoke for a lot of ex-Naderites when they did this sketch. To this day I still occasionally meet Naderites who are unapologetic about their 2000 vote, but my sense is that they are far more the exception than the rule. Nader didn’t get the half the support in 2004 that he got in 2000–he didn’t even get the Green Party nomination–and believe me, it wasn’t because Kerry ran an appreciably more liberal campaign than Gore.

  58. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Seriously, how does the Peggy Noonan-level “analysis” in the Doug’s super-obvious comment

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Hillary Clinton is hardly a dove and would arguably be even more hawkish than Obama has been were she to become President.

    Merit an

    Indeed

    ?

    This was resolved in 2007. Early in 2007.

    Banal and obvious would be understating the level of Doug’s analysis here.

    David Gergen would be leery of this argument. Mark Shields would be ashamed to say these words. Even I, says David Brooks, cannot spout this trite BS observation about Obama vs. Clinton hawkishness and still get paid with real US dollars. I have to fancy this up a bit. No one can say that Cokie Roberts doesn’t earn her coin. George Will will parlay a half-baked baseball metaphor into a jeremiad that steadfast Republicanism will cure the anarchy of youthfulness.

    Is there anything those Boys of Summer can’t do?

    Peggy Noonan would pipe in but she’s too blotto on box wine to enunciate properly, so she just nods gravely to let us know that she is very disappointed in how Obama has let down zombie-Reagan’s America. She is more sad than angry.

    If I were to assert that Mark Penn was really, really bad at his job and contributed greatly to Clinton’s loss to Obama in 2008 could I get an “Indeed”?

    Would “Team Clinton did not know how to count delegates correctly” merit an “Indeed”?

    I think it’s like those Participation Trophies they give kids these days. You spelled those two syllable words correctly:

    Indeed!

    The appropriate response to:

    Hillary Clinton is hardly a dove and would arguably be even more hawkish than Obama has been were she to become President.

    Is not

    Indeed!

    It’s

    Duh!

  59. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    The thing that I like about this exchange is that I get to uncork my Nader diss that about one person in twenty gets

    Uncool at any speed

  60. @de stijl: Well, I am not sure I needed to deconstruct a comment which I basically agreed with.

    I am not sure it needed that much snark in any event.

  61. Andre Kenji says:

    @de stijl:

    Seriously, how does the Peggy Noonan-level “analysis” in the Doug’s super-obvious comment

    Doug is right. Hillary voted for the Iraq War Resolution. She wanted to arm the rebels in Syria, Barack did not. She was more enthusiastic about Libya than Barack.

  62. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Dude, sometimes you just have to skate to the box.

    It was you that gave the imprimatur of “Indeed” to the least insightful comment that one can make about Clinton. Literally asked and answered eight years ago. It’s why she lost to Obama. Just skate to the box, do your three minutes, and then you’re back in the action.

    BTW, don’t underestimate that much snark. It took an hour. Who know Cokie was spelled “Cokie”? Who knew that Cokie was short for Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Roberts? Holy crap! Friggin’ old money preppies and their nick-names. Jinkies!

    I had to edit out the David Brooks Bobo joke and the Applebee’s salad bar reference. Too obscure. Snark has to look easy.

  63. de stijl says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Yes, Doug was right and if this was August 2007 his insight might be salient. Actually, not even then.

    By that point it was obvious that Clinton’s 2003 Iraq vote that she strategically made to increase her electability in the future was paradoxically going to be the reason she was not ever going to be President come January 2009. The worm had turned in a way she did not foresee.

    Clinton chose poorly.

    Obama chose wisely.

    Doug is right. Stunningly, obviously, shop-worn, uninsightfully right. That Clinton votes like a hawk and talks like a hawk within the D context is not news. If I said that Trump is playing with the role of a know-nothing xenophobic rube for short-term political gain, I would be right, but utterly unoriginal and several months too late.

    That Clinton is a D hawk is decade old information.

  64. @de stijl:

    That Clinton is a D hawk is decade old information.

    Indeed.

  65. grumpy realist says:

    @stonetools: Yah, and a decision that they said quite clearly “this is a one-off, don’t ever try to apply this to another case.” Which indicates SCOTUS thought it was a pretty ugh decision even while they were making it.

    Oh well, there’s something ironic about the US having been sent down the wrong path of history and losing out to a country like China because of a handful of voters in Florida really really believed the nostrum “it makes no difference which main party you vote for.” Chaos theory, anyone?

    At least it got that boob, Ralph Nader, to shut up.