The Sexiest Story in Politics

I’ve been watching with interest the different themes that are coming out in the presidential campaign reports. For example, does it feel sometimes like the media still considers the Democratic nomination up for grabs, but considers the Republican nomination all but won by John McCain?

  • The Arizona senator has pulled ahead of his main Republican rival Mitt Romney, as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama battled in a tight race for the Democratic nomination. Republican Rudy Giuliani and Democrat John Edwards dropped out of the race on Wednesday. (link)
  • The record sum is a powerful demonstration of Mr Obama’s ability to stay in the race against his rival Hillary Clinton all the way to the nominating convention in August if necessary. Such a long and expensive race is becoming an ever likelier scenario in the Democratic race. In contrast, the contest for the Republican nomination, led by Arizona senator John McCain, looks more likely to be decided next week on Super Tuesday, when 22 states hold primaries. (link)

Consider the following numbers:

  • Clinton currently has 256 Democratic delegates or 51% of the available delegates
  • Obama currently has 181 Democratic delegates or 36% of the available delegates
  • McCain currently has 93 Republican delegates or 47% of the available delegates
  • Romney currently has 59 Republican delegates or 30% of the available delegates

That’s a difference of 15% between Clinton and Obama and 17% between McCain and Romney, a small margin of difference in both races, so how do we account for the different tone? Frankly, the Democratic race is more exciting and historical. Regardless of the candidate chosen, the Democratic party will be responsible for nominating the first woman or first African American for president. What’s the Republican party offering in return? Two wealthy white guys. Hmm, where have we seen that before?

Whether McCain or Romney is the better presidential candidate isn’t the point. Rather, the point is that they are representatives of a status quo. Say what you like about Hillary Clinton (I’m not a fan), but she has accomplished something that no other woman has to date: she is a viable national candidate for this country’s highest office. I appreciate that McCain suffered terribly as a prisoner of war, but he isn’t the first candidate for office who honorably served his country. Similar comparisons can be made between Obama and Romney.

The Democratic candidates are just different. At the moment, they are the party of firsts. I believe that’s why we hear the different tone in reports and even in the enthusiasm levels of candidate supporters. Regardless of the arguments about whether the media is liberal, just think about the stories being told. Honestly, which one is more interesting, more sexy?

The Republican party missed an opportunity to tell its own amazing story this election. Imagine if the Republicans had their own viable minority or female candidate. What would the race look like then?





4 Responses to “The Sexiest Story in Politics”

  1. February 2, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Britt – good post, but usually there is something left unstated which lurks behind reporting like that, and in this case it could be the following:

    John McCain leads in the polls in a pretty sizable majority of the Super Tuesday states. Under Republican Party rules, every state which votes on Tuesday is a “winner-takes-all” state, and even if a candidate squeaks by with a majority of, say, 0.04%, he still gets all the delegates from those states. Moreover, Huckabee is still considered a viable candidate in some states, especially many southern States which are voting on Tuesday, and it’s being posited that he’ll take votes mainly from Romney. (Ron Paul is also technically still in the race and, while not considered viable, he has a pretty strong “cult” following.)

    On the other hand, the Democratic Party rules are the reverse of the GOP. Every state grants some delegates to the loser, often a considerable number of delegates, on a basis proportional to the size of the votes they collect. And the only remaining Democratic candidate apart from the Big Two is Gravel, who most people can’t even name.

    The upshot is that the Republican nomination may literally be decided, for all intents and purposes, on Super Tuesday, while the Democratic race may remain very unclear for some time to come.

  2. 2 Joyce Loftis
    February 3, 2008 at 10:11 am

    I’m from Arkansas and sincerely like Mike Huckabee as a person (who wouldn’t?) however, everyone knows he is not going to win the nomination. It makes me sad and angry that his refusal to withdraw from the contest is having a huge impact on who is ultimately chosen. If he were a true patriot, and an honorable man, he would withdraw, not endorse anyone and let the people vote for who they believe will best represent them in the most powerful office in the world. People, this isn’t about religion, it isn’t about conservatives versus liberals, it’s about who can do the job! Those who have no chance need to get out of the way. Gov. Huckabee, are you listening? I hope so!

  3. 3 Tom
    February 3, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I guess Ron Paul will always be the “longest of long shots” despite outlasting Tommy Thompson, Jim Gilmore, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, John Cox, Alan Keyes, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani, and despite having more actual grassroots supporter than anyone else, and despite raising more money in the fourth quarter than the other Republicans. And despite beating McCain in Nevada and possibly Maine. and beating Huckabee in Nevada, Maine and louisiana.

    But no, what makes me think the media is biased?

  4. 4 Britt
    February 3, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    @Joe: Is it really an upshot if the Republican nominee is known after Super Tuesday? I wonder about this outcome because I believe these heavily contested nominations have been a shot of adrenaline of America’s citizens. How many years have people sat at home, believing their vote didn’t count? This year’s tight competition has helped change this attitude. I wish both parties’ nominations were left undecided until the official convention. I’d love to see a brokered nomination. So much of our political process has been predetermined for almost the entire span of my life. At least once, I’d like to experience a little uncertainty in the presidential election.

    @Joyce: The consensus among many of my friends is that Huckabee is aiming for the VP slot. He knows he won’t receive it if Romney wins, so his only hope is ensuring that McCain comes out ahead of Romney by splitting the conservative vote. While I can’t say I share your personal admiration for Huckabee (I feel he doesn’t fully support the separation of church and state), I do acknowledge that he is showing savvy political judgment. McCain’s moderate/independent/liberal leanings would be balanced by Huckabee’s more conservative social leanings, perhaps helping sway the Evangelical voters.

    To your point of electing the best man for the job, I’m not 100% convinced that we’re really interested in that goal anymore. Part of me is inclined to believe that people want a candidate who lines up with their personal beliefs. The question of how they’d lead seems to be secondary to how they worship. The second part me say that people want some change, but not too much change. If you actually elected an effective leader, there might be too much change, an uncomfortable, if unspoken, thought for many voters.

    @Tom: While there are many interesting aspects to Ron Paul’s campaign, I’m left wondering what would have happened if he’d picked two or three points and pounded them home. I fear he made it easy for traditional media to make light of his campaign by including his opinions on abolishing the IRS and returning to the gold standard as part of his campaign rhetoric. It’s not a question of the validity of his opinions but rather the readiness of his audience to be receptive to his ideas.

    He raised a lot of money for a reason: people found something in Paul that spoke to them. But for the people that hadn’t heard of him, his inability to focus, I believe, made it difficult for potential new supporters to find a way in. Combine this situation with the racism allegations that I don’t believe he’s fully resolved, and I think Paul missed his opportunity to gain more mainstream support.

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