As the 2008 presidential race heats up, I'll start including columns that touch upon recent political developments and the resulting editorial commentaries found in the mainstream press.
This past weekend, an AP article was published concerning Democratic fears that Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy could bring out Republican voters in force. At the root of these concerns are Sen. Clinton's high unfavorability ratings in many regions, including the Midwest and South. Interviews with dozens of Democratic leaders across the US revealed that while they admire Sen. Clinton and will publicly support her campaign, they still worry about the impact of her candidacy on congressional, state and local races.
While I understand this line of reasoning, I find it flawed on several levels.
First, it seems foolish to assume that entire blocs of voters simply will not vote unless they are mad enough or frightened enough to get out to the polls. I realize that in some demographics, turnout is historically low. Worrying about whether the opposing party will actually exercise their right to vote is fruitless. Instead, channel resources toward promoting turnout in the party (and preferably, for the candidates) you support.
Next, voting along party lines happens in both parties, regardless of whether the presidential or gubernatorial candidates are particularly "polarizing", as Sen. Clinton has been described. For those who aren't willing to delve any deeper than a candidate's political party, a candidate who is merely affiliated with the opposing party is sufficient reason for such voters to stick to party lines.
Additionally, the campaigns are still in their infancies. Some rumored candidates (such as Fred Thompson) have not even announced their candidacy yet. Others (such as Tommy Thompson) have already dropped out. The fields are still expanding and contracting. It's quite a leap to conclude at this point that if Sen. Clinton is the Democratic candidate, the Democrats will see voter backlash at all levels.
Finally, Sen. Clinton herself has already made great strides in dispelling long-held stereotypes of her as a leader and as an individual. Given that she is still very much in the early stages of her campaign, I expect that she will make every effort to connect with voters across the country -- and most certainly in those areas where her unfavorability ratings are high. Will those personal appearances, along with continued media coverage, be enough to reassure these Democratic leaders that her candidacy is not a threat to lower-level elections? Or has she essentially been convicted already?
How about you? Do you vote along party lines, whether you've done your homework or not? When was the last time you voted for someone from the opposing party, and in retrospect, how do you feel about casting that vote?
Julie is a former Air Force officer and professional project manager turned web writer. She spent four years at the Pentagon and five years in New York City, and her suburban life in Colorado seems pastoral by comparison. She's no political pundit, but she is an objective thinker in a sea of partisan propagandists. She writes for The Mom Slant, Cool Mom Picks, and is co-founder of The Parent Bloggers Network.
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