Guest Scrogue Brandon Tutt lives in the Greater Boulder/Denver area and is a frequent contributor to some of S&R’s liveliest discussion threads. A father of two, he actively follows politics partially as his solemn duty to remain an informed and involved citizen and partially for the soap opera-esque entertainment. His degree in anthropology lets him view world events and local happenings as cultural phenomena. His favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate.
There was only one vote for a candidate for public office that I have ever regretted. It was the 2000 Democratic primaries in Massachusetts where I pulled the lever for Bill Bradley over Al Gore. I had nothing against Gore, I just thought Bradley was a better candidate and would make a better president. But my wife – forever a more wise and astute creature than myself – registered as a Republican and voted for McCain to stop Bush from getting the nomination. Her desire to keep the worst candidate out of office overcame her desire to vote for the best candidate. If only more people followed her lead.Fast-forward to early 2008: Primaries are about to begin and there is only one candidate Republicans feel passionate about: Hillary Clinton. None of their candidates are looking that appealing (“None of the above”(1) is a current Republican frontrunner) and the phrase “President Hillary” fills them with dread. But she is still topping the polls while Bush’s approval rating is barely pushing 30%. Conservatives see which way the wind is blowing; the country is swinging back to the Left and bringing the presidency with it.So what are their options?
- Vote for their “Ron Paul” – the candidate they like the best even though he’d have a hard time getting enough electoral votes.
- Vote for their “John Kerry” – the Republican candidate who they think has the best shot at beating Hillary, even though he doesn’t share their ideals and will probably end up just like Kerry.
- Wait and vote for an independent like Michael Bloomberg – even though he’ll do what Perot did; throw the race to the Clintons.
- Register as a Democrat for a day and vote for the Democratic candidate that can stop Hillary from getting the nomination.
Like Iraq, there are “no good options” here. Faithful Republicans will always vote for their party’s ticket come November, but they despise Hillary so much that they will do whatever it takes keep her from the White House, even register as a Democrat. So, when the snow starts to fall, don’t be surprised if conservative blogs offer advice on how to vote in the Democratic primaries(2).
But which non-Clinton will they vote for? Current weathervanes point towards Obama. A Washington Post poll found that Republicans and independents had a much more optimistic view of Obama winning the presidency than other Democratic candidates. And in the Iowa Straw Poll Barack captured almost 7 percent of the Republican vote, “more than Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Sam Brownback combined.” (3)
Obama’s allure is his lack of partisanship – his desire to find solutions rather than score political points.(5) This is the exact opposite of the Bush Administration’s willingness to put party before country. Many disillusioned Republicans are turning away from Rovian winner-takes-all politics and believe Obama may have a sympathetic ear. This is how one future Bush White House lawyer explained why he voted for him to become the president of the Harvard Law Review: “Even though he was clearly a liberal, he didn’t appear to the conservatives in the review to be taking sides in the tribal warfare.”(4) For conservatives in the “anyone but Hillary” camp, this is very appealing.
Case in point is Joe Rowe, a lifelong Republican who registered as a Democrat to vote for Obama because he’s “sick of people not working together.” Ask him about Clinton, however, and he gets testy. “There is no way in hell I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I am going to go to Canada if she wins.”(3) If these are the type of people he is able to pull over, then if Obama gets the nomination, he’ll the White House in a landslide.
(5) http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/05/07/070507fa_fact_macfarquhar?currentPage=1 – Be sure to read the excerpts on page two about how Hillary and Barack’s rhetoric differs on the same topic.