Who Are You Voting Against?

I really wish I could find the article I glanced at yesterday postulating that the presidential race is not looking like a blowout for Obama because the contest has been framed as a referendum on Obama rather than a referendum on Bush and the Republican party.

The thought that struck me is that when an election gets framed as a referendum on a candidate that candidate or party usually loses. I think that the reason that Gore did not receive enough support in 2000 to overcome the Nader voters is that the voters were fatigued by the emotionally charged Clinton presidency. In 2004 the vote got framed as a question of whather Kerry was really presidential or if he was just another politician. I think that 1996 was 2004 with Dole in the place of Kerry.

The exception seems to be 1988 which was a referendum on Reagan in which Bush I won.

What do you think? Is this how the outcome of our elections is decided – by voting against whoever the debate is centered on? (If so I would predict that 2010 will be a bad year to be a Democrat seeking election – regardless of the outcome this year.)

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
This entry was posted in culture, National, politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


9 Responses to Who Are You Voting Against?

  1. Reach Upward says:

    I think your idea has merit.

  2. David says:

    Is there any way to change it if I’m right?

  3. Reach Upward says:

    The campaigns have a lot to do with determining whether their candidate ends up being the subject of a referendum. Obama’s campaign didn’t have to do some of the things they have done that have made their guy questionable.

    The 2004 election began as a referendum on Bush, but as you note, ended up as a referendum on Kerry. The Kerry campaign did some dumb things to make that happen.

    I don’t know if there was any way to avoid the 1980 election being a referendum on Carter. He had such a spectacular series of problems that it simply couldn’t be avoided by the end of his first term.

    What general elections measure poorly is intensity. Each voter gets a single vote. But each voter has a level of intensity as well.

    Maybe they hate candidate A at a level 7 out of 10, but only dislike candidate B at a level of 2. Or maybe they like candidate A at a level of 10. But their vote is of equal value to the guy that only likes candidate A at level 1. Some of the intensity is perhaps measured by apathy (people that choose not to vote), but that hardly tells the whole story.

    Automatic runoff voting is interesting, but studies show that most people won’t buy it because of the complexity involved. The outcome is not always clear to understand. I’m not sure there is a good mechanism for having intensity reflected in voting outcomes, nor am I certain that Americans would even think that individuals’ passion should help determine elections.

  4. David says:

    It seems to me that the way the parties avoid any significant debate on pressing issues suggests that they want the votes to be reduced to a referendum on one candidate or another. I wonder if voter intensity is something we should be measuring – perhaps we are better off with a straight up or down vote from each voter.

  5. I think that elections–in particular national elections–are rarely determined by the views of the people regarding who would be a good/effective/better leader. Few people spend the time needed to 1) understand the principles of good government, 2) determine which candidate has the experience and character traits most likely to implement those principles, and 3) find qualified individuals to run for office when they realize that nobody running now should be within 1,000 miles of public office.

    My problem with voting this year (and most years) is that the Doctrine & Covenants indicates that God has commanded us to select good, honest, and wise men to be our leaders. That pretty much disqualifies both McCain and Obama. Obama, being the empty-suit totalitarian collectivist that he is, would clearly be the most detrimental, but McCain is not that much closer to a true defender of the Founding Principles. (As a resident of southern Arizona, I have suffered under that putz for long enough. I wonder if Johnny Mac would like to take a tour with me to see what our porous southern border has done for Tucson.)

    If I vote FOR somebody instead of AGAINST someone, I’ll end up writing in my own name…again.

  6. David says:

    Aside from having experience with either Obama or McCain as my senator, I can relate to most of what you have said. Unfortunately I am not 35 this election cycle so I can’t write my own name in if I have nobody to vote FOR.

  7. Ah, then you can write in my name.

    My campaign slogan:

    “Vote for me. I’ll leave you alone!”

  8. Pingback: David Miller » Blog Archive » Why We Vote “No”

Comments are closed.

Loading Facebook Comments ...