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Primary impressions

From a recently overheard conversation:

Friend 1: Who did you vote for?

Friend 2: How about you?

1: I slightly preferred Obama but I voted for Clinton because I wanted to make my wife happy–she’s really excited about Hillary.

2: I can’t stand Hillary but I don’t know if that’s real or whether I’ve just been manipulated by the media.

1: Hmm . . . what don’t you like about her?

2: Y’know, that $100,000 she made in three hours investing in cattle futures, all those sleazy people they hang out with, they pardoned that guy Marc Rich . . . but, yeah, probably every politician has some sleazy connections.

1: It’s just part of the game. Obama’s younger, maybe he hasn’t made all these contacts yet, but it’ll happen.

2: Yeah, sure. I’m sure McCain has lots of crooked friends too. . . . There’s also the war. That’s a legitimate reason to not want to vote for Hillary–she supported the war. It’s not enough of a reason for me to hate her, though.

1: Especially since you supported the war yourself.

2: No I didn’t.

1: Yeah, I remember having a long conversation with you back in 2003. I opposed the war and you supported it.

2: No way! I was torn about the war but I opposed it.

1: That’s not what I remember.

2: No, I opposed it.

1: There was a study that found that lots of people say now that they opposed the war, lots more than actually opposed the war. I think you’re one of those people.

2: No, you just don’t remember what I said to you back then.

1: I understand what you’re saying, but I think you’re the one who’s misremembering.

etc etc.

P.S. Rebecca adds: thought you might find Matt’s very brief but insightful take on the Hillary electability question interesting. I think he’s right that these results might give us some purchase into how she’d fare in a genral election. . .

On the subject of how Hillary will do in a general election, the following results stood out at me from Super Tuesday:

Alaska – 74 – 25 Obama
Idaho – 80 – 17 Obama
Kansas – 74 – 26 Obama
Colorado – 67 – 32 Obama

Yikes! She is not liked out West. I mean, those were Democrats.

12 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    John McCain's shady friend: Charles Keating, Jr.

    But, yes, I have heard variants of this conversation half a dozen times now.

  2. John says:

    There's interesting research on people seeming to misremember their own positions on the first Gulf War. Mark Joslyn has a 2000 AJPS paper on it ("The Determinants and Consequences of Recall Error about Gulf War Preferences"), and the 1990-92 ANES panel suggests that 63% of the people who opposed military action in 1990 misremembered their positions, claiming in 1992 to have supported military action all along.

  3. Jason Adams says:

    The two people in the conversation are John Edwards (1) and John Kerry (2)?

  4. Phil says:

    I just had a very similar issue come up today. I sent a friend a link to an article about yet another study that failed to find a link between autism and mercury in vaccines. This is about the third such study I had pointed out to my friend. This time he responded with something like "I don't know why you keep sending me these, I always said there was no link." Which was not true!

    In this case, I was able to go back through my email archives and find the actual exchange. My friend did indeed think it was pertty likely that mercury in vaccines causes autism. Confronted with this evidence, he said "Well, I'll be."

  5. xian says:

    I was looking at the figures for Idaho and I was susprised at the very low numbers of voters. Idaho is certainly not a densely populated state but are there that few democrats there?

  6. Sandy says:

    Regarding Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, and Colorado: certainly bad news for Clinton, but probably not a good indicator of how she would do in a general election. All of those are caucus states.

  7. John says:

    In my opinion Rebecca is reaching. Hillary Clinton won California, so it seems she is liked in the parts of the west with huge numbers of electoral votes. Yikes!

  8. anon@anon.com says:

    A stereotype, but: Democrats in mountain states tend to be more-left bohemian-types who would of course not vote for a slick DC insider.

  9. John says:

    Regarding the dialog, it's a story as old as the human race. Success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan.

  10. skh.pcola says:

    John, California is not a state that most people think of when they hear "out west." I live in Florida, and most people don't consider it a "southern" state, because our demographics are much different than, say, Alabama and Mississippi.

  11. Ubs says:

    Obama has at least one sleazy connection already: Tony Rezko. Depending on how loosely you define "sleazy" you might include Jeremiah Wright in that category.

    Only Sandy got it right about those four states. It's all about being caucuses, nothing to do with "out West". Obama had an excellent organization in AK, while Clinton had virtually nothing.

  12. Ubs says:

    The guy who voted to please his wife reminds me of a discussion I had yesterday.

    We have a caucus here in Washington. I'm a political junkie, so of course I was going. My wife doesn't care about politics, and she had other things she wanted to do on a Saturday afternoon. I was trying to coax her into coming to the caucus primarily because I wanted to spend the afternoon with her, not because I cared about recruiting her vote.

    The PCO for our precinct lives two doors down. His wife is the blockwatch captain and general neighborhood busybody, so I talk to her often. They both support Clinton, and I support Obama. I was discussing with her the chances of getting my wife to attend the caucus when it suddenly dawned on me that I didn't even know whom she'd vote for. I was pretty sure she'd go for Obama, but I didn't actually know that for certain. (And indeed, I still don't know, because as it turned out she didn't attend….)

    When this came up in the discussion with the neighbor, I said that even if I knew for a fact that my wife's vote would cancel out mine, I'd still want her to come to the caucus with me, because bottom line I care more about doing things with my wife than I do about rounding up votes for my candidate. And then I thought of you and your voter motivation studies.

    Of course, factored into that is the vanishingly small chance that her vote is actually going to make a difference in the final outcome. If her vote really was going to decide the nomination, then of course I would have lobbied her a lot harder. Then again, if you're going to wildly extrapolate the one side, I suppose you could do that to the other. If our decision was going to make the difference between four years of marital bliss and four years of marital misery, then yeah I'd hand the nomination to Hillary.