Thursday, August 04, 2005


Name Recognition = Electability?

Cross-posted at my dKos Diary.

I have a question specifically focused on Minnesota and its citizens, but anyone is free to respond simply as a Kossack or American reader:

How important are name recognition and electability in a state-wide race?

There are several inherent assumptions in this question: Folks in this community tend to be slightly more politically engaged than John Q. Voter on Main Street. But I'm thinking that voters in a primary (or caucus, in our case) also tend to be more informed and engaged than the general-election voter base as well.

So how important is it that everyone know a candidate this early in the game? Likewise, is it more important for us to put forth a candidate we believe has what it takes to beat the GOP opponent (Pawlenty, Kennedy) or should we find a candidate we believe reflects the values and issues of the base and can attract moderate Republicans and independents?

Here's the core of my thinking: Dean vs. Kerry. I still believe John Kerry was the right candidate to oppose Bush for various reasons, Swift-Boat Debacle aside. However, the lack of enthusiasm for JK among many Dems was palpable - late in the campaign, we ran into several volunteers who told us they were still Dean supporters, but since Dean supported Kerry, they were okay with him.

Seriously. That's no way to run a GOTV effort. If you're not enthusiastic about the candidate, stay home.

It's no secret that independents are where elections state-wide and above are won. We have to realize, especially in a state like Minnesota, that independents and moderates on both sides watch both bases to see how enthusiastic they are for their candidate. If they sense a bad vibe from either about their own candidate, they won't trust the candidate or the campaign.

So, getting back to the original question: Is an "electable" candidate better than one that excites the base, gets them involved, and has the potential to move the massive political system in their direction?

Or perhaps the question can be reframed: Can we find candidates for whom we don't have to make this distinction?

Thoughts? Again, looking for MN-centric feedback, but all comments are welcome.

Blogger vikingdog said:
I am new to this, but thought I should weigh in.

I am an independant that leans Democrat. In regards to your question on whether name reconition plays a role in a candidates electability, you only have to look as far as the esteemed Jesse 'the Brain' Ventura. He was able to rouse the intrest of the young voters, and actually mobilized a HUGE number of them to the polls. If you think he did that with his political abilities...

Now, I have to say that given the atmosphere that Mr. Pawlenty has created in the state, we could front almost anyone against TP and be reasonably sure of a win.

Other races...Patty Wetterling has some of the best name recognition in the state, but I have not heard anyone stand out in her favor from any position. I personally like her politics, but question her ability to perform in the office.

I can tell you what I will be looking for in a candidate this election...

I really want someone to stand up and say that they will do the right things. If we need to raise taxes, we will. If we can cut taxes, we will. We will fund schools, and support our seniors health programs. WE will balance the budget...ON TIME... and with bipartisan support, and we will not use one time money. Balance the state budget like I balance my checkbook!!!

Sorry, got a little carried away there.

Bottom line. Name recognition helps (Jesse Ventura and Arnold Scharzenneger), but hard work and an honest point of view, and a realistic plan will get you elected and re-elected (Paul Welstone)
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