The experts vs. the voters: A different analysis of the 2008 campaign
By J.B. Williams
In recent years, the news room has become more about shaping public perceptions than about reporting current events in a forthright effort to keep the public openly informed. When it comes to politics, this practice becomes a Hulk-like, steroid drenched, overbearing monster focused entirely upon driving public perception and shaping the outcome of an election.
It seems we have no shortage of political experts these days. Everyone from the news anchor to your neighbor next door is a political analyst. Countless pollsters work around the clock to gauge voter intent or more often than not, provide supporting polling results to the campaigns who hire them, which will be used in campaign press releases to shore up the claims of the campaign. Political analysis has become a huge industry and it's very profitable.
When voters make political contributions, they do so thinking that those funds will go into helping the candidate advertise his/her message. But the fact is - the greatest portion of campaign donations go to pay the "experts" involved in running and advising the campaigns. Take a look at the 2008 expenditures report based on all 2008 campaigns combined, as reported by Open Secrets.
Less than 15 percent of all political contributions actually go into "media" expenditures to promote the campaigns ideas. Over 70 percent goes to the "experts," which should explain why over a billion dollars will be spent to fill a $400,000 a year position.
The Experts Function
The function of today's political expert is not to gauge voter sentiment and identify the best candidate to advance those views, but to actually shape voter sentiment. Today's political reporters are not in the business of telling people the facts about the candidates, the issues or their campaigns. They are in the business of shaping the issues, positioning the candidates and promoting or undermining the campaigns, as they see fit.
The experts chose two candidates early on for 2008. Their clear preference was Hillary Clinton and their fall-back Republican was Rudy Giuliani. The leftist press started promoting these two candidates long before either of them announced their candidacy and they have continued to tell the American people that these two candidates would face off in November '08.
The leftist press wants Hillary Clinton. They don't want her for her current anti-war diatribe. She has been patently pro-war in every Senate vote and most of her pro-war rhetoric. They want her for her Marxist social positions.
But Hillary Clinton has the highest "unfavorable" rating in American politics. So, just in case Hillary can't win, they need a Hillary-like liberal Republican opponent who will at least carry out Hillary's liberal social platform, hence, Rudy Giuliani.
The voters seem to be saying something else though, regardless of whom the experts have ordained.
Despite the expert effort to ordain Mayor Rudy the RNC nominee, Rudy has remained at or below 30 percent support among Republican voters and he is running far behind several others in northern early primary states, where he should be running strong.
This has caused the experts to shift from Rudy to the next "compassionate conservative" Mitt Romney, claiming him to be the anointed one in Iowa and New Hampshire. But then the Iowa and New Hampshire voters started taking a closer look at Mike Huckabee and again, the experts were derailed.
On the Democrat side of the aisle, the expert assumed "lock" for the DNC nomination, Hillary Clinton, now finds herself running behind completely unqualified Barack Obama in the early primary states, with Edwards, largely ignored by the expert press, gaining on the Clinton "juggernaut" as well.
So far, the experts don't seem to be dictating the terms and conditions of the 2008 election as they have been able to do in the past. The voters seem to be doing a little dictating of their own this time around.
2006 vs. 2008
The experts also seem to have misinterpreted the 2006 election results. Democrat experts think their candidates were elected to reverse all the Bush policies, specifically in Iraq. Republican experts believed them. Both were wrong.
It wasn't pro-Hillary anti-war leftists who removed Republicans from congressional power. It was anti-illegal immigration, anti-social spending, and pro-victory Republicans, fed up with a Republican congress which behaved more like a Democrat congress who removed them from power.
These same voters are now rejecting all the expert anointed liberal Republican candidates. Red district Republicans are so focused on core conservative values this year that they are actually considering a Baptist Minister from Arkansas for president, who promises to use the power of the federal government to legislate a more morally conscience policy in Washington. How can the experts miss that message?
Without even asking why Iowa voters like Huckabee, the experts jump the Romney ship and get on the Huckabee train. Not because the press always wanted a Baptist Pastor in the White House, but because they know Huckabee will be easy red meat for the Clinton opponent grinder in the general election.
The experts still think these voters will eventually line up behind another socially liberal Republican in the name of defeating a social liberal across the aisle. How? There is no evidence that the conservative base is going to depart from conservative values again, just to elect the lesser of the evils.
One People's Candidate
The voters have taken matters into their own hands and some experts are a little slow to catch on.
Nobody drafted a single Democrat candidate into the '08 race. Nobody drafted any of the Republicans into the race either, except one, Fred Thompson.
Red district Republicans across the country looked at all of the self-appointed candidates and said, no thanks, we'll go get our own. They looked at all potential candidates and settled on Fred Thompson.
Since then, Thompson has managed to run in the top tier without much real effort or nearly as much money as the other top tier candidates. Yet the experts tell us he can't win because he is not playing the game the same way the other top tier candidates are playing.
Take another look at the above pie chart from Open Secrets and tell me what real conservative would ever play the game that way?
The Voter's Candidate vs. the Experts
The nation's most powerful conservative, Rush Limbaugh, recently pointed out to his more than 20 million listeners, "There is only one real conservative in the race, and that is Fred Thompson."
The Weekly Standard says "Fred came to play. He also had the obvious moment of the day when he took on the officious moderator, refusing to go along with one of those idiotic "raise your hands" questions. Given the hour that the debate took place, a lot of people will probably see only a highlight package of the debate. The unquestioned highlight was Fred slapping down the moderator. Even putting that aside, Fred had his best day of the campaign. He was serious, thoughtful, and authoritative. It was a wonderful day for him."
Renew America says "Thompson showed clearly that he was not going to be suckered into a game where Democrats make the rules. He also showed himself to be genuine and an independently thinking leader who places more value on being honest than pandering to political correctness and group think."
Townhall says "The Fred" is a peculiar case. He is a consistent, movement conservative whose views match up better with those of the base than any of the other top tier candidates. He's a fiscal conservative, a federalist, a man with a perfect pro-life voting record, and all the right positions on illegal immigration. He is also, by far, the most popular candidate with conservatives online, quick on his feet, has a good sense of humor, comes across as presidential, and more than any other Republican running, he has put out serious, detailed policy plans."
The experts are just now beginning to figure out what conservatives who drafted Thompson have known all along. He's not only a serious leader, not only the real conservative in the race and not only a true people's candidate. He is in fact the only candidate who can indeed unite the Republican Party behind a truly conservative platform at a time when the conservative base is fed up with Republicans who act more like Democrats.
Of course he doesn't take the so-called "debates" seriously. Do you? He's right. They are nothing more than leftist-designed performing seal shows aimed at making all Republican candidates look foolish. Thompson is the only one smart enough to call it what it is.
Of course he's not running the insane type of campaign which has somehow become the norm even for so-called conservative candidates. What real conservative would spend billions to get a $400,000 a year job?
Can he win? Only the voters can decide that. But if Republicans want to offer the nation a real conservative alternative to the Marxists now running the DNC, Thompson is that alternative.
Thompson is serious about his positions and his campaign, and his supporters are very serious about him.
As Bush caves in to one leftist notion after another, the conservative base becomes more and more committed to nominating a real conservative. If Republicans are serious about winning in 2008, they will have to get serious about conservative values and principles.
The experts will figure this out eventually… hopefully before next November.
© 2007 J.B. Williams