Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fiction and Reality

The Candidate (1972) embodies what it is like for an unknown to compete against an entrenched incumbent for the United States Senate.  The film, which starred Robert Redford, Melvyn Douglas, and Peter Boyle, was written by Jeremy Larner, who was the head speechwriter for Eugene McCarthy in his 1968 bid for President.  Shot in a pseudo-documentary style which is common place in many television shows and movies today, The Candidate provides serious and comic moments in how a campaign works.  This is done all through the lens of someone who once worked for a Presidential campaign.  The Candidate is a compelling piece of cinema from the early 1970s.  Perhaps that even with the film’s star power and sobering screenplay, it is the film’s final scene that demonstrates the disconnect between campaign for office and the reality of actually holding office.

Your thoughts?

Again and Again…

Did you know that there is something called, “The Commission on Presidential Debates”?  Did you also know that this Commission determines which Presidential candidates get to debate each other before the general election.  More over, the Commission on Presidential Debates has a criterion that has excluded third party candidates from the debates since Ross Perot was invited in 1992.  In order to be invited to a Presidential debate, a candidate must have a composite average of 15% of popular support from nationally administered polls.   One problem with the requirement is that most national polling companies do not include any third party candidates as a choice in their polls.  Another problem is how subjective the 15% requirement is.  Why not 5% as a requirement?  How about 1%?  What about ballot access requirements as a criterion?  If you are not included in a poll as a choice, then how can a candidate receive any show of public support, let alone 15%?

What are your thoughts?

Responsible Parties?

According to the responsible party model, political parties have distinct platforms which they should carry out when their members get elected.  To accept this model, you must believe that they are clear ideological and philosophical differences between the parties.  Those distinct parties would accept responsibility related to the government’s performance while they are in charge.

Do you believe that parties adhere to the responsible party model?  Do you believe there are clear distinctions between the parties?

Social Networking Sites and Politics

Term Limits

The President of the United States is limited to two four-year terms according to the 22nd Amendment.  After two terms, that President can no longer run again.  There are no term limits for members of Congress.  You can stay in office for as long as you are re-elected to that seat.  (Yes, I know.  Members of Congress can also resign, die, or be expelled from the House and Senate.)


From the late 1970s.  The Phil Donahue Show.  Donahue is interviewing economist Milton Friedman.

Your thoughts?

Push Polling

I posted this one back in 2012.

By now, many poll results have been reported to the public by the media.  Scientific polls were conducted to get those poll results.  Whether you are a Barack Obama, Mitt Romney or third party candidate supporter, you can rest assured that those polls results were compiled in a legitimate manner.  When you see polling companies such as Gallup, Rasmussen, Pew and the like, you know that the poll is credible.  Credibility is something that cannot be said for the push poll.

A push poll is not a real poll.  In fact, those who conduct a push poll are not concerned about the data gleaned from their surveys.  A push poll is conducted in an automated fashion over the phone.  The goal of a push poll is to put a rumor or false inference in the mind of the person who answered the phone.  It designed to sway voters from one candidate to another.  To the untrained voter, they may believe the push poll is a scientific poll.  However, scientific polls usually do not ask questions such as, “How can someone who is Mormon be President if he does not believe in Jesus Christ?” or “If you knew that your candidate for President fathered an illegitimate black child, would you still vote for him for President?”  The first question is being used in Ohio currently by a group that is rumored to support President Obama.  It is designed to harm the Romney campaign.  The second question was asked of primary voters in South Carolina in 2000 regarding John McCain and his non-Caucasian daughter.  The daughter was not black, nor was she illegitimate.  She just happened to be adopted from Bangladesh.  Supporters of then-Governor George W. Bush were have said to be the source of the McCain question.  Those who engage in push polling typically do not leave their calling card as to the identification of the push poll’s source.  They are negative in nature and are designed to destroy political campaigns.  The voter who answers the phone is left questioning whether or not what they heard over phone was valid or not.  Push polls are not valid in any shape or form.  This election season, as the electoral finish line approaches, beware of the push poll and its consequences.

(2012 Question)  What are your thoughts regarding push polls?  (2015 Question)  Have you ever been push polled?  I have…actually twice.  Once in 2010 and another was in 2014.  Both were for races for Illinois Governor.

In Honor of Presidents Day

In honor of Presidents Day, I am listing the Top 10 Presidents, according to a 2010 Siena poll of 238 Presidential scholars.

(In order)

1.  Franklin D. Roosevelt
2.  Theodore Roosevelt
3.  Abraham Lincoln
4.  George Washington
5.  Thomas Jefferson
6.  James Madison
7.  James Monroe
8.  Woodrow Wilson
9.  Harry S. Truman
10.  Dwight D. Eisenhower

Let’s say for an argument that you had to pick the best President from the above list.  Who would it be and why?

The Iowa Straw Poll Circus

The Republican Party holds what is called a straw poll in the summer before a Presidential election year.  This year’s Iowa Straw Poll will be held in August.  Iowa’s Presidential Caucus is held in January 2016.  In the last Iowa Straw Poll, held in August 2011, Presidential candidates from the GOP met with the party faithful and gauged where they stood in the state that holds the first caucus in the nation.  This non-binding vote gave then-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann the victory and some momentum for her Presidential bid.  The momentum was short-lived as her campaign foundered near the January 2012 election.  Recently, the folks at Real Clear Politics recently wrote about the significance of the Iowa Straw Poll.  Do you see it as a significant event?

For the RCP column, click here.

This Week’s Memorabilia

Sitting members of Congress rarely become President of United States.  The last Congressman elected President while serving in the House was James Garfield in 1880.  Many House members have vied for the White House since then and have failed.  Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) was one of those members of Congress who tried and failed.  In 1968, Chisholm was the first African-American Congresswoman elected to office.  In 1972, she was the first African-American in a major party to run for President.   She lost the Democratic nomination to Senator George McGovern.  The poster shown here is from her 1972 campaign.  What message is Congresswoman Chisholm trying to convey here?