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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008

If You Were a Political Consultant…

What’s your take on the presidential campaign?

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AFTER A VERY LONG CAMPAIGN AND AN UNPRECEDENTED AMOUNT OF ATTENTION, THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS ALMOST OVER.

So what do you think about it?

Fill out this surveyand let us know your opinion about the campaign. What were its best and worst moments? What did you think about the candidates’ strategies? What will happen next?

You can vote now through 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 3. We’ll publish the results in our Nov. 6 issue. By that time—hopefully—we’ll know who our next president is and what you think about this historic presidential campaign.

Paper ballots can be sent to Campaign Survey, c/o Shepherd Express, 207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 410, Milwaukee, WI 53202.

Who Are You?

Did you support Barack Obama or John McCain in the presidential primary?

  • Yes
  • No

Who will you vote for?

  • Obama
  • McCain
  • A third party candidate
  • I’m not voting

When did you make up your mind about which candidate you’d support in the general election?

  • During the primaries
  • Over the summer
  • Sometime around the conventions
  • While Sarah Palin was introducing herself to the
  • country
  • When the economy tanked in October
  • Just before Election Day
  • Still undecided

How are you most involved in a campaign?

  • I donated money.
  • I have a yard sign or wear a T-shirt or button in
  • support of my candidate.
  • I’ve volunteered for a candidate by making phone
  • calls or knocking on doors.
  • I’ve volunteered for an independent group that
  • is focused on issues or get-out-the-vote efforts.
  • I send e-mails, news items or YouTube videos to
  • friends.
  • I’m not involved.

The Candidates

John McCain: a maverick?

  • Yes, and his choice of Sarah Palin and populist rhetoric on the campaign trail prove it.
  • Yes, but he’s had to make some compromises to solidify the support of the Republican base.
  • No, although he had been a maverick in the Senate until he began cultivating the right wing of his party in an effort to gain the Republican nomination.
  • No, and he never really was one. He cultivated the media image of being a “maverick.”
  • Yes, he broke with his party on a few issues, but his voting record shows he’s a mainstream Republican who only bucks his party when it benefits him personally.

Barack Obama: change we can believe in?

  • Yes, Obama is an utterly new kind of politician who will practice a new kind of politics.
  • Yes, Obama is a change agent, but only in comparison with the policies of the Bush administration.
  • No. Obama can claim to represent change because he’s young and African-American, which sets him apart from other national politicians. But that is moreimage than substance.
  • No. Obama is a mainstream Democrat who will continue his party’s policies.

Was McCain wise to select Sarah Palin as his running mate?

  • Yes, because Palin is a popular governor who would make a good vice president.
  • Yes, because she energized the conservative base of the Republican Party.
  • Yes, because I support Obama and she is dragging down the Republican ticket.
  • No, because McCain can’t criticize Obama’s lack of experience since Palin has a thin resume in public office.
  • No, because her far-right-wing views are turning off moderates and women, both of whom McCain needs to win.
  • No, because there are other better-qualified Republicans who would have made a better running mate, especially during a time of war and economic crisis.
What was Sarah Palin’s biggest exaggeration or untruth?
  • “I told the Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ for that Bridge to Nowhere.”
  • “I’m very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing [in the Troopergate investigation]… any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that.”
  • “I have a vast variety of source [sic] where we get our news.”
  • That Alaska’s proximity to Russia makes her a foreign policy expert. 
  • The vice president is “in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.”

What do you think of Joe Biden saying, “Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy”?

  • What’s the big deal? We are living in dangerous times and Biden’s statement is logical. Bush was in office for only eight months when the United States was attacked on 9/11.
  • Biden’s known for making gaffes like this, so it shows that Obama made a foolish choice in picking Biden as his running mate.
  • Biden is admitting that Obama is “untested” and electing him as president would place our security at risk.

The Long Campaign

Should the Electoral College system be abolished so that the president can be chosen by popular vote?

  • Yes. The Electoral College is a meaningless and unfair anachronism.
  • No. It’s the best way to ensure that small states can play an important role in the election.

Should the Democrats change the role played by party insiders—“superdelegates”—in selecting their candidate?

  • No, it’s a decent system that allows superdelegates and individual voters to have a say.
  • Yes, because party insiders shouldn’t be allowed to deny the will of the grassroots Democratic voters.

Did Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton fair and square?

  • Yes, he knew how many delegates he had to win and he developed a winning strategy.
  • No, because caucuses aren’t as legitimate as primaries.
  • No, because the superdelegates put him over the top.

Why did one-time front-runner Clinton lose to Obama?

  • She thought she’d have the nomination wrapped up by Super Tuesday and didn’t plan for a long ground game.
  • Her pro-war vote and hawkish policies doomed her with the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party.
  • Her advisers gave her bad advice about her “experience” message and campaign strategy.
  • It was a case of Clinton fatigue.
  • Her husband kept going off message and insulted African-American voters.

How effective were the McCain/Republican National Committee robocalls that linked Obama with ’60s radical William Ayers?

  • I think that the message is valid and will help McCain.
  • They made me think twice about supporting Obama.
  • They are a waste of money because they won’t change one vote.
  • They’re sleazy and will backfire on McCain.

How effective was the Democratic National Convention?

  • Very effective, because it unified the party and presented Obama in a positive light.
  • It was effective but was overwhelmed by the coverage of Sarah Palin, who was introduced the day after Obama’s speech.
  • It wasn’t effective at all and may have turned off undecided voters.

How effective was the Republican National Convention?

  • Very effective, because the base was energized by Sarah Palin’s spotlight-stealing speech.
  • The first day was cut because of the hurricane, so it was only moderately successful.
  • It wasn’t effective because the right-wing rhetoric turned off undecided or moderate voters.

Are debates necessary?

  • Yes, because they provide voters with a clear comparison of the candidates’ ideas and personalities.
  • Yes, because they help to draw attention to the campaign.
  • No, because candidates just repeat their standard stump speeches and rehearsed zingers.

Who will decide the election?

  • Voters
  • Lawyers
  • The Supreme Court

The Outcome

As of this writing, Obama has a strong lead in Wisconsin, even though the state has had razor-thin
margins in recent presidential elections. How will the vote turn out in Wisconsin?

  • Obama will win in a landslide (more than 55% of the vote).
  • Obama will win in a squeaker.
  • McCain will win in a squeaker.
  • McCain will win in a landslide.
How will the race for president turn out nationally?
  • Obama will win in a landslide.
    Obama will win in a squeaker.
    McCain will win in a squeaker.
    McCain will win in a landslide.

Will young people turn out for Obama?

  • Yes, they proved in the primaries that they will vote on Election Day.
  • Yes, because they are at the heart of his ground game.
  • No, because they seldom follow through and show up on Election Day.

Will African Americans turn out for Obama?

  • Yes, this is a historic vote that African Americans are proud to cast.
  • Yes, but Republican officials and lawyers will try hard to suppress or deny African-American votes.
  • No, because African Americans typically do not vote in large numbers.

Will evangelical voters turn out in huge numbers for McCain?

  • Yes, because they always vote Republican, even if they don’t have a lot of love for McCain.
  • Yes, because they are Palin’s biggest supporters.
  • No, because McCain isn’t really one of  them.
  • No, because many evangelicals find that Obama is an acceptable alternative.

Has McCain worked hard enough to reach out to African-American, Latino and other minority voters?

  • Yes, he’s doing the best he can.
  • No, because he’s conceded that Obama will win their votes so he’s only appealing to white voters.

If Obama is elected the first biracial president in U.S. history, how will race relations be affected?

  • There will be no change because the United States is a deeply racially divided country and a biracial president won’t change that no matter how politically adept or popular he is.
  • White Americans will react negatively to the growing power of African Americans and other minorities and there will be a dangerous backlash.
  • African Americans and other minorities will have more opportunities to reach the highest levels of success and white Americans will have to reject their racist beliefs once and for all.
  • There will be no change because Obama will be hypersensitive to the needs of the white elite and not change any policies that would favor minorities.

Your Reactions

  • What was the best moment of this campaign?
  • McCain’s comeback victory in New Hampshire
    The Obama-Clinton primary race
  • Obama’s international trip
  • Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention 45 years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech 
  • McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention when he talked about his time as a POW
  • McCain’s introduction of Sarah Palin
  • The debates

What made you the angriest?

  • McCain’s unruly supporters who say inflammatory things about Obama and his supporters
  • Negative campaign ads blanketing the airwaves
  • Obama’s unwillingness to lash out at or go totally negative on McCain or Palin
  • Hearing TV pundits spin and not tell the truth
  • Republicans’ insults about community organizers, people with “anti-American” views, socialists and liberals

Do candidates’ visits to Wisconsin mean anything to you?

  • Yes, because it shows that they care about us and they help to generate enthusiasm.
  • Yes, because it’s cool to see them on local news and in familiar parts of the state.
  • No, because I can never attend them.
  • No, because they just give their standard stump speech that I can hear anywhere.

Do endorsements affect your decision to support a candidate?

  • Yes, especially when they’re from respected public officials such as Colin Powell.
  • Yes, especially when they come from a union, special-interest organization or news outlet that I support or respect.
  • Yes, especially when they’re from a celebrity I admire.
  • Yes, they validate my decision to vote for a particular candidate.
  • No, I make up my own mind.

What is your favorite campaign-related viral video?

  • Obama’s “Vote Different”
  • Palin being prayed over by a witchhunting minister from Kenya
  • Palin speaking to supporters of the pro-secessionist Alaska Independence Party
  • McCain’s reaction shots from the last debate
  • McCain saying he wouldn’t mind being in Iraq for another 100 years

 

Which too-crazy-to-be-true story did you follow most closely?

  • Obama’s connections to “domestic terrorists”
  • Obama’s “fake” birth certificate
  • The official and unofficial stories surrounding the birth of Trig, Sarah Palin’s special-needs baby
  • Sarah Palin’s messy family life
  • McCain’s connections to extremist right-wing organizations 
  • McCain or Obama being Manchurian candidates

Media Coverage

What issue did the corporate media needlessly overplay?

  • The rift between Obama and Clinton supporters in the Democratic Party
  • Rev. Jeremiah Wright
  • William Ayers
  • Joe the Plumber
  • ACORN
  • “Lipstick on a pig”
  • White rural voters “clinging to guns and religion”

Joe the Plumber: a McCain campaign plant?

  • Yes, because he obviously supports McCain even though Obama’s tax plan is better for him.
  • No, because the McCain campaign couldn’t have organized something like this.
  • No, it’s genuine.

Which issues did you want to hear more about?

  • International issues not relating to the war on terror
  • Immigration reform
  • Public safety issues such as funding for police departments and gun control
  • Race relations
  • The environment
  • Turning around the economy and creating jobs
  • Social Security and other benefits programs
  • Restoring civil liberties threatened during the Bush administration
  • Urban issues
  • Mass transit
  • All of the above
More comments? E-mail them to editor@shepex.com.

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