Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Candidates, the Issues, and You

Do you vote for the Presidential candidate whose positions on the issues are closest to your own? Is that the most important factor? There are important factors other than stands on issues which should be considered in electing our leader, but issues are important and there are many tools available for matching you to candidates based on their stands and your beliefs.

Unfortunately, I fear, those most inclined to take these online surveys, which I link below, probably tend to be those who least need that information. So I would encourage you to find a survey you like and urge your less politically focused friends to try it out.

GlassBooth.org - is one of the best in my opinion, but its opening page may trip some people up. 14 issues are listed, and the survey taker is asked to assign 20 points to the 14 issues, allowing more weight to be given to those issues you care most about. You can assign all 20 to one, or divvy them out however you choose. You will be given as many questions on each topic as points you assigned to it. Answer 20 total questions and your matches to candidates will be ranked with good information on each candidate about why they received the score they did.

SelectSmart.com is quick and easy, and one page of answers, on which you are allowed to elevate or depress the weight of each answer, gets you to a results page percentage ranking for each contender, including some who are no longer running.

MyElectionChoices.com - A great source for seeing actual candidate statements on a wide array of issues. It takes a lot of time to find your best candidate match if you want to cover many issues, and you have to wade through reading many statements which are crafted for public consumption by politicians. You click statements you agree with before you see who made them. This is best if you want to really focus on one or just a few issues, or if you have plenty of time.

Should You Be President? One page, nice and quick, and the top choices are probably correctly indicated, but there's something a little fishy about it. I was initially confused by the numbers in the first section " Your Presidential Candidate Rankings" which can be positive or negative but come after a hyphen; so " - 8" means positive 8, whereas " - - 8" means negative 8. The second section makes me think this was actually created by Ron Paul supporters, and what the "YOU" means is unclear, because what I would guess is clearly unsubstantiated.

Select a Candidate WQAD, a local TV station in the Quad cities of Iowa & Illinois put together their own quick survey that does a reasonable job of matching you to a candidate.

No doubt there are many other similar sites - feel free to share your own - but those listed above can certainly measure how you match up with candidates on the issues. Kucinich, and usually Gravel, consistently rank at the top of my lists, and Tancredo & Hunter at the bottom. As I stated at the outset, however, these sites are most useful for those who get their sense of politicians from popular culture and are less steeped in politics than the typical reader of this site. It is more useful for eliminating politicians who are clearly out of step with our views on the issues than for determining the absolute best fit. Because let's face it, issues aren't the only thing that's important.

Electability - the primary reason I won't be putting my money and effort into the Kucinich campaign this time around - Sorry Dennis, it's just not gonna happen.

Inspirational - the primary reason I continue to lean towards Obama, who understands that ideological differences do not define our goodness or badness.

Competence & Connections - the reason Clinton continues to lead in many polls in spite of high negatives.

Likeability - overrated in my opinion, as it is heavily weighted by acting ability, but certainly the primary source of Huckabee's recent surge. I'm not suggesting that Huckabee is not genuine, but weighting likeability too heavily does put us at risk of being fooled.

Judgment - we often are left guessing here, but undeniably a President's judgment will be tested many times during his or her term, and it's important to consider past actions, and understand a candidate's groundings for their beliefs in determining how measured and reasonable that judgment might be.

Funding - knowing who a candidate is beholden to can tell us a lot about how much to trust their public statements. Opensecrets.org has a fair amount of data (click on candidates for more details), but still can't tell the whole story.

One site is even devoted just to a President's looks.

Issues do matter a great deal, however. Let us hope that our fellow voters at least know where their favorite candidates stand.

Posted by Walker Willingham at December 12, 2007 3:00 PM
Comments
Comment #240602

If someone points out an obvious site which I missed, I may add it later to the original post. I think there is a heavily used one which I didn’t find at the time of this writing.

I did find some with obvious slants or hidden agendas which I intentionally excluded. Grassfire & FreedomWorks have surveys which match their sponsors’ conservative bent, while IndependentVoice.org has a clear third party slant and isn’t an attempt to match you with a candidate at all, but rather to hook you up with their organization. QuizRocket hosts an attempt to match the survey taker to a political party, but has such caricatured political statements to choose from, that I couldn’t take it seriously.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at December 12, 2007 3:25 PM
Comment #240605

I was surprised to see that Obama spent more than Clinton.

Obama is very stealthy. He gives the impression of being an outsider, but his education and the money he has to spend show he is definitely an insider. Ironically, he is probably the most WASP-like candidate in the race.

You have also to give credit to Huckabee, no matter what the reason. He spent less than Kucinich but did significantly better.

When I look at the roster on both side, the only guy who really seems like he could/should be president is still John McCain. Unfortunately, the surge probably came too late for him.

Posted by: Jack at December 12, 2007 3:43 PM
Comment #240606

Obama has a very effective fund raising organization, but the funds have been raised almost entirely from individual donors who are excited by his candidacy. Clinton clearly has more institutional support, and her pie graph shows that.

I do give credit to Huckabee, both in his ability to get significant attention in spite of smaller funding, and (not unrelated) in his ability to speak from the heart, remain consistent, and connect with his audience. He really sounds like the compassionate conservative that Bush once claimed to be, but his record and life story does suggest a genuine concern for the poor. If we weren’t so far apart on the issues, I could see myself rallying to him. He’s a little nutty on issues involving science.

Posted by: Walker Willingham at December 12, 2007 4:05 PM
Comment #240608

Walker… interesting piece. Not surprisingly, I was 68% aligned with Paul… and on a scary note, 62% aligned with Richardson…

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at December 12, 2007 4:23 PM
Comment #240610

I wonder if these sites will update when the Green and Libertarian parties select their candidate…? Really, isn’t 2007 a little bit early to really be choosing the President, the primary nonsense that the Dems and Reps are involved in now just makes me want to puke, like watching a 24 hour news channel when there is no news…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 12, 2007 5:08 PM
Comment #240612

Rhinehold… not much chance of that, my friend. The reason? That can be found in Walker’s original post:

Electability - the primary reason I won’t be putting my money and effort into the Kucinich campaign this time around - Sorry Dennis, it’s just not gonna happen.

Remember, we are told by the media who is electable and who is not… Sure, there will be sites out there with updated candidates, and maybe the green or libertarian might even get 5 minutes on the Colbert Report… but that’ll be about it.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at December 12, 2007 5:29 PM
Comment #240616

By the time my state votes, the candidate I’d most like to vote for will probably have dropped out of the race…so…should I bother voting in the primary if there’s no party candidate for whom I can cast my vote???

Posted by: Rachel at December 12, 2007 10:02 PM
Comment #240620

Walker and all
The race for the Democratic nomination is NOT over,nor is it a race between Clinton and Obama. Edwards has solid support. He does not accept corporate lobby money. He is bright,has good specific policies,is a good orator,has appeal in the South,fewer negatives than HC or Obama.If you want a workable universal health plan,if you believe the middle-class has been getting a bum deal, if you believe that poverty in the richest country on earth can be constructively addressed ,if you believe the biggest problem we have in Washington is the influence of corporations over the interest of citizens then you really should take a serious look at supporting Edwards.
As Doug Langworthy pointed out,”the Media tells us who is electable”.Edwards gets less play in the corporate media because they do not want him taken seriously. That is the traditional response to any candidate that intends to stick up for working people.They attempt to make them look foolish.
An example of this was the to do about his haircut,his mansion etc. What kind of populist is that,ha,ha. I would remind you of another Democratic populist that ran a number of years ago. He had both a summer and winter mansion. His hobby was yacht racing of all things,about the most elitist sport there is. How in the hell could someone with that background have the nerve to claim to stick up for working people. That candidate won the election. That would be FDR,arguably the best president of the twentieth century and clearly the best president for working Americans before or since.Is Edwards like FDR? Maybe,just maybe. He certainly deserves a serious look.

Posted by: Bills at December 12, 2007 11:08 PM
Comment #240621

Interesting blog, Walker. I like Myelectionchoices.com; Romney is my candidate. I agreed with a few dems; not one of them was Mrs. Bill Clinton.
:-)

Posted by: rahdigly at December 12, 2007 11:21 PM
Comment #240624

Walker, great article I also like Myelectionchoices.com, it took some time but was very informative.

Bills “That would be FDR,arguably the best president of the twentieth century and clearly the best president for working Americans before or since”
Without a doubt the best of the last century, the only real question is who is second the other Roosevelt?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 12, 2007 11:53 PM
Comment #240637

Bills-

Edwards only won one State in 2004, South Carolina, and after the Obama rock star concert this past weekend, he has no chance here this time. Time to stick the fork in him.

As for voting based on issues, I use issues more in deciding who not to vote for than the converse. I can’t vote for Rudy, for example, just because of his previous support for gun control. That’s fine at the local level, but I could not tolerate a Republican at the federal level promoting new federal gun laws the next time there’s a crisis somewhere in America. That’s not a problem for me with Democratic candidates, however, because I have reasonable expectations that a Democrat would propose federal gun control and the Republicans in Congress would oppose. It’s harder to oppose the leader of your Party (why Bush got Med Part D).

That’s also why I think Hillary will make a good President. Her more liberal ideas have built in political opposition to keep them in check, but her more moderate ideas will be supported by both Parties. And her ego will force her to get something accomplished. This is what happened in 95-96 after the liberal agenda failed in 93-94; Dick Morris’ “Triangulation” if you will. And it is this very effect that I think would give pause to any liberal supporting her….


Posted by: George in SC at December 13, 2007 9:46 AM
Comment #240638

The new SurveyUSA poll in South Carolina shows Clinton 44%, Obama 40% and Edwards 11%.

Posted by: George in SC at December 13, 2007 9:56 AM
Comment #240657

George in SC
Take a look at Edwards 2nd amendment stance. You might be pleased. BTW There are a growing number of gun rights Democrats.

Posted by: BillS at December 13, 2007 12:31 PM
Comment #240658

Edwards stance is moderate anti 2nd Amendment.
There have always been tons of pro 2nd Amendment Democrats, too bad anti 2nd Amendment liberals have hijacked the Democratic party and blew this and other issues for you guys.

Posted by: kctim at December 13, 2007 12:43 PM
Comment #240659

http://johnedwards.com/issues/rural/hunting-and-fishing/index.html

Here is a place to start.Another good idea Edwards support is to have local hunters allowed to put some meat in their lockers instead of paying professionals to thin herds on federal land.duh

Posted by: bills at December 13, 2007 12:45 PM
Comment #240663

Bills-

Again, I look at issues mainly in terms of negatives only. Any record Edwards might have with regards to gun control would not sway me; I assume he is pro gun control because the Democratic Party is pro gun control. If he has any pro 2 Amendment leanings then that’s just a bonus.

If I remember correctly he if for reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban. That means he is fairly ignorant of gun control laws anyway.

As for private hunting on federal land, they’ve been doing that at the Savannah River Site since 1965. Come on over and I’ll get you set up; you can even keep your hog meat or venison as long as it’s not glowing…..

Since 1965 the Savannah River Site has provided optimal deer hunting opportunities for thousands of sportsmen. We have over 10,000 acres of land to use for the annual deer hunt. Harvesting of deer using the dog drive method has proven to be the most safe and effective manner to control the SRS deer population. The hunts are open to the public. They start in October and last through December.

Posted by: George in SC at December 13, 2007 1:54 PM
Comment #240733

George
Thanks for the invite. Too far to travel. Around here they often pay taxpayer money to professional hunters to control game populations. Pretty stupid,if you ask me. Edwards agrees.
The Dems are changeing. Take a look at the NRA sight at Richardson’s featured video.

KCTM
There is an understandable devide between city Dems and rural Dems. If you see a farmer with a rifle he is probably putting down a varmint etc. If you see some one walking around with a rifle in the city,he is probably going to shoot up a school,rob a bank etc. In the city,if you report a serious crime in progress,the police are there in a few minutes. In the country they it may take hours and mostly show up to do the paperwork. People have to take care of themselves. ,For the Dems to once again start picking up more rural districts we need to come to grips with the difference. This is happenning.

Posted by: BillS at December 14, 2007 12:49 PM
Comment #240742

BillS
The divide is not as understandable as some may think. People in both, rural and urban areas, carry firearms every day without shooting up a school or robbing a bank. Believing otherwise is living in fear and is no different than believing every muslim wishes to strap on a bomb and blow you up.

But, I do agree that there is a huge difference between most urban Dems (liberals) and most rural Dems (real Democrats), but I do not see that the current liberal controlled Dem party is coming to grips with anything of the sort.
And, in 09, they will prove that. hillary, Obama, edwards, doesn’t matter.
It is a guarantee that taxes will soar and it is a guarantee that whichever liberal Dem is in charge will start the steps to further make rural people live according to urban ways.

Posted by: kctim at December 14, 2007 3:19 PM
Comment #240759

One interesting and glaring difference between Dem and Rep campaigns so far is that Dems are running on issues, and Reps are running on character by and large.

You know where Edwards stands on corporate influence in politics. Where do the Rep’s stand on this? We know where all of the Dems stand on public and quality education, where do Reps stand? We know where the Dems running for president stand on Iraq and foreign policy overall, where do the Reps stand? We know where Dems stand on global climate change, where do the Reps stand?

In reverse, we know where the Reps stand on border security, where do the Dems stand on this? We know where Reps stand on taxes and deficits, where do the Dems stand?

Fact check has been having a field day with Rep candidate’s lies and misinformation, whereas their only comparable Dem participating gratuitously along these lines is Richardson and Gravel.

If character is important, not the issues, one would have to objectively weigh McCain and most of the Dem candidates. If issues are important, one is left with little choice but Republican on 2 issues, or Dem candidates on a wide range of them.

Personally, I am waiting for the Independent candidate to rear up.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2007 6:15 PM
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