MSM financial woes may prematurely narrow '08 field

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The compressed 2008 presidential primary schedule may not be the only thing that leads to an early conclusion to both parties' nomination processes.

Mickey Kaus passes along an e-mail from an anonymous reader who writes that the mainstream media networks don't have the resources to cover two long battles involving multiple candidates. He says the networks will simplify the race to match their staffing levels -- two leading candidates plus one wild card in each party. Other candidates will simply not get any attention from the networks, which will lead donors, volunteers, and voters to assume that they aren't viable and to throw their support behind one of the three in the media spotlight.

It has always frustrated me to see my preferred candidate drop out before our turn to vote in Oklahoma. In 1988, I was a Pete du Pont fan -- first candidate with the guts to call attention to the looming social security crisis -- but he was gone after New Hampshire. In '96, Phil Gramm was my pick. I don't think he even made it to New Hampshire.

I understand that candidates need money to keep up a campaign, and if they can't win in a state like Iowa and New Hampshire where campaigning is relatively inexpensive and where there's no need to jet across the country, then they won't be able to convince the donors to invest in them.

I even understand the bandwagon effect that leads politicians to get behind the apparently inevitable candidate early on. A senator or congressman wants to be able to remind the new president that he was on his side when it counted, while there was still a degree of uncertainty about the nomination.

But I don't understand the bandwagon effect on voters. So what if New Hampshire backed McCain and South Carolina backed Bush? So what if Forbes suspended his campaign? If Forbes is still on the ballot, and you think he's the best choice, vote for him.

This is the first time since I don't know when -- 1952? -- that neither party has an heir apparent for the nomination. 1960 was a race for an open seat, but Nixon was Ike's heir apparent. 1968 started out with LBJ planning to run for re-election, but then he dropped out in favor of his veep. The next year with no incumbent running was 1988, and Vice President Bush was the obvious Republican front runner. In 2000, it was the Goracle's turn to succeed his boss.

This year we have a huge number of candidates on both sides. Everyone you might call a front-runner for the Republicans has some significant negative. This could be a long nominating process, but will the mainstream media succeed in portraying early 30% primary pluralities as landslides and starving close second place finishers of the attention they need to keep campaigning? Kaus seems to think that candidates being starved of MSM attention could maintain viability via blogs, YouTube, and other forms of new media.

I doubt it. The most faithful primary voters aren't internet users. They're the last demographic that still depends on the 30 minute Big Three news shows to find out what's happening in the world.

Hat tip to Ace of Spades, who also has the straw poll numbers from CPAC: Five candidates within a few percentage points of each other. Romney had the most but only 21%; Giuliani and Brownback were close behind. I wish they had done an instant runoff ballot. It would have been interesting to find out the attendees' second and third choices.

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Roy said:

Joking today I extrapolated an overheard observation about history into the future. When terrible gov'ts have taken control, the disparity between promise and actuality becomes more acute. This has driven people with serious concerns about other people to consider alternatives. Eg, idealistic folks who embraced communism because they had an honest heart for social justice when faced with decades of the actual outworkings. In many similar historical examples rather than turning to despair (Huxley, Orwell), or self destruction either by dropping out, or dropping in (maximizing of self rather than of concern for others, eg, Rand), people realized that only one belief system declared both the reality of sin and suffering and that these were, indeed, not the "way things ought to be", namely, Christianity. Eg, perhaps the most powerful advancer of Christianity in Iran was Ayotollah Khomeni (sp?). 35K Christians in his country before he took power as Muslim leader incarnate only to create regime which ground on the sensibilities of Muslims with deepseated, genuine concerns for social welfare. Result: perhaps a 10 fold increase in Iranian Christians. Here ends observation on history.

Now comes tongue in cheek prediction: that means Hillary will be good for the cause of Christ.

Missy, the person with whom I was talking, wondered if perhaps the oncoming ticket would not turn out Hillary, but a combined ticket of Hillary and Obama. In turn I wondered if the Donks have the wisdom to put it the other way around, Obama and Hillary.

I look forward to reading Paul Tay's insightful, succinct response. Your's too, Michael.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 3, 2007 11:52 PM.

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