(AV17796) Horse Race Journalism: Polls, Politics, and Political Advertising

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we consider the futures forms one of our
signature events we have the chamber move the ball measure and we had to the
tribunal and then in the spring we have our nationally recognized First
Amendment day and we’re very proud of the sponsorship of daily and newspaper
foundation on some of these signature events we will be having these arms
every fall and every spring to coincide with a distinguished councilman and at this time I’d like to
introduce one of the school’s most accomplished journalist
kara Mendel who is going to be our emcee for today’s three farms careless many of
you know the former editor for Better Homes and Gardens but she is also our
2004 James W Schwartz Award winner for outstanding contributions in the field
of journalism and she currently is the executive director of the Des Moines
Metro opera we’re just so proud to be associated advertising and will shed
light on timely and tricky subject just what are the roles and responsibilities
news operation commentary into a political system how do you storytelling
truth meters fact checkers and persuasion techniques impact issues
candidates positions public opinion today’s panel included
local and national political journalists political party representative and
pollsters and they’re here today share the views of these subjects and to make
their case for those views the panelists are I’m going to start here with Sue
she’s chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party she was over the first Iowans be
involved in the 2007 2008 campaign for then-senator Barack Obama she was
serving for Johnson County co-chair for the caucus campaign of now President
Obama political prior to recording a career she spent 30 years as a special
education teacher thank you so much for joining she had she’s living in
Coralville she with her husband who’s a state senator bob and they have two
daughters and carol so glad to have you with us thank you
next to her we have Matthew strong who is chairman of the Iowa Republican Party
previously Matthew is chief of staff and council to a member of the US House of
Representatives he was twice named by the hill newspaper as one of the top 35
under 35 in Washington DC Matt returned to I read 2007 and became
one of the principal players in bringing top-level professional
back to Iowa when he and their business partners at an ownership group to return
for me to football’s back to the Iowa Barnstormers and I in Des Moines next to
an adulterer she is president of self serving company and Ann is responsible
for pulling for the Des Moines Register and she conducts a national poll and
global poll for Bloomberg News in addition and has comments colleges in
preparation is calling for her services her accuracy in political matters have
put it on the CB n CBS Evening News the Fox News Channel PBS Newshour and NPR
thanks so much for coming and being with his hand and then we have late-breaking
news we have Carol hunter who’s the political
editor of the Des Moines Register okay I’ve been political editor at the
register for two years before that was the opinion page editor at the register
for five years career journalist University of Kansas journalism graduate
worked at the Santa Fe New Mexican right out of school then went to the East
Coast for a while worked in New Jersey worked my way up on
a small paper to become the top editor became editor at the Green Bay Press
Gazette for eight years before coming to you didn’t either George Bush aboard Air
Force One and the interviewed President Clinton in the White House just hours
after the oklets Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 two of the most memorable
stories at Kenan Thompson where the returns of hostages
Thomas Sutherland and Terry Anderson after 30 days in Lebanon in 1993 Kevin
said we covered this story by via international satellite for the first
time in Iowa broadcasting history in 1999 Kevin won the prestigious Jack
Shelley award from the Iowa broadcasting Association for his outstanding
contribution to broadcast journalism in Iowa in 1994 he received the James
shorts Award for distinguished service in Iowa State after I but number one so let’s put
together at the risk of making much news this
morning I am confident that both the Republicans and Democrats and I will
will caucus on January 3rd and I am very confident that we will be the first ones
in the country to do that to caucus I have every reason to believe Iowans will
be the first people in America to cast their preference for the Republican
presidential we have bipartisan agreement on this it may be the last
thing that that happens in 2011 or 2012 where that’s the case but I need to
publicly state that chairman strong has had a very heavy lift on this and he has
done a great job with it and we tried to be very careful not to make his to work
any harder by agreeing with him in public at any time but behind the scenes have been working closely together to
tell you the truth modeled on 40 years of cooperation on this issue between the
our Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Iowa and so on January 3rd 2012
which is a very good date for us we are going to be caucusing with and yeah I
know and I’m not trying to be cagey I mean just to give everybody a sense of
what’s happened over the last week I think I’ve probably spent more time not
only talking to sue but talking to New Hampshire Secretary of State Gardner and
RN C chairman Priebus than I’ve spent you know talk to my own wife and kids
this week so I’m very encouraged that on Saturday you know it’s our expectation
that Nevada will will take some you know will will make a decision that will help
finalize the count yeah well no the filing period for New
Hampshire doesn’t close to the end of next week so without getting into my
private conversations with secretary what is Washington Post politics glossary it
defines horse race the political term as a way of depicting a political race to
convey who’s winning rather than focus on candidates issues from this will
sometimes emphasize poll numbers for example and describe a campaign as they
would a sporting event critics say expressing polls statistics
however diminishes the importance of policy platforms the previous tales from
the liberal term horse race that describes a spectator sport
in his book of calling elections the history of horse race turn those with
Thomas little wood says the Turk involved as the use of polls in
campaigns roads he says many influential journalists resisted the growing power
of media polls but eventually these became a greater part of campaign
coverage from my perspective I would like to expand that a little bit I think
it’s broadened over the years it’s not just a reaction to the ploy but it might
prefer war according to the sound like mentality that we have evolved into everything he said the sample the panel especially reflects the you know and I may not be the best one
to start with this because of course I’m not in inside the conversations that are
happening this time in terms of the back-and-forth looking at it from the
outside as a person who is an interested observer and a fairly savvy one it has
seemed it has seemed less substantive to me this time then it’s then it’s been
defining who’s who’s up and who’s down I think part of that is explained by the
fluidity of the field but then I’m never sure whether the fluidity of the field
isn’t because everybody continues to look for who’s up and who’s down or if
the it really is that fluid and the struggle to figure out you know what’s
happening I’m not sure what drives what drives the conversation yeah you know I
think the Iowa press corps deserves a lot of credit and not simply focusing on
horse race journalism and you know I’d say even if Kara wasn’t sitting here I
think in the 2008 cycle the register did I was a great service by whether it was
a candidate that was deemed first-tier nationally or not that there was someone
assigned to cover that candidate when they were in the state and report on
what they were talking about whether it was at a town hall meeting or whether it
was at a Chamber of Commerce event or or any public event I think that serves the
public well here in Iowa because it isn’t focused on horse race journalism
and I think we’ve got actually if you’re talking about horse race journalism I
mean you’ve got the granddaddy of all horse race events here with the Ames
Straw Poll I mean really that I think is what drives the national coverage of
that because you know the the National narrative wants to start putting
candidates in a box as to who’s best organized in Iowa who actually has
support for the first time with someone actually casting a vote not just you
know seeing what a pollster can get someone on a telephone to say so I think
that’s one thing that we do very well here in Iowa especially in a time when
we’ve seen tremendous can for action in the industry it’s so very
encouraging to see that kind of commitment it’s actually covering these
candidates substantively when they’re here well as the purveyor of the horse
race numbers I guess I have a vested interest in it being a an industry that
is lively and engaged I guess the the point I make when people say isn’t there
too much of this I said well what would the world be like without polls
what if journalists were out there covering races and didn’t know who was
ahead who was behind how would the coverage be different and and what would
that lead to in the end and that really stems from an early experience that when
I was on the staff of the Des Moines Register before starting my own company
with reading in the pages of the Des Moines Register or column about the
momentum in a particular campaign and how things were searching and how things
were really moving forward and gosh they caught on fire and all of this
predicting that this campaign was going to be victorious and we came in very
shortly after that with a poll that said in fact things were on the decline
for that campaign the journalists had gotten caught up in the story of
watching the organization more from the inside and you can understand how that
might happen without having a sort of external read on here’s the way the
electorate is perceiving what’s happening in this campaign your coverage
can can really miss where the heart of the story really is so this year when
there’s so much volatility in the race that horse race is a darn fascinating
story and it’s impossible to ignore as people rise to the top and then dive to
the bottom I mean I’ve not seen many races with this kind of story integral
to the poll a lot of times you just see very slow movement over time and and
sometimes clients are sorry that they spent money on a new poll because
nothing had changed and you certainly can’t say that this time around I do think it’s difficult with in big
primary fields because when you think of traditional issue dissection many issues
these candidates pretty much line up so so until you get the foil of the
opposing party there isn’t as much easy way to to show the differences between
these candidates I do think we have an obligation where possible when there are
different approaches to a tax plan a 999 plan say or a flat tax to really dive in
and and look at the impossible impacts of that I I would defend polling in many
many ways even if an weren’t sitting here anything and we’re working so
closely with us all the time what we try to do with the Iowa poll I think is so
much different as far as really trying to get beyond the horse race all the
time on the stump you hear candidates say Americans want or Iowans want well
do they I’ve looked pretty closely at the Iowa
polls over the past decade or so and on an issue like immigration for example
the opinions are very nuanced in this state it really depends on how you ask
the question the framing of of how you ask it and I think journalists and
politicians can be very guilty of making these grand statements that aren’t true
and I think polls help us fact-checked they help us really say okay what do
islands think on some of these issues how much does well I can’t tell you but
there are poles about the impact of poles but I but I dare say that if you
were to ask people why did you count why did you cast the vote the way you did
that there are darn few who say because the pole told me to I mean it’s you know
poles are meant to be gathering a data collection we use data collection not
data dissemination now what people make of the pole do they factor in if they’re
backing someone especially in a primary who is you know it stands little chance
of doing well does that force them up to somebody else that they might like
better it might but so does there’s so many other influences out there it is
hard to imagine that a pole would be the defining decision that a voter makes and
how they’re going to cast thy would say take the inverse of that when you look
at someone like Mike Huckabee during the 2007 in the 2008 caucuses where they
were proud I know this anecdotally they were Huckabee supporters well I really
like him but and that but was but he’s not gonna win but then you start seeing
a poll that shows him okay starting to tick off a couple weeks later well then
all of a sudden okay yeah he’s going yep absolutely I will be his precinct chair
and that kind of fed on itself and I’m sure you saw that in the numbers and of
course we all saw that caucus night oh and I’m sure the same happened on the
Democrat side once people realize senator Clinton wasn’t inevitable
says the the personal thing I remember I we were heavily invested as a family in
the Obama race and I remember Sunday mornings and because this was a little
bit back in the day when you didn’t have the Twitter tell you at 12:01 what your
thing was we had people on the docks at the Des Moines Register they would get
they get the paper they get the poll they called the top line numbers
I remember in those mornings being downstairs at 5 o’clock waiting for that
paper to drop on that driveway Bob I’d holler up the stairs because I
do think that there is there’s a relationship that is for sure
and and that inevitability which should you know we thought was gonna happen as
those Iowa polls began to reflect what we believed we were feeling on the
ground and what we were seeing but you can’t get too deep into it and the data
data doesn’t lie I think one of the reasons that the Iowa poll and I would
say this if you weren’t sitting here one of the reasons that the Iowa poll is so
powerful the top-line numbers you know were the first thing you grabbed off the
front page but I think that the story’s political organizing is relationship
building and to do that you have to you have to listen to people’s stories you
have to listen about what they care about what they’re worried about what
they’re concerned about Matt and I were just joking that we’re both up and
marrying each weekend with our respective families and on different
days and we’re you’re on the doors and when you’re on the doors you hear what
people really want to talk about and I think that the strength of the I will
pull the top line numbers are always right but it’s drilling down deeper and
getting those stories and and the the when you go into the deeper kinds of
interactions with a smaller set of people that’s why I think it’s it’s
pretty powerful stuff for political professionals to use for both message
development and for field organization what’s happening yesterday well I don’t
have any fresh data to share with you about of our own and so many of these
polling organizations have different methodologies but it’s kind of hard to
to compare across polls that way I don’t know what Rasmussen had shown before but
that would be more telling sort of within that polling organization I think
you watch this field of candidates and you see very clearly that they are
taking advantage of certain situations and it is resulting in a surge of
popularity we saw that with Michele Bachmann after her first debate
performance I mean there she was you saw it with Perry who came in it right on
the heels in the straw poll and stomped on her and basically you know sucked out
that popular support because he offered some things that maybe she didn’t and
also represented a lot of things she did so he used that to his advantage and
then had some poor debate performances and Herman Cain has been consistently
strong he rouses a room if you saw enough at the straw poll good heavens it
was it was a palpable good feeling among people who supported the people who
thought maybe in the future they might so I think you can’t get away from the
personal element of people’s connection with these leaders and want to be
leaders and the polls hopefully capture the right group of people who look like
the people who are going to show up on caucus night and I think you know in the
end I expect to see more volatility between now and then I think this race
has a long way to go and then we’ll see in the end how it all shakes out one of
the things I’ve thought we should do almost with every poll let’s have this
little box it says polls are a moment in time you know that they’re not
predictive especially 70 some days from the election one things we have seen again and again
with Iowans is that they’re pretty discerning they take their vetting
seriously and Herman Cain now is going to have to come back you know with sort
of these gaudy poll numbers carrying them and live up to voters expectations
when they start asking him harder questions about details of his policies
and I just have to say thank goodness that a poll taken in October doesn’t
predict what’s going to happen in January I mean it’s sort of absurd to
think that it would so but when people want to dismiss it I go well it’s
self-evident but this isn’t what’s going to happen in January this is what’s
happening now and this is where the needle is in everybody’s going to be
spending a lot of money well unquestionably I mean thanks yeah I mean
it you know it helps not only assume efference with you know message
development to fine-tune exactly your message but also for fundraising I mean
you know it’s you know it’s like any business people to be surrounded by
something that’s successful and if they you know believe that you’re investing
in this Canada or this party or this idea and you’ve got data that can back
that up you know it begets more resources which helps you communicate
those issues and that message that you’re developing so I mean it is all
intertwined and you know just a tenth real quick on what Ian talked about with
the caveat of course I’m neutral in the caucus process so I got to be
circumspect when I talk about specific candidates but with Herman Cain it’s
fascinating going around to counties there is tremendous interest in him but
it’s still the Iowa but I haven’t met him yet I haven’t had a chance to kick
the tires I haven’t had to look them in the eye and so I think
you’re going to see even greater volatility leading into the caucus and
it’s an it’s a tremendously on sum of electrons yeah and we haven’t seen mr. Kane in
Iowa since the straw poll if I’m not mistaken
he’ll be back actually tomorrow evening at the faith and faith and family event
and I think it’s a great opportunity for him to try and capitalize on some of
this people that are maybe giving him a look for the first time to some degree
based on his performance in the debates well I was just gonna say that the
politicians who say that the only poll that matters is the one whatever are
generally the ones who just received bad polls because in fact it does have it
has I think governor Pawlenty would be a person to look at how that campaign went
when you reference the straw poll and he has even said I think that he may have
made a decision too hastily after that because it does it can dry up
fundraising first and then when that happens boy it is a very rare candidate
that can live off the land for a very long time you know and kind of stay in
that for the long haul so I’m generally speaking you know if you hear matter I
say that or if you hear a politician say it then it’s probably because one of you
has asked how do you explain your miserable poll numbers such early-adopter well here’s the trick
if you look at the challenge polling ahead of the Republican caucuses on
paper any pollster who cares about the reputation would be daunted and and and
feel tempted to walk away because it is such a small universe of people who show
up so they’re that they’re the needle in the haystack we hang up on 90 people for
every one person we talk to I mean it’s it’s that difficult you can show up on
caucus night and not have not be registered to votes you can register
that night you can be a Democrat and walk in and change your party
registration and you can be there you can be 17 years old and as long as
you’re going to be 18 by the general election you can participate it’s it
it’s a difficult universe to identify and there are lots of ways to sort of
find a good substitute for that if you so it’s a tiny little universe and when
you pull kind of maybe a little bit bigger universe and some methods give
people an even bigger universe there are people who are showing you polls of
registered Republicans in Iowa well that’s about thirty percent of the
registered voter list roughly give or take
that’s the fluid number but 30 percent of Iowans don’t show up on caucus night
to caucus on the Republican side that’s a very big universe does it give you a
mood of people who are in the Hardy sure and if that’s the story you
want to tell what are the issues that are sort of along those lines well then
that’s fine but you have to look at how they are defining the universe that
they’re reporting out and this tighter the screen we call it you know the more
costly it is so Rasmussen I think is a is an automated hole and so they have a
recording account you probably how many of you are familiar with recordings that
come into your home and then push one if you’re a registered voter push two if
you intend to go to the Republican caucus it they can’t by law to automate
do automated calls to cell phones so they’re missing out on twenty to twenty
five percent of the population I mean they’re just all of the logistics of
defining who a likely caucus-goers is none of them are as precise as as you
would like what we do is take our best shot with the resources available and we
had a good track record and you made an interesting point before when you said
something about I don’t know where Rasmussen had came before in our world
we tend to think of Rasmussen is leaning a little bit right but I think the
casual observer you know gets these things and and looks at the top-line
numbers but for people like we are in this room I think the probably the the
more useful piece is in Rasmussen if you want to look for a trend you know in
Rasmussen where was where was Kane the less a mr. Kane the last time they did
it or you know how to track through one poll I think probably especially in a
race this fluid with this much movin is probably more useful than where he is in
any one poll right now maybe to try to get a picture of trajectory either up or
down and I mean in that screen is invaluable to the campaigns trying to
make decisions where to target resources as well because you know this does
evolve Attila T we see in the electorate in general obviously exist within the
Republican Party and right leaning independents who may or may not caucus
and you know comes upon us try and demystify the caucus process
a little bit right but I mean I think the end you had to call him a few months
ago about how the potential exists to greatly expand the universe to greatly
expand the universe of Republican caucus goers from 118,000 that turned out in
2008 but then the trick is identifying okay who is that new pool of caucus
goers what issues are motivating them to get involved and which candidate does
that benefit and this is an extremely difficult thing for not only our
candidates of campaigns to decide but I can’t imagine how difficult it is to
track what some data and science behind that well here’s my little war story if
I may in 2008 when our final poll came out on New Year’s Day showing that
Barack Obama was leading by a healthy margin and I don’t know if it was the
size of the margin or the lead that was most upsetting to the Hillary Clinton
campaign but they blasted out within 30 minutes a memo saying this is wrong this
is false she’s made assumptions she shouldn’t make she should be fired this
is all going to show up to be wrong and it turned out to be pretty right but I
had a call on New Year’s Day from a Democratic operative who said you know
I’ve always trusted your polls until now but I’ve knocked on 99 doors and I don’t
find that lurking Obama support that you’re showing in your poll and I said
well tell me about the doors who knocked on previous caucus goers and registered
Democrats so they had defined based on past caucuses so they worried this was a
data-driven decision that the way to use their resources most wisely was to
concentrate on the group they thought were most likely to show up to the
democratic caucuses they they ignored independents well that’s what the Obama
campaign concentrated its efforts on and so one campaign missed it completely
their polls weren’t showing it that anything other than a strong Hillary
Clinton victory because that’s her constituency and so that you know it
really does matter how you go and take a look at the field I’ve said Iowa will be
what the candidates make of it and if they decide to mine the independent vote
for people the caucuses will look very different from the way
that they’ve looked in the past but the candidates have to kind of figure out
what’s the reward cost ratio there and it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy
if you’re only talking to one hundred eighteen thousand that turned out in
2008 the issues that motivated that hundred eighteen thousand are gonna be
the issues that the candidates are talking about it two fifths or twelve
and that’s what I think the race is so fascinating and fluid because there’s
you know there’s just so many variables right down to who will actually show up
on Pakistan right about one hundred and twenty four thousand Republicans caucus
last time around and and it do you think that because overall I think Republicans
are very energized about trying to knock off the current incumbent president so
does that make you think well we can get 150,000 160,000 or because there doesn’t
seem to be one candidate that they’re really rallying around because right now
with it so volatile so split if if no one candidate has captured the
imagination on the Republican side do more stay home and is it the same amount
who’d turn out to caucus or even fewer that could make all the difference in
who wins you know I would use this as an anecdotal example you know looking at
the straw poll we had obviously Mitt Romney made a decision not just you know
to spend resources and drive his supporters to the straw poll Rick Perry
decided to announce actually he’d be very time I was kicking off the straw
poll so he didn’t have a presence there well one thing we saw that was different
than any other straw poll the party had ever had is with the voter you kind of
just described we had over a thousand people that have walked up bought their
own ticket paid 30 bucks weren’t driven by a campaign didn’t get on a bus and
anecdotally talking to our ticket sellers just felt they had to do
something they had seen the debate on Thursday night on Fox they had been out
to the register soapbox at the fair and just felt they had to do something and
with that kind of I mean really organic enthusiasm which I assume to some degree
is what the Democrats saw in 2007 you know we’re telling our counties
right prepare for potentially a 20 to 25%
increase in caucus turnout based on that let me give you a sense of how that
thousand-plus walk up straw poll attendee compares Doe
7 we had about 50 in 2007 that kind of fit that just walked up and bought their
own ticket and say the number again for this year there was over a thousand well well I will I will
it’s not an iOS story but it’s Indiana and I was doing polling for the
Indianapolis Star in 2008 Indiana went for George Bush by a 21 point margin I
think that’s give or take and our final poll showed Barack Obama by like half a
percentage point which did that just didn’t seem possible and so of course
you know when you have an unexpected finding like that such a huge swing it
Indiana wasn’t considered much of a swing state so for that to be there so
we you know that I was nervous about that for a very long time and I believe
Barack Obama won by about a half a percentage point so it’s used when you
see surprises like that as a pollster you go you go digging in the data to be
sure because do you have an outlier effect here something gone wrong is
something hidden that wasn’t corrected for somewhere along the line you always
want to be confident well I think Barack Obama is is the poster child for being
surprised about surges in the polls I was in that campaign and every single
week I woke up and thought this has been such a great run
how fun this was and you know but it’ll be over on Friday and then Friday we
would have make tout another week and I think there’s no way I’ve been really
surprised at this point in the campaign on the Republican side this time I’m
surprised that it’s Herman Cain that surged right now that seems odd to me
then it’s Herman Cain that surge right now that just seems a little odd to me
because it seems like a lot of that’s driven by emotion and by this time I
would think I’m surprised that people aren’t that that’s where it still is you
know what I mean that that the the policy things haven’t begun as we get
closer to the actual you know standing up in the room beginning to pull the
lever Americans pulling that so that’s been surprising to me not that there’s
been this you know sort of the person of the month kind of thing that doesn’t
surprise me but the fact that at this late date that it’s mr. Kane just that’s
been surprising you know remove mr. Kane from this argument for the moment or
from this conversation one thing to destruct me and I’m curious how this
bears out in the polling you’ve seen in the data is it’s been a much much more
deliberative Republican caucus go or this cycle than it has in potentially
caucuses past because we’re not making this decision in a vacuum to you
Republican caucus-goers you know what four more years and Obama administration
means to your beliefs and your principles and you want to get this
decision right and you’re also aware of the responsibility inside of Iowans are
saying about Iowa Republicans and the pressure that a lot of them feel to make
sure we get this decision right not just for I will but for America so I think to
some degree that goes to the unsettled nature that we’re seeing in the
Republican caucus electorate if they want to get the decision right because
they know the stakes not just for our state and our role in you know the
caucuses but really for America and making sure that we have
someone they can go toe-to-toe with Barack Obama and I think what you’ve
seen with you know you’ve Seuss phrase not mine you know the the flavor of the
month or you know the surge every month and a month and a half the one thing
that is in common with that those folks have in common is they’re taking the
fight to President Obama because the Republicans want to see is somebody that
they know could go toe-to-toe with the president and stand up and make a very
eloquent defense of our beliefs and our policy positions but they still want to
make sure here in either they get a chance to actually meet these candidates
and we haven’t seen the level of candidate activity in Iowa that we have
now I will say that that doesn’t go to Iowa’s relevancy which our detractors
want to point to you’re hearing the same thing and if you talk to people in New
Hampshire you hear the same thing when you talk to people in South Carolina
we’ve seen more Canada activity that either the other two early States so it
isn’t an Iowa problem it’s just the way the field has developed for the 2012
cycle well I think that breaking that wall I
think that you know a lot of people look at this calendar thing is kind of a
horserace thing it you know it it has the flavor of a you know junior high
playground recess thing but it isn’t it actually isn’t and I think that Matt and
I would both agree I think that secretary Gardner agrees this is very
serious business how it is that we pick the process that picks the leader of the
free world to to break that firewall that we have traditionally had I and I
don’t want to make news on this but I think that is less a function of who
goes first then when they go first I think if we break the wall of the
calendar of January 1st of the of the year that the election is held for the
president I actually think that it’s Katie bar the door I don’t think our
biggest problem is the country is who goes first I think what you end up with
is kind of a congressional member in chief I think you have a president who
can never not be running I think then if there’s no brick wall there then it’s
not the straw poll in August it’s not primary campaigns it’s an actual
starting then when does the campaign actually start and I think that we would
be in danger as a country of having the president I know people think he you
know that the president campaigns from the minute he gets in but I think those
of us that are professionals with this no that’s not true the president can
actually function as the president for two and a half maybe three years you
take that you take that calendar and you bust that up and then what you’ve got is
somebody who’s running all the time and I think we’ve seen how that works for us
in Congress and I think that that’s what’s being protected here as much as
who goes first I don’t believe that that will happen because I believe that
secretary Gardner and the people our counterparts in New Hampshire are
serious people who take the responsibility of what we’re
doing seriously in the strongest argument you know I have at the RNC when
we debated the calendar that was subsequently blown up by Florida is how
the campaign’s work and I wouldn’t Hampshire that you actually demand the
candidates are here and it isn’t a national primary it isn’t a fundraising
contest only be only having a high would New Hampshire in that role gives an
upstart candidate a grassroots candidate can that comes from the movement an
opportunity to get some wind in their sails and potentially reach the
nomination and for those states that yeah they’d love to be in Iowa’s
position in New Hampshire’s position but they understand that they aren’t going
to be they want a process that actually gives that can an opportunity you know
to take flight and so what is it just a national primary it isn’t a fundraising
contest and that’s and that’s you know gets back to the importance of why I’m
in New Hampshire we have worked so closely together we’ll continue to do so
because there are we’ve seen with Florida this is the new normal we’re
gonna go through this every four years I no matter what new penalties that we can
conjure up at the DNC and RNC when you have states like Florida let’s say we
don’t care what the consequences are we think there’s a greater benefit to the
state by being fifth it’s just a perpetual fight that we’re going to have
to have I will say it’s not for the party
chairman to label our candidates I mean that’s as much as you would love me to
yeah that’s a decision the voters have to make and quite frankly that’s you
know when it comes to you know two primaries and the caucuses one of the
reasons that the Republican Party here I was been able to rebuild credibility
with our grassroots across the state is because we’ve actually stayed out of
primaries and we’ve let the voters in those districts make the decision what
Republican best represents them and the folks that are voting in Scott County
and choosing their legislative representative the Republicans in that
district may have may be motivated by different issues than a primary in Sioux
County and that’s fine but that’s how the process should work in my opinion
and I will respectfully I agree with that but I will respectfully submit that
my colleague didn’t get to the heart of your
question I don’t think senator Harkin talks about when he came in a time when
the Republican Party the National Republican Party had liberals
progressive Republicans moderate Republicans conservative Republicans and
the Democratic Party had those three things too so that there were places to
get together and places Chuck Percy I’m an Illinois kid and he just passed away
that kind of Republican doesn’t exist it doesn’t seem to exist particularly on
the national stage anymore and there are people on my side who say that the the
grand old liberal liens on our side don’t exist anymore either and whether
or not that’s because of how we have over the past three decades
redistricting that we’ve created this situation where they can’t be elected or
whether they can’t be elected and then we would created that situation I’m not
sure but I do think that it is people have pulled out of both parties the most
the the biggest group of registered Iowans are no party they are not
moderates they did not move that is they are not there because they’re moderates
they pulled out of both parties and I I don’t know the answer to your question
but it’s the question please understand it Huckabee won with
41,000 votes it’s not that high a bar I mean really if you look at the math
huntsmen had he decided could have come into this state and Romney’s decided to
stay out as well to get 41,000 votes it’s don’t you think well it is what it
is what the caucuses are what the candidates make of it and the candidates
are deciding that they can’t win in Iowa and the rules I mean it’s you know the
party politics are no different than any organization the rules are made by those
who show up and you know if there are candidates that are seeking are seeking
to expand the caucus electorate by appealing to a particular set of the
electorate that making get votes and do that the one thing I will counter just
organizing but yeah you have to work in eyes on them and you know just to say
that you know this isn’t a problem this isn’t an issue that is just solely
Republican issue I mean there’s no question you look at the northeast part
of the country we’ve you know we’ve got Republicans that are governors and you
know whether it’s New Jersey whether it’s Pennsylvania whether it’s Michigan
whether it’s Ohio and I don’t see Democrats you know in the deep south for
example for example those traditional southern democrats you know both parties
you know I’ve seen this now I’ve seen this happen and I think you’re right on
especially in Congress with congressional redistricting is really
exacerbated it where most incumbents fear a primary more than they fear a
general election a little bit of anecdote that will give
you maybe pause and hope one is that with with Internet traffic with with
mobile web mobile as well you can see what people are reading what’s engaging
people and I will say that our issues database gets much less traffic than an
Iowa poll story on who’s up and who’s down I mean there just is that that
instant attraction kind of to the horse race but to give you a little hope we
saw in the last cycle with our issues comparison database where you could go
in and look and click to agree or disagree and really kind of drill down
on a number of issues we saw significant ly more traffic on that site in the last
month of the cycle when people are starting to bear down and need to make
their decisions so I do think in the this next 70 days or so as Republicans
go to really start kicking the tires that you’ll see more issues coverage and
there’ll be more attention to it for me as a pollster it’s to my advantage for
more people to show up at caucuses of whatever ilk they are it makes my job as
a pollster easier you’re easier to find that way I think it also is good for our
democracy that more the moment the more people who commit who get involved have
their voices heard it’s a good thing and that gives Sue and I greater
ammunition when we’re trying to defend why it is I would get this role in the
process but but I would point out it isn’t just Islands participating that
helped us make that argument it isn’t just the parties working together but
because we’re surrounded by our friends and the Fourth Estate here you know I
think I would journalists have a role in that as well and how we conduct
ourselves and so far I think they’ve done a fantastic job and making sure
these candidates do get covered when they’re here regardless of their
standing in the polls but I just you know the one thing I you know I would
say is just make sure that we’re not giving additionally ammunition to our
friends who want to try and you know try and say that islands are not
representative or we’re not are they we’re not as relevant as we once were in
the process because the one thing I will point out is there are very few things
that barack obama and george w bush have in common but the one thing they do is
the path for the white house started by winning the caucuses and i just say that
the technology is shifting so rapidly and and that’s changing sort of the face
of journalism and how you how you get your news but the at the end of the day
really and truly the you know the latin root for politics is people and it
really does have to do with relationships between candidates and the
voters between the voters and each other as neighbors as as people who are living
together in a community that has to work so I think that we really are remarkably
well suited to this task we take it seriously and when I say we I do mean
all of us and I think that that serves the country well it will serve the
candidates well and when we really engage in the election I will finish
this up as well we you know we are on every single list I’ve ever seen of a
battleground state where it’s gonna come back to at the end so we’ve got a long
long haul here it’ll start here it’ll end here and that’ll be a lots
opportunities for all of us suta Dvorsky Matt Strawn and seltzer and


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