Monday, June 16, 2008

The Limitation of Conventional Wisdom

Since September of 2007, I've kept close tabs on the latest poll numbers. It's been interesting to see the ebbs and flows of the Presidential race, particularly after Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech two Saturdays ago. As has been firmly established, the election in November will be close, which is why I practically dismiss off-hand (while hoping them to be true, of course) the first few pronouncements that have come in the form of deeply speculative stories---delivered in a tone of cautious optimism, each of which give Obama's election in November an air of inevitability.

We've seen inevitable candidates before, and as I recall, said inevitable candidate ended up in second place rather than as the presumptive nominee, hence the reason I'm inclined to not pay these accounts much mind. Meanwhile, it seems as though a mild bounce, post-nomination, is the best Obama apparently will receive now that the American people and, in particular, Clinton supporters have had time to digest the reality of the situation.

I consult polls, and polling data, as many of us do, as a means of trying to gauge the impact of public sentiment. Unlike many people, I hold strong political opinions, and I decided for whom I was going to cast my vote long ago. Those of us who swim in activist, political circles often end up inadvertently in a bubble of commonality and similar thought, so I know I can't often trust my fellows and close associates to provide any objective pictures of how the rest of the country reacts, processes, and responds to the fight now shaping up between Obama and McCain.

Even as early as it is in this general election campaign, and still two months from each party's convention/overblown pep rally, I wonder who out there still hasn't pretty much decided which candidate will receive their vote. The polarizing environment of recent elections, if still in force, and I have no reason to doubt otherwise, would dictate that most voters have made up their minds and made them up firmly.

The series of media driven nontroversies is perhaps my deepest annoyance--the latest of which is the hand-wringing, overblown, over-theatrical "Will Clinton Supporters Come Home to the Democratic Party?" These manufactured crises makes me wish there was not a school of thought based completely on hyperbole. These efforts are designed merely to attract ratings share and demographic profiles, but one wonders at which point manufactured reality becomes public perception.

And I can't help noticing how staid and relatively perfunctory the race has become now that the Democratic primary race has concluded. Is the lesson to be learned that Democrats do drama best?

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