The RPs Debate Presidential Leadership: Jeff Smith Responds

Jeff Smith‘s First Response

[John Y.’s Provocation The RP’s Rebuttal #1; Ron Granieri’s Rebuttal #2; Rod Jetton’s Rebuttal #3; Krystal Ball’s Rebuttal #4; John Y.’s First Defense; Rod Jetton’s Response #1; Jeff Smith’s Rebuttal #5; John Y.’s Second Defense; Ron Granieri’s Response #1; John Y.’s Third Defense; Artur Davis’ Rebuttal #6]

I think we should delineate between presidential elections and most other types — gubernatorial, House, Senate, etc. Presidential campaigns are exceptional. The candidates (especially in years like this when there are 38 debates) face a lot of scrutiny; they are inspected closely by the media, party activists, and to some extent rank-and-file voters (at least in the early states).

This, however, is not the case in most races. As long as candidates for House can raise $1-2M and candidates for US Senate or Governor can raise $5-10M, they can communicate effectively and thoroughly via TV ads. So I think that in those races the most important things are money, name ID, and surface likeability – as opposed to substantive ideas that can be put into action. This is because candidates with money are able to circumvent the press and the scrutiny of said ideas, and can saturate the airwaves with ads penned by others in which they mouth 30-60 seconds of reassuring bromides.


A well-funded candidate for Governor or Senator may be able to get elected after appearing in just a couple hour-long debates — and occasionally declining them altogether, as Gov. Perry did in Texas, which of course came back to haunt him — and doing very few public events. The new 2010 class of Governors has several members who fit this description: Florida’s Rick Scott is the prototype.




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