Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Found this a couple weeks back but forgot to post it. Here's a really thoughtful piece by a former Kerry staffer, Meredith Chaiken, about how difficult it's been to decide among the Democratic candidates this time around.

In 2003, I spent eight months in New Hampshire with the John Kerry campaign. New Hampshire cherishes its privileged voting status, so Granite Staters gleefully fill their calendars with kaffeeklatches and town hall meetings. They watch campaign ads - on purpose! And yet, well into December of that year, many voters still hadn't picked their man.

I couldn't fathom how people could be so saturated with political information and still not know how they were going to vote.

But now, even after the Iowa caucuses and with the New Hampshire primary just two days away, I find myself struggling to decide which Democratic candidate to support. Since I'm a D.C. resident, this has nearly no electoral significance. But since I'm a former campaign staffer and now a professional pollster, it has had an intense psychological impact. I'm tormented! How could this be? I've built my career on persuading others to support a certain candidate, and here I can't even convince myself. It's January in possibly the longest and most heavily covered campaign season in history. Why can't I make up my mind?

Meredith nailed it on the head in this assessment:

What I'm coming to realize is that the hard part isn't always learning about the candidates and their differences. It's deciding which differences - in terms of issues, character, experience - are most important to us in this particular moment.



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