Whenever I see a big surprise happen in politics like Obama’s win in Iowa, I start researching to find out why it happened and what are some of the characteristics of the event. With only a few days until the New Hampshire primary, it doesn’t make as much sense to look backward. Instead, I want to know why people are supporting each of the top three candidates in New Hampshire. What is it about each candidate that is gaining a person’s vote?
I found something interesting from the cross tabs of the latest Zogby poll. When we see polls on television or online or in the print media, we usually only get to see one small part of the poll results. Of course it is interesting to find out the overall support at a particular point in time, but not getting to see the rest is a shame because the rest of the responses tell us a lot more about what is really happening that leads to that support.
The latest Zogby poll has an interesting question. It has a question that asks, “Which of the following reasons best explains why you plan to vote for…” And offers the responder five choices plus Other and None Selected. Of the top three Democratic Candidates, only Edwards has a majority who are voting for him because they “Agree with him/her on the issues”. 55.3% of Edwards supporters are voting for him because they agree with him on the issues compared to 38% for Obama and 35% for Clinton. The only other question that received a lot of percentage response for any of the top three was “He/She is the best person for the job”. As expected, Clinton won that response handily (over 50%) as she has been pushing the idea that she has the most experience. Obama and Edwards both trailed her considerably within 10 points of each other.
Its not just ‘Change’ it’s ‘What KIND of Change’
The “Agree with him/her on the issues” is an important question that is particularly critical to Edwards and Obama because they are both running to be the candidates of change. If you are going to be the candidate of change and expect to have people vote for you on that basis, wouldn’t you think that would mean that people who are voting for you are doing so because they agree with you on the issues? If not, might it not be a strong indication that they are voting out of response to hype instead of because of the facts?
For what sort of change are you voting if you are not voting with a candidate with whom you agree on the issues?
This Zogby poll tells me that people in New Hampshire who are voting for someone because they agree with what a candidate will do on the issues are voting for John Edwards. There are a lot of political orators throughout history who have excited people. Some of them have been good politicians, some bad and everything in between. Where people got in trouble is when they voted for someone who was exciting without carefully examining the policy positions behind that excitement. When people in this election examine these detailed policy positions, the person that gets their support is John Edwards.