Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Issue-based survey as candidate guide for the ill-informed?

I've seen this simple, but apparently widespread, survey purporting to match up takers with the Presidential candidate who most closely shares their views on John Savage's BNWW and have also come across it through several people via email forwardings. There is a desire for this tool, and a national news services providing it (this one is from Minnesota Public Radio) would likely be popular.

Front-runners, however, detest this sort of thing because it neutralizes the celebrity advantage. One who does not closely follow political current events (mostly women, who are generally more attracted to a self-reflective survey like this one anyway), who had planned on voting for Hillary in the state primary, might instead find herself most closely aligned with Chris Dodd.

Candidates who've distinguished themselves on certain issues (Ron Paul on Iraq and interventionism more generally, Tom Tancredo on immigration) tend not to be among the top contenders, but their differentiation gives them an inherent advantage in this sort of survey. The vague, kinda-sorta answers that benefit front-runners by allowing them to divert attention toward other considerations in which they have an advantage (mild language caution) and away from the issues of the day, actually have a detrimental effect here, often delegating these candidates to an obscure spot in the middle of the pack.

Tancredo emerged as my top pick. He was the only one of the 18 candidates included who shared my view on immigration. The immigration question only had four answers, and more than one-fourth of the American public would choose the same answer I did. Not surprisingly, the Tancredo campaign is promoting the survey. Tell everyone you know to take this thing, and to their collective surprise they'll find that they also support me!

The MPR survey does allow users to designate the importance of each of the 11 issues queried, although it might benefit by giving greater weight to these designations. My second pick was John McCain, although I would definitely not vote for him. While the survey shows me agreeing with him on eight of the eleven issues, I'm in opposition to him on immigration and Iraq, the two issues that determine who receives my political support.


John Savage said...

Audacious Epigone, nice post, and thanks for the mention. I actually found this quiz more accurate, though. This one put Ron Paul first for me, followed by Tom Tancredo and then the rest in more-or-less correct order. Rudy Giuliani got something like minus-11, which speaks well of the methodology.

As I've mentioned on my blog, my opposition to Ron Paul is more because of what I interpret as his determination to run as a fringe candidate, than because I disagree with his main ideas. So it's not surprising, given that I advocated getting out of Iraq, that he came up first. Whereas on the other poll, Paul actually came up as a worse match for me than any other Republican.

Audacious Epigone said...


Thanks. I took that survey as well, and came up with Paul on top, followed by Thompson and then Tancredo.

On balance, it probably was more a bit more accurate for me as well, with McCain at the bottom of my list and Biden again as my top Democrat.