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21 June 2005

Feingold and the netroots

At MyDD and DailyKos over the last several days, there have been some interesting polls to gauge support for 2008. Today, both Chris Bowers and Markos looked at the results, and a lot can be learned both from their takes and from the comments of readers.

The results of the DailyKos poll were:

Daily Kos community poll. 6/20. 13,389 respondents. (No trend lines):

Clark 26 (3,496)
No Freakin' Clue 17 (2,320)
Clinton 10 (1,461)
Feingold 10 (1,433)
Edwards 8 (1,077)
Other 7 (1,088)
Warner 5 (689)
Richardson 4 (659)
Biden 3 (497)
Kerry 2 (341)
Bayh 2 (328)
Vilsack 0 (88)

(The MyDD poll did not include Senator Feingold as a choice.)

Looking at candidates only (and not "No Freakin' Clue"), Senator Feingold comes in third place, within 30 votes of Hillary Clinton, while both trail Wesley Clark. There are a number of ways we can look at this.

First, there's the Chris Bowers pessimistic view:

Feingold Electability has always played a role in choosing candidates, and among the netroots it is no different. Clearly, recent personal events have damaged Feingold's perceived chances to both run for President and to become President were he to run. There was a time when I believed wholeheartedly that Russ had a chance to build a netroots movement much, much larger than what Dean put together in 2003. However, that does not look as though it will come to pass now. In the past, he had led these polls both at Dailykos and MyDD. Now, I imagine he will have a difficult time regaining that position.

I've always agreed with Chris Bowers on a wide variety of issues, but here I don't. Russ Feingold, a lesser-known senator from Wisconsin, essentially ties Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and overwhelming favorite for the nomination. Having never run a national campaign relying on the internet and bloggers (unlike Clark) and without showing any active interest in the presidency, only hints, and still relatively unknown, even in the Democratic internet-activist community, this is a strong showing, especially when considering his recent divorce. Where Bowers seems to think that this is a sign that Feingold is sinking, I prefer to see it as a sign that he can bounce back.

Indeed, in the DKos poll, it's especially impressive that he could do so well, considering the disagreements that Feingold, Markos, and others there have had on regulating blogs.

On the Kos discussion thread, at one point Feingold supporters were challenged to explain why he was a good candidate. The entire discussion is an interesting read, but here are a few highlights:

From KainIIIC-

He is a progressive, midwestern senator who perhaps has one of the best voting records in our nation. If questioned by anyone as to his voting record, he delivers a straight and articulate answer, rather than the "well i voted against this because, uh, well... yeah" we may get from some of those senators.

His votes on trade issues(vote against NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.) will certainly help out in the midwest, not to mention his status. That means he'll flip Iowa, and have great success in Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia and maybe Arkansas.

While most people say that him being Jewish would hurt him, it would actually help flip Florida to blue.

NO ONE in the country will ever get the impression that Feingold is a fake politician, that he's two-faced, or that he will deceive you. He votes with integrity and conscience, he talks with integrity, and hell he looks like a human-form of integrity.

He would probably run as a mid-western populist in the west and would have a great chance of picking up NM, CO, NV, and perhaps MT.

His candidacy would make the idea of the rest of the midwest turning red be absolutely ridiculous.

From Miss Blue-

TV Appeal

Great speaker - speaks plain English, easily understood by even vegetables. Doesn't mince words - says what he thinks, gives his reasons why he thinks that way, simple, short, and sweet.

Voting record that needs no defense. No hidden agenda. His record is 100% consistant with his spoken beliefs.

Appeals across the board. Has the backing of teachers, police, firemen, unions, farmers, environmentalists, soccer moms. Not a target of the NRA.

Brings the Midwest to the table, can definitely offer pluses to the Heartland and the West. Carries the East, and has started building bridges with the south.

Feingold has had a townhall meeting with every county in the state, all 72, every year since first being elected Senator. He knows how to build, and keep, grassroots support.

Owes NOTHING to corporate money. Does not take soft money. He is a big believer, proven by his record, of small government, fiscal responsibility, and a balanced budget.

All of this will sound good to Dems, and moderate Repubs.

And that's just two comments. It's clear that even if some of the momentum Senator Feingold had in February was lost, there's still a lot of support out there.

As the only possible candidate listed who was anti-war from the start, and with so much potential support from the Dean movement, the recent straw polls show that in the netroots, there's plenty of support for the maverick senator from Wisconsin.


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