Friday, August 08, 2008

Do Accomplishments Matter to Voters?

Huntsman's popular, but no one can tell you why.” —Bob Springmeyer, Democratic candidate for Utah Governor

The Standard Examiner (briefly) reports today on its August 7 editorial board meeting with Bob Springmeyer, the Democratic candidate that is vying to unseat Republican Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.

When discussing Huntsman, Springmeyer sounds like Republicans that criticize Obama supporters for being unable to name any significant accomplishment by the candidate other than to win office. “They can never give you anything he's done other than look nice, smile well and have a pretty wife, have an attractive family.”

The St-Ex obviously asked the Governor’s office for a rebuttal. The Gov’s rep cited “(securing) record funding for education, focusing on economic development that has made that funding possible, as well as creating a more competitive business environment and historical reform of our tax code” among the Gov’s accomplishments.

But Springmeyer is right. If you ask the average Utah voter (meaning a Huntsman supporter) what the Governor has accomplished, few of them will be able to name even one single thing. But like Obama supporters, they still like their guy.

I can name a number of things the Governor has accomplished and is planning to accomplish, but I’m not much pleased about most of the things on my list. Don’t count me as a Huntsman supporter.

But from a dispassionate analysis of the facts on the ground, I see no way that Huntsman could fail to win re-election this November in a massive landslide. Utahns might be obliged to dump him if he were to have an extramarital affair or commit murder. But short of that, he’ll still be our governor next year.

Springmeyer essentially told the St-Ex editorial board that if he wins Weber County, he will win the state. To put it politely, this is either political grandstanding or pure delusion. Although Springmeyer was born in Utah County, he apparently seems unaware that it holds most of Utah’s political cards nowadays.

Whether you like it or not, the fact is that the first time most Utah voters will even pay attention to Springmeyer’s name is when they see it on the ballot, if they even bother to look. Two minutes later they won’t be able to tell you what the name of the guy was that was running against Huntsman. For most Utah voters, that race will simply be an exercise in affirmation.

Maybe that seems a little harsh. I’m not saying that I like it. I’m just saying that it is reality.


Anonymous said...

Once again you articulate what I have thought. In this case, Huntsman is our governor for as long as he wants to be whether I like it or not. (I don't - I supported other Republicans in the primaries and voted for Matheson in the general election.)

On the other hand, a few Utahns will be able to remember the name of the guy who opposed Huntsman long after their votes (for Huntsman) as cast - after all, you're bound to remember a guy called "Superdell."

Anonymous said...

Agreed. As long as he doesn't do anything too crazy he's here. Do you think McCain is reserving a seat for him in his cabinet though? I hear rumors about that. That might be the only way he decides to leave soon. I'm not a big fan of Huntsman, but he does seem like a decent guy...just a bit superficial...that's just how he comes across to me without knowing him personally.

Scott Hinrichs said...

McCain might have a spot for Huntsman in his cabinet. It's no secret that Huntsman prefers being a diplomat over any other position. He has publicly said that his dream job would be Secretary of State.

If that is the case, I can only hope that Governor Herbert wouldn't be into singlehandedly obligating Utah to Schwarzenegger's environmental power grab, expansion of UEA power, opposition to reducing taxes, and promotion of more socialized medicine.

Anonymous said...

I have seen little evidence that accomplishments matter to voters.

Jimmy Carter won the presidency without having done much of anything worthy of mention, but Barack Obama has acquired a massive international following with even less on his resume than Carter.

On the Republican side as well, true qualifications don't seem to matter, with John McCain winning the nomination, and someone as empty as Huckabee getting a significant following, while people such as Duncan Hunter, a man who actually has a long record of success in promoting conservative ideals, was an early loser.

On the other hand, McCain has alienated himself from conservative voters with his long record of compromise (in other words, giving in to the Dark Side) and inaction (porous borders in southern Arizona, anyone?). Such "accomplishments" matter to me, in that they convinced me long ago that I would not vote for him. Ever.

Few though they are, Obama's "accomplishments" (his record of promoting totalitarian collectivism) also matter in a negative manner to serious conservatives, convincing us that his election would be a serious blow to the liberty and safety of the U.S.

Other than that, it's all image that matters. Baudrillard is a bit of a wacko in a lot of ways, but he's on to something with the concept of hyperreality and the disconnect from real, substantial, meaningful experience. Most people really are dealing with nothing more than a simulation. In such a world, any empty suit can win if it's marketed well.

Scott Hinrichs said...

In other words, it's kind of like living in the Matrix.

Anonymous said...

>In other words, it's kind of like living in the Matrix.

Yes, but without the acrobatics and slow motion.

Obi wan liberali said...

My take on Huntsman, is that he is a nice and decent individual, who probably has never really had a real job and has a naive and simplistic view of reality.

I think he likes the attention being a politician gets him, but I don't think he has ever seriously thought about policy questions at the state or national level.

What I want, more than ideological purity, is basic good judgment. I support Obama because I think he has shown better judgment than McCain regarding the major issues of the last eight years. I also think McCain has changed his opinions even more than Mitt Romney has to appease the true believers in his party. That isn't leadership, that is pandering.