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Seattle Times Political Caucus

The Seattle Times Political Caucus is an online community aimed at adding diverse voices to our coverage of politics. How we'll use the Caucus will evolve over time. But the idea is to create a conversation with people of various backgrounds and political beliefs. As the election season unfolds, we'll ask participants to weigh in on key political questions and then post their comments here.

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October 31, 2008 4:48 PM

Your pick for governor

Posted by Katherine Long

Let's say you've just discovered that your best friend doesn't share your choice for governor of Washington in the 2008 election. Can you change his/her mind?We asked the Seattle Times Political Caucus: Who are you going to vote for in the race for governor of Washington, and why?

Read all of their answers here.

As with the presidential race, our online Caucus-participating readership leans farther to the right than the left. Seven readers urged a vote for Republican Dino Rossi, four for returning Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire to office, and we couldn't tell about three of them.

Tim Clark of Mountlake Terrace called Gregoire "a typical tax and spend liberal that we should have stopped electing about thirty years ago. (I thought we learned something under Carter, which is why I thought we elected Reagan. Guess America did not really learn the lesson it should have under Carter)."

Clark managed to bring Alexis de Toqueville into his argument; de Toqueville, in 1831, "said that America's experiment in democracy will end when enough voters realize that they can vote for free handouts to themselves. From that point on, the greedy voters will keep voting more and more free stuff to themselves, until the economy collapses and a dictatorship results.

"The fact is, the Democrats are the party of free handouts that Toqueville warned about so long ago."

Dean Olson of Beacon Hill is unhappy with Gregoire's administration ("She caused a third recount and lost the Sonics, plus spent too much. Where's the viaduct and floating bridge that we're paying taxes on now?") but he's also unhappy with Rossi for not captioning his ads, an omission that has bothered Olson about many of the candidates this political season (he has a cochlear implant and depends on the captions). And he's not happy that Rossi has disputed the scientific consensus on global warming. So Olson says he'll cast a protest vote -- for former vice-president Al Gore.

Hugh Coleman of Kelso is voting Republican in hopes the GOP will shake things up in Olympia. "For decades the Democrats have controlled Washington State government," he wrote."We still have floods, 80 year old ferry boats, and an energy approach that is pre FDR."

Jon Smith of Tacoma argues for Gregoire. "Dino Rossi is aligned with all of the wrong private-sector groups at a time when the economy has burst on the real estate/credit bubble," he wrote. "His denunciation of the State employees wage settlement with the governor's office ignores the fact that the Legislature ... has the authority to vote against the settlement, whether it costs $88 million or $88.08. He also ignores that most of the settlements were at 2% COLA for each of two years, about half what the Boeing machinists have agreed to."

Bob Clark of Monroe is dismayed by the state's worsening traffic woes under Gregoire, and thinks Rossi will do better. "Governor Christine Gregoire has done little besides lip service in this county to help either with the death and carnage on US Highway 2 or to do something about the almost impossible commutes on Highways 9 and 522! To make matters worse she and her Transportation Department have funneled large amounts of Snohomish County generated tax dollars into King County and ignored funding for a number of projects in our county."

Finally, Paul Graves of Queen Anne managed to talk his Gregoire-leaning fiance into voting for Rossi (he had no luck convincing her to vote for Sen. John McCain). Here is part of his pitch: "Governor Gregoire inherited a surplus and turned it into the largest projected shortfall in Washington history. She gave kickbacks -- in the forms of drastic pay increases and a tax-free monopoly on gambling --to her special interest friends. And now, when things are sour and we all want change, she is telling us that things are hunky-dory. She has spent lavishly without demanding accountability, has helped well-connected friends while short-changing the average taxpayer, and is arrogantly resisting change. In short, she is all the things I dislike about George Bush."

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October 28, 2008 2:44 PM

Making your last, best argument

Posted by Katherine Long

Let's say you've just discovered that your best friend is planning on voting for the OTHER guy for president -- you know, the opposition. Can you change his/her mind? We asked The Seattle Times Political Caucus: What's your best argument, at this point, for voting for John McCain, or for Barack Obama?

It turns out that a number of caucus members have had this conversation with somebody they know well. Paul Graves of Seattle tried, to no avail, to convince his fiance to vote for McCain. Kurt Workman of Kennewick also had no success getting his mother-in-law to vote for Obama. But oh, they tried. Read all of their comments here.

Graves' argument begins this way: "John McCain has spent the last thirty years putting his country's interests before all else. He fought for it. He was beaten for it. He could have left the Hanoi Hilton three years earlier than he did. Doing so would have been a slap in the face to his fellow prisoners who were there longer than him and would have given the enemy propaganda. So he stayed."

Graves also notes McCain's support for legislation dealing with campaign finance reform, car fuel-efficiency standards and global warming.

"He put his country before his chances of becoming President. He voted against wasteful and wicked farm bills and opposes ethanol subsidies and tariffs, even though it already cost him two Iowa caucuses and will probably cost him Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota."

Workman's shorter, but no less passionate, argument: "What we need right now is someone to restore faith in America. Not just the faith of the rest of the world, which we've largely lost, but the faith of America's young people. Electing this youthful, charismatic, black man lets us all know that we are still making progress as a nation. Obama has the ability to excite and inspire young Americans not seen in a long time."

And so it went. Among the McCain supporters, ncarmstrong1611 of Bothell found McCain's argument about income redistribution in an Obama administration compelling: "If I worked hard enough all my life that I crossed that $250,000 threshold, I wouldn't think it was very fair that I should be forced to give my life's blood away to someone else who had not worked for it. By the same token If I were to receive one of those 'rebate' checks, and by the way I would, knowing that I had not earned it and that it was taken forcibly from someone else who had earned it, I would be guilty. I would not want it. Socialism i.e. income redistribution is wrong and un-American no matter who is proposing it."

Dale Amundsen of Monroe finds himself stirred by Obama's eloquence, but not his message. "In a world where evil regimes wish to do grievous harm to America -- this 'city on a hill' -- I want a proven patriot who knows the American ideal is worth fighting for. McCain and his running mate strike me as committed to these ideals at the heart of their being.

"We don't need for our country to lose sight of its ideals while Obama seeks an expansion of this nanny government."

Christopher Hodgkin of Friday Harbor would urge a friend to look beyond rhetoric and count accomplishments. "Obama was trained as a lawyer to speak decisively and convincingly even in support of people or causes totally contrary to his real views. That's what he was taught. That's why his rhetoric is not a reliable indicator of what he truly believes or would do. That's why you have to look at the actual achievements of the two candidates to see who would lead out country safely through a perilous time."

Obama supporters included Marc, of Burien, who wrote "Obama is clearly more level-headed and thoughtful. His economic advisors, including Warren Buffett, are among the best people available, practical, but non-ideological." But he was especially unhappy with McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, calling her choice "shockingly irresponsible."

Benjamin Johnstone-Anderson of Tacoma was turned off by Palin's pick as well, and wrote: "I feel that Sen. McCain has a strong record of duty and honor. However, I do not think he is especially thoughtful as a leader. Sen. Obama has shown opportunism at points (not disavowing ACORN or Rev. Wright), but every politician does. On the other hand, Sen. McCain's treatment of the economic situation was totally inexplicable. His choice of Gov. Palin for Vice President seemed more concerned with electoral positioning than with the country's future. He seems completely incurious about economics. It makes Obama's sometimes overly-tactical pragmatism seem downright desirable."

Dave I of Seattle used the candidates' choice of a running mate as "the best proxy" of their sound judgment. "Obama picked an experienced statesman with tons of foreign policy experience that could step in to serve as President if the need arises. McCain picked a somewhat experienced governor who stumbles describing her view on important national and foreign issues because she needed a reader's digest review of these issues. If it isn't a domestic social issue I don't feel Palin can step into the presidency with any degree of confidence. Obama wins this analysis hands down."

For anyone who's keeping count, 17 of our 31 respondents are voting for McCain, versus 12 for Obama. (To round it out, one reader's preference was unclear, and one posted two responses). (Update: Three more Obama supporters came in by email and have just been posted -- that brings the count to a closer 17 for McCain and 15 for Obama.) Are McCain supporters in a blue state more passionate? Are Obama supporters in Washington more complacent? Are Seattle Times online readers more conservative? Or is McCain going to pull a big surprise in this state Nov. 4? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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October 28, 2008 1:18 PM

The case against McCain's campaign rhetoric

Posted by Richard Wagoner

domke.JPGUniversity of Washington professor David Domke, an expert on the intersection of faith and politics, writes today about why he signed on to a statement criticizing John McCain's campaign rhetoric.

By David Domke

To his credit, Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain has not invoked the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in his campaign against Barack Obama. It was Wright who blasted America in 2001 while pastor of Obama's church in Chicago. Obama denounced Wright's incendiary words during the Democratic Party's primary, and McCain in April said Wright was off limits. McCain has stuck to his word.

To his great discredit, though, McCain has done just about everything else. And it's not OK, say more than 100 professors of communication and journalism across the nation.

I'm one of them.

In a nonpartisan statement headed by Professor Edward Schiappa, Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota, my colleagues and I say this, in our opening words:

We wish to express our great concern over unethical communication behavior that threatens to dominate the closing days of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Both major campaigns have been criticized by fact-checking organizations for prevarications. We call on both campaigns to halt blatant misrepresentations of their opponent's positions.

It would be misleading, however, to imply that since "both sides do it" there is no qualitative difference worth noting. In recent weeks, the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin has engaged in such incendiary mendacity that we must speak out. The purposeful dissemination of messages that a communicator knows to be false and inflammatory is unethical. It is that simple.



One might dismiss the statement as the product of liberal professors who adore the Democrats. In my case, I have indeed worked with Democratic campaigns in recent years. But here's the crux of the matter: almost every example offered as rationale for the statement accords with what Colin Powell, in his interview last Sunday on "Meet the Press," said has troubled him about the McCain campaign and Republicans this election cycle. Last I checked Powell isn't liberal or a Democrat.

So what are our concerns? I'll focus on two.

First, McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have regularly claimed that Obama "pals around with terrorists," a reference to Obama's connection with William Ayers, who bombed the Pentagon, as part of the radical group The Weather Underground, in 1970. No reasonable person defends these actions by Ayers.

It is an uncontested fact that Ayers held a meet-and-greet political event for Obama early in Obama's political ascent in Illinois, and the two served on an educational board at the behest of Ronald Reagan friend Walter Annenberg. Today Ayers is a respected Chicago educator who has been praised by Chicago mayor Richard Daley, and independent www.factcheck.org has deemed the McCain camp's claims about Ayers and Obama to be "groundless, false, [and] dubious." Yet the McCain camp persists, including hitting this point repeatedly in interviews with NBC News in recent days.

Why? Because they are hoping that voters come to see Obama as a dangerous dark-skinned man not far removed from another man whose name rhymes with Obama. It's a rhetorical strategy of implied linkage, in which the goal is to forge a connection in people's minds, through repetition, of the ideas of "terrorist," "Obama," and "radical." It's a communication approach that follows in the footsteps of the one used - to strategic perfection - by the Bush administration to tie together Sept. 11 and Saddam Hussein, even though U.S. government agencies declared there was no connection. In politics, the implied is powerful. It also is false in this case.

The words of Colin Powell from a week ago are instructive: "This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he's a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate. Now, I understand what politics is all about. I know how you can go after one another, and that's good. But I think this goes too far."

Exactly.

Second, McCain has looked the other way while his running mate Sarah Palin has consistently characterized Obama as someone who doesn’t see America the same way that most Americans do. There are two ticking implications in such rhetoric. The first is the unstated assumption that everyone sees the United States as moral and upright, and that Obama does not. In Palin's words at a fundraiser in Colorado: "This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America. We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism." The "we" is presented as a taken-for-granted position: of course all we good people think this way.

In reality, there are many Americans who do not hold such an unadulterated pure view of America. In a 2006 campaign poll, for example, fully one-third of randomly sampled voters agreed with the statement that "America's power generally does more harm than good when we act abroad" (no online link is available). That said, there's zero chance that one of them is Obama - who has spoken consistently about his appreciation of the United States and its special role in the world.

Indeed, the notion that anyone running for president would have less than a rose-colored view of the nation would be laughable, if the claim were not so serious. Painting a presidential candidate as bad for America is as common as attack ads, but saying he doesn't love America smacks of McCarthyism. It's also false in this case.

John McCain is an American hero, a senator who has done many good things for the nation. But his campaign's public demonizations of Obama are not among them. These communications are wrong. They are unethical. And they do harm to the nation.

David Domke, a former newspaper journalist, is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Domke also has worked with Democratic Party leaders in the Northwest to understand the dynamics of modern political campaigns. His latest book, "The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America," was published in January. He can be reached at domke@u.washington.edu.

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October 15, 2008 1:10 PM

What they're reading

Posted by Katherine Long

We asked the Seattle Times Political Caucus: With less than a month to go before the election, where are you getting your news, especially online? Who are your favorite bloggers, and why? Do you have favorite sources within the mainstream media -- as well as outside of it? Whose opinions do you trust? Who makes you think?

Read all of their answers here.

"If I ever want to get a conservative view I will watch Fox News, if I want a liberal view, I will watch MSNBC, if I want an international and pretty non-biased view I will look at BBC, but mostly I will watch CNN," wrote Samir Junejo of Shoreline. "They have good reporting and don't always have an obvious bias, though I still don't trust anyone enough to believe everything they say." One of Junejo's favorite places for a steady roundup of political news, big and small, is CNN's Political Ticker at
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

"When it comes to the horse race, I love FiveThirtyEight (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com)," wrote Benjamin Johnstone-Anderson of Tacoma. "They have a complex system that interprets polling results and breaks through the 'house biases,' trends, demography, etc. It's not always correct and doesn't purport to be objective, but it's always interesting." Johnstone-Anderson also likes Politico, "indispensable for fair-minded, up-to-date news and analysis. It's the New Media at full potential."

"It's very, very hard to know who/what to trust," writes Jason DesLongchamp of SeaTac. "Being a conservative I expect conservative outlets to favor McCain and attack Obama, and vice versa. That's not very interesting to me. I really do want the truth, and it's fairly easy to sound convincing, so who am I supposed to trust?"

DesLongchamp tends to follow the Drudge Report, and also reads the New York Times and Seattle Times. He doesn't think much of bloggers, but he likes a slate of columnists including "Thomas Sowell, David Brooks, Tom Friedman, Leonard Pitts, Charles Krauthammer ... they usually have thought provoking things to say."

"We watch only movies sometimes to stop hearing all the negative ads," wrote Jim L. & Marie King of Snohomish. The Kings also read The Seattle Times and watch CNN, 700 Club and regular network news.

Marc Szeftel of Burien gets his partisan fix from The Huffington Post, but thinks that "the most comprehensive and objective source for news is Realclearpolitics.com, which has the widest range of columnists from left and right, as well as the most thorough polling data, updated regularly." He also reads The New York Times and periodically visits Townhall.com, "to see what the conservative base is saying."

"Every morning I start my day with my my.Yahoo page, where I check how badly my stocks are doing then go on to the news links to the top news and political stories from Reuters, AP, and the Seattle Times. I check out any stories that crave immediate attention," says Christopher Hodgkin of Friday Harbor of his daily morning routine. "Then I bring up the Drudge Report for links to news stories from a range of other media. I then bring up the New York Times and browse it briefly." Hodgkin has a few other local sites he visits for weather and Friday Harbor News, but beyond those, "If the news isn't on one of those sites, it doesn't exist for me."

"One of my mottos for the year is this: We earn intellectual capital by reading and listening," writes Paul Graves of Queen Anne. "We spend it by writing and talking. Aim for a surplus. It seems appropriate for this post."

Many Political Caucus participants are big fans of The Economist, and Graves is one of them; he calls it "humanity's best weekly." After that, "My surf-trail when I have time in the mornings goes like this: drudgereport, Wall Street Journal (front page then op/ed), NYTimes (front page then op/ed) Seattle Times (local then op/ed) PI (op/ed). I try to balance the partisan views I get, so I alternate one article apiece on Huffington Post-National Review Online. I get my local commentary from Crosscut, Sound Politics, and Horsesass."

"As a liberal, I especially appreciate an insightful column from a conservative perspective," wrote Carey Christensen of Stanwood. "Also, anything written with an historical perspective is interesting and valuable; I adore Doris Kearns Goodwin!"

"As the campaign increases in intensity, I often turn the TV off during the day," Christensen says. "I find it easier to read the opposition view than listen to it. I try to watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC and Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN every evening, and I also try to catch Bill O'Reilly on Fox. I never watch network news. I don't know whether I will be relieved or distraught when the election is over and the campaign news comes to a halt!"

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October 13, 2008 12:37 PM

Why the Obama effect may not materialize here

Posted by Richard Wagoner

domke.JPGUniversity of Washington professor David Domke, an expert on the intersection of faith and politics, writes today about why top Washington state Democarts my not benefit from the "Obama effect."

By David Domke

Around the United States, Barack Obama's presidential fortunes have improved significantly in recent weeks. Since Sept. 15, when Lehman Brothers went under and the stock market began its free fall, Obama has opened somewhere between a 5 percent and 10 percent national lead over John McCain.

Surveys of registered and likely voters - compiled faithfully and neutrally at pollster.com - suggest that the race has moved in Obama's favor in state after state: New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. In many of these places, Democrats running for the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and governor's office have also seen their standing rise.

For example, a New York Times article on Sunday included this passage:

"If Obama is able to run up big numbers around the country," said Mr. Anuzis, the Michigan [Republican] party chairman, "the potential for hurting down-ballot Republicans is very big." One sign of that has emerged in Nebraska, where Representative Lee Terry, a Republican, ran a newspaper advertisement featuring words of support for him from a woman identified as an "Obama-Terry voter."


If that's happening in crimson-red Nebraska, then surely leading Democrats are riding this Obama wave here in Washington, right?

Not if we believe the same pollsters.

Let's start with the governor's race. Since Sept. 1, there have been six polls publicly reported. In three of them, Republican challenger Dino Rossi has led; in the most recent one, published on Oct. 2 by Rasmussen Reports, Rossi and Democratic incumbent Christine Gregoire were deadlocked at 48 percent. Among the polling-fixated, Rasmussen is considered to have a slight Republican-lean "house effect," but in the same poll Obama had opened a 10-point lead, up from two points in the previous Rasmussen survey of the state. Rossi led Gregoire by a stunning 57 percent to 37 percent among unaffiliated voters.

Next let's look at the 8th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican Dave Reichert is being challenged for a second time by Democrat Darcy Burner. If ever the Democratic Party might win in the 8th, this would seem to be the year.

But in three publicly reported polls since Sept. 1, Reichert has led by an average of six points. The most recent poll, published this past Friday, came from Democratic-leaning Research 2000, and still put Reichert ahead 49 percent to 41 percent. Reichert led among both men and women and among every age group. Notably, the poll showed Obama up by four points, 47-43, in the 8th.

So why haven't Gregoire and Burner risen with Obama? Here's three key reasons.

1. Rossi and Reichert have successfully - so far at least - avoided the George W. Bush torpedo. Bush's presidential approval ratings are at historic lows, in Richard Nixon territory. Any Republican who is seen as closely tied to Bush or to the poor Republican Party brand is suffering. Rossi has gone so far as to run as the "GOP candidate," forsaking the Republican moniker in a terrible-for-Republicans election cycle. Reichert, for his part, has kept adequate distance from Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney. Advantage Rossi and Reichert.

2. Gregoire and Burner have not delivered compelling economic messages, a crucial detriment in an electoral environment marked by the worst economic downturn since the 1970s. Gregoire is a smart, can-do governor, but she has been unable to make the case that Rossi is too economically risky for the state. In fact, Rossi has had the better of this argument by pinning the current state budget deficit on Gregoire, even though Rossi bears at least some responsibility when in the state Senate.

Burner became a rising star in Democratic Party circles on the strength of her opposition to the Iraq War. In 2006, this issue was front and center for voters across the country, and Democrats rode it into control of the Congress. Burner didn't join them, but she came within 8,000 votes of Reichert. This year the issue has receded in the face of economic crisis, and Burner has struggled to pivot to the economy. It's not an impossible move: Obama has done it ably on the national level. But Burner has not been able to do it yet.

3. Gregoire and Burner have failed to build dynamic emotional connections with voters. Reichert is the sheriff who relentlessly pursued the Green River killer. Rossi is the almost-was-governor candidate, who lost (or had the election stolen) only after three counts of the ballots. Like 'em or not, Rossi and Reichert have powerful stories.

Gregoire and Burner have stories to tell too. But, by and large, they haven't told them with the kind of emotional oomph needed to connect with voters. Here, again, is something that Obama has been able to accomplish in recent weeks, a point I wrote about in my last Times column. It's I-feel-your-pain time.

Every election year, some book seems to capture the public's attention in explaining how people make voting decisions. The book for this election cycle is 2007's The Political Brain, by Drew Westen, a political psychologist at Emory University. In an essay he wrote for the Washington Post (and printed in the Times) more than a year ago, he put it this way:

"Two visions of mind and brain have dominated contemporary American politics. One is a dispassionate vision, which suggests that voters choose candidates by examining their positions on the issues and coolly calculating their relative costs and benefits. The other, a passionate vision, suggests that voters are moved by the feelings that candidates and parties elicit in them and are guided by their shared values and goals. The dispassionate vision has guided much of the strategy that has reliably cost Democrats winnable elections over the past four decades, and it could do so again in 2008."

Gregoire and Burner have three weeks remaining to ask voters this question: can you feel the economic plans I will pursue? If the answer is no, then Washington may be one state in which any Obama effect on down-ballot races is unfelt.

David Domke, a former newspaper journalist, is a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. Domke also has worked with Democratic Party leaders in the Northwest to understand the dynamics of modern political campaigns. His latest book, "The God Strategy: How Religion Became A Political Weapon in America," was published in January. He can be reached at domke@u.washington.edu.


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October 2, 2008 1:38 PM

Caucus independents like Obama, Rossi

Posted by Katherine Long

They say the 2008 presidential race will largely be decided by swing voters and independents.

With that in mind, we combed through the descriptions given by our 219 Seattle Times Political Caucus participants when they signed up for the caucus (most joined in early summer, when the political landscape looked different). We looked for people who defined themselves as independents, said they were uncommitted, or were otherwise unhappy with either of the candidates. We found 32 of them, and we asked:

If the election were held today, which candidate for president would get your vote, and why? How about governor? If you haven't made up your mind yet, what do you need to know to help you decide?

We got a small number of thoughtful, interesting replies, and the trend (within this microcosm of a group, at least) indicates that independents in our small sample are leaning toward Sen. Barack Obama -- even those who originally sided with Sen. John McCain. In the gubernatorial race, more independents prefer Dino Rossi over Gov. Christine Gregoire. We won't hold them to it, and we'll be sure to check back again; you can read all of their responses here.

"Since shortly after beginning his 2008 presidential campaign, McCain has either stifled, reversed, or otherwise abandoned most of the characteristics that I had previously admired," wrote Mike Matesky of Seattle. "The impression I get is that his campaign feels he already has 'Maverick' credibility with independents, so it's safe to pander to a social conservative base. McCain increasingly sounds like a typical, partisan Republican, which won't get me or most other independents to elect him."

Matesky was turned off by Sen. McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as running mate. He thinks Obama sounds reasonable and measured, and doesn't just repeat boilerplate soundbites.

"Frankly, I'm ready to have someone with brain power in the White House, regardless of whether he buys arugula at Whole Foods or iceberg lettuce at Safeway," Matesky ended.

Tim Perez of Seattle backed Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primary, and never thought Obama would get his vote. "After the DNC slighted the 18 million of us who voted for Clinton, I was certain I would be voting for John McCain. However, John picked the Mouth of Sauron or Sarah Palin as she's known in some parts. And there was no way in Hades that I could in good conscience aid in having someone so under qualified become VP. I've always been a huge Joe Biden fan so the choice became clear."

Benjamin Johnstone-Anderson of Tacoma was "itching to cast a ballot for the McCain of 2000. Aside from attacking ethanol, where's that McCain? I haven't seen him for months."

Instead, Johnstone-Anderson writes, "after a summer of leaning McCain, I find myself now intending to cast a vote for Senator Obama. While both candidates offer robust policy positions, McCain has lost me on theme. Case in point: I liked Governor Palin as a reformer in Alaska, but I'm not at all excited about Vice Presidential candidate Palin. I thought that the "campaign time-out" to address the financial crisis was a calculated and distracting ploy. Senator Obama hasn't been perfect, either, but "hope" and "change" aside, he's run a less cynical campaign."

Ted Noggles of Bothell is backing Obama because "McCain is still too similar to Bush and therefore too much of a status quo," and Louis Couwenberg of Seattle expects to vote for the Democrat "because I don't see voting for him as taking a risk anymore. Honestly how much worse can he do than what the Republican administration is giving us now?"

In Spokane, Chris Kelly, a Hillary supporter, was dismayed that McCain didn't pick a more qualified woman to be his running mate; he's leaning toward Obama at this point.

And Luther E. Franklin of Issaquah, a former Naval aviator, thought about not voting at all, then leaned toward McCain, but finds "his flip-flop behavior just before and during the current financial crisis reprehensible."

Benjamin Lukoff of Seattle gives Obama a lukewarm endorsement. "My opinion of McCain has really suffered this year," he wrote. "Again, I'm not a huge fan of either of them, but since it will be one of them I want to make sure it's the one I dislike less."

But not all of our independents agree. "McCain's federalist views are much more appealing than Obama's socialistic views," wrote Morgan Barney of Newcastle. "I think we need less federal government and more decision making at the local /state level. When it comes down to it, I trust McCain more to be the Maverick /Independent that he has always been than I trust Obama to move all the way to the center from the far left. I know that McCain will work with Democrats and Independents. Obama will only try to get others to work with his ideas."

Scott Kastelitz of Bothell was originally drawn to Obama, "but I've come to realize that hope is not a strategy, and that it takes real plans and real actions to accomplish things." McCain started to impress Kastelitz during the first debate's foreign policy portion, when "he showed that he not only understands the threats that face our nation, he was prepared with plans and courses of action. McCain will need to do more of this to keep my vote and Obama will need to start showing his vision is not just empty rhetoric in order to woo me to his side."

As far as the gubernatorial race goes, only a few of our participants weighed in with strong feelings. It's clear that the political ads are rubbing some of these independents the wrong way. "I hate the ads, I can't stand listening to the mis-information on both sides and I feel like spanking both of them," wrote Kelly, of Spokane, who is leaning toward Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Morgan Barney is also "disgusted by the negative ads. I have seen / heard more negative ads from Gregoire. This may be the deciding factor as neither of them are very up front in answering questions."

Kastelitz is a Dino Rossi fan. "From the beginning, I have never thought Gregoire was capable of being an effective leader for our state," he wrote. "And she’s done nothing to change my mind in the last four years."

Tim Perez "was a Dinocrat the first time and shall remain so this time around. CG isn't bad per say, again this is probably more of 'revenge' vote for the lack of class and concession when Rossi clearly won the first time around."

And finally, Ted Noggles expects to cast a vote for Rossi "primarily because I feel our state has been controlled by the liberal Democrats for way too long. Taxes, spending, and more taxes and more spending habits of the incumbents seems to me to be running out of control and without oversight. Let's get some control on our spending."

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Recent entries

Oct 31, 08 - 04:48 PM
Your pick for governor

Oct 28, 08 - 02:44 PM
Making your last, best argument

Oct 28, 08 - 01:18 PM
The case against McCain's campaign rhetoric

Oct 15, 08 - 01:10 PM
What they're reading

Oct 13, 08 - 12:37 PM
Why the Obama effect may not materialize here

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Family-friendly features that make traveling easier new
A friend of mine recently complained that she couldn't keep an eye on her kids while driving her Chrysler Town & Country minivan. "Why don't you use t...
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