June 13, 2008

What Matters In The Voting Booth?

NAPP voters were given an impressive array of choices about what would matter most to them in choosing between Obama and McCain come November. The result: A three-way tie between three subjects -- "Change," "Economic Recession," and "War in Iraq and/or National Security."

The runner-up in fourth place was "Immigration," a subject upon which it seems very little has been said recently. Also receiving votes were "Gas Prices," "Gay Marriage," "Race of Candidate," "Taxes," and "Affirmative Action."

Receiving no votes at all were "Fear of Inflation," "Religious Beliefs of Candidates," "Running Mates," "Gestures of Patriotism," "Supreme Court Appointments," "Social Security," "Medical Insurance Reform," "Balanced Budget," "Gun Ownership Rights," "Education," and "Abortion."

I am not surprised at the overall winners in terms of the issues. I am surprised that "Affirmative Action" attracted a vote; no candidate or pundit has even mentioned it as a campaign issue and I put it in the list as kind of a throwaway. So I wonder if the that poll voter was taking things seriously... But an answer is an answer.

For myself, I think the most important thing for me will be national security. I am not sure, though, whether that will steer me towards Barack Obama or John McCain. I think McCain would certainly promote a more robust military and security profile for the country than Obama, which is very appealing, and I think he would use our military assets in a smarter way than the previous Administration has (note that the military itself has done the very best that could be done with the missions and materiel it has been given; my criticism is directed at Bush and Rumsfeld and their minions, not at the "boots on the ground").

But Obama seems to better understand that we have to be strong, smart, and principled. I fear that his diplomacy will be risky, especially early in his administration. The rest of Obama's platform sounds really expensive and I can't help but imagine to afford his health care program, we'd have to make painful cuts in the military budget. But on the other hand, I don't think Obama would allow the military to grow so weak we could not effectively defend ourselves or assert force abroad when really necessary. And he seems at least amenable to the idea of making America both strong and free -- I remain convinced that both goals can be achieved simultaneously within a single four-year Administration if the President crafts the right policies and leads the political mood of the country in the right direction. Obama certainly is better-equipped to do that than McCain.

So I'm leaning McCain as the safer national security choice, but Obama could still convince me if he tries hard enough.

Thanks to all who participated in the poll.

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