Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where's My Candidate?

I've done this before, but it's interesting to try the "electoral compass" exercise with the current crop of candidates projected on it. The Republicans are distributed vertically along the socially conservative axis of their quadrant, but with narrow variation in their economic positions. The Democrats are pretty tightly bunched in their quadrant, except for Obama who shows more progressive socially and a bit more conservative economically. Ron Paul is an outlier, aligned with Republicans economically, but verging on libertarianism socially. (Interestingly, this survey puts him in the libertarian quadrant, but just barely. Aside from Paul on the margin, the libertarian quadrant, where I find myself (the pencil), is vacant, as is the opposite fascist quadrant. It's a shame that there's a whole swath of "position space" unrepresented by candidates, but in which a fair chunk of Americans may locate themselves. (You can try the survey yourself here.) To me, that's a clear defect of the two-party system. I note that the two candidates closest to me in this survey are Obama and Paul. That's about right. I would add, as others have noted, that this survey captures policy position but not temperament, and in this race, I'm considering temperament as much if not more than policies. I'm hungry for a candidate who is pragmatic, able to understand viewpoints on both sides of an issue, and formulate policies that can appeal to common ground rather than division and polarity. That's why Obama is my choice.

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