Showing posts with label Mark Sanford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Sanford. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Which is Bigger?

You'd think a hybrid hiking/Argentine vacation and extramarital affair would top a governor resigning from office.

...until you consider who it is resigning. A very interesting, albeit unsurprising visual from Google Trends. [Bobby Jindal's response to Obama is but a mere blip on the radar now.]

You can play around with the Candidate Emergence Tracker here.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Answer is Yes

For the first time this year since Bobby Jindal gave the Republican response to President Obama's speech before a joint session of Congress, Sarah Palin searches have been surpassed by another (now former) prospective Republican presidential candidate. Last night FHQ asked aloud whether Mark Sanford's searches, once they were incorporated into Google Trends, would settle in between where John Ensign searches were a week ago following the Nevada senator's announcement and where Palin searches have been post-Letterman or surpass Palin. They seem to have passed Palin and then some. In fact, the first of the two Palin spikes in June is the highest the Alaska governor has been all year and that is around the same height Jindal reached in the pre-/post-response period.

The Sanford data has not been fully implemented in the main Google Trends search, but is working with our tracker for whatever reason. The F in the screenshot above denotes where Sanford admitted to the affair and we can also see the first of the two Palin spikes in June there as well and that it rivals the Jindal jump in February.

Needless to say, Sanford searches over the last few days have outpaced both Palin and Jindal by far in 2009. And that says something about what we see in these trends and what that tells us about the candidate emergence tracker in general. First, none of these search spikes are for "good" reasons. The tracker's intent is to pick up an organic movement toward a particular candidate -- to see a candidate emerge. And it is not a good thing for the Republican Party overall or the tracker generally that all the movement thus far is being triggered by scandal-related or other negatively-identified moments.

But I'll have more on that tomorrow when I look at the state of the 2012 race for the GOP nomination.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What Scandal Does to the Candidate Emergence Tracker

No, the Mark Sanford numbers aren't actually factored into the archived Google Trends data on the FHQ Candidate Emergence Tracker yet, but the numbers from John Ensign's affair announcement may give us some indication of where Sanford may end up.
Who is represented by that orange line? That's Sarah Palin. Well, Sarah Palin and David Letterman. That particular bump dwarfs the Ensign announcement bump in purple. Both those incidents and where Mark Sanford searches end up underline one important point about the tracker: That the influence of news coverage has to be accounted for in some way.

As we've pointed out several times since we began working with this data, there is a certain recursiveness to this relationship. Candidates drive the media and the media drives candidates. What we have to be on the lookout for in this data is the extent to which news story triggers a bump and then decays over time. Does the trend decay to the point that the earlier equilibrium of searches for that candidate resumes or do we see the emergence of a new equilibrium with a higher/lower search volume. If the track is upward, especially three years away from the next election, we may be seeing the organic, grassroots emergence we originally hypothesized about.

The somewhat unrelated question for now, given that the South Carolina governor is likely out of the 2012 White House sweepstakes, is whether Mark Sanford surpasses Palin/Letterman or settles in between that level and Ensign's announcement last week. I'll update as soon as that becomes apparent on the tracker.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why the Sanford Thing Matters

This whole Mark Sanford has been over-hyped to some degree. The disappearance is fine (Well, not when called a disappearance. How about trip?), but the communication is what has been completely botched. Ideally things would have gone like this:

1) Sanford's Press Office: "Yes, the governor likes to take some time off at the end of tough legislative sessions and has decided to hike some of the Appalachian Trail this year. We have not been in contact with him, but he is scheduled to return on Wednesday. We have a plan in place in the event that an emergency should arise."

2) Sanford's wife: "Oh, Mark likes to clear his head from time to time, especially after such a contentious session with the legislature. We talked and I told him to take advantage of the time over this fathers day weekend for that prupose. It's his day after all."

But it hasn't played out like that.

The press team has constantly updated its story making it appear as if there is something to cover up -- whether there is or isn't -- and his wife's not knowing his whereabouts is completely beyond me. I don't mean she needs to have him tagged and can track him with GPS. But she should at least be able to say, "Mark's hiking and will be back in a few days."

The communication network has broken down at so many points that it makes the situation appear much, much worse than I'm sure it actually is.

But this is politics. Perceptions matter and can cement very quickly. For example...

McCain is a Maverick. (2000)

McCain is erratic. (2008)

Kerry is a flip-flopper.

Is "Sanford is flaky" next? We'll see. The thing that we talked about some here at FHQ last fall is this idea of a narrative. If you can construct a simple narrative for your opponent and continually shoe-horn all or most of his or her actions into that narrative, you'll be in good shape.

Kerry is a flip-flopper was an easy one. The Massachusetts' senator's time in that body and his own penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth made the Bush reelection effort much easier. It wasn't necessarily the deciding factor, but there's no denying the fact that it was part of the reason.

Well, how about McCain is erratic? That, too, was an easy one. McCain's position in the race -- the underdog -- forced the Arizona senator to make some decisions that may have been different if he was ahead in the polls and not behind Obama. Once the "erratic" narrative emerged, it was simple to place the Palin as VP selection or his suspension of his campaign due to the economic crisis or his call to postpone the debates into that "erratic" box.

So no, this Sanford episode, if you want to call it that, is silly in the grand scheme of things. It is is summer news fare (as RedState rightly points out). It's Chandra Levy. It's shark attacks. But it does matter in that this is an event from which the sort of narrative alluded to above can emerge. And if Sanford seeks to run for another and/or higher office, his opponents will likely take a second look at whether this "flaky" narrative has legs.

Of course, candidate response factors into this as well and we've yet to hear from the governor himself for his version of what happened.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

How Not to Emerge as a GOP Darkhorse, Part II

What is going on with the prospective GOP presidential nominees for 2012? First Jon Huntsman joins a Democratic administration, then John Ensign (was blackmailed?) admitted to an extramarital affair and now Mark Sanford has apparently taken a tour of Dick Cheney's undisclosed location. And this doesn't even take into account all of Sarah Palin's "issues" since the Alaska governor burst on the scene last September.

Who is responsible for this? Other Republicans vying for the 2012 nod? [I knew that Mitt Romney had a suspicious look about him.] The Obama administration trying to "hand-pick" a GOP patsy? [Chicago politics at its finest.] Lee Harvey Oswald? [From the grave. Take that Warren Commission.] I don't know. What I do know is that I spend my life looking for patterns like these and one has definitely surfaced here. Lightning striking the same place three times is not a coincidence.

...not anymore.

One thing's for sure: If you're thinking about a run for the GOP nomination in 2012, keep that thought to yourself until this thing blows over.

Oh, this just in from New York. Residents of the Empire State are blaming David Paterson for this rash of GOP troubles. Poor Paterson.

Recent Posts:
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