What to do when you don't care for your party's nominee

In yesterday’s thread on the race between Dave Loebsack and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, secondtonone referred to the fact that a right-wing Republican group put Miller-Meeks on their “Wall of Shame.”

I assumed that this was related to bad blood from the hard-fought Republican primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district, but a commenter claiming to be a member of that group posted the following:

We would have included anyone from that race on the Wall of Shame. There was no candidate that we could have supported in that race. They all left us wanting. What do you do when it is a trio of unsatisfactory candidates?

It’s a good question, and not just a theoretical one for many of us who follow politics closely. On several occasions I have not been thrilled with any of the candidates in a Democratic primary. Many more times I have volunteered for a primary campaign, only to have a different candidate win the nomination.

What is the best way to handle this situation?

One of my dad’s favorite expressions was, “There is more than one right way,” and I think that fits the bill here.

Many people become active supporters of their party’s nominee. Regular Bleeding Heartland commenter lorih has been out knocking on doors for Barack Obama, even though she strongly preferred Hillary Clinton for president. Bleeding Heartland user secondtonone is supporting Becky Greenwald for Congress, despite having backed William Meyers in the fourth district primary.

A group of bloggers who supported Clinton created the “Clintonistas for Obama” blog, where they write regularly about the race. This group includes a few people who preferred two candidates to Obama–first John Edwards, and then Clinton after Edwards dropped out of the race.

Angry Mouse, who was a tireless and often lonely advocate for Clinton at Daily Kos during the primaries, now writes occasional diaries supporting Obama at that blog.

Another approach is to vote for the nominee you don’t care for, but focus your energy on other candidates you can support wholeheartedly. Anyone who’s been reading this blog since the spring will be aware that I am not satisfied with the representation I get from Congressman Leonard Boswell. Since he defeated Ed Fallon in the third district primary, I have mostly ignored him. Because I want the Democrats to have a large majority in Congress, I will vote for Boswell in November, as will just about every Fallon voter I know. (A few may leave that line of their ballot blank.) But I see no reason to keep re-fighting the third-district primary, even though many of the attacks on Fallon from the Boswell camp were ridiculous.

Obama’s not my favorite politician either, to put it mildly, so I decided to volunteer for down-ticket candidates in Iowa.

The blogger RDemocrat  has also focused his political energy in a constructive way since John Edwards left the presidential race. RDemocrat isn’t a fan of Obama but has spent many hours volunteering for Heather Ryan, the Democratic candidate in Kentucky’s first Congressional district.

Tough primaries are a fact of life. If you think Iowa saw some bruising ones this spring, you should have seen the battle between Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Oregon. Merkley won that race narrowly, and I think he’s a fantastic candidate, but many Oregon-based bloggers preferred Novick.

Are those activists spending their time taking pot-shots at Merkley? No, if you read the Democratic community blogs Loaded Orygun and Blue Oregon, you will see that they are putting their political energy to use in other ways. Here’s an example of a post in which a Novick supporter gives Merkley some credit, even though he isn’t a big fan of the candidate.

Incidentally, Novick himself has gone above and beyond the call of duty, strongly supporting Merkley’s general election campaign despite what must have been a very disappointing loss in the primary. I remember that Paul Hackett was not nearly as gracious after Sherrod Brown defeated him in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio two years ago.

By the same token, Hillary Clinton has been out stumping for Obama in key states like Ohio and Florida and has raised about $8 million for Obama’s campaign, even as she tries to retire her own campaign debts.

If you dislike your party’s nominee and you can’t find a different candidate you strongly support, I advise you to get involved with a non-profit organization. So many groups can use a few good volunteers, and no matter where you live, I’m sure there is some cause worth your time.

Getting back to the question at the top of this post, what is a voter to do if all of his or her party’s candidates are unacceptable? Some people might vote for a third-party candidate, as Ron Paul is asking his supporters to do in the presidential election.

My preference is to vote for the least-bad candidate if it’s a primary election. If it’s a general election, I usually hold my nose and vote for the Democrat despite my personal feelings. Only on very rare occasions have I written in someone’s name or voted for a third-party candidate rather than for the Democratic nominee.

Use this thread to share thoughts and suggestions for voters who are disappointed in their party’s nominee.

  • It's a hard issue for everyone.

    You and I have talked all year about how neither of us is pleased with our (opposing) party’s choices.  I don’t have any easy answers.  The “hold your nose and vote” mentality is getting really old.  At some point, doesn’t it just start to feel like you’re being ignored and sidelined within your party?  That’s how it feels for me, and for many Republicans this year, I’d wager.  Which is why, sadly (in my perspective), Obama will probably win.

    • I have to agree with you

      Making Home, I have to agree with you. At one point I thought that I could hold my nose and vote for McCain, but I am quickly finding otherwise. There are many issues that I do not agree with McCain on. I definitely can not vote for Obama and it is not because he is a Democrat. I differ more from him than I do McCain.

      I think making a choice between the lesser of two evils is what got our country into the position it is in today. That is getting old. I want a politician that has integrity, moral values, and honor. This is something that neither presidential candidate has in my honest opinion. What I wouldn’t give to have another president like Ronald Reagan or JFK. We live in some sad times and I think that they are only going to get sadder in the coming years.

    • look on the bright side, guys

      The way the economy is going, Barack Obama might inherit the country in worse condition than it was in during the high-inflation 1970s. So he could be a failed one-termer like Jimmy Carter!

      Your comment and Al’s confirm my belief that Sarah Palin cannot close the enthusiasm gap that has been hurting McCain’s fundraising and volunteer efforts all year.  

  • speaking as a disappointed Steve Novick supporter and friend...

    I am voting for Jeff Merkley, because he’s got that D next to his name and he’ll be a huge improvement over Gordon Smith.

    But I haven’t been able to persuade myself to lift a finger on his behalf. He called me directly to ask for my help (read: $$) and I told him bluntly (but I hope not churlishly) that I couldn’t get excited about supporting him beyond my vote (but that I would diligently remind all my friends why Smith has to go). I also told him that I was going to watch and observe his campaign and that if I did see something to get excited about I would step up right away and he would not have to ask me again. That never happened, and as I have assiduously avoided his house parties, he never had a chance to ask me again anyway. (I maxed out to Novick before the primary; my husband maxed out to Merkley as the nominee. I feel my household has done its part.)

    I would feel differently about Merkley if the DSCC had not propped Merkley up with about $1 million in support during the primary (including $600K+ in the last three weeks). Even with all that help he won the primary by only three points. I think that if I felt Jeff had won fair and square it would have been easier for me to accept it. As it is, I still have quite a lot of anger about it, and I can’t help that.

    I’m putting a lot of energy into getting Barack Obama elected, including volunteering to go down to New Mexico to do voter protection on Election Day.  

    I don’t really know what else I could have done.  

    • you are doing your part

      From what I’ve read, I like Merkley and feel he would be a big asset to our Senate caucus. I have sent him a small donation too, but I didn’t live through your primary.

      There are often hard feelings when the DSCC or DCCC gets involved in a primary. The Christine Cegelis supporters never forgave Tammy Duckworth in 2006, and that certainly affected her showing in the general. I knew people who were backing Jim Neal for Senate in NC and aren’t crazy about Kay Hagan.

      In the Iowa third district primary, which I was heavily involved in, a 527 group sent out direct-mail pieces saying my candidate didn’t want to protect children from sex offenders.

      I am not here to tell any Democratic activist that they should donate to or volunteer for a particular candidate. As long as they are actively supporting some Democrat somewhere, that’s great.

      Here at Bleeding Heartland, we have a handful of commenters who supported one of the losing candidates in the fourth district primary, and who repeatedly try to tear down the winner of that primary. To me, that seems like misplaced energy when there are so many good Democrats running for office.

  • Supporting the Nominee

    I’m a little late in responding to this, so I think I’ll post my thoughts in a diary. This is a great post btw.  

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.