July 8th, 2009

Political Calculus

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Written by: Krusty Konservative

166likeableI thought before The Iowa Republican releases the results of their state-wide Iowa Gubernatorial Poll, I should let you all in on how I judge and weigh candidates. I love to look at polling numbers, but as you have all seen over the last 3-4 years I rely heavily on my own political instinct, or gut feeling.

As we have watched the 2010 gubernatorial race unfold, and especially the Republican primary race, I stood back and thought about previous races. The candidates, the personalities involved, and asked myself a critical question:

Do Iowans want a smart governor, or one who is likeable?

Now, in any perfect world, Iowans would choose a candidate who is both smart and likeable. But in many cases, that’s not been the option on the ballot. Let’s take a look back over the past few decades:

Jim Nussle: Smart, less than likeable.
Chet Culver: Not even remotely smart, likeable.

Culver (likeable candidate) defeated Nussle (smart candidate)

Doug Gross: Very smart, not even remotely likeable
Tom Vilsack, Very smart, likeable

Vilsack (likeable and smart candidate) defeated Gross (smart candidate

Jim Ross Lightfoot: Not smart, very likeable
Tom Vilsack: Very smart, likeable

Vilsack (likeable and smart candidate) defeated Lightfoot (likeable candidate)

Terry Branstad: Smart, likeable
Bonnie Campbell: Very smart, not even remotely likeable

Branstad (smart and likeable candidate) defeated Campbell (smart candidate)

Terry Branstad: Smart, likeable
Don Avenson: Not smart, as likeable as a behemoth bully

Branstad (smart and likeable candidate) defeated Avenson (not smart and not likeable candidate)

Terry Branstad: Smart, likeable
Lowell Junkins: Not smart, likeable

Branstad (smart and likeable candidate) defeated Junkins (likeable candidate)


Terry Branstad: Smart, likeable
Roxanne Conlin: Smart, as likeable as a rabid raccoon

Branstad (smart and likeable candidate) defeated Conlin (smart candidate)

From this historical review, one could conclude the following:

1. When choosing their Governor, Iowans will always prefer a candidate who is both smart and likeable.
2. A candidate who is likeable will beat a candidate who is smart and not likeable.
3. A candidate who is likeable, and even perceived to be not very smart, will still beat a candidate who is smart, but not likeable.
4. If you are not likeable, regardless of how smart you are perceived to be, you will not beat a more likeable candidate.

The conclusion is rather simple.

Iowa Republicans need to nominate a smart and likable candidate. And while we want to make sure our candidate is smarter than Chet Culver, we also need to make sure he is likable and reasonable, with a temperament that does not offend people. If we nominate that candidate we will win in 2010.

I’ll leave you with this. Is there any Republican candidate currently in the race that you would like to have a beer with?

Vander Plaats probably doesn’t drink.

Rants would want to look at my financials.

Fong isn’t old enough to drink, OK not true, but he’s not old enough to have some good beer drinking stories.

McKinley reminds me of Donald Sutherland so that could be cool, but he would probably spend all of his time convincing me how much he did fight for traditional marriage.

Roberts probably doesn’t drink either and I doubt he would speak loud enough so I could hear him over the buzz of the saloon.

Behn could be entertaining, but would he show up?

About the Author

Krusty Konservative
Herschel Krustofski is the pseudonym for the anonymous author of Krusty Konservative, a blog which focuses on Iowa Politics. Created in February of 2006, Krusty Konservative is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the Iowa blogosphere. Since its conception, Krusty Konservative has never shied from tackling controversial issues, and providing insight to the inner workings of Republican politics in Iowa.

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