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2002 United States Senate special election in Missouri

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2002 United States Senate special election in Missouri

← 2000 November 5, 2002 2006 →
Jim Talent official photo.jpg
Jean Carnahan.jpg
Nominee Jim Talent Jean Carnahan
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 935,032 913,778
Percentage 49.8% 48.7%

County Results

Talent:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%

Carnahan:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

U.S. Senator before election

Jean Carnahan

Elected U.S. Senator

Jim Talent

The 2002 United States Special Senate election in Missouri was held on November 5, 2002 to decide who would serve the rest of Democrat Mel Carnahan's term, after he died while campaigning and posthumously won the 2000 election. The winner would serve four more years until the next election in 2006. Missouri Governor Roger Wilson appointed Carnahan's wife Jean, also a Democrat, to serve temporarily. She then decided to run to serve the remainder of the term, but was narrowly defeated by Republican nominee Jim Talent. Technically, the race flipped control of the Senate from Democrats to Republicans, but the Senate had adjourned before Talent could take office and so no change in leadership occurred until the 108th Congress opened session in January 2003.

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  • ✪ "What Happened to the Political Center? How Do We Get It Back?" Charles Wheelan
  • ✪ The Rise and Fall of American Nation Building
  • ✪ George Hearst
  • ✪ Congresswomen Martha Griffiths (Former Lawyer, Judge) and Patsy Mink on Women's Rights


- Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Andrew Samwick, and I'm the Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center. This afternoon's program is What Happened to the Politician Center, and How Do We Get It Back? Our speaker this afternoon is Charlie Wheelan, a senior lecturer and policy fellow here at the Rockefeller Center. Our event this afternoon is part of the Rockefeller Center's continuing 35th anniversary celebrations, and I encourage you to visit our website,, to stay abreast of our programming this fall. Charlie Wheelan is a member of the Dartmouth class of 1988 and has been teaching courses in economics, public policy, and education here at his alma mater full-time since 2012. He holds a master's in public affairs from Princeton University and a PhD in public policy from the University of Chicago. Earlier in his career, he was the Midwest correspondent for the Economist for five years, and he taught courses on understanding the policy process for master's students at Chicago prior to joining the faculty at Dartmouth. Charlie brings a PhD's background and a journalist's approach to the study of public policy. The results are the deep admiration of Dartmouth students and an impressive range of articles and books that make serious topics more accessible, and even fun. His two books, Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science and Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data were instant classics. He followed them more recently with Naked Money: What it is, and Why It Matters. When discussing the state of our national politics, there really are no way and no reason to sugar-coat a candid assessment of where we are. I now hear the phrase gridlock and think that would be nice. With gridlock, nothing moves until a compromise is reached. We don't have that anymore. We have an impasse in which all roads are blocked except the ones that lead to an even worse situation, and the only ones who seem to be able to sit behind the wheel are the extremists in both parties. And so, each time we think that things cannot get worse, someone hijacks the vehicle and drives us to an even worse place. The twists and turns of that journey have brought us to what is surely an untenable situation. Perhaps what we are learning is that 230 years are a lot to ask of any one constitution, no matter how many checks and balances are written into it. The most politically motivated actors find a way to gain control, and the quality of government depends on their willingness to govern well. If that is the lesson, then a solution is clear. We need to find a way to get control back to the political center and to ensure that the center governs well. Our speaker this afternoon has been hard at work on just this challenge for the better part of a decade. Responding in part to the failure of the Simpson-Bowles Commission in 2011, Charlie wrote the Centrist Manifesto, a book that imagined a centrist party that could control a swing vote in the United States Senate and forge solutions based on the best ideas from both political parties. The Centrist Party became the Centrist Project. The Centrist Project eventually became Unite America, which is building the grassroots community, donor network, and electoral infrastructure to help independent candidates run winning campaigns. We'll hear some of the lessons learned from that experience and hopefully, something optimistic about a different route forward. In March of 2009, Charlie ran unsuccessfully for Congress as the representative from the Illinois fifth district in the special election to replace Rahm Emanuel. In its editorial assessing the race, The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, Voters will find a ballot filled with impressive and thoughtful candidates, especially Charlie Wheelan, the University of Chicago lecturer who combines a razor-sharp mind with a boatload of charm and an impressive expertise in economics and foreign policy. We expect great things from Wheelan in the future. Ladies and gentlemen, that future is now. Please join me in welcoming Charlie Wheelan. (audience applauds) - I prefer to think that I ran successfully for Congress but didn't win. (audience laughs) I had a middle school friend who called after the election, and he said, I heard it went really well and that you did great. I said, well, usually the metric by which these things are judged is you come in first, but, you know, we'll go with whatever people are willing to offer up. The talk I think is billed as what happened to the political middle. I'd like to talk more about how we can restore the political middle. I'll talk a little bit about where I think it went, but as Andrew said in his introduction, this is really about restoring our capacity to govern again, and one particular piece of that, which is what we're trying to do at Unite America, which is to run independent candidates at both the state legislative level and in state-wide races and even for the US Senate in the hope that those centrist independents can become what used to be the overlap between Republicans and Democrats, but the glue, the connective tissue, whatever metaphor you wanna use, but to reestablish the center in part by electing people who are not affiliated with those two tribes, and I use the word tribe quite deliberately, the partisans of the two political parties. I stumbled across this picture as I was preparing for Education 20. I teach an education policy class. We were talking about No Child Left Behind. This is the signing ceremony, and it just seems it's kind of a throwaway little slide, and then I realized, wow, you got Ted Kennedy up there with George W. Bush and with Judd Gregg. I'm not sure who the woman is, but when was the last time we saw anything approximating that? And I think I would be hard pressed actually to come up with a major piece of bipartisan legislation, maybe the Patriot Act, which was still around that time, that looks anything like this. Now, it turns out, it wasn't a great piece of legislation, but I think we can still agree on the idea that by and large, we'd rather have a signing ceremony that looks like that then some of the signing ceremonies that we've had more recently. So, I'm gonna throw a bunch of pictures at you at once, 'cause collectively, they paint a really important picture. This is political self-identification. The top line is percent independent. It's been lingering around 42 or 43 percent. The crucial takeaway is that it's bigger than either political party. There's a little downturn, but of late, both the parties have been losing membership. Self-identified independents have been growing. There's a lot of discussion, and we can talk about it in the Q&A, about whether those independents lean right, lean left, whether they're closet Republicans, closet Democrats. Do not lose sight of the fact that when asked, they do not identify as Republican or Democrat. Now, they typically vote Republican or Democrat. Someone, I was down speaking in Connecticut the other day and someone said, well, isn't it true that most of these people vote Republican or Democrat? And I said, all right, we'll let's step aside. How many of you like lobster? Most of the hands went up. It was a big dinner. I said, well, how many of you had lobster for dinner tonight? They all started looking around. Well, I didn't. And it was perfect, because the waiters had come around and they'd said, do you want the pasta or the beef? And you're offered pasta or beef, you know, you're not gonna get lobster. So the fact that nobody had lobster there doesn't mean that they don't like lobster. So, why do most people vote for Democrats or Republicans? 'Cause there aren't many credible independents on the ballot, and we'll talk about why that is and how we plan to change it, but I wouldn't make any inferences. What I would do is instead ask a much simpler proposition, which is based on this, roughly how many independents, whatever those folks are, right, whether they're left of Bernie or right of libertarians, roughly how many independents should be in the US Senate? The math's easy; there are 100. (audience laughs) The answer is not two, right? So somehow, regardless of what these people are saying they want, they're not getting it, and we can drill down more on that, but again, just kind of file that away. Do I think that many of these independents are in the middle? I do. I think in general, most things follow a bell curve. I think most of our political beliefs follow a bell curve. If you believe that America has hollowed out politically as much as our institutions, then I don't think there's that much I can offer for you, other than whatever the 21st century version of a civil war is, 'cause you can't govern a country like that. In fact, there are lots of reasons to think that most Americans inhabit that space somewhere closer to the middle. We see it on individual issues, when you ask people about gun control, for example. Most people have positions that are between what the two parties are offering. When you ask people about immigration, it's the same. When you ask people about Simpson-Bowles, many people, a majority would have approved some kind of compromise similar to what Simpson-Bowles had put on the table. This, if you read David Brooks's column today, he wrote about this, the report that came out that said two-thirds of Americans fall in this exhausted majority. So, other political scientists can drill down this. I am operating on the assumption that there is a big swath of Americans who are less polarized than what the two parties are offering up, and that they contain the seeds of rebirth for the political system. This is what Congress looks like. This, by the way, sadly, I've been too lazy to update the slide. What you see is fairly straightforward. You see the two parties moving away from each other. That's no great surprise. But again, like the mapping the independents to the US Senate, I'd ask you to just think at a very basic level about what this means. If there is no longer any overlap between Republicans and Democrats, then there are only, and they are both of equal strength, which is kind of where we are now, then there are really only two possibilities from a governance standpoint. Either nothing happens, a complete stalemate, which is what we see on the fiscal situation. It's what we see, oddly, on infrastructure, even though both parties purport to be in favor of investing in infrastructure. I can't say that the stalemate is what's causing the lack of action on climate change, 'cause one party clearly doesn't wanna act, and the other does. But nothing's happening. And these issues, as Andrew intimated, are problems where it's not gridlock, because if you do nothing, it is moving away from you. If you do nothing on the fiscal situation, the debt grows. If you do nothing on climate change, it gets worse. If you do nothing in infrastructure, it continues to deteriorate. So one option is this political trench warfare, but it's worse than that, because, as I said, things are getting worse as you fail to act, or you ping-pong, which is to say that one party gets power temporarily, does something that's antithetical to what the other party wants to do. The other party runs against that, rescinds it, changes it, vetoes it, and then the first party tries to get it back. That would be like passing healthcare reform with no Republican votes, then trying to repeal it, then running on Medicare for all, right, hypothetically speaking, so you kind of go back and forth. And you can't do that with 18% of the economy. And this is an example of the latter, which is if you look at some of the historical pieces of legislation, Social Security, the Highway Act, civil rights, Medicare, welfare reform, you see red and blue and then it gives way to this much more alarming trend where it's either blue or red. Most recently, with the Tax Act, you have all red. Before that, Dodd-Frank, the Affordable Care Act, all blue. And you get something akin to what I described earlier. You get legislation that would have been better, arguably, if there'd been meaningful input from the other side, or certainly more durable, because what you see is the other side trying to come to power and eviscerate Dodd-Frank, repeal Affordable Care Act, or what have you. One of the reasons that Social Security and Medicare have been so durable is because they had bipartisan buy-in in the first place, or you see the former, which is where we just don't do anything, even as the problem gets worse, and that would be the fiscal situation. And I draw your attention to the fiscal situation because in some ways, this is a good barometer of our political dysfunction. It doesn't matter whether you think we should solve this problem by raising taxes or by cutting spending. The fact is, we haven't done either, and this is the numerical manifestation of the problem. Andrew and any other macroeconomist would tell you it should be extremely alarming to be running large deficits at a time of near-full employment and a strong economy. That is the equivalent of having the best job you're ever gonna get, and not being able to pay the credit card bill. It's not gonna get any better than this. And so, a structural deficit at peak employment should be particularly alarming. I spent 20 years in Chicago; I grew up in Chicago. Anyone who's been there, you know that we judge our mayors in part by how quickly they plow the streets. Mayors have lost elections over this, right? And the reason we do that is it's a really fast and easy way to judge the quality of governance. May not be fair, but people look at the streets, and if they're plowed quickly, they infer that the rest of city government's working pretty well, and if they're not getting plowed, it must all be a morass, just like the fact they can't plow my street. Well, I would posit that this is kind of like plowing the streets in Chicago. If you're not dealing with this, then you're probably not dealing with a host of other governance challenges. And then this one follows logically from just the fact, if you've been alive for the past 10 years, you've watched this, trust in government falling to near all-time lows, maybe all-time lows, which of course feeds back. A lot of what I'm talking about is dynamic in that it feeds back into what we're seeing. People lose faith in the system; they're less likely to run, less likely to participate. But this shouldn't be a great surprise, this loss of faith in government, given everything that I've just described. We're not solving some of the key public policy problems. There are political scientists who can tell you more about this than I can. There are a host of things, many of which have happened in your lifetime, my lifetime, that explain some of the increase in partisanship. More residential sorting. You know, if you live in Norwich, you're part of the problem. You're likely to live around other people like you. I was on the Upper West Side of New York not long ago talking about this, like, what do you think is causing this problem? Like, well, people live around other people like them, and they hear their ideas, and they're not seeing the rest of the country. They're like, wow, that sounds terrible. (Charlie laughs) You know, like, you should get over to the East Side at a minimum, right? So, residential sorting, gerrymandering, which has been around for a while, but I'll show you, we're getting better at it, which is a bad thing. We're also getting better at micro-targeting voters and other things like that, so increasingly, politicians pick their voters rather than the other way around. Again, we've had primaries since the progressive era, but primaries interact with some of these other things. Primary voters don't look like general election voters. They've become increasingly important, for some of the reasons that I'm gonna talk about, and therefore, mobilizing primary voters, which requires a set of fairly partisan tools, is particularly important. It also means, you know, just think, for example, about how it interacts with gerrymandering. One of the things you hear when you talk to members of Congress or former members of Congress is, because there are so few competitive districts, which is a function of gerrymandering, they are most likely to face a challenger from their own party. So if you're in a heavily Democratic district, you look to your left; if you're in a Republican district, you look to your right, which means there is absolutely, that alone discourages you from reaching across the aisle, because as soon as you make a compromise on anything, then you get that challenge from your partisan flank. And to the extent that primaries are where that happens, primary voters become particularly important. This one, you've lived through. I know many of you are at least as old as I am. How many of you grew up in a household where you had to get up off the couch and turn the channel? So, we're before even remote controls, let alone 900 channels were you can pick, you know, dial in your beliefs, and they'll give you a news show that just mimics what you've been saying to your wife. So that, and more seriously, this blurring of news and entertainment is shockingly new. We now take it for granted, but I would argue it has a very pernicious effect on the news that people are getting about politics and issues, and of course, it feeds back into the other forms or partisanship. Social media as well, the fact that on Facebook, social media is just a more extreme version of the residential story that we've been talking about. Money, I think political scientists would say that money is more of an accelerant than other things, but this one too feeds back in other ways, in that if you need to raise a lot of money, and you wanna send out an email or a Facebook ad, you don't say, you know, if you believe in compromise to deal with the fiscal situation by giving up some things you care about, please send me $20, or Joe's gonna take away your Social Security check. Which one do you think raises more money? It's the latter, so I would argue that this, again, interfacing with social media, with the need to compete in a primary, they all kind of feed on each other. This, I don't fully understand, but if you look at some of the works done by Jonathan Haidt, another social psychologist, particularly for young people, political identification is taking on a certain identity aspect. He would argue, I find it plausible, but I can't prove it, that as religion recedes from public life, that our identity increasingly is around other things, with politics being part of them. And of course, once politics becomes tribal, certainly one data point on that would be how the Republican party has been able to pivot on issues like trade and dealing with the budget, and the party's kind of gone along with it. That suggests that I'm part of something, and the beliefs may change, as opposed to, I share a set of beliefs, and then that makes me part of something. But that does mean that dealing with people's politics increasingly is like dealing with their religion, and if you've seen the, I can't vouch for the methodology of it, but this study that shows, you go back to like 1960, and you ask people if they would be upset if their son or daughter married somebody from the other political party. It was like, four percent. You fast forward to the present day, it varies by party, but it's on the order of 40%. And that gives you some sense that this is about identity. I think it's all been exacerbated by poor leadership. One of the classes I teach here at Rocky involves a travel component. I've taken students to Northern Island. I've taken them to the Middle East. I've spent time in South Africa, and one of the things you find is that individual leadership can help transcend these kinds of differences, or it can exacerbate them. And to my mind, we've been blessed with poor leadership, and as a result, people have been able to use the tribalism, the partisanship, for their own advantage, but much to the detriment of the country. Now, the sad part, the scary part, is there is nothing that I've just described, nor is politics more generally self-correcting. And I think one of the scary things is that people are used to self-correcting mechanisms. The private sector is largely self-correcting. If there's a restaurant you don't like, and the food gets really bad, if you stop going, other people will stop going, and either they're gonna fire the chef, or it's gonna go out of business, and you'll get a new restaurant. We're used to being able to withdraw support and let the problem kind of fix itself. I'm a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. (audience laughs) There's a guy, Allen Sanderson, who's a sports economist at the University of Chicago. I was interviewing him for an NPR thing, and I said, Allen, you know, we're done now. When are the Cubs gonna get better? I'm a season ticket holder, and I suffer. And he says, they'll get better when you stop buying season tickets. Wrigley Field was full year after year, so what was the point? So, if we don't intervene, then the partisanship, there's every reason to believe it will get worse, that good people will be less likely to run, less likely to involve themselves in the process. For many years, I think it's changed a little bit, it used to pass as wisdom, though it never was, where people would say, oh, politics, I am so done with it. Okay, well, that's like, you know, this war with Germany, I'm done with it. I've just had enough, right? Like, you can't do that. And so, I think people have grown out of that, but for a long time, it was something that people perceived to be beneath them, particularly if you talked to business leaders. Oh, politics is, you know, so sullying and difficult and inefficient, and of course, the reason that's all true is politics is how we make communal decisions, and communal decisions is a lot harder than selling tennis shoes, right? But, I think in the last two years, and as Andrew said, I've spent a lot of time doing this, people are waking up to the fact that we have to involve ourselves in this system. This, I found this today. This is us getting better at gerrymandering. So, although gerrymandering has been with us for a long time, like everything else, we've brought more technology to it. So, we can figure out household, you know, we have more information about household level voting behavior than ever before, and therefore, we can draw districts that look like that bottom-right quadrant. The district I ran in was the Illinois fifth district, which had been gerrymandered for Dan Rostenkowski, right, so every white ethnic suburb out of Chicago just kind of snaked out. Then Rod Blagojevich held the seat, and then Rahm Emanuel. So when I ran, I'm like, okay, only two of the last three people have gone to prison. (audience laughs) And one went to the White House. So, you know, let's build on the latter. But that is a district where, at the household level, there were still a lot of Russian, Ukrainian households, but it was increasingly Hispanic. And I was ringing doorbells. I, by coincidence, rang the doorbell of the mayor of one of those communities, and he said, oh, you know, you don't know this community. I said, well, I'm learning. And he said, you know, if you go to a Polish household, you do not wanna have a Spanish interpreter, and if you go to a Spanish household, you better have an interpreter. And I said, well, how am I supposed to know which is which? And he just looked at me and said, that's what you learn over time. But, you know, increasingly, you figure out what the demographics are, and you draw the district in a way that's most favorable. Okay, all of this came to a head; two different strands of my life led to the Centrist Manifesto. One was the political journey. I suspect if you're here, many of you feel that you've been left behind by the political process. My first job was writing speeches for Jock McKernan, who was governor of Maine. He is now more famous as Olympia Snow's husband, although he was Olympia Snow's husband then too, but she was only a member of Congress. They were the two Republican, both classic New England Republicans who, when that Senate seat opened up, it was either Cohen or Mitchell, I can't remember which one, they were the two logical candidates. So you can imagine your dinner party conversation. Honey, one of us gets to run for the Senate. Her poll numbers were much better, so she went on to the Senate, and he got term limited out. But the important point is, he was like many of the other New England Republicans who were responsible, by the way, for much of the overlap with the Democratic party, if you go back 20 or 25 years; the Republican party's obviously moved in a different direction. That was 28, 29 years ago. So, if you fast forward to when I ran for Congress in Chicago, I ran as a Democrat, in part, because that was then where I felt more comfortable, if I had to choose between the two; also, 'cause I was in Chicago, and nobody was gonna get elected to anything as a Republican. The race was determined in the Democrat primary. The general election was a complete non-issue. I went in to the endorsement session. At the time, I'm still married to the same person, so grammatically, this is gonna sound, I was gonna say, I was married to somebody who was becoming a charter school teacher. It's just she's now principal, not a charter school teacher. She's still my wife. But anyways, she was training to become a charter school teacher, so I go into the endorsement session, which looks a little like this for the teacher's union, and they say, you know, Mr. Wheelan, how do you feel about charter schools? And I say, well, it could be an important part of providing education for kids who are otherwise left behind. (audience laughs) It was a lot quieter than that, and I just kind of stood there. I'm like, all right, well, I've got eight minutes left. What do we do here, 'cause I know I'm done, you know I'm done. Like, do I still get the pastries? This is like you know one of those blind dates when you know in the appetizer it's going nowhere, but it's rude to leave. So, at that point, I wasn't Republican. I wasn't a Democrat. I was, to my mind, on policy issues, very close to the center, and didn't have a home. Now, in parallel, I'm spending my days teaching about public policy, so all the issues I talk about, healthcare, entitlements, climate change, energy, the environment, are things that I teach about, and on all of those things, not only were we not dealing with them in a constructive way, and one can define constructive way in a lot of different directions. But I would have argued and still would argue that if we ask thoughtful people of the near left and near right to design a policy for infrastructure, for budget reform, and then we put them in a hat and just pulled one out, it would be better than what we're doing now. Again, not the fringe solutions, but just doing something. So, the book was really written out of partial despair, the fact that there was no longer a political home and that it wasn't just my own personal crisis; it's that because the nation no longer had this political overlap, we were unable or unwilling to solve these important problems. All right, the Centrist Manifesto argues two things. One is that on most issues, there is some compromise that involves pain but is gonna move us in the right direction. The strategic insight of the book is that if you were to elect centrists, at the time, I was thinking of a third political party. Now, just think centrist independents. In a closely-divided legislative chamber, you only need or three of those centrist independents to be the fulcrum. Again, think Kavanaugh hearings, and imagine three centrist independent US senators. Everything about that process is different, beginning with the fact that those three would pick the majority leader. I've spent a lot of time with Parliamentarians. There was one particularly wine-besotted evening with the former Parliamentarian for the US House of Representatives going over all of this stuff. In the Senate, at the beginning of each session, the elect a majority leader. They set the rules of the chamber, which also make a huge difference, and if it's like a parliamentary system, if at any time a majority believes somebody else should be majority leader, we're not used to that, because unlike a parliamentary system, we don't have snap elections, but those three could go to the Democrats and say, okay, it's the beginning of the session. Who would be your majority leader, and they say, Chuck Schumer. Eh, I don't know. You go to the Republicans, they're like, Mitch McConnell. And you laugh for a while, and you go back to the Democrats. (audience laughs) And I'm like, wait a minute, what about Joe Manchin? Like, that would be interesting, and meanwhile, the Republicans are like, Susan Collins, Susan Collins. Like, okay, right, or maybe one of your three independents. You could, for example, at the Supreme Court hearing, if you had the three, the fulcrums say, you know what, we're not voting for any candidate that doesn't have 10 votes from the minority party. We're just saying that now, before you even make your pick. Everything about that is different. So, the fulcrum strategy turns out to be the strategic linchpin of what we're trying to do. What it means, by the way, since this whole talk is about how we can most expeditiously change the system, is that you don't need to elect that many people to have a fundamental effect on how the system operations. Now, obviously, if things are more lopsided, you have to elect more people. It would be a bigger lift in the House, for example, because you need to elect a lot more independent House members. But in you started in the Senate, that would at least be a step in the right direction. Angus King, Dartmouth grad, is already an independent, though he doesn't have any playmates, so there's really not a whole lot he can do. He's effectively been a Democrat of late. Lisa Markowski, Joe Manchin, right? These folks are the ones, the kind of people who, I would argue, if elected as independents, would have more flexibility to break with their parties and more importantly, reach over and collaborate with folks on the other side. So you see those little three chairs in the middle. All right, lotta problems with trying to elect independents. We're gonna spend a lot of time talking about this. Historically, the most difficult reason, the hardest thing about electing independents is that we've historically not elected independents. Therefore, it's hard to get good candidates. There's a big spoiler problem that I'm gonna talk about. But because you don't get good candidates, voters are not likely to consider independents, because voters are not likely to consider independents. They don't get much funding because they don't get much funding. Anybody who's competent isn't likely to run as an independent, right? So you've got this cycle of defeat. What we're trying, the short answer for what we're trying to do with Unite America is to provide the infrastructure to make that problem go away. In many ways, we are mimicking what the parties do, hopefully without the partisan baggage, in that we are recruiting candidates, we are supporting candidates, financially and otherwise. For example, if you run as an independent, even if you are fabulously wealthy, you've got a hundred million dollars. You're willing to spend 20 million of it on your own Senate race. Five years ago, who do you hire to be your campaign manager? Probably your dog walker, right, because there's no current political operative who doesn't already have a party allegiance. And if they were to come work for you, win, lose, or draw, they can't go back. This really is like leaving a street gang. Therefore, even if you were a strong candidate, had financial resources, you did not have the political expertise to get elected. Ross Perot runs for president in '92, gets 19 to 20% of the vote. Who voted for Ross Perot? I'm not asking you. I'm saying like, who, if we were to go get the data, where did the voters come from? What did they look like? Why did they vote for him? Yeah, we don't know, right? We have no information. The most important thing in any election these days is data. We've created a data engine so that every time an independent runs, we can target the households most likely to support an independent. First of all, we can find the independents. The voter roles are things that the two parties traditionally control and give to their candidates. Nobody has done that for independents. We can figure out what attributes are most likely to be those who are gonna support independent candidates, and we can capture that information and feed it back into elections. So all of these resources, and the money, are things that we're trying to bring to good candidates, beginning with that recruiting part, which becomes easier once all the other pieces are in place. So, candidates, infrastructure, resources, but it's really not a linear process like that, because you're only gonna get the good candidates if you can provide them a reasonable path to victory. So it's really more like a circle. Okay, and three, all of these people are currently on the ballot. They're currently running as part of the Unite America slate. They're all running as independents, which has legal significance. So they're on the ballot as an independent. That's how they get ballot access. But they're running under the Unite America banner, including Bill Walker, who is the sitting governor of Alaska, running for re-election. They all announced that they were running together at the National Press Club in Washington. To our knowledge, it's the first time that any group of independents has run together as a slate, which matters a lot, because one of the problems about running as an independent that I have not discussed is there's a branding problem. Independent means not Republican, not Democrat. It doesn't stand for anything, and it could be, you know, there are plenty of complete whack jobs out there who would describe themselves as independent. So our first challenge is to put some meaning around what independent means. So, Unite America, in endorsing, we have an official endorsement process, certain candidate says, yes, they are a moderate in temperament. They are qualified. They're the kind of people who are interested in governing. They're people who will work with members of both parties. They're fundamentally honest, and we think that they would be effective in office. So, these folks came together. Now, you know, Neal's running for Senate in Maryland. Craig has no chance of winning in Missouri. Orman almost won for the Senate in 2014, and is now doing not so well in the gubernatorial race in Kansas. Walker is in a tight reelection race. So, these folks all have very tough races. I think it's unlikely, honestly, other than Walker, that they're gonna win, but it is possible. Neal Simon could pull off an upset in Maryland. The more interesting activity, I mean, you know, by the way, that's like the major leagues. That's like saying, I wanna play baseball. Hey, you know, I'm gonna walk onto the Houston Astros. So it would be great if something like this happened, but the bulk of our strategy right now is build around the states. One thing that surprised us when we first started looking at it is there are a fair number of state legislatures that are as evenly divided and unfortunately as partisan as Congress. There are a handful of states, and the slide shows, where one or both chambers are just divided by just a handful of people, which means that the fulcrum strategy might work. Colorado, you'll see, is one where both chambers are tightly divided. We set up shop in Colorado and said, we're gonna focus on trying to elect a few independents in the states where it's cheaper, it's much easier, because roughly 40% of state races are uncontested, which means that if you run an independent, it is a two-way race, not a three-way race. You do not have the spoiler problem. I'll talk more about what the districts look like that are particularly amenable to this strategy. But we are spending a lot of time, this is, we got all of our candidates together in Colorado. Those are all people whom we've endorsed in this cycle. You'll see Orman's there and some of the other national candidates, Marty Grohman's running for Congress in Maine, but most of them are state legislative candidates. For an independent, it's a big deal, because they're used to being not around other people who are running as independents. So, among other things, we could give them the assurance that they're not alone anymore. And this got a tremendous amount of publicity. There can't be many events that were covered by both Fox News and MSNBC, but we managed to pull that off, and CNN as well, but that's kinda what the slate looks like, and they're all running in November. Colorado's where we focus most of our time. Colorado's a place where, since we set up shop, we actually spend a lot of time trying to recruit the candidates that are running. Many of the other candidates you saw came to us once they found out what we were doing. So we've got a slate of five candidates in Colorado, I think three of whom are running, as I said, in races that are two-way, and we hope that a couple of them are gonna pull off victory, in which case they could make the difference, and this is also true in Maine and in New Mexico. They would play that fulcrum strategy with just a couple wins. All right, that's the picture of all the people running, which is kind of cool. The other thing the strategy hopes for, but is not dependent on, is that we will get some defections. The idea is that if you elect a couple independents, that folks who are currently in the chamber will say, you know what, I'd rather be with them than with my party. I mean, I can think of a few senators in the US Senate who I'm still not quite clear why they're with their party. It seems like more of a headache. Cheri Jahn is the evidence of two things: one, that this is likely to be the case. She is an eight- or nine-term legislator. Unfortunately, she's term limited out, and it was only in her final term that she left the Democratic party to become independent. But the interesting thing is, once she became independent, she was able to get a transportation bill out of the Colorado Senate unanimously, and this, I mean, the whole strategy, unfortunately, I kind of glossed over it, depends on independents governing differently and governing more effectively. I was in Maine last night. One of the interesting things about Maine is that they already have a handful of independents. Some of the folks that you saw up there are running for reelection. There's a guy by the name of Owen Casas who is, he's a great guy, but he's very hard to pigeonhole. He was a former Marine, served in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and he said, you know, running as an independent is just like serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. I'm outnumbered and I'm surrounded, so this all feels very familiar to me. (audience laughs) Last night, we were talking about the possibility in the Maine House of them having the fulcrum, electing the speaker, and they were talking about the rules that they would ask for as a condition of supporting any speaker candidate. And this is gonna blow your mind. One of the things they're asking for, hold onto your seats, is that Democrats and Republicans would sit next to each other. (audience laughs) Right? So like, wow, right? Instead of like, all Democrats and all Republicans, we either mix you up, or we go alphabetical. Like, whoa, isn't that crazy? One of the reasons I like Owen is he's a great storyteller. So he, as a current independent, tells a story, and again, it's kind of like mixing people up in the chamber. You'd think that this was already happening, but it's not. He'll go and he'll talk to the Democrats, and he'll say, hey, guys, what are you doing? And they'll say, oh, you know, we're working on this bill, but we don't know what the Republicans think about it. Owen said, he says, well, you know, we could ask them. (audience laughs) And they're like, well, you know, do you think you could do that? He's like, I know, yeah, I'll do that. So he walks over to the other room where the other party is meeting and says, you know, hey guys, what would you think about this? And they say, it seems like a reasonable idea. So, he walks back. He's like, they're willing to do it. That's a true story. That particular bill passed unanimously save one vote, which was the leader of the party that was not originating the idea, clinging to whatever partisanship was relevant. So, we do believe that these folks, by virtue in part of running as independent, which is a very hard thing to do, are likely to perform differently in the chamber and to play that role of connective tissue which we kind of lost when there was no longer any overlap between the two parties. So that's what we're trying to do: recruit, support, elect independents with a goal towards governing better. I've been at this now for a long time, and here are some of the lessons that we've learned, and then we'll go to questions. The first is that the governance problem is worse than you think. I mean, this is a scary thing, in all seriousness. I spend a lot of time talking to very serious people, Former Senator Bill Bradley, Former Senator Bob Dole, people who are not hysterical people. And they sound hysterical when you talk to them. Long-time journalists, people in the think tanks. This is the opposite of like, New York in the 80s, when you'd go to New York, and you'd say, can I ride the subway. The people in New York would roll their eyes like, oh, God, yes, you can ride the subway. It's fine, right? Everybody who's there says, you know, you're hysterical 'cause you're far away and you don't understand. This is, oh, no. You're far away; you don't know how bad it is. I had lunch last week with the guy at the New America Foundation, which is a mainstream, relatively moderate institution. He has a PhD in public science from Berkeley. He is a sane person, and as he was eating his salad, he said, yeah, I'd say there's like a one in three chance that the US breaks up into five countries by 2040. (Charlie laughs) And he's just eating his salad. I'm like, okay, that's a big statement to make. And do I think the US is gonna break up? No, but the fact that somebody who is a serious person even says something like that. You have Michael Lewis, who's just written another book, saying on Terry Gross's show that he wouldn't be shocked if Donald Trump selectively defaulted on some of our debt. He'd come up with a reason. I mean, these are preposterous statements that are being made by people who are not preposterous, and they are underscored by lots and lots of things who've been deep in the system, who are saying, it really is a crisis of governance. Donald Trump, I would argue, is a symptom of what's going on. He is a mixed blessing, as it says there. On the one hand, more people, this is a much easier pitch for me to make than it was five years ago when I said, look, the system's broken; we need to elect different kinds of people. Like, eh, the Republican party'll fix itself, you know? Democrats will win. That's not what people are saying anymore. It's not as difficult to persuade people that we need some fundamental changes. At the same time, the extreme partisanship has caused people to dig deeper in their own trenches. So you have this simultaneous reaction where yes, I'd love to do something different, but not right now, because we need to win back the Senate. And that, I mean, that is just a tension that we're feeling, particularly in the midterms, but it's gonna be a problem if we wanna get to a better system writ large. I've already talked about how independents govern differently. There's actually a really interesting exchange between Bob Dole and Greg Orman when Orman was running for the senate in Kansas. They debriefed after the race, and Dole said to Orman, you know, you could have won if you'd run as a Republican. Orman said, I know, I believe that, but do you think I would have made any difference if I'd won as a Republican? And Dole said, no, I don't, and that makes me sad. By virtue, you know, I don't think Orman's gonna win this time, but he is different than somebody who would take what for him would have been an easier path. When I wrote the book, I assumed that purple states would be the place where we could elect purple people. It turns out that that is not the case. If anything, the opposite is true. Purple states tend to have the most closely contested elections, which means the spoiler problem is the biggest. You're most, particularly in this partisan environment, you're most likely, or at least have some risk, of tossing the election one way or the other by virtue of being that third person in the race, whereas in deep red or deep blue states, where one party has had a lock on it, Kansas being a perfect example, until recently, the gubernatorial race. The party out of power is not gonna win. This is what happened in Alaska. It's how Walker was elected as an independent. The Republicans had controlled the state forever. He was running as an independent. There was nominally a Democrat in the race, who had very little change of winning. He and the Democrats started talking, agreeing in the debates. Everyone said, I don't think you're allowed to agree. Can you just imagine a debate where one guy says, yeah, that's a really good idea. When was the last time you saw that? And the Democrats said, you know what would make more sense, why don't I drop out and run as your lieutenant governor? And so, that's how. They did something similar in the legislature, where they now have a fusion legislature that is run by independents, Democrats, and Republicans, as opposed to the legislature formerly being controlled only by Republicans. In Maryland, where Neal Simon's running, Ben Cardin has had that seat forever. He's been in government longer than Neal's been alive. There is virtually, I think the Republican candidate in that race had only raised $5,000, to date, and has zero chance of winning. So really, it's a head-to-head race. Either Neal wins, or Cardin gets reelected. He's not going to elect a Republican in a state that's very, very blue. So that takes away the spoiler effect, and it means that you can serve the independents, you can serve the party that's been locked out of power, and increasingly, you can serve members of the governing party who just don't like how extreme their own party has become. So, those are the states and the districts at the state level where we've had the most success. It's particularly true at the state level in those races that are uncontested, 'cause it's a two-day race between somebody who's usually gone pretty far one direction or the other, and our independent can pick up the middle and all the folks out of power. As I've said, I'm relatively optimistic at the state legislative level. These races are quite cheap, you know, 150, $200,000 is a real, that's a lotta money to spend in a state race. Most state races, depending on the state, you can knock on most of the doors, which matters a lot for independents because of the branding problem that I talked about. So, when someone shows up and is a credible candidate and explains why they're running as an independent, that tends to work. The folks who've been elected in Maine and Alaska have spent a lot of shoe leather time going door to door. So that is at the present, and of course those, once you have a legacy of electing independents and they can prove that they govern differently at the state level, then that hopefully will feed into other aspects of the system, and it will trickle up. Also, those people will trickle up, and that is your farm league, in terms of people who then move onto higher office. Marty Grohman, who's running for Congress in Maine, served as an independent in the state House in Maine. So this is how we hope things will work. I'm not gonna talk about it, 'cause it's not the work that we're doing, but there are a number of groups working in parallel on process reforms that we think are synergistic with what we're trying to do. So that's campaign finance reform, which is a tough lift right now, but the anti-gerrymandering stuff, independent redistricting in a number of states has traction. Maine just passed rank choice voting, which is extremely powerful. That is a hard thing. They actually had to pass it twice because the legislature repealed it, recognizing that it makes it much easier for people outside the two party sometimes to get elected. So rank choice voting, our two party system is less sophisticated than most of the school council elections that you may have participated in, because we have no runoffs. It's very hostile to third parties. With rank choice voting, you list your first, second, third, fourth choice. If your first, and so, all the votes are tallied. However gets the fewest number of votes is eliminated. Everybody who had that person as their first choice goes to their second choice. They add 'em up again. If somebody gets a majority, it's done. If not, somebody else is eliminated. If you think about how this would have worked in Florida in 2000, people could have said Nader's my first choice, Gore is my second choice. Nader gets eliminated. Presumably, many of those votes go to Gore, and we retabulate. It means that third-party and independent candidates are not spoilers, and people can vote their preferences without having to worry about that spoiler effect or gaming the system. So, in Maine and elsewhere, we think that will absolutely help what we're trying to do. And this is, you know, I'm becoming hardened and cynical, which is, we're gonna have Q&A, and you can ask skeptical questions, as you should, but increasingly, I'll finish now with this metaphor, which is I think we're on a deserted island running out of drinking water. I've just proposed that we cut down a tree, make a canoe, get into the current, and sail for the mainland. I think it might work. I'm not positive it will. But I'm really keen on a better idea, 'cause we're on the island, running out of drinking water. And so, if you don't have a better idea, then I would urge you to get in the canoe. So I will stop there and be happy to answer questions. (audience applauds) And please, wait for the microphone. - [Max] Hi, Professor. Thanks very much for the informative talk. My question is about, so you mentioned examples of the powerful types of preconditions that that fulcrum group could have that could set in the legislature if they gain those three or four crucial seats, and I'm curious how you'd counter the narrative of, say, an opponent in an election who says, my opponent wants to concentrate all the legislative leverage in the hands of just a few people. - I think you'd go with that narrative, which is I'm gonna concentrate it in the hands of a few people who can't do anything alone. So those few people are concentrated in the middle, and they are there with the avowed purpose of building connections between the two parties. In our system, at the state or federal level, three people, they can elect the speaker, but the speaker can't then pass legislation. So, I would go with it, which is, they're gonna have disproportionate power, just like a coalition partner in, say, Israel or Italy, except that in those coalitions, those last couple parties tend to be the crazies, and they have disproportionate influence, but they're pulling the party way left or way right. These folks have disproportionate power because there's just a few of them, but they're gonna use it to try and rebuild the connective tissue between the two parties. That is their avowed goal, and the kinds of rules that they're gonna set up, if you make that charge, and I've just described by plan to have Republicans and Democrats sit together, it's gonna bounce off of me a little, right, because what I've described is what people, first of all, they're gonna say, wait a minute, they don't sit together now? Most people don't understand that the Republicans and Democrats caucus separately. What kind of institution have you ever been a part of where we say, we got serious problems. Let's divide up into two warring camps and get to work. (audience laughs) None! So I think, it depends on the people. It depends on the other things that they're asking for, but it depends on this overarching message that the reason they are doing this is they're trying to get the system to work again. - [Audience Member] Hey, Professor Wheelan, how are you doing? So, I had a question, 'cause you mentioned earlier in your talk, originally you had proposed that there would be this centrist party, and in the Centrist Manifesto, you actually lay out your kind of theoretical platform. It's not fully fleshed out, but you have a lot of ideas of commonsense reforms that you think make a lot of sense. So now that you've shifted away from that strategy, talking, kind of following up on Max's point about narratives that might emerge in an election campaign, what about the narrative that a person voting for an independent has no idea what stance they might take, since they're not grounded in a party? Why would a voter be convinced to wanna vote for a candidate in which they have no idea where they'll go? It's just wherever the tides take them. - So this tactical question of party or no party remains one of the key decision points. In fact, I'm going to New York tomorrow, for those of you who've heard of the Serve America movement, which is doing something similar to what we're doing, but they're trying to get ballot access as a party, and we're trying to figure out, do we wanna merge, you know, we're in the same space. The short answer is that we're doing a lot of the things that a party would do, but we're not calling it a party. So, the branding piece is fundamental to overcoming the problem you've described. The Unite America brand has got to mean something, and by the way, it's Unite Colorado, Unite New Mexico. The state chapters are under that umbrella. That's got to mean something, or else, we will be sunk by that independent could be anything problem. We're also doing the kinds of things I described that parties do, which is providing information, providing resources, providing money. One advantage we have over the parties, we don't have many, is that we're only running 30 people, which means we can take 50 states' worth of support and channel it to 30 races, including state races. So they've gotta run 50 states' worth of races, so we can magnify our national interest, our national support. But that is a big challenge. We've gotta to the branding right, and we're gotta do the institutional support, and then the last piece is okay, do we have a common platform? I've described these people kind of glibly as centrist, moderate, what have you. I'm a policy wonk. The Centrist Manifesto lays out positions on climate change and this and that. We've moved away from that, in part, for two reasons. One is we needed some flexibility on a statewide basis. So somebody's running as an independent in Utah is gonna look different than somebody who's running as an independent in New York, and we want some flexibility there. But, by virtue of having an endorsement process, we can ensure that both of them are gonna be broadly consistent with what we're trying to do, and that they're not gonna embarrass each other. And part of the strength of running as a group is you get the strength of the group. Part of the problem is you're tethered to everybody else, and one wingnut will bring everybody down, particularly at this young juncture. So we continue to wrestle with it, but mostly, we're trying to take the good things that parties do without some of the partisanship baggage, but you've put your finger on one of the key strategic things that comes up repeatedly. - [Audience Member] Hi, professor. In 2016, there was some temporary talk when it looked like Bernie Sanders might have a chance of winning the Democratic nomination and it looked like Trump was coasting to the Republican nomination that Michael Bloomberg would run as an independent candidate. What are your thoughts on 2020 with regards to that? - So, I almost put the bullet point, Michael Bloomberg is not going to save us, (audience laughs) because I've just spent too much of my life trying to get Michael Bloomberg to save us. He could. I think, first of all, the presidency is not the place to focus. For those of you who are institutionalists, the electoral college is so, even relative to the rest of the system, is so hostile to third-party candidates. Unless you get a majority of electoral votes, which is unlikely, it goes to the House, where there are no independents, and that would be a mess, to have somebody who wins the electoral college but not with a majority then not become president, perhaps the third person. So I'm disappointed that Bloomberg keeps flirting with the presidency. I'm not even sure he could get the Democratic nomination. He doesn't do particularly well west of the Mississippi. I would prefer that somebody like Bloomberg or somebody of that stature, maybe a Silicon Valley type instead says, I'm gonna build the apparatus to elect independents to offices other than the presidency. We have an unhealthy obsession with the presidency, and he, by virtue of his reputation and his resources, like a number of other people of that stature, could really move the dial. So I have spent the better part of the last decade trying to get to Michael Bloomberg, and it's interesting. So, in the early days, I spent a lot of time with Howard Wolfson, who's his political guy, and of late, Howard won't take our meetings anymore. And I think that's because Bloomberg's playing in the Democratic sandbox and wants to wash his hands of us. So, people like that play an important role, but at present they're not. Meg Whitman did just sign onto Unite America in a big way, so she is a supporter, and some other businesspeople like that. But Bloomberg is a big player. He has not got onboard with this, and we'll see what happens with the presidential race. You guys are doing a great job of waiting for the microphone, by the way. - Hi, professor. One thing I've noticed in the statistics coming out election after election is that young people tend, following trends of the generations behind them, to be increasingly identified with political parties. As a centrist myself, centrism is not sexy, and it's very hard to get young people involved in centrism. - Believe me, it's not. - And especially as you talked about earlier, political parties become more about tribal affiliation, and they've replaced, I tend to agree with that theory. - Yeah. - I guess the question I have for you is how do you sort of envision that we make centrism, moderism, independent sort of politics appeal to young people who tend to sort of be more tribal than perhaps older people? - Yeah, so my sense, someone may have better data than I, is that young people have very strong political identities, but not necessary any great love for the two parties. So they may self-identify as liberal or conservative, but I think they're drifting away from the two parties. You know, if I could make centrism more sexy, man, there would like Nobel Prize waiting or something. I think part of it is this marriage of, it really matters, and lemme just say, for the young people in the room, you gotta show up. Like, the percentage of young people under 30 who vote is so disappointingly small. When I ran for Congress, you know, I'm in a college town in Chicago, and my campaign manager, who had been a student of mine, said yeah, we really can't worry about the young people, 'cause they don't show up. Instead, I'm calling bingo at retirement homes, true story, not one of my proudest moments. (audience laughs) But that's because those folks are gonna vote. So, I think it's, you know, it's some combination of this matters, some combination of what you're seeing a number of people, particularly disaffected Republicans like Max Boot and others saying, you know, I'm a passionate centrist. We went with the phrase insurrection of the rational. I mean, something about the fact that like, we're gonna get our democracy back, and that may not be sexy, but it's really, really important, and I think that's probably the best that you can do. - Hello. Following the 2016 Trump election, I would often see on late-night news shows a common structure of a three-way debate where they would have a pro-Trump Republican, and anti-Trump Republican, and a Democrat debating, and oftentimes, that structure would then present actually quite conservative people as the center. And I was wondering if you think that common structure that we've seen has impacted public perception of what the center is. - Yes, it's a terrible structure, and I would say that the media is complicit in the horse race view of elections. It used to be just a Democrat and a Republican, even in the face of the data I just showed you, that more people are not Republicans on Democrats. It should be, at a minimum, three people up there, and probably five. So yes, of late, by them doing two Republicans and one Democrat, it gives you an increasingly skewed view, but it misses everything that I've been describing. Part of the reason that you see that is a lack of imagination, which is, okay, these are the political buckets that exist. Part of it is, it makes for better TV. The producers don't really want you and the person next to you saying, another great idea. I would modify it slightly to say this. You know, they'd be like, oh my God. People tuned out 15 minutes ago. So, the more that we can create conflict for the viewership, the better it is for entertainment, but it's not entertainment. May I give you a heartening example? Some of you may have gone to the debate, but it wasn't a debate, between Jared Bernstein and Greg Mankiw about three years ago over income inequality. So, Jared Bernstein I think was Biden's chief of staff. He's kind of center-left, and Mankiw was chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, I think, is that right, Andrew, for George W. Bush. Was he your boss? He was Andrew's boss, so he's kind of center-right. And it was billed as a debate; in fact, it was an evening in which they agreed on 85% of the things that we need to do, and the disagreements were really interesting. It was things like, all right, well, I'm not persuaded raising the minimum wage is gonna work. I fear that if we do that, it's gonna speed up technological replacement of low-skill workers. But if you can persuade me that's not the case, then perhaps I would be, you know, it was the way responsible adults talk about hard issues. If we had just said at the end of that night, okay, let's forget the disagreements and focus our legislative agenda on where they agreed, they would have had eight years of work to do. So back to your original question, I do think that the media plays an irresponsible and outsize roll in making people believe that these are the only choices that we have. - [Audience Member] Hi, professor. Thank you for a really interesting lecture and for all the good work you're doing. I just had a question about like, if, as more data emerges, about independent voters and people who are more likely to vote for independent politicians, if it turns out that it's disproportionately one party's voters are more likely to switch to voting for independents, wouldn't that defeat the purpose of the movement, and if so, how would you correct that? - It would. So this is one thing we've had to protect against, particularly with our candidates. A lot of people say, oh, it's always a wolf in sheep's clothing. Democrats think you're a closet Republican. Republicans think you're closet Democrats. So far, and we've been careful about this, our candidates tend to be fairly evenly mixed, in terms of former Republicans, former Democrats, or lifelong independents who kind of lean one direction or the other, and the voters who support them, it's highly situational. It's gonna be very different in a rural district in Colorado than it is in a Senate district in Maryland, so, so far, we haven't had that problem. It would absolutely undermine what we're trying to do if it turns out that we're just a stocking horse for one party or the other. Way in the back. - [Audience Member] It seems like to me that the Democrats don't have an appealing platform that attracts people because it doesn't deal with the personal issue that so many people in our country are sensitive to. I have to go back to a book I read not too long ago on A Stranger in My Own Land, about the people of Louisiana. They're good people. They're not too well educated. I mean, this is a generalization. They're not too well educated in terms of being able to think critically. They have a good family tie. They are religious, but their same focus, their whole focus, is on essentially, I'm not being dealt with, and what's in it for me? I don't see the Democrats with a platform that has an attractive appeal, so to speak, to the issue of what's in it for me, and I hate to say that, but unfortunately, most people are looking at things as personal and what is in it for me. - Yeah, the only thing, so, I've read the book. I would agree with your analysis. The one thing I would, I would use the word narrative instead of the word platform, that the Democrats, to my mind, haven't been able to tell a story about how their policies writ large, 'cause the honest truth is people don't open up the Democratic platform and try to figure out where they stand on policy X, Y, and Z. Instead, they say, they look at the party and say, broadly speaking, what are you trying to do? Currently, that's a party that is perhaps at war with itself. Certainly the Elizabeth Warren wing and the Bernie wing is gonna be different than the more traditional moderate wing. I don't think they have sorted out, other than, we're not Donald Trump, which is not a narrative. I mean, that's a reason to vote for us in the midterms? That is not sufficient to get people excited about what you're trying to do, and the one visual from that book that stuck with me is I think it described the Democratic party as, you know, people line up, and if you get in line and keep moving, your life gets better, and she described the people she interviewed in Louisiana saying, yeah, there's a line, and people keep cutting ahead of me. And that is, I mean, that explains a lot of why people are so fed up with the system, but it also explains why you have people deciding between Bernie and Trump. They're both running against the system, and the Democrats and certainly the mainstream Republican party, to the extent that that's still around, haven't created a narrative that I think is compelling for the political center, in part because the money and the votes in the primaries are on the polls, but I think it's also been the lack of imagination, lack of leadership. - Thank you. Hi, my name is William. I was wondering how the, as you might call it, the political pendulum of the United States, where every four or every eight years, even every two years, we seem to swing on way or the other, depending on how attitudes are changing. I was wondering how that partisan pendulum affects the way this country is viewed overseas or on the international stage, because if we create, if we sign a deal or a pact with a country or with the globe, such as the Iran nuclear agreement or the Paris climate agreement, under one administration, and then repeal it under the next, and then renege on that in the following administration, how does that, how does that shape America's perception by other countries on the world stage, and how might the rise of central or centrist leadership help to ameliorate that? - Yeah, I'm not sure I have any special insight. I'm watching the same film that the rest of you are. I would say it's less about the pendulum and more, what is a relatively unique phenomenon, which is this kind of withdrawal from the global system and this kind of explicit America-first approach. Obviously, we've always looked out for our own interests, but we historically have been much more expansively supportive of international institutions and so on. I can say, as somebody who takes students around the world, that our influence in places where we don't spend a lot of time thinking about is profound, whether it's the Middle East, where it's Colombia, whether it's Brazil, and often, we take that for granted. So, I suspect, though again, I have no special insight, that the rest of the world looks on with alarm and fear and puzzlement as America abdicates its role, especially at a time when Russia and I would argue to some extent China are not proving to be great global citizens, that, you know, if you were to ask me broadly speaking what we ought to do, it's to kind of circle the wagons with the other liberal democracies, because now's the time when we really need to be defending what we have fought for and what has proved to be so important for us. But that's not the direction that we're going. So why don't we take two more, so we'll get outta here on time. - [Audience Member] How is Unite America going about vetting the candidates that you support, 'cause you're suggesting we're gonna work from the ground roots up. I'm from Arizona. Our legislature is full of wackos. (audience laughs) - That's a technical term, for those of you who haven't studied public policy. There's a scale. - [Audience Member] So I'm wondering how, 'cause it'd be crucial that the candidates you support are really solid people, because that will lead to the success of the movement. - Yes, so we spend a lotta time on this. I don't have the exact number. I wanna say, you know, once we started doing this, something on the order of maybe 300 people who were running as independents came to us, said, look, I'm running as an independent. I would like to be under the Unite America banner, which by the way, doesn't guarantee you money. That's a separate decision made, about whether you're likely to win and so on. We've endorsed 30. So you can do the math on that. And it's not because the other 270 were gonna cost us a lotta money. There are some people we've endorsed who don't need our financial support, but we said, we're proud to have you under our brand. So, we have, there's a committee. That's what the endorsement committee does. There's a set of criteria. They are, if I can remember them, one is just your general character. So, irrespective of whether you're likely to win or your politics, are you a fundamentally decent, solid person; the second is, are you electable, and we're willing to sacrifice on the electable. What we actually say is, is there a path to victory? And we're willing to sacrifice. If you're a really strong person, we're willing to sacrifice a little bit on the path to victory, because you're not gonna embarrass us. And then, there's the situation of the race, which is, okay, are you likely to be a spoiler? So yes, you're a solid person; you might win under some circumstances, but this is a tightly contested three-way race, and we don't know what the dynamic is gonna be. I think there's a fourth one; I can't remember what it is. But collectively, and we score each of them and talk about each of the candidates on a conference call with the committee, because we know how important it is. And if we're gonna err, we'd rather have somebody of strong character who we think would do the job very well if they were elected than we would have somebody who's highly electable or might sneak in or can use their own resources who then is gonna turn out to be, in a technical sense, a wingnut or a whack job. Those are two different characterizations. (audience laughs) But yeah, no, it's really, really important to what we do, and we turn away many, many people for every one whom we're willing to accept on the slate. All right, last one. - [Audience Member] Hi, professor. If this sort of dangerous melding of news media in entertainment is one of those actors draining our desert island of its water, then what would you say is like, the task of the journalist who wants to write responsibly and not feed into polarization? - One ray of hope here is that there has been a burst of very good journalism. You're seeing some great investigative journalism. You're seeming some of the traditional magazines doing great work. So I hope it's not ephemeral, but I think people are rediscovering, you know, we kind of went so far down the line of news every five minutes, and we've kind of moved, that pendulum has moved towards more thoughtful, more investigative, deeper pieces. I was actually, we went to the Washington Post when I was down in D.C., shortly before the lunch where the guy said the country was gonna break into five. And the Washington Post had just hired, now, this is a Jeff Bezos thing, they'd just hired something like 50 new journalists, and that was the first time in 15 years where anybody has used the word hiring new in the same sentence as media. So I thought that was extremely encouraging. So, I'm vaguely optimistic on the journalism side. I don't know there's any solution to the entertainment problem, but at least we're trending a little positive there. The social media question, I mean, this one is really important, and it's so new, but the hacking, the bots; I mean, these companies have to come to terms with the use of these tools to derail elections, to mislead people, and this is like nuclear weapons in 1952. We invented it, and it's like, wow. This is really powerful. What are we gonna do with it? So I think we're gonna have to think long and hard both about the first amendment; we can't chuck the first amendment, but what we can do within the parameters of the first amendment to try and make these things less destructive and less distorting of our elections. That is a huge policy challenge. All right, let's go ahead and fix this. Thank you very much for coming. (audience applauds)



In the November 2000 elections, Democratic Governor of Missouri Mel Carnahan, who had died in a plane crash three weeks before, remained on the ballot for election to the U.S. Senate. Carnahan received more votes than his Republican opponent, incumbent Senator John Ashcroft, who did not legally contest being defeated by a dead candidate. Carnahan's successor as governor, Roger B. Wilson, fulfilled his pre-election promise to appoint Carnahan's widow in her husband's place and a special election was scheduled for 2002.[1][2]

The Seventeenth Amendment requires that appointments to the Senate last only until a special election is held.

Democratic primary



Democratic primary results[3]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jean Carnahan (incumbent) 368,149 83.22
Democratic Darrel D. Day 74,237 16.78
Total votes 442,386 100.00

Republican primary


  • Scott Craig Babbitt
  • Doris Bass Landfather, St. Louis alderman and perennial candidate
  • Martin Lindstedt, perennial candidate
  • Joseph A. May, dentist
  • Jim Talent, former U.S. Representative and nominee for Governor in 2000


Republican primary results[3]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Talent 395,994 89.58
Republican Joseph A. May 18,525 4.19
Republican Doris Bass Landfather 14,074 3.18
Republican Scott Craig Babbitt 7,705 1.74
Republican Martin Lindstedt 5,773 1.31
Total votes 442,071 100.00

Libertarian primary


  • Tamara A. Millay, perennial candidate
  • Edward Joseph Manley


Libertarian primary results[3]
Party Candidate Votes %
Libertarian Tamara A. Millay 1,942 59.35
Libertarian Edward Joseph Manley 1,330 40.65
Total votes 3,272 100.00

General election


  • Jean Carnahan (D), incumbent U.S. Senator
  • Tamara Millay (L), perennial candidate
  • Daniel Romano (G)
  • Jim Talent (R), former U.S. Representative and nominee for governor in 2000


National security and Carnahan's vote against fellow Missourian John Ashcroft as attorney general were major issues in the campaign. Republicans argued Carnahan owed her vote to Ashcroft, who had lost his bid for re-election to the Senate to Carnahan's husband.[4] Talent, citing Carnahan's votes against homeland-security legislation and missile defense, accused her of being soft on national security, which she objected to, saying he was "doubt[ing] her patriotism."[5]

Jack Abramoff contributed $2,000 to Talent's 2002 senatorial campaign[6] and Preston Gates & Ellis, a former Abramoff employer, had also contributed $1,000 to Talent's campaign.[7] Talent later returned both contributions.[8] Talent's win returned Republican control of the Senate which had been under slight Democratic dominance resulting from Vermont junior senator Jim Jeffords's decision to renounce the Republican Party, turning independent and making the choice to caucus with the Democrats.

Talent's victory wasn't certified until November 21, 2002, one day before Congress adjourned, which prevented them from claiming a senate majority. He automatically became a Senator the following day because, under federal law, he formally took office the day after both chambers of Congress adjourned. Because Republicans would hold the majority in the following congress, they saw no need to hold a special session in the 107th to take advantage of their brief majority.[9][10]


General election results[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jim Talent 935,032 49.80% +1.41%
Democratic Jean Carnahan (incumbent) 913,778 48.67% -1.80%
Libertarian Tamara A. Millay 18,345 0.98% +0.55%
Green Daniel Romano 10,465 0.56% +0.11%
Majority 21,254 1.13% -0.94%
Turnout 1,877,620
Republican gain from Democratic Swing

See also


  1. ^ Witcover, Jules (October 18, 2000). "In Mo., tragic loss for Democrats". Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  2. ^ "Governor's Widow Goes to Senate". December 6, 2000. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Official Election Returns State of Missouri Primary Election". Office of Secretary of State, Missouri. August 21, 2001. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  4. ^ Horner, William T. Showdown in the Show-Me State: The Fight over Conceal-and-carry Gun Laws in Missouri. Page 159. University of Missouri Press, 2005. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  5. ^ Expectations Game Plays for Both Mo. Senate Candidates. Fox News. October 22, 2002. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 8, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Vlahos, Kelley Beaucar (November 7, 2002). "After the Celebration: What Can a GOP Senate Do?". Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Mannies, Jo (November 22, 2002). "It's official: With election results certified, Talent will be a senator starting Saturday". St. Louis Dispatch.
  11. ^
This page was last edited on 26 September 2019, at 20:23
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