If You Don’t Like Mormons, Mitt Flip-Flops

January 18, 2008 | 49 comments
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A Vanderbilt study suggests voters who are bigoted against Mormons are more likely to believe that Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper.

According to Vanderbilt political scientist John Geer, a co-author of the study,

There is no question that Romney has changed his positions on some issues, but so have some of the other candidates. Why does the label stick to Romney but not his opponents? At least some of the answer lies in Romney’s Mormon beliefs.

Romney certainly has changed his opinion on several issues in his transition from Massachussetts politics to national politics. And he has certainly been less adroit (or more forthright, depending on who you ask) about his position changes than some of his opponents have. But what he isn’t is unique. Thompson is a very recent arrival to the immigration issue, has backed away from the McCain-Feingold legislation that he once sponsored, and has tried to conceal his shift on abortion post-2000. McCain has backed down on immigration after taking a beating on it, and has reversed himself on the Bush tax cuts. Huckabee has gone from being a fairly open borders governor to advocating perhaps the strictest immigration plan of all the candidates (including attacks on birthright citizenship). Giuliani has backed away from gay marriage, public abortion funding, and support for partial birth abortion, all within the last year or so.

So while I think Romney deserves quite a bit of the flack he’s catching for “flip-flopping,” I think the sustained ferocity of the attacks, and the pass his opponents get, probably need some explanation. I’m willing to believe that for at least some people, the flip-flopping charge seems more probable because they don’t like Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, or is a more acceptable way to express animus against Romney for his Mormonism. I have noticed that commenters like Rod Dreher, Daniel Larison, and Ross Douthat who are the most persuaded that Mormonism isn’t Christian or otherwise respectable are also the most persuaded that Romney is willing to say or do anything to win the election. I have also noticed, as a coblogger has pointed out, that the attacks on Romney are interestingly parallel to the modern anti-Mormon charge that Mormons are slippery, use words deceptively, try to cover up their past and change it to be more appealing to the mainstream, etc.

On the other hand, no one should think that the flip-flopping charge is merely underground anti-Mormonism. Romney has changed his opinion on abortion, immigration, and other issues, and he has done so extra-ordinarily forthrightly and maladroitly. I personally believe the flip-flopping charge is over-rated but its a little part of the reason I have become more or less a Thompson supporter in the (increasingly unlikely) hope that he’d at least be able to make a stand in South Carolina, if nowhere else.

And, really, no one should get too exercised about this sort of muted prejudice. Even the fact that bigots would have to conceal their bigotry, perhaps even to themselves, is a sign of progress.

Commenting guidelines:

I’m not interested in arguments about whether Romney or the others really flip-flopped. I’ll happily delete those comments. There are already a million just like them already on the web. Have at it. Don’t have time to police comments today.

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49 Responses to If You Don’t Like Mormons, Mitt Flip-Flops

  1. Costanza on January 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Interesting thoughts. Does this mean then that if any charge leveled against a candidate, of which other candidates are also guilty but for which they are not castigated, that there must be a hidden agenda for which the issue in question is merely a proxy?

  2. Bill on January 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    From the article:

    “Our survey shows that 26 percent of those who accuse Romney of flip-flopping also indicate that Mormonism, not flip-flopping, is their problem with Romney.”

    I wonder if this is more or less than the percentage of Mormons who are willing to give his sincerety the benefit of the doubt.

  3. Jeremy on January 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Hmmm, given your caveat, Adam, I’m really of two minds on this issue…

  4. Dan on January 18, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Adam,

    I’m willing to believe that for at least some people, the flip-flopping charge seems more probable because they don’t like Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, or is a more acceptable way to express animus against Romney for his Mormonism.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly don’t call Romney a flip-flopper because of his religion (which is also mine), but because of the timing of his changes of views. And I honestly do not think your thesis has any real merit when all the facts are out, Adam. It doesn’t have anything to do with Romney’s religion. It has to do with the fact that Romney changed his views at politically convenient times. In 1994 he called himself to the “left” of Kennedy on gay rights! To the left! Did that have anything to do with his religion? None at all. It had everything to do with 1994 Massachusetts politics. In 2002 Mitt Romney began his shift on socially conservative issues. Did that have anything to do with his religion? Nope. It had to do with the fact (everyone who paid attention knew) that he was gearing himself up for the 2008 presidential run.

    I don’t mind defending our religion when attacked, but you have gone overboard in this rebuttal, Mr. Greenwood.

    [Dan--I'm moderating this comment. I don't want folks to rehash the flip-flopping charges against Romney, and then for others to rebut them, and so on ad nauseam.]

  5. Bill on January 18, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Actually, I expressed that badly. What I’m wondering is, among those Mormons who support Romney, is it more or less than 26% who support him primarily because of a pro-Mormon bias, irrespective of issue positions or alleged flip-flops?

  6. Ray on January 18, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    The most ironic part of the whole “flip-flop” issue to me is that many of the most vocal with this charge are the same people who are the most vocal about Pres. Bush’s refusal to change his mind on anything – his inability to “flip-flop” on anything. I think in this case, most people see and label based on their preconceptions – on both sides.

  7. Ray on January 18, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    One more irony: Many of those on the left or in the middle who castigate Romney for “pandering” by accepting whatever is the popular view of the particular constituency he is courting are the same people who praised Pres.Clinton for his ability to do basically the exact same thing.

  8. California Condor on January 18, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    @ Dan (4)

    How you do explain Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote supporting the Iraq War?

  9. Eric Nielson on January 18, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Romney is not flip-flopping. He is pandering. And the people of this country deserve a president who knows the difference. (I think that came from an old SNL sketch about somebody else)

  10. Brad Kramer on January 18, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    One more irony, Ray. People who are defending Romney for changing his position wanted John Kerry’s head on a charger for doing the same.

    If the belief that Mormon’s aren’t Christian predisposes one to irrationally fixate on Romney’s rather transparent, serendipitously timed changes of position while ignoring the sins of others, the belief that Mormonism is true Christianity appears to predispose many to embrace the equally irrational position that Mitt’s flipfloppery is sincere or not problematic.

    Adam, I applaud you, sir, in spite of my misgivings about American conservatism, for the courage to call a spade a spade and cast you lot with a more believably conservative candidate.

  11. California Condor on January 18, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Brad Kramer,

    You need to settle down. Every politician panders. It’s what they do. It’s why we vote for them.

    Exhibit A: Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote in support of the Iraq War.

    P. S. She’s got the democratic nomination nailed down pretty securely with her “Super Delegates.”

  12. Jeremy on January 18, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Condor,

    You mention Hillary’s vote for the war as if she hasn’t received flack for that flip-flop. And she absolutely has. That’s one of the main issues Obama leverages against her. She has hardly gotten a free pass.

  13. California Condor on January 18, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    @Jeremy (12),

    Well, good for Obama. But he probably won’t get the nomination. Hillary’s naked ambition is a steamroller and I don’t know if Obama has what it takes to stop it.

    [Ed.--Cool it with the Hillary fight already.]

  14. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    I agree that many Mormons probably support Romney partly because he’s Mormon.

    On the other hand, while I don’t think Romney is a passionate conservative on a lot of issues, I don’t think he has a Machiavellian plan to sell out conservatism either or is likely to do whatever catches his fancy if elected. I’m comfortable voting for him and probably will if, as seems likely, Thompson can’t make it in South Carolina.

  15. Brad Kramer on January 18, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    “You need to settle down. Every politician panders. It’s what they do. It’s why we vote for them.”

    Kerry’s campaign could have used such eloquent PR work.

    Calling someone’s “naked ambition” a “steamroller” is a flabbergasting irony when spoken by a Romney cheerleader.

  16. Clark on January 18, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    What no Clinton thread jack? How can one be a Utah Mormon and not bash Clinton? (grin)

    More seriously this is a really good post Adam. Thanks for writing it. I’ve been pretty critical of Romney’s flip flopping and pandering even though I was initially quite excited about Romney. I’m still nervous about his abilities vis a vis foreign policy. But then that’s something I worry about with nearly every candidate on both parties. It’d be really nice to see someone who appears to be trustworthy on those issues. (Which, despite the economic recession still appears to be arguably the most important issue for the country)

    Anyway it is clear that Romney is held to a different standard than everyone else. However it also seems pretty clear to me that Romney’s tried to be a Bill Clinton but comes off as a really inept person trying to be Bill Clinton. (To me, Clinton is always the master – Karl Rove is the ham fisted in your face attempt to mimic Clinton by force rather than subtle skill) Had Romney been a little more at ease, a little more the “everyman” rather than a CEO I think these charges wouldn’t be sticking as well. But I think overall Romney has just made some unwise decisions. Targeting Evangelicals when Huckabee is in the race is but one example (although perhaps that’ll prove to be wise in the national election if he wins).

    My big problem with Romney is his lack of passion. I think Michigan might be his turning point though. This week is the first time I’v heard him really be (to me) passionate and clear about issues. The emphasis on economic issues might be his ticket. He’s almost convinced me to support him again. (But even if I did it would be because the whole field of candidates is pretty underwhelming)

  17. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve just removed a whole swath of comments. As if there weren’t enough sites on the web for snarky, useless vitriol about political candidates. If you want to say that in your opinion Romney has changed that much more than the other candidates, just say it without getting your digs in. Don’t try to lard on the insults. If you want to say that all politicians pander, say it without adding “Hillary is the sUx00Rz!!! OMGosh!”

    This is principally a Mormon site, not a political one. For the purposes of this post your political passions ideally shouldn’t be immediately apparent from your tone and your choice of words, which should not be calculated to start fights.

  18. danithew on January 18, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    I wish Adam Greenwood would flip-flop a little more.

  19. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    My flip-flops broke, Danithew. Stupid toe thong.

  20. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Does this mean then that if any charge leveled against a candidate, of which other candidates are also guilty but for which they are not castigated, that there must be a hidden agenda for which the issue in question is merely a proxy?

    I wouldn’t think so. You’d want to find some explanation, but the explanation wouldn’t necessarily be hidden agendas.

  21. Jonovitch on January 18, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Adam (12), I would hope everyone would be comfortable voting for Romney. We don’t know what the next national crisis is going to be — likely something we haven’t even thought of. Among all the candidates, from either party, the one person who has multiple years (decades?) of experience fixing broken organizations, resurrecting dead ventures, and subduing imminent crises as they arrive, is Mitt Romney.

    Sure he’s flipped here and flopped there for political convenience, and he’s said some other things that don’t sit quite right with me, but based on his qualifications alone, he’s the best guy for the job. If you think about it that way — if you’re the hiring manager, and you want the most qualified person for the job of Chief Executive of the Nation, which of the candidates truly has a better resume?

    So the whole thing really does boil down to: you believe what you want to believe. If you don’t like Romney, he flip-flops. If you don’t like Obama, he’s hollow. If you don’t like Giuliani, he’s too liberal. If you don’t like Hillary, she’s an angry robot. If you don’t someone, you’ll find something not to like about them. Not too shocking that Mormon-bashers also like to trash-talk Romney.

    You believe what you want to believe.

    Jon

  22. Jonovitch on January 18, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    After Adam’s exorcising of the comments, his number 12 that I referred to in my post (which is now number 15, I think) jumped up to number 9. I can’t keep up with you Adam!

    P.S. Please don’t delete this comment. :)

    Jon

    [Ed. - Heh heh].

  23. Anna G. on January 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Along the lines of what Jon said, my take is that people tend to decide whether they like a candidate, then justify it after the fact. If people like and trust you, they\’re not going to care if you\’ve flip-flopped. But if people don\’t like you, a charge like that will stick in part because it gives them an articulable reason for their dislike. Some people don\’t like Romney because he\’s Mormon, and some don\’t like him because he seems artificial; both may use flip-flopping as a reason not to vote for him.

    I think one could argue that the flip-flopping charge could actually work to mitigate the Mormon issue in some ways, at least in the general election. Liberals who might be concerned about a Mormon taking too much direction from his church could be comforted by the fact that he doesn\’t appear to have done so in the past.

  24. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Jonovitch, there’s really no need to make the hard sale for Romney like you’re doing. Cool it. That’s not the point of the post.

    Anyway, I’m probably on the same page as you when it comes to Romney and the flip-flopping charge, but I wouldn’t go as far as you do. I’d say that there’s a lot of people who genuinely don’t like Romney because he flipflops who would still feel that way even if he were Anglo-Catholic or Anabaptist.

  25. Clark on January 18, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Jonovitch, I get what you are saying and originally that’s why I was excited. However I think, especially after the last 8 years, that having someone knowledgeable about foreign policy issues is pretty important. We could perhaps excuse 2000 because most of us thought that the cold war was long over and that Serbia was the last major issue we needed to worry about. It was all about domestic issues even though I admit to being worried about just how ignorant of basic foreign issues Bush was. In 2008 it’s pretty inexcusable. Obama’s comments a few weeks ago about Pakistan scared the hell out of me, for instance.

    Romney just hasn’t illustrated a grasp of these issues. And as impressive as his resume is, there’s a huge difference between running a business and being a successful foreign policy president. McCain and Clinton, for all their many, many weaknesses (and I don’t care for either one too much) at least are strong in this regard.

  26. Adam Greenwood on January 18, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I think that’s true to a certain extent, Anna G., but doesn’t there have to be a reason why people decide if they like a candidate or not? It can’t be totally inexplicable, can it?

  27. Kaimi Wenger on January 18, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    I used to think that Mitt was a flip-flopper, but now I don’t.

  28. Jon Mortimer on January 18, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    I have also noticed that some of the other candidates feel very comfortable trying to pick on Romney over semantics, yet they don\’t seem to have that same problem with each other. McCain particularly has some kind of bully attitude towrads Romney, It\’s kind of childish.

  29. Dan on January 18, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Adam,

    Is my comment still in moderation or is it free for any and all to read?

  30. Bill on January 18, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    Re: 21

    Yes, McCain despises Romney. It’s partly because Romney savaged him for having a position on immigration that Romney himself held less than a year before.

  31. Mark B. on January 18, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Of course, it seems that the Vanderbilt study doesn’t say anything about the Mormons who would like to support Romney but cannot because of his “flip-flops” to positions that they find repugnant. If he panders to the electorate about guns (Mitt the varmint hunter) and illegal immigration (send ‘em all home) and Guantanamera–I never liked that song anyway–the lyrics never made any sense to me–then they feel betrayed by him. And he deserves the flak (remember, it’s flieger abwehr kanone), even if the others manning the guns are doing it for other, nefarious, motives.

  32. danithew on January 18, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Adam, I was just playing around to see if you’d delete my comment. I guess I survived after all.

  33. Bob on January 18, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    I have not seen the ‘Mormon Card” played by Romney, or against him..except by Huckabee..which went nowhere.
    I don’t mind if someone changes their mind or position, as long as they tell me why and not just try to deny it. If the reason is good, then let’s move on. I hate the term ‘flip-flopper’…it’s like ‘tattletale’….school yard stuff.

  34. Clark on January 18, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    To add to my earlier comments. Not everyone agrees Bush was ignorant about foreign affairs. I don’t buy it – primarily due to the Presidential seeking Bush’s inability to answer fairly easy questions. Contrast this to say Reagan as seen in his many speeches on many foreign policy issues. Bush may have grasped a few big ideas such as unilateralism. But when it came to details he was ignorant.

    Anna, I tend to agree. I think for most people voting for President is primarily an emotional issue. This means that they vote mostly by how much they like people. Which leads to candidates like Huckabee or Bush II or Clinton I. Clinton II and Romney simply aren’t as “likable.” I think that’s why the media made such a big deal about Clinton II’s crying on camera. What ends up happening is that there is this stereotype created of candidates – fairly or unfairly. It can be quite hard to break out of. I think, despite Adam’s strong argument, that Romney’s problem is that the stereotype is that of a flip flopper and opportunist far more than his Mormonism. Perhaps the Mormon issue biases into this. But I sincerely don’t think it the ultimate issue. However perhaps latent and even unconscious bigotry against Mormons factors into whether someone buys into the stereotype just like unconscious bigotry probably affects folks who vote against Obama.

    It’s sad that so much of who we pick as President is decided so irrationally. (Meaning the American people in general – clearly there are plenty of people with well thought out reasons for who they like)

    What I fear is that the American people want a flip flopper and panderer and manipulator rather than someone based on the issues or competency. They just don’t want to be made aware that they want this. Thus someone like Romney who is poor at pandering subtlely is disliked while someone who does it far more but is good at it (Clinton I) gets loved.

  35. Anna G. on January 18, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Adam,

    Yes, I think there are reasons people decide whether they like a candidate, but I don’t think they are particularly easy to figure out or explain. For some people, it might be based on religion (affinity with a member of one’s own or antipathy toward a religion one considers strange); for many, though, I think it comes down to a sort of visceral like, dislike, or indifference, probably based on subconscious factors.

  36. Clark on January 19, 2008 at 12:12 am

    Bob, I’m not sure the Mormon card went nowhere with Huckabee. I think it was rather successful by Huckabee. I think though it has probably been played out as much as it can now.

  37. Rosalynde Welch on January 19, 2008 at 12:37 am

    When I’ve talked with other Mormons about Romney, most of them seem to accept Romney’s own account of his position changes: which is to say, they weren’t really position changes at all, but rather Romney had a sort of tacit agreement with the voters of Massachusetts to set aside his personal convictions in favor of the state’s status quo on abortion, etc, while he was in office as the governor of that liberal state—but that now that he is seeking national election, he’s no longer bound by that informal agreement and can campaign on the basis of his personal conviction.

    Whether or not this is true, or legitimate, or whatever, I don’t know—but the Mormons I’ve talked with seem to understand and accept that account. I think their willingness to do so, in contrast with others’ unwillingness, might be partly a subtle pro-Mormon bias based on identification, but perhaps more importantly the shared experience of “going along to get along”—or, as we call it in gospel doctrine, of living in the world but not of the world. Lots of Mormons know what it’s like to hold your tongue in certain contexts in order to work together with others to get things done.

  38. mlu on January 19, 2008 at 12:45 am

    I thought the study was probably onto something but found it pretty encouraging. It suggested that people are hesitant to say they dislike the man because of his religion. I think Mormons in particular and religious people in general have been well served by many, many people saying quite clearly that it was bad to be against Romney because he’s Mormon.

    Of course, people will have private reservations about candidates for such reasons but that’s a far different thing than a civic culture that finds such a bias respectable.

    Overall, I’ve been mostly pleased with the on this issue. Members of groups that have been teaching a hatred of Mormonism for decades still feel leery of voting for a Mormon, but lots of them have suddenly had their attitude made public, where it’s received quite a lot of scorn (and not from liberals, whom they are accustomed to disregarding).

    Or vice versa.

  39. mlu on January 19, 2008 at 1:01 am

    #37 – I was thinking along similar lines but wasn’t sure whether that ran afoul of Adam’s rules. When I’ve listened to Romney’s statements made when he was campaigning against Ted Kennedy, he sounds to me as though he’s reassuring people he will abide by the law of the land and the will of the people (in Massachusetts) more than anything–that he will faithfully execute the laws the people have chosen.

    One can do that without believing those laws are the highest or best that we can aspire to, or even that they are correct. Even the Lord allows people to live by a lower law when that’s all they seem willing or ready to live by.

    To people who believe there is only one set of rules, timeless and immutable, this seems slippery.

    Along the same lines, to people who don’t necessarily believe all the laws or standards to which they are committed as members of a religious community need to be written into the nation’s legal code, this doesn’t seem too nuanced to follow. But I think it’s too nuanced to be an effective thing to explain in a national political campaign.

    Sometimes it’s not possible to tell the truth in public because nobody can hear it. They hear something else.

    Lots of people, from both sides, seem certain that all their convictions need to be written into code and enforced by the state, and anything other is insincere, hypocritical and inauthentic.

  40. bobcat on January 19, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Someone here nailed it: Mitt’s not a flip-flopper; he’s a panderer.

  41. Adam Greenwood on January 19, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I think their willingness to do so, in contrast with others’ unwillingness, might be partly a subtle pro-Mormon bias based on identification, but perhaps more importantly the shared experience of “going along to get along”—or, as we call it in gospel doctrine, of living in the world but not of the world. Lots of Mormons know what it’s like to hold your tongue in certain contexts in order to work together with others to get things done.

    An interesting point, Rosalynde W. It might also explain why the National Review folks like Romney more than the folks in Iowa–living in NY and DC they have more experience having to work with people who are pretty ideological on the other side.

  42. Susane on January 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Mormon or not, the main thing to remember about Mitt is that he hates the poor. He’s never been poor, he disassociates himself from people who are (yes, even in his church), and he has no tolerance for “hard luck”. Poor by Mitt standards would be anyone whose household income is less than $100,000. If that’s you, you may want to think about how a Mitt administration might affect you.

  43. Mark D. on January 20, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Susane, And your evidence for that is?

  44. Rhonda on January 20, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    The flip side of anti-Mormons in politics is 94% support by Mormons of a Mormon.

  45. Ray on January 20, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    #42 – I’ve deleted multiple replies, since I’m laughing too hard to respond intelligently.

  46. mondo cool on January 21, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Flip – flop vs. panderer….
    I happened upon a conservative radio talk show a few days ago, and Dennis Prager, a practicing Jew, reached the same conclusion: people who don’t like Romney’s religion are more likely to accept any criticism of him – politically, morally, socially, financially – as support for their primary concern about him (Mormonism). He pointed out that there are people who honestly object to Romney’s positions, but he was a little incredulous of those whose real objection was Mormonism. He just wanted them to own up to their primary objection.

  47. salt h2o on January 21, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Social issues are for the stupid. If we forgot about social issues and focused on the real issues facing this country- the ‘flip flopping’ would be of little concern, since the majority of Mitt’s changes of opinion revolve around abortion.

    I know this isn’t what you want to hear but abortion is legal- Roe v Wade is over, we lost- get over it. George W. is pro-life and how has that affected his presidency?

    People that vote on social issues don’t have the time or intellect to delve into a politicians voting history, or resume of accomplishments- it’s much easier to be brainless and vote because someone is pro–life or pro-choice, pro-gay marriage or against gay marriage. The truth of the matter is, these opinions will have little impact on your life. The real issues at hand, being the declining economy, healthcare, the war, and immigration are swept under the rug while the mass media plays upon the American’s stupidy of caring about social issues.

    Civil unions between gays is going to happen. It’s only a matter of time. Even Mike “I want to change the constitution to be in line with God’s law” can’t change the tidal wave of left wing morality hitting the nation.

    To all of you that have posted opinions about Mitt, such as him hating the poor- post some evidence.

    For all of you who are looking for a GOP candidate- take some time to read the latest article on http://www.anncoulter.com. She says it all much better than I ever could.

  48. Mark M on January 21, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    #37 Rosalynde,
    Having lived in Massachusetts since 1999, I’m another one of those who agrees with what you summarized.

    Concerning the many MA residents who dislike Romney, it’s well illustrated by a conversation I overheard in a restaurant. An grandparent-aged couple was talking with what appeared to be a daughter or friend visiting from out-of-state. The younger woman said, “And you like Romney here, don’t you?” The older woman responded most emphatically, “Ohhhhhh, NO! He’s tooooooo con-serrrrrr-vative!”

  49. Mark M on January 21, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Anna G. (#23, #35)

    I love your comment:
    “Along the lines of what Jon said, my take is that people tend to decide whether they like a candidate, then justify it after the fact.”

    Replace “candidate” with “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” and I think that describes dating and social life quite well. I’m not surprised it’s that way when voting for public officials too.

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