Do you want a political 'insider' or a political 'outsider' for president? | The Tylt

Do you want a political 'insider' or a political 'outsider' for president?

President Donald Trump has the least political or military experience of any president in recent history. He built his entire 2016 campaign around his "outsider" status, promising to "drain the swamp" of Washington. As Democrats work to weed out nominees to take him on in 2020, many are wondering whether they should nominate a candidate with a similar "outsider" status or if experience should be more valued in the party. What do you think?

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Do you want a political 'insider' or a political 'outsider' for president?
A festive crown for the winner
#WeWantOutsiders
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Do you want a political 'insider' or a political 'outsider' for president?
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In an August 2018 Monmouth University poll, Democrats stated they were much more likely to value past political experience over "outsider status." Republican voters' desire for "outsiders," on the other hand, is apparent in their embrace of Donald Trump, by far the least politically experienced president in recent history.

Most Americans see having experience in government and politics as a positive (61%) rather than negative (22%) quality in a candidate for Congress. But more say that they would be likely to give their House vote to a “political outsider” (52%) rather than a “political insider” (25%) all other things being equal. Democrats (75%) are more likely than Republicans (58%) and independents (53%) to see political experience as a positive attribute, while Republicans (62%) and independents (61%) are more likely than Democrats (34%) to support a candidate they see as a “political outsider.”
“The Trump phenomenon could come back to bite the GOP establishment. The key for Republican officeholders is to somehow position themselves as outsiders while Democrats need to hit upon a key issue that grabs voters’ attention,” said [Patrick] Murray, [director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute].
#WeWantOutsiders

This desire for an outsider candidate is not new in American politics. WNYC's "On the Media" podcast tackled the issue in 2015, listing the country's long history of seeking out leaders who weren't tainted by traditional political backgrounds. 

From Abraham Lincoln, whose campaign emphasized his history as a "railsplitter" in Illinois and not his time in the state's legislative branch, to Donald Trump in 2016, Americans have courted candidates who seem more "normal" than political. While candidates often tout this relative lack of experience, it wasn't until Jimmy Carter's candidacy that presidential candidates were actually "outsiders."

Up until the late 1960s a candidate could boast all he wanted of his folksy upbringing, but he still had to be selected by the party leaders in those smoke filled rooms. This all came to a head at the notorious 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. After that year's nomination fiasco, the number of state primaries was increased and reforms were instituted intending to open the primary process. The result: Jimmy Carter wins the 1976 election, running as a peanut farmer and Washington outsider and on a platform of reform. 
#VoteForInsiders

Recent polls show self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters are, on the whole, valuing experience over outsider status in potential 2020 candidates. 

The polling wonks at FiveThirtyEight's Politics Podcast discussed the results of a February 2019 CNN poll in which Democratic respondents placed an "outsider's perspective to Washington" low on their list of most important qualities in a candidate for president. Four percent of respondents said being an outsider was the most important quality they looked for in a candidate, compared to 16 percent who said having "the right experience to be president" was the quality they most valued. 

Above all, respondents said having "a good chance of beating Donald Trump" was the most important factor in determining a candidate, at a rate of 26 percent.

#WeWantOutsiders

Within the crop of Democratic candidates, several "outsiders" are making strong showings in the early months of the campaign. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has shocked pundits with his sudden surge in popularity. 

A late March Quinnipiac poll had Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, tied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for fifth place nationally, putting him ahead of Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). On Monday, Buttigieg announced that his campaign raised more than $7 million in the first quarter of 2019, a non-trivial figure for a candidate whom almost no one took seriously when he first entered the race. And a recent Economist/YouGov poll found Buttigieg was one of only three candidates in the Democratic field with a net-positive national approval (though a majority of those polled didn’t know enough about him to have an opinion).
Buttigieg has a kind of dual appeal. Some moderates like his Midwestern background, elite credentials (he’s a graduate of Harvard and Oxford), and soft-spoken but knowledgeable way of talking about policy. Liberal Democrats see in Buttigieg an intellectual who could be President Trump’s polar opposite, and whose focus on political reforms like abolishing the Electoral College channels their frustration with a system that feels rigged in the GOP’s favor.

While Buttigieg certainly has policy and political experience, he does not have the long-term Washington career of many of his fellow candidates.

#VoteForInsiders

The label of "Washington insider" is frequently used in a derogatory fashion, however, as FiveThirtyEight reports, sometimes "insider" indicates critical experience and connections. Before winning reelection as the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi was roundly criticized for her insider status. 

Pelosi, a divisive figure in American politics and a near-universally acknowledged master of the legislative process, has served in Congress since 1987, making her freshman term 32 long years ago. These days she has become the object of high-profile dissension from a new generation in her party who want to break staid political conventions, yet when she first came to Washington, her insider party experience was seen as her strength.
As the 116th Congress kicks off, a potential Democratic battle looms not over ideology, but rather over how Democrats should best exert their power. For the newest crop of Democrats, overthrowing some of the old ways of doing things is key. But from the earliest days of her career, Pelosi has leveraged her access to backroom decision-making to exert political change. If the speaker and her caucus have a disagreement, it’s likelier to be about that point than about her policy positions.

In the months since retaking the speakership, Pelosi has put her legislative experience to use, soundly defeating several of President Trump's pet projects, including federal funding for the border wall. 

FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Do you want a political 'insider' or a political 'outsider' for president?
A festive crown for the winner
#WeWantOutsiders
#VoteForInsiders