I was an Edwards fan. I voted for him in my primary, even after he dropped out, largely because I couldn't choose an alternative. Neither Clinton nor Obama are "classist" enough for my liking. After 8 years of Robin Hood-in-reverse economic policies, it's time for someone to stand up for the poor and middle class, and I just don't see the two remaining candidates that committed to redistributive economic policies like Edwards at least claimed to be. Yes, I've looked at both candidates policy statements, especially Obama's, in great depth. So, I've spent a lot of time considering the claims by both candidates and their proponents here at dkos and decided to START doing some of my own investigation rather than relying on the claims of others...
Before I continue, I want to clarify that I'm genuinely undecided about who is the better candidate. This isn't one of those diaries that seems to be unbiased but clearly isn't once you get further in. I really have no preference now that Edwards is out. I've been defending Clinton here lately from what I think are unfair personal attacks and untrue claims about her. But, I've also defended Obama (not so much here, because all the attacks seem to be aimed at Clinton). Truth is, I'll vote for the nominee, regardless of who it is, unless it is shown down the road that the nominee had sex with small animals. Even then, I might still vote for him/her, depending on how many times the act was done and how small the animals were. McCain I won't vote for, because I assume he has had sex with small animals on a regular basis.
Back to doing some investigation... I'm curious about two of the common claims that the candidates and their proponents have made: (1) Obama is all talk and no action, and (2) Clinton is divisive/unable to unite people to accomplish anything (part of this is an electability issue, but not all of it--part is about whether she could accomplish anything progressive as president).
In order to just simply START addressing these questions somewhat systematically, I was inspired by this diary (got to cite sources; don't want to be a plagiarist or otherwise claim an idea as my own that isn't :^) ), I visited the Library of Congress online and very quickly examined all of both candidates 2007 sponsored resolutions, bills, and amendments just to get my feet wet (in these data--before doing more involved work). Now, I'll admit, I didn't read even the titles of all of them. What I was interested in was whether I can START to address the two claims above. So here are my thoughts (and results):
Hypothesis 1: If Obama is "all hat and no cattle," and Clinton is hands down the one full of action, then she will have far more bills, etc., that she has sponsored. Obama should not only have fewer, but should have FEW in total.
Hypothesis 2: If Clinton is divisive, and Obama is a great uniter (I cringe at that word, after W), then she should have many fewer cosponsors on her bills than Obama.
4 4 continuing resolutions
7 4 resolutions
93 55 bills
46 50 amendments
150 113 TOTAL
Clinton appears to have engaged in more sponsorship than Obama. Same number of continuing resolutions, more resolutions, more bills (by far), and only a few fewer amendments. In total, she has sponsored 33% more items than Obama, and most of the advantage is in bills, which are the most involved items. What does this suggest to me about H1? They're both quite productive. Clinton is certainly considerably moreso, but there is no basis to the claim that Obama is all talk and no action.
In all, Hillary's 150 items involved 631 cosponsors, for an average of 4.21 cosponsors per item. 43 of her items (29%) involved no cosponsors. Obama's 113 items involved 471 cosponsors, for an average of 4.17 cosponsors. 31 of his items had no cosponsors (27%). What does this suggest to me about H2? Neither seems to have an advantage in terms of being able to garner more support for cosponsorship. I would take this as evidence that Hillary is not particularly divisive, at least not in Congress, which has been part of the criticism.
So, I would conclude tentatively from these very quick and dirty analyses (and, as a statistician, I hesitate to even call them 'analyses'), that neither criticism by either candidate or proponent is supported here. Imagine that. So, I'm still undecided about who's the better candidate.
Of course, this has been a very simple examination. And you are certainly welcome to criticize the validity of my measures. I guess I'll have to do some more in-depth work later when I have time.