That’s a really good question,” says former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. “You have a process to select a horse and have a group of people sit down and select a horse and run by it, and that’s been the entire process for a long time. When people go through that process, there’s never a single person that gets it right.
“When I ran for office, I had about 30 people run by me,” he says. “But the process is always imperfect, and it’s going to be imperfect in an election.”
To be sure, a candidate isn’t just picking his horse. He or she also is interviewing a number of other horses in an effort to best reflect the needs and strengths of the electorate. Those individuals who pick horses are likely doing their best to give the horse the appearance of being right.
“You’re doing research, you’re looking at those potential candidates, you’re talking to various people,” says Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. “You’re being as unbiased as you can.”
In an election where polls show little appetite for a vote of confidence, a horse’s appearance is important, because voters who can see it are more apt to trust it.
“Horses give people a confidence boost, and you get votes in an election,” says Bingaman. “The horse’s appearance helps a lot.”
A lot of horses seem like they’re doing well
Even if the horses of tomorrow are still untested, experts agree that the odds for a better horse are still pretty remote. On average — just as with the Senate elections — horse polls consistently show that the horse of the election is on the upswing.
“I always thought it was a wild fantasy to think that horses were always on the upswing. I mean, that’s just ridiculous,” says George W. Carley, who retired as chairman of the University of Alabama in 1992 after 20 years at the university and 35 years as chief of staff to former Sen. James Byrd, D-W.V. During Byrd’s 1988 presidential race, two polls were conducted that showed Carley trailing incumbent George H.W. Bush but tied to the incumbent in a four-way race. Carley won that race comfortably. “The horse of the presidential election was not on the upswing, so the horse of the Senate race was not on the upswing,” says Carley, who died in 1995 but is remembered by colleagues, friends and
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