While voters in the Lower Hudson Valley went about their lives on the glorious Sunday past, the Editorial Board began rolling out its recommendations for the Nov. 3 elections. Perhaps you were replacing storm windows or raking leaves and missed all the excitement. Not to worry, our endorsements continue through the week, and those published through Tuesday appear here.
The well-informed voter, the ones who know their neighbors and where all of the bodies are buried, will probably find less utility in our assessments than the voter who is more detached from it all. My colleagues on the Editorial Board don’t profess to know more about your community than you do. However, because we have been at this for some time, we do have some sense of who actually knows of what s/he speaks and who simply takes up ballot space. We simply recommend; mercifully, you decide.
In a good number of elections — we do this for school board, local, state and federal campaigns — our recommendations and voters’ choices align quite a bit; in a recent vote, our views and voters’ were in accord in roughly 85 percent of the races. In another election, that figure dropped to just under 70 percent. Sometimes, as it turns out, we’ve picked too many Democrats; other times, it’s too many Republicans; still other times, we’ve gone with challengers when voters weren’t yet through with the incumbents. We check afterward because we’re curious, but we have no “dog” in these fights, as a famous politician from Chappaqua said once or 20 times. Our sole interest is in picking better candidates, not winners.
It used to be that the Editorial Board would spend weeks interviewing candidates behind closed doors, where we would be treated to a steady barrage of cliches about “giving back to the community” or “going line by line through the budget” or “thinking outside the box.” Days before the election, we would make our selections known, usually in short, unsatisfying bursts of “we think.” Then it would all be over.
That dynamic changed several elections back, when we started streaming candidate interviews live on the Internet and, using blogging technology, allowing voters to ask questions of their own. Doubtless the candidates get more out of the new form, as they get to speak directly to voters; a few make plain that they could not care less what we actually think. We’re just happy that they’ve participated .
Frankly, if readers/viewers did nothing else, I’d rather that they watched at least snippets of the candidate interviews, which are available in short form here and in long form here. It is not scintillating “television,” by any stretch of the imagination; but it is democracy, and often the messy sort. We are grateful for it.