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Going after Wal-Mart not good for your political health
Posted by: McQ on Monday, January 08, 2007

I have to admit it has always seemed counter-intuitive, politically speaking, to go after a company that, for the most part, is perceived as one which helps poorer consumers stretch their dollars. A recent poll seems to confirm that:
Democratic presidential candidates who attack Wal-Mart due to concerns about the ill effects of globalization, the firm's business practices and its pay for workers are hurting their own election prospects.

That's the message from new polls in Ohio and Florida, the two most important swing states in presidential elections.

Simply put, the poll results raise this question: Why have Democrats chosen to highlight their opposition to the nation's largest employer.

Three-in-four voters say attacks by politicians on Wal-Mart won't affect their voting behavior. But among those who say it will, those people are much more likely to vote against a candidate who skewers Wal-Mart than they are to vote for him.
Many Democrats have made Wal-Mart bashing an integral part of their political rhetoric, mostly, one assumes at the behest of, and to curry the favor of, big labor:
Many Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, have not just been critical of the nation's largest retailer, but used it as a campaign prop.

Bashing Wal-Mart has become almost a stock part of their rhetoric, arguing that the company doesn't treat its workers well, and hurts communities because a side effect of offering its low prices is driving down wages.
But that isn't the view shared by most of the general public. In fact, as I've mentioned before, if Wal-Mart's wages or how they treat their workers was a concern, it isn't reflected by the 120+ million who shop there each week. They apparently see a benefit in the Wal-Mart model which helps their buying power by keeping pricing low.

And how many in two key battleground states shop at Wal-Mart? Well according to Quinnipiac, in Florida, 91 percent answered affirmatively; in Ohio 86 percent.

How does that translate politically?
In Ohio, twice as many voters, 14 percent, said attacks against Wal-Mart make it less likely they would support such a candidate than the 7 percent who said it made them more likely. Among independents, that margin was 13 percent to 4 percent.

In Florida, 16 percent said they would be less likely to support such a candidate, compared to 4 percent who said they would be more likely to support him. Among independents, it was 18-4 percent.
Now Wal-Mart isn't a huge priority for most voters, but it is a solid loser for politicians who attack it. So look for the Clintons and Obamas of this world to back off this particular issue fairly quickly once they see this poll. As close as elections have become and as polarized as the electorate is reported to be, politicians can't afford to alienate any significant portion of the electorate by attacking a company which is seen overwhelmingly as a positive for their community and themselves individually.
 
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The Walmart issue has always interested me a little. I think for a lot of those who complain about the store and its practices it has shadowings of a moral position that informs their political standpoint (for some its a just a tool).
If a politician who has attacked the way that walmart does business suddenly goes quiet on the topic then it could easily be spun as political expediency at the expense of morals - potentially just as big a loser as attacking the store, no?

It is possible that a politician could look at this poll and take a different message home. Rather than pandering they might take a stronger stance with the view that obviously their message on the ’evils’ of Walmart has not been heard properly or understood and as such they need to change how they articulate that message rather than abandoning it completely. Which is better a politician who changes his/her outward views on a subject to win popularity or one who continues with his/her original line?

Of course perhaps the best politician is one who remains true to his/her views (in the abscence of fresh opposing data) but refrains from pushing legislation that would harm the way Walmart (in this example) does business until they have successfully wooed the voting public to their side of the debate. Party Politics is something of a battle of ideas afterall, or at least it was, perhaps now it is just a battle to see who gets to be the boss...


 
Written By: Kav
URL: http://livingrealworld.blogspot.com
There are plenty of people out there who just cannot understand why Wal-Mart shoppers aren’t buying 4 dollar loaves of bread at the local food co-op instead. "It’s all organic!" they exclaim, "There are no preservatives, no pesticides! And the wheat is loving sent to sleep every night to the beautiful strains of new age music...often Enya!"

And I say this as someone who is a voting member of his local food co-op...they are LUXURIES. No way around it. I cannot understnd how rick folks can begrudge people trying to make ends meet.
 
Written By: Rich Horton
URL: http://www.iconicmidwest.blogspot.com
What - you mean organic green peppers at $4.30 a piece at a ’mom & pop’ big chain as opposed to 6 non-organic green peppers for .40 a piece at evil Wal-Mart?

Naturally I scorned the 6 cheap peppers and spent over $25.00 for the organic 6 instead. I was feeling guilty because my wife and I are classified as rich and I’m doing my best to alleviate that problem by spending as foolishly as possible.

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
FWIW, the best reason for me to not shop at Wally’s is simply this; most of what they sell is junk and whatever good stuff they sell can usually be found at Costco or BJ’s (and Sam’s as well, I bet) for less per unit.

That said, the entire phenomenon of Wal-Mart as perennial whipping boy prop for port-side candidates has been remarkably entertaining. The usual predictable laments concerning the pressure on local business and community disruption can be immediately contradicted by the realities on the ground in the neighborhood. There is a huge community of retail businesses in the vicinity of the WMT near me; both locally owned and regional or national chains. With few exceptions they seem to be well maintained, thriving and not under the dreaded non-competitive pressures that allegedly follow WMT wherever it goes. There is little evidence of the destruction of the local small business community often associated with the Wal-Mart effect or the sowing of suburban blight in its wake. Nevertheless, the meme persists as a talking point. BTW, the local "town square", that once-upon-a-time housed a hardware store, stationery store, dry goods store, etc. is today home to Starschmucks, a couple of workout-type centers, lawyer and doctor offices, jewelry stores and other such niche businesses. No blight there either.

Yet another chapter of politicians that are too in love with a particular narrative to acknowledge reality. Are they aware how foolish this makes them appear? Do they even care?
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
The Wal-Marts of the world make me sad.

During one period, I traveled a lot between New York and California, and the most enjoyable part was sampling the local flavors and priducts on both coasts. Now that the same chain stores and products blanket both coasts, there are few local specialties to look forward to that you can’t buy at home. Even the staged and phony ’old towns’ offer many of the same souvenirs to tourists, just changing the printing on the T-shirt.
Something from the soul of both coasts has been lost,

 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
If a politician who has attacked the way that walmart does business suddenly goes quiet on the topic then it could easily be spun as political expediency at the expense of morals - potentially just as big a loser as attacking the store, no?
No.

Quiet isn’t a story.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
During one period, I traveled a lot between New York and California, and the most enjoyable part was sampling the local flavors and priducts on both coasts. Now that the same chain stores and products blanket both coasts, there are few local specialties to look forward to that you can’t buy at home. Even the staged and phony ’old towns’ offer many of the same souvenirs to tourists, just changing the printing on the T-shirt.
Something from the soul of both coasts has been lost,
Well, you can still go to Somolia for some local color.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"Well, you can still go to Somolia for some local color. "

A comment like this makes me even sadder.

Is this supposed to be funny? Sarcastic?
What is your point - that being nostalgic is politically incorrect?

 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Is this supposed to be funny? Sarcastic?
What is your point - that being nostalgic is politically incorrect?
Nostalga is fine, but not if it involves punishing Wal Mart and Wal Mart shoppers so that you can enjoy local diversity.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
"Nostalga is fine, but not if it involves punishing Wal Mart and Wal Mart shoppers so that you can enjoy local diversity"
———————

And just who am I punishing by reflecting on the changes in life?

I also miss seeing the feflection of a 20 yr old when I look in the mirror. Does that mean I’m punishing mirror-makers?

I think you’re having an argument with yourself, so I’ll just leave you to it.





 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://

 
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