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A while ago I posted a question about the 2020 Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign's strategy of expanding the electorate: Is expanding the electorate a foolish strategy in American politics? The question was downvoted and closed on the basis that it was opinion-based. The blue textbox instructed me to update the question to make it answerable:

Update the question so it can be answered with facts and citations. This will help others answer the question. You can edit the question or post a new one.

So I did just that, I posted a new question: https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/66764/is-expanding-the-electorate-a-foolish-strategy-in-american-politics But that question was closed for being a duplicate. So I changed the original question, addressing the concerns of those who voted to close it.

However, I still cannot get it reopened and I don't understand why people voted to close it. The question is whether strong evidence supports the claim that "expanding the electorate" is an unworkable strategy in American politics (where "expanding the electorate" is obviously defined as Sanders' 2020 strategy which Carville criticized). I don't understand how that question can be classified as "opinion-based" since it is a question about whether evidence exists or not. Neither do I understand what I can do to salvage it.

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    Why did you post a new question instead of updating the existing one?
    – Joe W
    Sep 5 at 2:34
  • I don't see how you can ask if something is "foolish" without it being, or at least being seen as, a request for a judgment call. Maybe "ill-advised" would be synonymous while, at the same time, more objective. It can be verified whether something happens to be ill-advised or not. Sep 10 at 20:00
  • Why not? Pursuing a strategy that has scientifically been shown to be ineffective is foolish. Sep 10 at 20:50
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I read the referenced question, the linked article, the comments and the answer. I did some research, considered all at length, decided it was opinion-based, then went to bed. In the morning, I thought more about the issue and attempted to compose an answer to your Meta post. It was clear there was a misunderstanding; but whose, what, and how to explain it? At a loss for those answers, I decided to rewrite the question based on the additional research.

The following uses quotes from the second edit.

What were some of the problems?

  1. You say "the question is whether strong evidence supports the claim that 'expanding the electorate' is an unworkable strategy in American politics", yet you raised irrelevant points unrelated to the intent of your post.

What evidence, if any, was Carville relying on? Is the evidence so strong that anyone who disagrees with it can be compared to a climate change denier?

These questions were sufficient to close the question for opinion. While you explained climate change denial as "something conclusively proven wrong by science", you could have chosen wording other than "climate change denier" in the above question.

The clearer "Is there strong evidence that supports the claim that 'expanding the electorate' is an unworkable strategy in American politics?" would have been much better than leaving the above questions in the post.

  1. It was seemingly clear from what was provided that the question was about a Sanders nomination.

You wrote:

One part of Bernie Sanders' strategy to become the Democratic party's presidential candidate in 2020 ...

You claimed that it wasn't about Sanders, yet you linked Carville's quote to Sanders's campaign, specifically.

Carville claimed that there is "no debate about this" and that this part of the Sanders campaign's strategy was completely wrong.

From the transcript, the idea for which you say "no debate about this" occurs after Carville claims Sanders can't win. There is no necessary connection to the strategy of "expanding the electorate".

A quote showing that Sanders was referring to any Democrat nominee would have prevented the misstatements. You, others and I, for a while, did not understand that "expanding the electorate" was not solely about Sanders's campaign.

  1. Who's the "fool"?

Carville referred to voters, who think Sanders can win, as fools. However, you linked that comment to "expanding the electorate" in the title. Elsewhere you use "unworkable strategy", which would have been preferable for the title and without the incorrect linkage.

Is expanding the electorate a foolish strategy in American politics?

Dropping the unnecessary second paragraph of the quote would have removed the reference to "fool" and the incorrect linkage to "expanding the electorate".


Though I could not explain it earlier, the bottom line is that, without an extensive rewrite adding more background sources, in particular the Sanders quote, the post could not have been saved.

While I understand that you "feel really uneasy about this complete rewrite", take heart in this: Had I not found the Sanders quote, which clarified a lot, I could not have rewritten the post, I wouldn't have spent any more time on the post and it may not have been re-opened, ever. And, there is no telling how long your Meta post would have remained unanswered. But, if you like, you can reclaim authorship by changing "research", in the title and body questions, to your original "strong evidence".

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    Thanks for your lengthy reply. I'll have to read and reread this in detail. However, I cannot find an explanation as to why my question was opinion-based before your rewrite but not after. You changed the way the question was phrased but not what it was about. So why would an answer to my version of the question have to rely on "personal opinions" but not your version? Sep 6 at 2:24
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    @BjörnLindqvist - Your post asked, "What evidence, if any, was Carville relying on? Is the evidence so strong that anyone who disagrees with it can be compared to a climate change denier?" Any answer to those questions would be opinion or, perhaps, speculation. I didn't ask anything about Carville.
    – Rick Smith
    Sep 6 at 2:37
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    You are right. The first question should have been "What evidence, published prior to the interview, supports Carville's claim?" The second question is reusing Carville's rhetorical device. His claim is that the expand the electorate strategy has been refuted by science in exactly the same way that Holocaust denial, climate change denial, creationism, and smoking doesn't cause lung cancer has been refuted by science. We agree that these are forms of denialism. Is belief in expand the electorate denialism? Sep 6 at 8:42
  • @BjörnLindqvist - Is belief in expand[ing] the electorate denialism? No. All that can be said, in regard to Carville's statement, is that Carville was saying that the usefulness of "expanding the electorate" can be denied. While I don't know what, if any, research Carville relied on -- he may have relied on his decades as a Democratic consultant and strategist, thus a presumed expert on the subject -- there is room for skepticism, and skepticism is not denialism.
    – Rick Smith
    Sep 6 at 18:18
  • You answered no to the question "Is belief in expand[ing] the electorate denialism?" and by implication no to the question "Is the evidence so strong that anyone who disagrees with it can be compared to a climate change denier?" That would be an acceptable answer to my original question if you can demonstrate a lack of strong evidence. I know that proving a negative is tricky but it can be done by surveying the literature or by identifying political scientists who dispute Carville's claim. Sep 7 at 9:32
  • @BjörnLindqvist - I know that proving a negative is tricky but it can be done by surveying the literature or by identifying political scientists who dispute Carville's claim. It also takes time. I did find a Masters Thesis published less than two months before Carville's statement. That thesis is limited in scope and not likely Carville would have known about it; but demonstrates that skepticism was warranted. There is a journal article from 1997, unrelated to the strategy; but that only shows some were investigating the effects of "expanding the electorate".
    – Rick Smith
    Sep 7 at 13:38

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