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West Wing - 1998 Presidential Election


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I really enjoyed playing both the 2006 Presidential Election in P4E, and the 2002 Presidential Election in PI.  It's been a long time since I watched the show, but I was inspired to come up with the idea for a 1998 Presidential Election scenario, so we can play the election where Jed Bartlet was elected president in the first place.

This is in the very early stages - I haven't even started making a scenario yet - but I'm thinking when I do, I'll use the existing 2002 election as a template.  I'll keep posting new information here as I go, to solicit feedback and/or make it easier if anyone else wants to help in any way.

A lot of information about this election is missing, so I spent some time doing research on the wiki and re-watching old episodes to connect the dots as best I could.  I used existing show characters for every candidate, with lots of educated guesses and my own assumptions, as well as some data from the real-life elections of 1996 and 2000.

First, I worked backwards a bit.  I made my own electoral map based on 2000 to come up with how I think Bartlet won the 1998 election:

Bartlet-1998-my-projected-election.thumb.jpg.a85b72a280f8c586c8eec7d2162e0faf.jpg
 

General Election results

 

Democratic – Governor Josiah Bartlet (NH)/Senator John Hoynes (TX)                                                  48 Million               48%                303

Republican – Vice President Fred Anderson (NY)/Secretary of the Interior Robert Rosiello (ID)          47 Million               47%                235

Independent – Senator Seth Gillette (ND)/Senator Chris Carrick (ID)                                                          5 Million                   5%                  0

The wiki's map is incomplete, but I kept my map consistent with that one, as well as the details.  The Bartlet/Hoynes ticket lost Democratic strongholds as well as Maine, so I gave the Republicans Michigan, Washington and New Mexico, while giving Bartlet 1 Electoral Vote out of Maine - since he's a Democrat from next-door New Hampshire, I figured he'd do well enough to win a congressional district, even though that's hard to replicate in-game.

I also gathered enough information to come up with some candidates who could conceivably have run, in addition to the ones we know about:
 

Primaries

Democratic

Governor Josiah Bartlet (D-NH)

Senator John Hoynes (D-TX)

Senator William Wiley (D-WA)

Governor Jack Buckland (D-IN)

Representative Robert Russell (D-CO)

Representative Andrea Wyatt (D-MD)

 

Republican

Vice President Fred Anderson (R-NY)

Senator Max Lobell (R-VA)

Senator Alan Allard (R-MO)

Senator Dan Kalmbach (R-MD)

Secretary of the Interior Robert Rosiello (R-ID) [Off]

 

Independent

Senator Seth Gillette (I-ND)

Senator Chris Carrick (I-ID)

Senator Matt Hunt (I-AZ)

Debates

Presidential #1: Boston, Massachusetts, Oct. 16, 1998

Presidential #2: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Oct. 24, 1998

Presidential #3: St. Louis, Missouri, Oct. 30, 1998

Vice Presidential: Danville, Kentucky, Oct. 18, 1998

I figured the Independent candidates would be characters who were normally Democrats or Republicans, but who ran as an Independent for president.  Gillette is exactly this type of candidate, and in the real world I was thinking of the 1980 election, where Republican John Anderson and Democrat Patrick Lucey teamed up to form an Independent ticket - Alaska's 2014 gubernatorial election is another good example of this. 

For the debates, I worked backwards from the 3rd one, using the exact same locations and gaps in time as the 2000 debate schedule. 

I assumed Owen Lassiter was the Republican president immediately preceding Bartlet (the show doesn't specify), and that Bartlet defeated the incumbent Vice President to win.

Allard wasn't given a first name in-show, and was likely named after real-life Colorado Senator Wayne Allard, but I gave him the name "Alan" based on Aaron Sorkin's propensity for giving his characters alliterative names.  It's Wayne Allard's real first name.

The Democratic primaries seem to have been a pitched battle between Bartlet and Hoynes, with nobody else described as having won any primaries.  I imagine it similar to the Obama-Clinton 2008 primaries, and came up with this map, based on what we know:

Bartlet-1998-my-projected-primaries.thumb.jpg.f5733db48089a50d4f9a0cc1018f3b18.jpg

The Republican primaries are never mentioned, but I assume Anderson would've faced little difficulty in winning every state, a bit like Bush Sr. in 1992 or Gore in 2000, hence why I didn't make a map.

I appreciate any suggestions, questions, feedback, or assistance, and will keep updating once more progress has been made

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21 hours ago, darkmoon72 said:

And here's the first picture.  Still in very rough stages - I haven't even updated the dates yet.

 

Bartlet-For-America.jpg

I must apologize, but I've never seen the show. I'd already stopped watching television and sold my TV set by that point (which was years ago).

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On 11/19/2018 at 8:12 PM, Patine said:

I must apologize, but I've never seen the show. I'd already stopped watching television and sold my TV set by that point (which was years ago).

No worries Patine, I know it's a niche scenario with limited appeal. 

I actually really like those oddball scenarios here - the Game of Thrones one and the Fallout: New Vegas one are also very good.  But I know they aren't for everyone.

West Wing was a really good Aaron Sorkin drama, if you are familiar with anything he's done.  It won many awards back in the day, and Martin Sheen's Jed Bartlet is sort of a cross between Bill Clinton and Howard Dean.  He's a cerebral, intellectual Democratic Catholic governor of New Hampshire with a PhD, his wife is an accomplished doctor in her own right, and it's later revealed Bartlet was hiding a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis when running for president in 1998, only to run again in 2002 once it's revealed and win a landslide re-election.  One of his ancestors is supposed to be the real-life Josiah Bartlett, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

The show had some interesting gimmicks I liked - in the show's 2006 election to succeed Bartlet, one entire episode was devoted to the presidential debate between both party nominees (played by Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits), and early on they both agree to dispense with the stuffy debate rules format and just talk to each other for 90 minutes. 

As I'm sure you've already noticed, the presidential election years in the show are all 2 years off, during our midterms - it's suggested that in the West Wing universe, the elections were re-aligned following the Watergate scandal, so they changed to 1974, 1978, 1982, etc. instead of following the normal 4-year gap.  The election results also tend to be a bit unusual from our perspective, in that both parties are able to win states that are normally off-limits to them in the real world.

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On 11/21/2018 at 7:42 PM, darkmoon72 said:

No worries Patine, I know it's a niche scenario with limited appeal. 

I actually really like those oddball scenarios here - the Game of Thrones one and the Fallout: New Vegas one are also very good.  But I know they aren't for everyone.

West Wing was a really good Aaron Sorkin drama, if you are familiar with anything he's done.  It won many awards back in the day, and Martin Sheen's Jed Bartlet is sort of a cross between Bill Clinton and Howard Dean.  He's a cerebral, intellectual Democratic Catholic governor of New Hampshire with a PhD, his wife is an accomplished doctor in her own right, and it's later revealed Bartlet was hiding a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis when running for president in 1998, only to run again in 2002 once it's revealed and win a landslide re-election.  One of his ancestors is supposed to be the real-life Josiah Bartlett, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

The show had some interesting gimmicks I liked - in the show's 2006 election to succeed Bartlet, one entire episode was devoted to the presidential debate between both party nominees (played by Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits), and early on they both agree to dispense with the stuffy debate rules format and just talk to each other for 90 minutes. 

As I'm sure you've already noticed, the presidential election years in the show are all 2 years off, during our midterms - it's suggested that in the West Wing universe, the elections were re-aligned following the Watergate scandal, so they changed to 1974, 1978, 1982, etc. instead of following the normal 4-year gap.  The election results also tend to be a bit unusual from our perspective, in that both parties are able to win states that are normally off-limits to them in the real world.

And just to add, while the Democrats are usually portrayed as the good guys, I thought the show actually did a fair job of presenting both sides.  I thought it made a pretty compelling argument AGAINST some key Democrat beliefs/goals as being unrealistic (characters would either try or ask why they couldn't try something, and get a very reasonable response which convinced them to drop it).  

Also, there is one particular major crisis in the show (I won't spoil it) where they have to rely on Republicans to save the day, and the Republicans do so without complaint or trying to take advantage of the situation despite having the power to do so.

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7 minutes ago, Actinguy said:

And just to add, while the Democrats are usually portrayed as the good guys, I thought the show actually did a fair job of presenting both sides.  I thought it made a pretty compelling argument AGAINST some key Democrat beliefs/goals as being unrealistic (characters would either try or ask why they couldn't try something, and get a very reasonable response which convinced them to drop it).  

Also, there is one particular major crisis in the show (I won't spoil it) where they have to rely on Republicans to save the day, and the Republicans do so without complaint or trying to take advantage of the situation despite having the power to do so.

If only RL American politics were like that specific description there. How magical things would be. Unfortunately, they're not, and the White House and Capitol are full of corrupt, opportunistic, flip-flopping, sludge buckets who seem detached from, and uncaring about their constituents, more interested in blindly towing party lines for "party loyalty," or, even more vile, kowtowing to "special interest groups," who throw money at them.

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8 minutes ago, Patine said:

If only RL American politics were like that specific description there. How magical things would be. Unfortunately, they're not, and the White House and Capitol are full of corrupt, opportunistic, flip-flopping, sludge buckets who seem detached from, and uncaring about their constituents, more interested in blindly towing party lines for "party loyalty," or, even more vile, kowtowing to "special interest groups," who throw money at them.

Oh yeah.  It was a fantasy world all around, where even opposing sides were just trying to do their honest best for the American people, even when they had different ideas of what that might entail.  

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2 hours ago, Actinguy said:

Oh yeah.  It was a fantasy world all around, where even opposing sides were just trying to do their honest best for the American people, even when they had different ideas of what that might entail.  

100% agree, it's perhaps my least favorite quality about Aaron Sorkin's writing - everyone's good in the end.  In fiction, we often like seeing villains get their comeuppance, but in Sorkin's stories, few characters display enough villainy for me to really want to see them brought low.

The Newsroom had a similar problem, and even the corrupt corporate mother/son ownership team of Leona and Reese Lansing turn out to be decent in the end.  In Season 1, they're trying to get all the main characters fired, but by Season 3, they're actively helpful, and Leona even intervenes and gets one of them promoted.  They tried to shoehorn in B.J. Novak as something of a villain in Season 3, but he comes across more like a clueless rich guy just latching onto whatever he thinks is trendy - and even he capitulates and gives the news team a wide berth in the end.

Edit: I forgot about Nina Howard's character until 5 seconds after I posted this.  She's running a protection racket in Season 1, which Will McAvoy angrily denounces after refusing to pay up - and then they both inexplicably start dating in Season 2, even though Will literally refused to kiss her in Season 1 because he found her so utterly loathsome.  Even she wasn't allowed to remain a villain for very long.

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14 minutes ago, darkmoon72 said:

100% agree, it's perhaps my least favorite quality about Aaron Sorkin's writing - everyone's good in the end.  In fiction, we often like seeing villains get their comeuppance, but in Sorkin's stories, few characters display enough villainy for me to really want to see them brought low.

The Newsroom had a similar problem, and even the corrupt corporate mother/son ownership team of Leona and Reese Lansing turn out to be decent in the end.  In Season 1, they're trying to get all the main characters fired, but by Season 3, they're actively helpful, and Leona even intervenes and gets one of them promoted.  They tried to shoehorn in B.J. Novak as something of a villain in Season 3, but he comes across more like a clueless rich guy just latching onto whatever he thinks is trendy - and even he capitulates and gives the news team a wide berth in the end.

Edit: I forgot about Nina Howard's character until 5 seconds after I posted this.  She's running a protection racket in Season 1, which Will McAvoy angrily denounces after refusing to pay up - and then they both inexplicably start dating in Season 2, even though Will literally refused to kiss her in Season 1 because he found her so utterly loathsome.  Even she wasn't allowed to remain a villain for very long.

Yes, even the full-length animated movies made by Disney Pictures when the Disney Brothers were still alive, and most Saturday morning cartoons that I grew up with in the '80's had villains with more bite and bile than you're describing there - and those were made for kids...

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