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Why a McCain vs Obama contest could result in a Republican landslide

January 7, 2008

Why Republicans should not be panicking

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In the past few days Barack Obama’s victory in Iowa has translated into an momentum that many believe will not only give him the Democratic nomination but also sweep him into the White House. It is undeniable that he is the ‘man of the moment’. However, his supporters should consider the case of George McGovern who parlayed enthusiastic support among college students, which was so strong that his campaign was characterised as a ‘children’s crusade’ by his opponents, into victory in the nomination, only to see those very same students vote Republican in the general election in a 49 state Republican landslide. Similarly, a year before the 1984 election the New York Times wrote, ‘his (Reagan’s) advisers agree that if he decides to run he will face serious political problems winning a second term next year’.

Of course Bush is not running for re-election, and if he was most people (including myself) would write him off. However, both these examples are salutatory lessons in how decisions and predictions made in haste can look very different the morning afterwards. However, it is important to realise that a superficial analysis can overlook some important facts, such as the fact that McGovern’s support came from a very vocal fraction of the student population and that the high unemployment in 1983 masked an economy that was starting to recover, and a very weak Democrat party. I believe that commentators have similarly missed two vital elements; the willingness of moderate Republicans to vote tactically to put blocks in the path of Hillary Clinton and the fact that the Democrat’s obsession with surrendering Iraq has undermined their domestic agenda.

Although the rampant inequality and domestic problems in America would usually call for a President with progressive values, the Democrats have shown that they are incapable of delivering domestic change if any of the three remaining candidates are elected. Indeed, they misinterpreted their victory in 2006 as a mandate to concentrate solely on the War in Iraq, instead of one to make America a bit fairer, leading them instead to concentrate all their efforts on trying to force Bush to surrender Iraq to the terrorists. Even when they have tried to change domestic policy the Democrats have shown that they are incapable of creating the coalitions that the American legislative system requires for laws to be passed. By choosing Obama, who has little or no experience in deal-making and took a long time to come up with a basic healthcare plan, the Democrats will be guaranteeing ‘more of the same’ if they capture the White House.

Far from proving that Obama can win independents the Iowa results just prove that Republicans will do anything to stop Hillary Clinton. Not only does this not bode well for the Senator for New York if she gets the nomination, which I think she will, it also suggests that the same independents will switch back to their traditional leanings if Obama ends up as the nominee. Of course this may be shortsighted, since voting for McCain would have helped the Republicans more than anything else, but any independent support for Obama should be discounted. At the same time the potential for an increased turnout among the young should be also ignored. Even the minority of students who have been genuinely energised by Barrack Obama will be much less likely to vote for him in November, when all the enthusiasm has died down and other things have taken hold of their imagination.

In contrast a McCain ticket, especially one with Joe Lieberman on the bottom, would provide both experience and a proven ability to get things done. Although hard-core conservatives may not like his record of bipartisan deal-making, independents and even those on the centre-left, will ultimately choose someone who can at least ensure that some changes take place. Those moderate Democrats (which is where my sympathies lie – though I am not American) may want universal healthcare and a repeal of some of Bush’s domestic policies, but they are more willing to settle for a President who can start to address some of the issues than one who has little substance and even less ability, even if the former candidate shoots some sacred Democrat cows along the way. I also believe that the a Democrat voters are far more centrist on economic policy and hawkish on foreign policy than most people believe, which is why Edwards was the initial alternative to Hillary until he moved too far to the left.

In addition to the Republican base, liberal Republicans, independents and even some liberals, a McCain vs Obama contest would also enable the Republicans to make a pitch to the industrial core of the Democratic base. Although Obama scores well with college students and social liberals he has always had problems with more middle and working class supporters, who have always tended to support Clinton. Even if the momentum of his early victory drives him to the nomination, which I don’t think it will, in a face off against McCain he will have to work hard for the vote. These voters also tend to be either hawkish or at least concerned with national security, which is why Obama’s inexperience will matter hugely. Although his supporters like to argue that Obama’s three years in the Senate has enabled him to get up to speed (and have the audacity to compare him to Lincoln), his immature comments on Pakistan and the fact that he has played hooky from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he was appointed to, will only accentuate his problems with these voters. If the Republicans make the truly Lincolnesque gesture of putting the Senator who was supposed to his mentor, until he decided to play with the Daily Kos crowd, on their ticket this will be a constant reminder throughout the contest of young Barack’s inexperience.

It is important to point out that I am not suggesting that McCain will repeat Reagan’s 49 state result. In any case, he will need to keep the faith on Iraq, move closer to the centre on economic issues and select Joe Lieberman as his running mate. However, I can see him winning Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Penslyvania, Connecticut and Delaware and getting 55% of the vote.

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12 comments

  1. […] a McCain vs Obama contest could result in a Republican landslide January 7th, 2008 spree wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptFar from proving that Obama can win […]


  2. […] Here’s another interesting post I read today by thepoliticaltipster […]


  3. How about this ticket.

    Obama – Nunn.

    Sam Nunn is out meeting with other centrists. If he were asked and accepted the no. 2 slot on an Obama ticket the Dems would hold the White House and both houses of congress for 8 or more years, with potential real progress across the board.


  4. […] Here’s another interesting post I read today by The Political Tipster […]


  5. Nope, even with Nunn on the bottom of the ticket Obama still gets crushed. Nunn might provide some experience but it is the big cheese in the end who makes the decision.


  6. The attention span of Americans is short. Their political memory even shorter. No one but middle-aged wonks and folks from Georgia know who Sam Nunn is. (Though he was a fine Senator. If only there were more Democrats like Sam and Zell!)


  7. Umm … When you talk about McGovern in the 1984 election, don’t you mean to say Mondale?


  8. No, I meant Nixon in 1972 and Reagan in 84 as separate instances where the Republicans got 49 state landslides.


  9. Are you kidding me? More democrats are coming out to vote during the primaries than republicans. Its going to be a democratic landslide in 2008. kiss my feet come november.


  10. Democrats will win, or we will all die.


  11. 2008 will be the year the GOP gets Obaminated.


  12. Here we are on October 18th and Obama is favored by between 4-1 and 5-1 on Intrade. All of the states the author mentioned at the end are solidly blue, and Obama is also leading in lots of formerly red states. Angrt Dwarf was right way back on Feb 10, bravo!



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