Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Debate

David Seaton's News Links
We'll need a couple of days of polls to really gauge the effect of this debate, but it seems pretty clear that McCain is still alive and in there with a chance.

This shouldn't be. No Republican presidential candidate should be in striking distance of the Democrat this year. I'm not going to bore you with yet another laundry list of disasters, we could all recite them like schoolboys can recite the lineup of baseball teams. Bush and his administration have trashed practically everything (everything?) that they have laid their hands on. Obama should have a lead of about twenty points: this year the Republicans should lose like Mondale did against Reagan.

This does not look like happening and I believe that it is because voters are simply not convinced about Obama and perhaps race matters for only about six percent of them. The rest is simply the failure to connect with his message and his personality.

At this point I think Barack Obama is very vulnerable. The Republicans are sure to spring something very nasty and Rovian on Obama in the next few days (the famous “Michelle Tape”, perhaps?) and he should have at least a ten point lead to absorb the damage. With Bush fumbling so badly, he should have that lead already… he doesn’t.

The fact that he doesn't makes more people doubtful, a vicious circle.

As I say, this is weird, the American people have such doubts about the Democratic Party and about Barack Obama's fitness to run US affairs that a Republican president that makes Jimmy Carter look like Abraham Lincoln can't give them a solid ten point lead as the United States of America apparently circles the drain. DS

1 comment:

jmeasor said...

Hi David,

Your argument is clear; however, in this case a critical factor may be missing. The 'middle', 'undecideds', and 'disaffected Republicans' may not be as large a pool as you might suppose. A ten-point Dem lead may be impossible.

Simply, the GOP "base", built over the Reagan era by the Atwaters, Newt Gingrich's and Rove now sits at ~45% of the population/voting public - large core groups of which are highly organized (religion, guns and abortion). I believe the Dem's 'base' sits in the high thirties (increasing numbers of libertarians appear as a third rail; they could split some key districts and damage the GOP).

Moreover, I would guess that up to one-quarter of the 'electorate' is highly authoritarian-inclined and highly motivated (largely to keep themselves convinced of their own strength and virtuous) to keep detente-wielding weak-kneed 'wimpy' leaders out of the oval office.

Add it all up and you either have to lay everything at the feet of Obama and his campaign - hard to do entirely as I doubt it can be argued that they've run a 'poor' campaign - or begin to discern the true American electoral landscape.

We can blame the two-party system, decry the focus on emotive wedge and personality-focused issues by the campaigns and the media, or historicize some American decline. No matter, that GOP 'brand' is pretty solid - and its own membership does not associate it with the problems you enunciate. That base believes in 'rebel conservatism' (??) and that big corporations, the legal establishment, and Washington insiders are to blame.

That perception may not wash in a reality-based universe, but I believe it is very real indeed.

Democrats battle this through the election cycle - to win the war a more grass-roots and people-focused (or citizen if you will) effort needs to materialize.