Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is McCain Doomed?

Have past elections dictated the fate of the 2008 American Presidential Election? Many historians believe this is the case. See Many historians see little chance for McCain by David Paul Kunh. In it, he relates how history is being used to predict the results of the 2008 general election before any votes have been cast.

“This should be an overwhelming Democratic victory,” said Allan Lichtman, an American University presidential historian who ran in a Maryland Democratic senatorial primary in 2006. Lichtman, whose forecasting model has correctly predicted the last six presidential popular vote winners, predicts that this year, “Republicans face what have always been insurmountable historical odds.” His system gives McCain a score on par with Jimmy Carter’s in 1980.

Kunh wrote:

What’s more, Republicans have held the presidency for all but 12 years since the South became solidly Republican in the realignment of 1968 — which is among the longest runs with one party dominating in American history. “These things go in cycles,” said presidential historian Robert Dallek, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “The public gets tired of one approach to politics. There is always a measure of optimism in this country, so they turn to the other party.”

That desire for change also tends to manifest itself at the end of a president’s second term. Only twice in the 20th century has a candidate from the same party as a two-term president won the presidency, most recently in 1988, when George H.W. Bush replaced the term-limited Ronald Reagan, who was about twice as popular in the last year of his presidency as President George W. Bush is now.

So, is the election determined already? Is there any need to actually cast the votes? Does party trump the person and their ideals? Can we just give Obama the White House?

Perhaps not. Kunh noted:

Campbell still casts McCain as the underdog. But he said McCain might have more appeal to moderates than Obama if the electorate decides McCain is “center right” while Obama is “far left.” Democrats have been repeatedly undone when their nominee was viewed as too liberal, and even as polls show a rise in the number of self-identified Democrats, there has been no corresponding increase in the number of self-identified liberals. Campbell also notes that McCain may benefit from the Democratic divisions that were on display in the primary, as Republicans did in 1968, when Democratic divisions over the war in Vietnam dogged Humphrey and helped hand Nixon victory.

I guess this is why we actually have the election. History works up to a point but unique events always change. Will racism effect enough voters to derail Obama? Will Obama's lack of experience versus McCain's impact enough voters to make a difference? Will the Electoral College vote reflect the national will as much of Obama's support is concentrated in states which would have gone Democratic anyway? Will there be an October surprise such as Osama being caught? Maybe a candidate will make a dumb mistake or find themselves in a scandal at the wrong time...

I am not sure how I will vote. I think both Obama and McCain will make good American Presidents. I probably will not reveal my final decison here either. I hope for a high turnout election. And regardless, I will support the winner.

I can not wait for November. I love presidential elections. And, I do not believe the results have been decided yet.


40 said...

I find it hard to believe that anyone in this country would have a difficult time choosing between two such different candidates.

And I am not talking black and white - skin color. Or age (no two have run against each other with such a difference in age). Or height. Obama will tower over McCain in those town hall meetings.

Just look at what they stand for - and see if that matches your values. Pretty simple.

Jennie W said...

Kuhn's comments on the divisions in the Democratic party are definitely something that I see as an important crack that McCain can use (and while I already know who I will be voting for this fall, I don't plan on advertising that here - not the place for it). The Democratics have really been split between Obama and Clinton and I think they may be their own undoing (much like the election of 1912 when the Republicans did it to themselves), especially if a third party candidate enters into the picture. I also personally think too much time has been spent on gender/race issues rather than more important ones.

40 said...

I am of the belief that such a close and tough fought Democratic primary has done a lot to test Obama. He has come out of it not as much damaged as battle-tested. This is very important to Democrats who understand the swift boaters are just waiting with baited breath.

Obama's organization is much more prepared to counter crazy and sinister plots - like he's Muslim, or his wife called people 'whiteys.'

We'll see how it plays out... but, unfortunately in America race and gender have been issues that have not been settled. I believe this election season will go a long way towards healing those wounds, regardless of who wins the election.