Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

2008 post-election analysis and the future of the GOP

Posted by sanityinjection on January 12, 2009

RealClearPolitics, in discussing the concept of “permanent majorities” and the cycle of party dominance in American politics, gives us this interesting look back at the 2008 election:

We see that McCain’s lead over Obama holds until Lehman Brothers and AIG collapse. McCain’s numbers drop again after he suspends his campaign, and Obama’s start to rise as the Dow later starts to fall. By the time the stock market bottoms out around 8,500, Obama had the 8-point lead that he would hold through Election Day.

Without the collapse, the campaign dynamic could have been quite different. For instance, how would the country have reacted had the Obama campaign been forced to go sharply negative, rather than employing the kind of “Rose Garden strategy” it was able to employ? If one accepts that the financial collapse hurt Republicans by even a couple of points, then Norm Coleman, Ted Stevens, and Gordon Smith would have stood a much better chance of holding their seats, and Republican House losses might have been quite reduced. In other words, were it not for the timing of an event that was out of the campaigns’ control, the election could have been different.

This is significant as it pertains to the current soul-searching going on in the Republican party. Viewed in this light, 2008 does not represent any kind of wholesale rejection of Republican policies or values. What it does indicate is that the electorate lost confidence in the GOP’s ability to manage the economy, which is significant. If the Republicans want to remold themselves in response to the elections, the key to doing that would seem to be to regain the high ground on economic issues by returning to a policy of fiscal discipline. Under the Bush Administration, Republicans in Congress passed spending increase after spending increase and Bush vetoed none of them. They called for tax cuts, but without corresponding cuts in spending voters may well have wondered where those tax breaks were going to come from.

It’s true that a significant portion of the spending increase was in the defense sector. But if that is to be justified (and I think it can be), then it has to be accompanied by reductions in other areas. Instead, Bush and the GOP horse-traded away fiscal responsibility to the Democrats in return for the latter party’s support of the war funding.

Republicans are beginning the process of arguing themselves into apoplexy over whether the party should become more or less socially conservative. This argument is pointless and needlessly divisive. To borrow a phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

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9 Responses to “2008 post-election analysis and the future of the GOP”

  1. They blundered badly … and of course, you can tail anything to Obama’s victory … what that chart you presented does not take into account is the number of people who have registered to vote for the first time … people who were fed up with the default ineptness stubbornly followed by this departing administration … not to mention their gang like attitude expecting to extort and coerse the entire country …

  2. sanityinjection said

    People who register to vote and people who actually vote are very different statistics. If turnout was a factor, I would argue that the economic crisis motivated a greater percentage of newly registered voters to actually show up at the polls than in a normal election year. Not to mention all the ACORN staffers who voted multiple times for Obama by means of the fraudulent voters they registered…

  3. That’s the losers’ perspective … aimed to de-characterize the opponent’s victory. I think we should better check how many of the newly registered actually did vote … My guess is that most of them did. Nevertheless, we must also take into account that the decision to register and vote is, in general, a decision pondered, matured and based on personal mid or long term experiences … these fellas aren’t really too emotional about their new decision and concerns … most specially after years of electoral indifference.

  4. sanityinjection said

    Gilmour – How much “pondering” does it take to fill out the Motor Voter card when you get your driver’s license renewed? I think you have a very rosy view of the intellectual proclivities of the average voter.

    I think the numbers varied quite a bit by state. In Indiana, about 2/3 of newly registered voters actually voted. By contrast, in Georgia, overall voter turnout was lower than in 2004. I haven’t seen a comprehensive stat on this yet.

  5. Prior to the act itself, it’s a personal decision … unless, of course, if you see them as cattle … which, apparently does seem to be the case …

  6. sanityinjection said

    You make no room for middle ground between deep thinking and cattle. This of course is an excellent example of the kind of good/evil, black/white, right/wrong thinking that plagues our politics today.

  7. Well you referred to them as if they were electoral cattle … I see them as citizens … just like you and me … so the ‘black-and-white’ finger pointing should be aimed at yourself …

  8. sanityinjection said

    Gilmour, you just proved my point again.

  9. Sure … I point out a fallacy in your argument, most specially as to what concerns its monochromatism … so, stressing once more, contrary to your beliefs, I would never see fellow citizens, including yourself, as if they were ‘electoral-cows’ guided by herds into the voting booth … but of course this is a free country and you have the right to disagree with me and view our fellow citizens as if they were ‘voting-cows’ … this is a free country even for those who actually belittle the capacity of discernment of the American citizen …

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