Sanity Injection

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

Posts Tagged ‘McCain’

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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To the victor goes not just the spoils, but also the cover.

Posted by sanityinjection on November 12, 2008

In the wake of President-Elect Obama’s campaign which raised more money, and documented it more poorly, than any campaign in American history, guess whose campaign is going to be audited by the FEC? McCain’s.

What’s that you say? Doesn’t make sense? Surely the undocumented sources of funding for Obama, some of which are alleged to be illegal foreign funding, deserve at least an audit? And why audit one side’s campaign and not the other? Especially since an audit requires the campaign to spend millions more to defend itself.

First, the FEC is auditing McCain’s campaign because they have to, by law. McCain accepted public funds for the general election which automatically triggers an audit. This is as it should be – American taxpayers have the right to insist that their money is spent legally and properly. McCain’s already raised about $9 million in a special fund to cover the cost of defending the audit.

So the question is, why isn’t Obama’s campaign being audited? There is no legal requirement to do so, but there have certainly been plenty of complaints filed with the FEC reagrding improprieties. The answer we are getting is that the alleged improprieties don’t rise to the level of an audit because they are dwarfed by the huge total that Obama raised. In other words, anything that was done wrong was a drop in the bucket.

I can accept that in principle, but it just seems odd for the FEC to make the loser of the election pay a $9 million penalty that the winner doesn’t have to pay. How about if, in exchange for not being audited, the Obama campaign pays the McCain campaign’s defense costs? Wouldn’t that be a nice bipartisan gesture?

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Election Analysis: What we learned about the voters

Posted by sanityinjection on November 5, 2008

The biggest surprise for me in this election was that independent voters, and those who made their decision on who to vote for at the last minute, broke overwhelmingly for Obama (and not for McCain as I’d expected.) Obama won overwhelmingly among northern white blue-collar voters – the so-called “Reagan Democrats” – and it was this group more than any other that accounted for his victory, giving him wins in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. By contrast, the massive turnout among African-Americans that Obama had predicted earlier in the campaign did not occur – turnout was high across all demographics, but not exceptionally so among African-Americans.

It seems clear that the economy was the central factor in this election. Foreign policy issues virtually disappeared from the campaign after the credit crisis, wiping out McCain’s biggest advantage. Voters clearly blamed the Bush Administration for the country’s economic woes, and bought Obama’s argument that McCain represented more of the same failed policies. In short, they voted to roll the dice and take a chance on someone who seems confident that he can help them – and is persuasive enough to make them believe it.

We also learned that the much-touted “Bradley effect” does not exist, if it ever did. Obama’s election and strong support from white voters proves that, contrary to the shrill shrieks of the Left, America is not a racist country, and in fact is less racist now than it has ever been. (How many so-called “enlightened” European countries have elected members of *any* minority groups as their leaders?)

In hindsight, though analysts will debate as to whether McCain ran a good or bad campaign, it is hard to imagine how any Republican candidate could have survived the post-convention downturn in the economy, or how McCain could have done anything after that to come back and win. The Republican brand has simply been too tarred by the Bush Administration’s unpopular foreign policy moves and the economic woes at home.

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States to watch tonight

Posted by sanityinjection on November 4, 2008

Sure, we’re all going to watch the election coverage tonight. But let’s be honest – who can pay attention for four hours straight without wavering? Sanity Injection brings you the key states to watch tonight so you know when to start paying attention, and when to go to bed:

FLORIDA: Florida is the absolute must-win state for McCain. There is no scenario where he wins without it. If Florida goes for Obama, you can turn off the TV and head for bed, because it’s not gonna be close. If McCain wins Florida, which I think he will, then he stays alive.

PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania is McCain’s big gamble. The state is expected to go to Obama, but McCain has made a huge effort here. If Obama wins, it’s the first nail in McCain’s coffin. If McCain wins, things is gonna get interestin’.

OHIO: Ohio is also critical for McCain. If he wins Pennsylvania and Ohio, it will be a long night. If he loses Pennsylvania but wins Ohio, McCain can still win. If Obama wins both Pennsylvania and Ohio, it should be all over unless McCain gets an upset in Minnesota and wins everywhere else.

VIRGINIA: Virginia is the third state in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-Virginia Triumvirate that will decide the election. A sweep of all three states wins the election for either candidate. McCain needs to win at least two out of three in order to stay alive, and would still need help out West.

NEVADA: If McCain is still alive when Nevada is called, and he hasn’t swept the Triumvirate, he’ll need Nevada to win. If he loses here, it’s lights out.

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Could the polls be wrong?

Posted by sanityinjection on October 30, 2008

Latest polls show Obama ahead in just about every key state. But the McCain campaign still seems to think they can win this thing. Why?

I think I know why. Consider the following hypothetical statement by a voter in a key state:

“Man, I am so sick of this whole election campaign. People coming by the house, our mailbox full of brochures, ads every five seconds on TV. Damn pollsters keep callin’ my house, I just hang up on them. I can’t wait until the whole thing is over!”

I think we can all agree that this statement represents the views of a decent number of people, probably including some we know. Clearly, their views are not being captured by any polls. Now ask yourself this: Assuming this person votes, who do you think they are likely to vote for? In other words, if this person is sick to death of all the hype, are they likely to vote for or against the candidate who seems to be the King of Hype? If this person is a cynic, are they more likely to vote for Obama or McCain?

I think the McCain campaign is counting on this group of people turning out to vote and voting for McCain. I do not know whether that assumption is right, but if it is, I agree it could make the difference between winning and losing. There are a lot of these people out there.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

Analysis: The first Presidential debate

Posted by sanityinjection on September 27, 2008

I don’t think there is any question about the winner of last night’s first Presidential debate: Barack Obama. Not because he was so much better than McCain, but simply because he held his own in an area (foreign policy) that was supposed to be McCain’s strong suit.

Obama came across as confident, reasonable, and dare I say, Presidential. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about. He was obviously very well prepared. By contrast, McCain came across like your cranky grandpa. He seemed to jump from one thought to another before finishing a sentence and got bogged down in details most viewers would have a hard time following. McCain appeared stiff, which he can’t really help since he’s partially unable to move his arms, but the contrast with Obama’s body language was not a good one. It seemed like McCain was winging it, relying on his knowledge and experience to carry him through. He didn’t seem prepared rhetorically, and he tripped over his own tongue a number of times.

Neither candidate had a memorable line or made any serious mistakes. So I don’t think this debate represents a slam dunk, but with Obama regaining some momentum in the polls, McCain needed a boost, and he didn’t get one from this performance. Obama’s performance helped to rebut the charge that he is inexperienced and unready – he did not come across that way. McCain needed to hammer home those charges, but every time he started to he got sidetracked by policy details.

The next debate will be between the VP candidates, but I don’t expect it will have a major impact on the race despite the high level of interest in how Sarah Palin will perform, unless she really wallops Biden, which is unlikely. After that, the second Presidential debate will probably have the lowest viewership. So between now and the final Presidential debate, McCain is going to have to find some other source of momentum to stay in this race.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Just the thing to cut through the BS of the campaign…

Posted by sanityinjection on September 23, 2008

Thanks to reader Ken. A. for tipping me off about this one. Now you can get your very own custom pocketknife designed especially for the Presidential candidate of your choice – either the McCain “Maverick” model or the Obama “Change” model!

Be sure to click the links to read the detailed descriptions of each, but be forewarned, this is humor that cuts to the quick:

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Words of wisdom from…Bill Clinton?

Posted by sanityinjection on September 23, 2008

Former President Bill Clinton has never been one of my favorite people, but even a stopped watch is right twice a day. In an AP interview, Clinton said he understood why Sarah Palin has struck a chord with many Americans. Then he said this:

My view is … why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don’t we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?”

What is sad is that this should be obvious, yet in the modern political climate it comes across as wisdom. And yes, it should be practiced by both Democrats and Republicans. If a candidate wants to win over voters from the other party, the best way to start is by acknowledging that the standard-bearer of that party is not a bad person or ill-intentioned, which also means that his or her supporters aren’t either, by and large.

Both candidates are offering visions for the next 4-8 years that are different from what we have seen recently. Senator Obama is offering a renewed focus on domestic issues such as health care and government programs to help the disadvantaged, as well as greater attention to minority issues. Senator McCain is offering a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation to solve problems, combined with fiscal discipline and ethics reform to help put the government’s finances in order. Choose your vision.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

McCain campaign steals spotlight by being nice

Posted by sanityinjection on August 28, 2008

It’s rare that you see something new in politics, but viewers watching the Democratic convention tonight on the major cable networks will have that opportunity. The McCain campaign has decided to air a television ad before, during, and after Obama’s acceptance speech tonight. That in itself is not new – candidates are always trying to steal the spotlight from each other. But the content of the ad is surprising – McCain simply congratulates Obama on winning the nomination, and points out the symbolism that he does so on the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech:

Clearly, the McCain folks figure this is a way to keep McCain in voters’ minds without looking like he is trying to crash a party he’s not invited to, and hoping voters will give him points for being gracious to his opponent.  It should work, but as far as I know it’s never been tried before. Coming after last night’s speech by former President Clinton, in which he took great care to praise McCain’s character and service before denouncing his policies, are we finally starting to see the kinder, gentler, campaign that both candidates said they wanted to run?

Well, probably not. It’s too easy for criticisms of policy to slide into criticisms of judgment into criticisms of character. But at least those of us who long for a more gentlemanly brand of politics can enjoy the moment while it lasts.

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The truth about voter turnout

Posted by sanityinjection on August 22, 2008

It has been a truism so far in the media coverage of the Presidential race that a big part of Obama’s strategy is the assumption that Obama’s unique qualities will drive up voter turnout among populations that have been underrepresented in previous elections, and that these groups (especially African-Americans) will make the difference in the election.

Jay Cost addresses this in the context of analyzing what Obama needs to do in order to win the state of Virginia, a traditionally Republican state with a large chunk of African-American voters and a demographic trend that favors the Democrats. Cost points out that any surge in black turnout for Obama may be offset by backers of Hillary Clinton who switch to McCain:

“Every previous non-voter who votes Democrat this cycle nets Obama one vote, but every typical Democrat who backs McCain nets the Republican two votes.”

For political junkies, Cost’s full analysis of Virginia is here:

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