Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Presidential Race is McCain's to Lose

Even before he knows who his opponent will be, the 2008 presidential election looks to be developing into a shoe-in for Senator John McCain and the Republicans.

Granted, there is a lot of time between now and November, and a lot can happen in a very short time when it comes to presidential elections. Heck, three of the four names on the ballot have yet to be determined. How then, can one reasonably project the winner of an election that hasn't even begun? The answer lies in a multitude of factors that will make a Democratic victory in November extremely unlikely, if not impossible.

This may come as a bit of a surprise to those paying attention. For one thing, Senator McCain is the candidate for the party that produced the sitting president, who also happens to be one of the most unpopular presidents in American history. Additionally, voting trends in House and Senate races the past two years have overwhelmingly favored the Democrats. On top of all that, McCain is extremely unpopular among conservatives who have long been the GOP's electoral bread-and-butter.

So how does this add up to an easy victory for McCain in November? The answer lies in a multitude of factors:

  1. Match-up dynamics - McCain matches up far better in a one-on-one contest against a Democrat than he ever did in a primary field full of Republicans. His broad appeal may have hurt him among conservatives, but will help him lure in independent and crossover voters.
  2. Conservatives will vote for him anyway - The conservative faction of the Republican Party will turn out in force to vote for McCain, whether they like him or not. In fact, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if conservatives turn out in record numbers to support the candidate they said they'd never vote for. The reason for this is that conservatives don't really vote for their candidate as they vote against liberals and Democrats. Regardless of who the Democrats' candidate turns out to be, the GOP's conservative base will have plenty of reason to show up to the polls to vote against him or her.
  3. The Democratic Primaries - Democrat voter haven't helped out their own cause much by dragging out their party's primary until the bitter end. Supporters of both candidates have been somewhat embittered by what they consider unfair tactics being deployed by the other. McCain and the GOP have at least a two-month head start to began putting together a case against either Clinton or Obama. This time will also aide them in fundraising activities. In addition to all this, until one of them wins, Senators Clinton and Obama will continue to spend precious campaign funds beating up each other, which helps neither of them defeat Senator McCain.
  4. Florida and Michigan - The DNC shot itself in the foot when Howard Dean made the decision to strip the two potential swing-states of their delegates to the national convention. In what has largely been seen as a slight to the voters of these two states, the Democratic nominee will have some catching up to do if he or she were to win either of these two states. No matter who wins the Democrat Primary, there will be loyal Democrat voters who will inevitably feel as though their candidate was given the shaft by the party.
  5. The Obama preacher issue - Like it or not, Senator Obama's association with his radical church and pastor will still be a major issue in November if he wins the Democrat nomination. This effect will be exacerbated by his middle name (Hussein), regardless of whether it's fair or not. The Democratic Party leaders know this, and it will be intriguing to see whether or not and to what extent they pressure the Superdelegates, if in fact Obama finishes with more popular delegates. The Superdelegate system exists for just this scenario --- if the voters choose the wrong candidate (the one less likely to win the main election). If Obama wins the popular delegate count, the question becomes whether or not the party has the fortitude to actually use the system the way it was intended, and in doing so subvert the will of the people.
In taking all of these factors into consideration, the forecast looks increasingly bright for McCain and the GOP. While there is plenty of time for the Dems to get things turned around, at this point them doing so appears unlikely at best.

For the record, the objective of this post and this blog is not to advocate a particular candidate or party. The idea is to inform readers of what I think will happen, from the standpoint of the present competitive dynamics, and how they look to project into the future. I'm not writing about what should happen or what I'd like to happen. Rather, the purpose of this post (and one of the goals of this blog) is to inform readers of what will happen before it does.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Irony with the Democrats' Superdelegate System

Has anyone else noticed the irony in the Democratic Party's Superdelegate system being used to determine its nominee? This is a far more Republican primary system than the one the Republicans use to choose a nominee, if you go by the literal definitions of the terms "democratic" and "republican".

The Superdelegate system is different from the traditional primary system in that some influential party leaders are given votes at the convention in addition to those cast by the delegates from the respective states. The system used by the republicans is based entirely upon the votes of the people of the respective states.

The DNC could face an extremely troublesome scenario if voting by Superdelegates offsets the will of the American people in determining the Democratic candidate for President. This scenario is further complicated by the fact that Florida and Michigan were stripped of their delegates by the party for violating the party's rules. Sean Lengell of the Washington Times wrote about this very predicament in a piece entitled "DNC Faces 'Train Wreck' Over Delegates".

The key-quote from the article came from Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who said: "If [party leaders] go to the Democratic convention and they stiff-arm the Florida delegation, how in the world do you think Floridians are going to support the Democratic nominee on [Election Day, Nov. 4]?"

This raises a very interesting question. Could being stripped of a voice at the party's convention harm the Democrats' chances of winning these two states in the general election? Will Democrat voters in Florida and Michigan feel disenfranchised from the primaries to the extent they vote Republican in November? That is a question that likely will not be answered until November.