- From: John Black <jblack@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 5 Nov 2008 12:43:11 -0600
My explanation of the election results:
The Financial Crisis: Never has such a thing happened right in the middle
(worse, near the end) of a Presidential election. The simple perception is
that well, a Republican is in the White House so its their fault. As we've
discussed here in detail, the reality is much more complicated but I doubt
most of the population understood the issue very well. And McCain
mishandled it completely at least at first. He allowed Obama to essentially
blame HIM for it and could not come up with an effective response until much
damage had been done -- too much damage. The reality was that McCain was
one of the few who saw it coming and tried to do something about it a couple
of years ago, while big Fannie/Freddie recipients like *Obama himself* put
their heads in the sand and claimed no problem existed. Shame on McCain for
not being able to make people understand this and let it be turned around on
him. Oh and the "I'm suspending my campaign to go work on the crisis" move
didn't work for McCain.
The economy hurt McCain in another way. The global recession caused the
price of oil to collapse -- both due to demand destruction brought on by the
global slowdown and due to the rally of the dollar relative to other
currencies. This hurt McCain because it took away another of his winning
issues -- gas prices. 75% of Americans were in favor of Drill Drill Drill
when gas prices were going north of $4 a gallon and McCain was getting a lot
of traction with that issue at the time. Obama was being hurt politically
by remaining against drilling and saying stupid things about inflating your
tires. But now gas is half of what it was a few months ago and still
falling so people are not longer focused on that issue. So all the issues
McCain was doing well with: gas prices, Iraq, and taxes were one by one
taken off the table for different reasons. Gas prices improved on their
own, Iraq is off the headlines (because the policies McCain supported
WORKED) and Obama conviced people that HE, not McCain was the tax cutter.
Move to the center: Obama is a completely different person now than he was
when he started campaigning. He's moved on so many issues I won't even try
to list them. I don't think the original Obama could have won last night
but perhaps the new Obama might not have beat Clinton? Obama won a lot of
conservatives with his "tax cut" rhetoric. There was a poll that came out
that showed more people ironically view Obama a bigger tax cutter than
No one saw that coming and it was a brilliant campaign move to steal one of
McCain's issues from him.
Iraq is no longer really an issue: McCain is better on the Iraq issue but no
one cares anymore. Its off the headlines. Obama and Biden were clearly
wrong to not support the surge and wrong in saying it would not work. Had
they gotten their way, we would have left in defeat and before the Iraqi
government could stand on its own. Iraq could have then fallen into the
wrong hands with lots of bad consequences. Hopefully 1) Obama has learned
from what happened with the surge (I'm hopeful on that because I have seen
him learn many things in 2 years) and 2) the war is now to a point where he
can just dot a few i's and cross a few t's and end it "responsibly".
Obama is a great speaker: A really great speaker. McCain is not. McCain
is a good senator (though I disagree with several things) and a good public
servant, but he is not a good politician. Obama is a very good politician.
Obama is black: Some thought this would hurt him and there is no doubt it
did to some extent but I believe it helped him far more than it hurt him.
Many many people were excited about participating in such an "historic"
election. Even though democrats have always done well with blacks, Obama
got many more (almost all). Also, many whites were glad to elect the first
black president for a lot of reasons.
Change: There are just times when the country is ready for change and Obama
capitalized well on that. These times usually coincide with bad economic
news or unpopular wars (and we have both). Reagan came in at such a time.
Clinton too -- "Its the economy stupid". Bush has made many mistakes,
though I think he has been villianized far beyond what was called for.
Obama did well portraying Bush as McCain's running mate.
Age: Not so much because people though he would drop dead but because he was
not able to connect with many of the younger generations. Obama being in
his 40s can more easily connect up and down 20 or so years.
Palin: I believe she helped McCain more than she hurt him. People minimized
her being the governor of Alaska but being a governor of a state is the
closest job executive-wise to being the president. And Carter and Clinton
didn't really have much more experience than she has -- Arkansas is small
like Alaska. Furthermore, she was the main thing that gave McCain his bumps
in the polls. He was losing all along UNTIL he picked her, then he was
winning until the financial crisis hit. The next bump he got in the polls
was after her debate. I personally think Romney would have been a better
choice (actually a better choice than McCain for presidential candidate too)
but I don't think having Romney on the ticket would have counteracted
everything I talk about above enough for McCain to have won.
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