I don’t know about you, but judging by the media coverage, the passionate supporters, the image, the speaking ability, the complete animosity toward the Republicans on the part of the general populace, and a very unpopular president, Barack Obama should be running away with this election. Everything seems to be favoring a President Obama, yet John McCain is right on his heels in the polls. How can this be?
In the latest national polling, McCain has maintained between a 1 and 6 point deficit to Obama. This appears to be very good news for McCain. Real Clear Politics national polling average currently has Obama with 46.1% and McCain with 41.7%. The latest Fox News poll gave Obama a 1 point lead, and as recent as Thursday , the rolling Gallup poll had Obama up 2. Now in the last two days those gaps have widen, likely as a result of the “Messiah World Tour” Obama went on, and we can expect another narrowing in the next week I would suspect.
So how is it possible the race is this close? Judging by the current atmosphere, the Democrat candidate should runaway with the election by 10 points and win nearly all the swing states. But as of now that is not shaping up to be the case, and considering the electoral experience of McCain and the novice Obama, I wouldn’t expect McCain to fall much further behind.
The first reason that the Dems are not running away with this is their choice of candidate. Barack is a divisive figure, even within the party. His naive statements on foreign policy and the fact he defeated the queen bee in the nomination fight, turned off a good portion of democratic voters. The Democrats should have nominated a moderate who could draw in more of the middle, Mark Warner, for example, would have been a run away choice and would have won the White House.
Second, is Barack’s experience. He is a one term Senator with no executive experience whatsoever. I have more foreign policy experience than he does. And he is going up a extremely experienced and qualified Republican.
Third, and the most disappointing, is his name and Muslim background, perhaps even his race. I hope that this impact is extremely limited, but I wonder, especially the muslim background. I assume this bothers a lot of voters (despite the fact he is a devout Christian now). I wonder how many people will vote for a guy named Barack Obama? It is of no issue to me, but I am sure it is to many others. The fortunate thing for Obama is that many of the voter who don’t like him because of these reasons were likely going to vote for the Republican anyway, regardless of who the Dem nominee is.
Note, The last sentence above is not a criticism of the Republican Party, I don’t believe the GOP as an organization is bigoted or racist in the least, but honest observance and analysis shows that (white) racists usually vote Republican (while Black racists vote Democrat).
The third reason is John McCain. While I can’t stand the man, he is really the most electable candidate for the GOP to nominate this season. He is a moderate and has the reputation as a maverick. He can successfully separate himself from the Bush administration as a result. He appeals to many independent voters and moderate democrats who are less than thrilled with Obama. (Here is where McCain’s veep selection may come in handy, and while I think the smartest move would be for him to nominate Sarah Palin.) And most conservatives who dislike McCain will hold their nose and vote for him just to keep Obama out of the White House.
The final reason I think the race is close is that this is still a divided country. While party membership numbers are down in the GOP, peoples’ personal political persuasion tend to be more conservative than liberal on average. I think we will see the divide move even closer to 50/50 as improvments in Iraq continue to be shown and the Bush administration is somewhat vindicated.
All in all, this is a historic election, though I am less than thrilled with our options. If the Democrats lose this one, they just need to disband and start a new party. (psst, Democratic voters, if you ever want to win a Presidential election when the political atmosphere is mostly neutral – unlike this one – stop nominating people who are the most left-wing and idealistic of your party, and start nominating people who actually somewhat represent mainstream America. You need a somewhat moderate candidate who is pragmatic and experienced. Fortunately, for we GOPers, your party isn’t likely to move that way soon as it has been hijacked by the communist wing of the party: I’m looking at you MoveOn and DailyKos. The GOP had/has this problem with the “religious right”, we have been hijacked by them, but we were pragmatic and voted to win. You didn’t.)