Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Myth of a Horesrace

The media loved the primaries. The Democratic race in particular was a ratings bonanza.

So it's understandable, if wildly discrediting, that they would wish to sustain a narrative of uncertainty, of actual contest in the general election campaign regardless of the facts on the ground.

In fact every indication is that John Mcain will lose badly to Obama. Historically badly with blowouts like Roosevelt VS Hoover or Reagan VS Carter the examples that historians point to for what we can expect.
One week into the general election, the polls show a dead heat. But many presidential scholars doubt that John McCain stands much of a chance, if any.

Historians belonging to both parties offered a litany of historical comparisons that give little hope to the Republican. Several saw Barack Obama’s prospects as the most promising for a Democrat since Roosevelt trounced Hoover in 1932.

“This should be an overwhelming Democratic victory,” said Allan Lichtman, an American University presidential historian who ran in a Maryland Democratic senatorial primary in 2006. Lichtman, whose forecasting model has correctly predicted the last six presidential popular vote winners, predicts that this year, “Republicans face what have always been insurmountable historical odds.” His system gives McCain a score on par with Jimmy Carter’s in 1980.
Demographics are no kinder to McCain than history. With the rise of a Latino population in the west treated with grotesque xenophobia and fear-mongering by the Republican Party in recent years, a highly engaged African American population in the south and Americans under thirty overwhelmingly identifying as Democrats, this isn't a surge, this is a fundamental electoral re-alignment. Republican donors seem unwilling to throw good money after bad, another bad sign for the GOP.

But if you're watching American TV news, all you hear is that McCain is a maverick, an independant voice in the Republican Party. The reality of his closeness to Bush's doctrines has gotten through anyway. You're hearing all about Obama's problems with older white women, still bitter about Hillary's fall from grace, and very little about his overwhelming polling advantage with women in general. You hear he doesn't have a plurality of white men, but not that
No Democratic presidential candidate, including Bill Clinton, has won a majority of that declining demographic since 1964. Mr. Kerry lost white men by 25 points, and Mr. Gore did by 24 points (even as he won the popular vote).
The real story is that short of an October surprise - which could as easily help Obama as it could McCain - Obama is about to stomp McCain like a narc at a biker rally. But that story doesn't fit the narrative and would give the talking heads very little to talk about for the next five months.

2009 is going to be a very different world.

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