Monday, November 03, 2008

Why Obama Will Lose

Someone once told me, a provocative title helps draw attention. Hi there :)

In all seriousness, upsets of biblical proportions aside, Obama is set to win tomorrow, the electoral margin the only item in question. Everyone will articulate elaborate reasoning's as to why Obama beat McCain, but in my view, it all comes down to a few simple facts, and some timely turns in the road.

I look at a state like Virginia as representative of a national dynamic. Whether Obama actually takes the state tomorrow is largely irrelevant to my point, it's really the reality there that extrapolates to a wider theme. Obama has FOUR times more campaign offices in Virginia than McCain. Obama's television expenditure in Virginia is SEVEN times that of McCain. Obama's GOTV organization absolutely dwarfs anything McCain can muster. All of those factors, which are mirrored in other key states, come down to a fundamental truth, Obama has the money, McCain simply doesn't. Obama's decision to opt out of public financing, leaving McCain hobbled, is the real story behind the story. Had that development not occurred, I suspect we would be in for a long night, the outcome nowhere near as certain. One caveat, despite the fact McCain made a crucial error in accepting public financing, it is noteworthy that Obama was able to inspire so many, 3 million Americans, who gave between $25-100 to his campaign.

Some of my friends, are saying they expected this outcome all along, it was never really in doubt. I would argue, that despite all of Obama's advantages, despite this being the year of the Democrat(the party set to make gains everywhere as voters turn on everything with a hint of an attachment to Bush), despite the charisma, the desire for change, all the intangibles working in his favor, in the final analysis, his victory is partially attributable to good fortune.

It was only a few weeks ago that McCain was actually ahead in the polls, ahead in the key battlegrounds, the only time he had the advantage during this entire race. The Palin choice looked advantageous, I seem to remember Democrats and the media befuddled, McCain was in stride, the Obama campaign in full regroup. Now, some would argue that Palin wore thin, it was inevitable that the selection would come back to haunt McCain. I'm not so sure, that view was clearly helped by unforeseen circumstances, circumstances which acted as a cold shower on the entire electorate, shaken to the core. When the stock market went into crisis, you will see a clear co-relation in the polls, you will see it was here that Palin's folksy charm morphed into unproven ditz. Everything became deadly serious, the superficial pre-occupation of American politics evaporated, and attention was pointed. In that environment, Palin was entirely unattractive, while McCain's weakness was exposed, the Obama campaign quickly seized the moment to re-calibrate the message of change, using the economy to bring people back to their senses. You see, it was always Obama's year, but it was getting lost in the tabloid journalism, nobody should make the mistake of giving voters too much credit. However, when gigantic heaps of dung hit the fan, people got scared, people actually focused, and Obama regained, never to look back. I wonder the outcome, had the meltdown not occurred, for all the advantages, sometimes and unfortunately, a candidate's fate is dependent on some fortuitous development. In my opinion, the stock market crash was the key factor in this election, wherein everything changed, then crystallized.

Whatever the factors, one thing is clear, America will be in a better place Wednesday, than they have for a VERY LONG time. It would be a good morning to buy stock methinks :)


noamzs said...

Love the title strategem; will be using it on my blog immediately. But you do make a good point; when things started to actually mean something, which is the best time to make judgments, Obama remained confident and on message, whereas the McCain camp was like a ferris wheel; moving really slow, and not going anywhere.

But all this begs a certain question: during the '04 election, when things also mattered (remember the Iraq war?, why was Bush able to win? He looked as dumb as ever, and Kerry schooled him in all of the debates. The difference between then and now, aside from the difficulty of defeating an incumbent during a war (no matter how inbred he makes himself out to be) was that the Bush campaign was ruthlessly offensive, whereas McCain's attacks just aren't resonating. One wonders if Karl Rove were running the Republican campaign, where we'd be at right now.

Anonymous said...

News in... that Obama's Grandmother in Hawaii, died of cancer...she did most of his raising. He was talking tonight a rally, and I could see the tears.

Steve V said...

"was that the Bush campaign was ruthlessly offensive, whereas McCain's attacks just aren't resonating."

I wonder if the Democratic primary battle wasn't helpful? It was such a nasty fight, that all the unseemly stuff came out then, which sort of neutered many of McCain's later attacks, along similar lines. That, and again, the fact Obama had oodles of cash to counter McCain, helped blunt the smears.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with your analysis. The economic meltdown strengthened Obama's hand. And he's been sounding more like FDR than like Bill Clinton (a good thing). It will be interesting to see the Obama election's impact on our politics.

Miles Lunn said...

I agree with the analysis. I gave my predictions on this as well. As for Virginia, I don't think money is the only issue, I would argue changing demographics is part of it. The DC suburbs are the fastest growing part of the state and this area in more Northeastern than Southern thus more liberal. They even have a Northeastern accent rather than a Southern drawl. Also the state is over 20% African-American and this group has historically had a lower turnout than the white vote so a better turnout by them will help.

Also in the case of the DC suburbs, they are mostly moderate Republicans like much of the Northeastern suburbs such as Long Island or the Philadelphia suburbs. These areas when Republicans back in the days when the party was more moderate than today. The party's sharp turn to the right helped it in the short-term, but is now coming back to bite them.

liberazzi said...

Remember when Canada was "cool"...

Anonymous said...

Dear F&W
You are dead on!
Except for the perfect storm you describe JM would be pres in a walk
And you may still be right.

Steve V said...

"I don't think money is the only issue, I would argue changing demographics is part of it."

The money just allows you to sow the fertile ground.

Anonymous said...

Good post and excellent observations.

I also agree with Miles Lunn. The demographics of Virginia have been changing for a while, hence the movement of that state towards centrist Democrats for the past several years.

It was only 3 years ago in Virginia that the Republicans had both Senate seats. Obama having the money to devote to the state helped. But the demographics favored him there tremdously.

One little reported (or totally unreported) factoid has been of interest to me in Obama's carrying Ohio.

Having lived there for nearly a decade and having many close friends there, I strongly believe the "Joe the Plumber" theme actually HURT McCain in Ohio. Look at the following chart, focusing on the mid-October point (where the slope begins to trail off for McCain before the sharp recovery at the end).

The third debate was on Oct 14, with the grand entrance of "man as metaphor" Joe the Plumber. For the next two weeks, McCain's numbers slid in Ohio - they didn't climb. There was a recovery right at the end that got him back to about where he had been polling. But at that point, Obama was consistently polling above 50% in the state, which became his final tally.

I just find it interesting that the last gimmick of John McCain fell flat or even harmed him in the state where Joe lived. My impression at the beginning, reiterated by my very dear Ohio born and raised 70-year old centrist to right-centrist past neighbor, was that having "some ill-informed hick who doesn't pay his taxes but likes to complain anyway" (her words) was an embarrassment to many Ohioans.

In the end, the margin was such that Ohio wasn't the final battleground. But I find it interesting in all the mind-boggling reporting on this race that no one took the time to observe that instead of closing the gap, McCain's latching on to Joe the Plumber in Ohio actually eroded his popularity in the state.

The Palin / Joe Six-Pack / Joe Plumber may have been a boon in some states, but it certainly didn't play everywhere - particularly, as you highlight - when very real issues were facing the electorate everyday.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - forgot the link on Ohio polling chart: