June 15, 2008

Whistling past the graveyard

I've long predicted that if McCain garnered the GOP nomination he would lose in a landslide of epic proportions. Turns out that I'm not the only one who feels that way. Excerpt:

“McCain shouldn’t win it,” said presidential historian Joan Hoff, a professor at Montana State University and former president of the Center for the Study of the Presidency. She compared McCain’s prospects to those of Hubert Humphrey, whose 1968 loss to Richard Nixon resulted in large part from the unpopularity of sitting Democratic president Lyndon Johnson.

“It is one of the worst political environments for the party in power since World War II,” added Alan Abramowitz, a professor of public opinion and the presidency at Emory University. His forecasting model — which factors in gross domestic product, whether a party has completed two terms in the White House and net presidential approval rating — gives McCain about the same odds as Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and Carter in 1980 — both of whom were handily defeated in elections that returned the presidency to the previously out-of-power party. “It would be a pretty stunning upset if McCain won,” Abramowitz said.

While I agree with this analysis, predetermining the fate of a presidential election still 5 months away seems, shall we say, a bit suspect. At this point in 1984 , Reagan trailed Mondale by a wide margin, only to end up kicking Minnesota Fritz's ass. And I have a suspicion what the overall political party affiliation would be if you took a poll of these oracles historians. My guess is that a majority of them wouldn't be rooting for Team Elephant, which gives some sort of nagging doubt that some people-maybe lots of people- out there are trying to win this thing in advance. That makes me question my political prognostication abilities a bit because you don't try to create such a self-fulfilling prophecy if you're confident in your candidate's ability to win it on his or her own. Instead, you try to convince your opponent that he's already lost, so he might as well not even try. There is a danger there, though: if everyone on your side is already convinced that victory is at hand, many of them might be tempted to coast along smugly. Smugly, that is, until someone hoists a paper containing the headline "Dewey Beats Truman" and makes them look like complete and utter jackasses.

I still think that this election won't be decided on issues, but rather personalities. McCain will come across as a crotchety get-off-my-lawn sort of guy and Obama will come across as the Second Coming. The contrast will be striking, and the nimrods who make up their minds in the voting booth will poke the chad for the younger, prettier guy, which means McCain loses. However, I will state for the record that some of the pre-ordained victory articles that I've seen the Democratic aides MSM writing lead me to believe that they aren't nearly as confident as they let on. It should be an interesting 5 months.

Oh, and if you think I'm a McCainiac, you should wade through the comment threads over at Rachel Lucas' site to prevent you from making a fool of yourself. Just a friendly FYI.

Posted by Physics Geek at June 15, 2008 02:54 PM | TrackBack StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!
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