Saturday, March 1, 2008
MCCAIN CAN'T WIN WITHOUT INDEPENDENTS
Above, Barack Obama's supporters in Texas give him a standing ovation for blowing his nose. Then, the entire audience pulled their handkerchiefs, chanted "Yes we Can!" and blew their own noses in solidarity with the candidate. As you may already know, this web site is the best place to go for humorous photos of Barack Obama.
How important are Independent voters to John McCain's efforts to win the presidency? They are absolutely crucial. There is no way McCain could even come close by relying mainly on conservative Republicans.
Consider the following anecdote from the Febuary 16 - February 22 issue of the The Economist:
"One of the most interesting political videos on YouTube features a young Obama supporter, Derrick Ashong. A camera-wielding interviewer collars Mr. Ashong in the street and starts to pepper him with questions. The interviewer assumes that his victim's casual appearance -- he is wearing a baseball hat, a shell necklace and is chewing gum -- betokens an equally casual approach to politics."
"'Do you have any specifics?' he demands aggressively. 'What are their policies?'"
"Mr. Ashong delivers a series of carefully argued replies that could form the basis of an editorial in a serious newspaper. The interviewer is increasingly abashed. But, having delivered his defense of Barack Obama, Mr. Ashong concluded the interview by saying, 'I'm independent. I'm not a Democrat. I might vote for McCain.'"
Of the 10 Republican men who started out running for the presidential nomination, only John McCain has the ability to attract a significant number of Independent and Democratic voters. Some of the talk show hosts and others who have criticized McCain tend to dismiss questions about electability. They ignore the fact that, nationally, there are a lot more registered Democrats than Republicans.
As The Economist points out, "Over 30% of American call themselves Independents -- more than call themselves Republicans and about the same as call themselves Democrats. These Independents are younger and better educated than average Americans. They are pragmatic, anti-ideological and results-oriented, hostile to both Big Labor and Big Government, but quite prepared to see the government take an active role in dealing with problems like global warming."
How will such Independents align themselves when they find out Obama is a believer in Big Government and has a 100% favorable voting record in favor of Big Labor? Clearly, John McCain believes most of them will vote for him -- and there's no reason now to dispute his view.
Currently, Obama has a high approval rating (62%) among Independents.
However, when voters discover that Obama doesn't have an independent bone in his body, his approval rating should go down -- perhaps resembling a rock thrown in a pond. When it becomes clear that Obama is the most liberal member of the Senate, he will lose much of his current standing with Independents.
What is McCain's potential appeal to the critical bloc of Independents? As The Economist explains, "The very qualities of Mr. McCain that infuriate Republic conservatives endear him to Independents. . . . Mr. McCain has demonstrated his [voting] strength among Independents: he led the field among them by ten points in New York, 23 points in California and 31 points in Illinois."
As Independents go, so goes the election. John McCain knows that, and he is prepared to exploit his advantages with people who identify themselves as neither Republicans nor Democrats. The fact that he's clearly not a right-wing ideologue is going to help him greatly in the General Election.