John McCain is Not Winning and it is becoming about Him.

>> Saturday, August 2, 2008

John McCain is not winning the election at this point in time. There has been a great deal of handwringing over the fact that Obama is not currently projected to win every state in the union. The expectations for him are a little on the high side because there are so many factors working against the Republicans and John McCain. The argument is based on the idea that things are so positive for Democrats that Obama should be up by 15 or more points across the board. I think people should calm down a little take a deep breath and realize that if the vote were held today Obama would win.

Normally I love Rachel Maddow. I listen to her as often as I can and I think she might be one of the best analysts around. I harbor a conspiracy theory that the only reason msnbc does not give Rachel her own show is because she is a lesbian… or maybe its just internal politics working against her. She has one argument that I just thing is wrong. On “Race for the Whitehouse” Friday she said this

“John McCain is winning this election right now. It may not look like it in the national polls, but this isn’t a national election, and John McCain is moving up in the states.”

She is a devotee of the argument that because the election is about Obama the Dems are in trouble. She cites the evidence that McCain is improving in some state polls. I will simply refer everyone to Kos’ State of the Race story from the same day. He clearly and succinctly illustrates that Obama is winning. If I had to point to one state that shows the effectiveness of Obama’s current strategy it would be Florida. The illustration of how well Obama has closed in Florida is available in Kos’ Presidential Polls diary of July 31.

The real debate here is about how Obama should be placed in the meta-narrative of the election. One school of thought is that after the last eight years everything should be about how awful Bush has been and how McCain is just like Bush. It is a theory based around retrospective voting. This school wants the electorate to punish the ruling party by rejecting its policies and choosing the other guy. I think it is a strategy formed on desperation. It is a strategy from a party out of power that is so scared of losing that any way back into power is ok. Do not get me wrong winning is the goal but to govern with a progressive majority and to gain a mandate Obama needs to do more.

There is a very good reason Obama would want the election to be about him. If it is a referendum on him and his Ideas, the win becomes more powerful. It is not merely a rejection of the other but an embracing of Obama. An Obama win when the election is about him shows that the American people want his ideas and policies and that Congress should get in line and pass them. If there is any hope for a transformative election I think that the election needs to be more about the prospective. Prospective voting would be an acknowledgment that Obama is the right direction.

When it comes down to it I think that people vote on the future not the past making the current Obama strategy more sound. It will not leave questions about what Obama plans to do. No lingering, “Yeah Bush Sucks, but what do you plan to do?” Building a strategy around the future is better than building one around the past. It may be a little more risky if only because there is so much to punish the GOP over but the reward is greater. Obama also seems like the type of person who wants to win on his own merits and gain the confirmation that he is being chosen because of who he is and his policies.

Ultimately, the election might become about Bush-McCain anyway. It has been a little subtle but the wild and erroneous attacks launched by the McCain campaign have been effective in getting him the media attention and oxygen that he was so desperate for. Along with that though has come some more intense scrutiny and criticism because the attacks were so negative and so false. They have drawn attention to McCain and started to generate a new narrative about how he has either changed from - or never was - the “maverick warrior with a heart of gold”. It is becoming about McCain in a way he would not like.

Obama is currently solidifying his identity as a prelude to attacking McCain. Obama is going to wait till after the GOP convention and VP picks are done so that any damage that he does are not mitigated by the convention bump. Then with his solid identity established he will hammer on McCain reminding people right before the election all about the negative aspects to McCain. Going into the voting booths voters will have both the positive aspect about what Obama wants to do in the future and the negatives about McCain and Bush’s past.

Attacks are not without risk as McCain is finding out now. We need to be patient and wait for the right time to level McCain. Obama has run a nearly flawless campaign so far and I think he knows what he is doing. We cannot let the desire to see the GOP decimated eclipse the ultimate goal, electing a President Barack Obama.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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