Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Electability Factor

When it comes to presidential primaries, I’m what you call a strategic voter. What this means is that I cast my ballot, based on which one of the primary’s viable candidates is the best for the long-term prospects of the party.

For example, I am a Rudy Giuliani supporter. However, I believe that Giuliani will finish no better than third in Florida this evening and after that loss, he will cease to be viable in any way. Therefore, if I were voting in the Sunshine State, I would cast my ballot for John McCain who is currently polling even with Mitt Romney.

I like both of the GOP front-runners. I also have issues with both men. However, it appears that John McCain is the most electable of the remaining Republicans and first and foremost, I want a GOP victory in Novemeber.

Unfortunately, my primary is in Virginia on February 12. Things are likely to be wrapped up by then. My absentee ballot is on its way, just in case.

In 2004, I ordered an absentee ballot for the Virginia Democratic Primary. The plan was to cast a vote for Howard Dean in hopes that he would win the nomination, thus ensuring a general election landslide for President Bush in the fall. Of course, by the time the primary rolled around, John Kerry had the nomination locked up. That ballot is now carefully tucked away, a unique piece of Americana.

So as you can see, I’m not the only primary voter for whom electability is a top concern.

If John McCain wins Florida tonight, I believe the nomination is his. The momentum which he gains from a Florida victory will be nearly impossible for Romney to overcome on Super Tuesday, where he already trails McCain by double-digits in most of the big states.

If Romney pulls it off however, the GOP will have to seriously consider the general election appeal of all four of the major party candidates, one of whom will be the next President of The United States.

Here’s how I see it.

John McCain certainly has a chance of being elected president. GOP voters who are somewhat turned off by McCain’s positions on tax cuts, immigration and campaign finance reform will come home eventually. They will do so enthusiastically if faced with the prospect of a second Clinton presidency.

McCain will also likely nominate a very conservative Evangelical Christian as his running mate, brining the powerful voting bloc that put George W. Bush in the White House into the mix.

Finally, McCain will garner support from a significant number of independents who rightfully see the maverick as an individual who is not beholden to special interests and Washington partisanship, those political bogeymen which voters claim to hate so much.

Against Clinton, McCain would capture independents despite the fact that they are currently leaning towards the Democrats.

By contrast, it is my view that Mitt Romney would not be viable against Hillary Clinton in a general election.

His second place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, states in which he spent an incredible amount of time and money, show us that folks have had a very hard time warming up to the former governor. He won Wyoming and Nevada where none of the other candidates campaigned and Michigan where he benefited from a family legacy.

In Florida, he is competitive only because so many conservatives have issues with McCain.

Romney comes across as over-polished and much like the Clintons, willing to say anything in order to win votes. You can do this in politics, but only if people don’t catch on. In this matter, Romney is transparent.

Romney’s faith also poses a potential problem. While open-minded individuals such as myself would have no problem voting for a Mormon candidate, I’m not confident that I can say the same for the rest of the electorate. Especially when Hillary’s surrogates begin equating Romney with his Mormon forefathers who had some beliefs and practices which the majority of Americans find repugnant. It’s not fair. But politics rarely is.

Despite Hillary Clinton’s high negatives and the viciousness with which she and her husband attack her opponents, her electability is an unfortunate political reality.

Women--espeically single women--will support her in large numbers even if many of them disagree with her politically.

The Clintons are experts at destroying their rivals. As her primary opponent is now learning, they do so by polarizing the nation along race, gender and economic lines,

Her political machine is so well oiled that she will make sure that every single person who is even considering casting a ballot for her will turn out at the polls, making it nearly impossible for her opponent to pick up a victory in any blue state in which she now leads. Once again, I expect her current opponent will learn this the hard way next Tuesday, when he runs up against her behemoth of a political machine.

If she can rein in her husband--who is becoming an increasing liability with the potential to turn off independents by reminding them of the partisanship and divisiveness which defined his presidency--she has a good chance of winning the election. Perhaps Al Gore was on to something in 2000

It’s to her credit that an individual as polarizing and as unauthentic as Mrs. Clinton still has a serious chance of becoming the leader of the free world.

So what about Barack Obama?

Democrats are so enamored of the golden boy’s charisma and speaking style that I don’t believe they have given a lick of thought to his prospects against a Republican in a general election.

I think he loses and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s black, but rather due to the fact that he’s so green.

This is a candidate who is so inexperienced that it has enabled a woman with only slightly more “experience” to effectively run against him as the “experience candidate.”

John McCain would be able to bludgeon Obama as a political lightweight and create and atmosphere in which Obama’s rhetoric of “hope” and “change,” crumbles under the weight of real, proven leadership and nearly 30 years of political expertise.

Thus far, Obama has not been challenged much on his views, because he and Hillary essentially share the same ideological slant and are appealing to voters who agree with both of them on almost every issue.

Come summer, the GOP will have no problem whatsoever exposing Obama as a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, because….well…that’s what he is. His meager voting record proves it. History shows us that if a candidate is perceived as being a true liberal, their chances of putting together a winning electoral coalition decrease dramatically.

Once Obama is forced to stake out positions and explain his votes on taxes, terror, immigration, abortion and homeland security, many independents who are now considering him as a candidate will run for the comparatively moderate hills of John McCain.

Finally, Democrats currently seem oblivious to the fact that Barack Obama has never had to take on anything even remotely resembling serious Republican opposition. What drives Democrats to believe that he is now prepared to take on the entire party is beyond me.

- Dan Joseph

Sphere: Related Content


shua d nedy said...

Excellent overview. I think the Democrats have shown that they are generally more interested in personality than experience, having left folks like Biden and Dodd far behind. I do think Obama is an incredible politician and is able to reach out to many moderates and conservatives despite his liberalism.
It's hard to say how Obama would fare in a general election or as President if it came to that. The major problem with Clinton and with Romney is that they are not seen as trustworthy by a large number of people. I think if Clinton and Romney are nominated, you could see a credible Bloomberg candidacy emerge very quickly.

Anonymous said...

Spot on analysis. I agree 100%, however I'm still a FredHead for Mitt. I understand McCain's appeal to moderates and the votes he'd get in the general election, however I cannot bring myself to support him in the Primaries because he just doesn't get it when it comes to immigration and taxes. He is a RINO and I'm not fooled by his "I have heard the American people" change of heart routine. I'll vote Romney and stay optimistic about the general election.

Anonymous said...

Very good analysis, Dan. I think that McCain has a problem in the general election campaign though. If I am the Clintons, I use McCain's long, maverick voting record against him. This reminds the convservatives why they don't like him and undermines the turnout the Republicans desperately need. It also neutralizes the most virulent Hilary haters. At the same time they are able to characterize McCain as just about on the same political wavelength as Hillary giving Independents who tend to lean Democratic less reason to perefer McCain.

Turtle said...

I know that you are a Republican, but consider voting for Barack Obama, an honest man.

Turtle said...

I know that you are a Republican, but consider voting for Barack Obama, an honest man.

Shannonymous said...

I agree with turtle; it'd be nice to have an honest person in the white house for a change.

Anonymous said...

Turtle & Shannonymous:

There is no such thing as an honest politician!


Romney comes across as pompous and untrustworthy. A pretty boy who thinks he can win over people with his seemingly-endless supply of money. I agree that McCain is the most viable GOP candidate out there.

Looks like Hill reigned in ol' Bill after the Kennedy backlash. Interesting that the Kennedy endorsements didn't seem to do much for Obama in the FL beauty contest.

Anonymous said...

Either Clinton or Obama will crush McCain in the general election. This is a democrat year: there WILL be a democratic president in '09 and then it's payback time!

Anonymous said...

Turtle and Shannon
Obama may not be a Muslim, but he sure has close ties to the Islamic fundamentalist. Read this article and see if you agree.http://biz.yahoo.com/ibd/080115/issues.html?.v=1

Shannonymous said...

Gimme a break with the Islamic bull about Obama. It's just right wing (or Clinton?) propaganda trying to discredit him.

Anonymous said...

Check out this Hillary'ous video... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7150u9sfCo