Tuesday :: Jan 22, 2008

On Electability

by Turkana

According to the latest polls, each of the Democratic candidates for president leads each of the Republican candidates, except for one. John McCain currently averages four points ahead of Hillary Clinton, and a point and change ahead of Barack Obama and John Edwards. Given the margins of error, these latter polls are essentially neutral. They're also temporary. In previous polls, all of the Democrats have polled ahead of McCain. Overall, though, it would seem that the Democrats are in good shape. John McCain is still lionized by the corporate media, and all he can manage is a tiny, irrelevant lead over Democrats who generally don't receive such favorable coverage- if they receive any at all!

When discussing the three leading Democrats, electability arguments strike me as being among the most absurd. Each of the three is highly electable. Gender and race and alleged scandals, and all the other supposed wedges the Republicans will supposedly wield, just won't play with the majority of Americans. Most voters want to talk about the war and the economy and health care and the environment, and they're looking for the candidate who can best solve these serious problems. Each of the Democrats, however flawed, offers plans that are so much more honest and realistic than any of those offered by any of the Republicans that it won't even be debatable. And speaking of debates, anyone who has watched any of the Democratic debates and any of the Republican debates knows that each of the three leading Democrats can debate circles around any of the Republicans. Put Clinton, Edwards, or Obama up against the increasingly shallow and superficial John McCain, and the American people won't have much trouble deciding. Beyond that, McCain has one overwhelming political Achilles' heel. Salon's Gary Kamiya put it thusly:

If McCain wins the GOP nomination and antiwar independents and moderates across the country are as forgiving of his hard-line hawkish position on Iraq as New Hampshire and Michigan voters were, McCain could give the Democrats a real fight. But it's unlikely voters in the general election will be so kind. McCain is tied irrevocably to the war, and barring a miracle, that is not going to be a winning position in November.

McCain and the GOP got a little lift from the downturn in violence in Iraq after the U.S. troop "surge" (and the more significant factor, the rise of anti-jihadi Sunni forces), but the public's opposition to the war has not changed. According to a January 2008 Rasmussen Poll, 58 percent of Americans want all troops home within a year. Twenty-seven percent want the troops brought home immediately; 38 percent want them to stay until the mission is completed. These numbers have held more or less steady for a long time.

Moreover, even many GOP voters have turned against the war -- bad news for McCain or any other Republican candidate. Only 63 percent of New Hampshire Republicans supported the war; 35 percent disapproved of it. In Michigan, a remarkable 39 percent of GOP voters said they wanted U.S. troops pulled out within six months. These figures are higher than national ones, but they still spell bad news for any pro-war candidate.

Kamiya also points out that while it's now easy for some people to ignore the war, that won't be the case, come November. As I keep pointing out, although I believe none of the Democrats are offering an ideal and expeditious exit strategy, none of the Republicans even seem to realize we need one. Kamiya suggests that when voters have the choice between beginning to bring home the troops in a matter of months, or possibly leaving them there for 10,000 years, it won't be much of a choice, at all. Meanwhile, even the relative decrease in violence, in Iraq, seems to be ending. McCain is tied to the war, and he is tied to the worst president ever. Some of you may fear John McCain. I don't.

So, excuse me if I don't take seriously "electability" arguments. If we all focus and work hard, whomever we nominate should not only win, but win big. The Republican brand is in the toilet. All we need do is flush.

Turkana :: 12:55 PM :: Comments (30) :: Digg It!