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Monday, May 12, 2008

McCain Headed Toward a 'Repudiation'

Let's jump right in with a quote from W. Virginia.

USA Today:

Though Obama is ahead nationally in delegates and the popular vote, Clinton has a huge lead in statewide polls [in W. Virginia]. Local politicians say it will take more than a well-decorated storefront for Obama, the Illinois senator, to make headway. "He's going to have to visit," says Bob Pasley, who adds that Obama should come prepared to answer "tough questions," including some about his religion.

"Is he Islamic or is he not?" Pasley says of Obama, who is Christian. "I know he's tried to talk about it but he hasn't looked anybody in Wayne in the eye and told them."


Of course, Bob Pasley -- whoever the hell he is -- is a freakin' moron. One; he's ignorant as all hell -- Obama's not a Muslim and everyone without a untreated head wound knows that post-Wright. Two; the fact that he'd vote against someone just because they're a Muslim makes him a bigoted ass.

Luckily, W. Virginia doesn't make much difference at this point. Obama's lead in pledged delegates is secure and he's taken the lead in superdelegates. Even Clinton seems to know it's done. In her victory speech after Indiana, she acknowledged that she just might not -- maybe possibly wouldn't be -- her party's nominee.

"People are watching this race and they're wondering . . . I win, he wins, I win, he wins . . . it's so close. That says a lot about how passionate our supporters are . . . but I can assure you that no matter what happens I will work for the nominee of the Democratic party," Hillary told supporters.

"When Hillary Clinton questioned Gen. David Petraeus last September, she famously said that to believe his description of progress in Iraq required 'a willing suspension of disbelief,'" writes Slate's John Dickerson. "After the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, the same may now be true about her case for winning the Democratic nomination."

To give you an idea of just how slim Clinton's odds are now, the pollster Rasmussen has stopped tracking the Democratic primary. Unfortunately, they don't have permalinks for daily tracking numbers, so we'll have to take our info from the inarguably Obama-biased Daily Kos -- I can vouch for it, though. I saw the same article. This is a direct quote from them.

Rasmussen Reports has been tracking the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination daily for nineteen months...

However, while Senator Clinton has remained close and competitive in every meaningful measure, she is a close second and the race is over. It has become clear that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee.


Rasmussen will now track the general election as a race between Barack Obama and John McCain. Polling costs money and, apparently, Rasmussen isn't interested in wasting bucks studying Clinton's campaign.

So how is the real race looking? At the moment, not so good. Writes the Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman, "A recent Gallup poll showed John McCain leading both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup. All this before Republicans even begin publicizing the worst that can be said about either of two candidates whose alleged defects provide a supremely target-rich environment."

Yikes! We're so screwed! EEK!

Except that John McCain is getting about zero coverage right now. And Chapman knows it. Looking ahead, Baghdad Johnny's prospects look bleak. Chapman points out that "more Americans think the country is on the wrong track than at any time since the late 1970s -- which set the stage for the Republican resurgence of 1980, led by Ronald Reagan. The sentiment is even more negative now than it was in 1992, when the GOP lost the White House. Some 63 percent see the Iraq war as a mistake."

"Richard Norton Smith, a historian who has run the presidential libraries of Republicans Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, is pessimistic about the party's prospects," Chapman tells us. "He thinks the correct analogy is not 1988 but 1920 or 1952 -- when an unpopular war and an equally unpopular president spelled doom for the party in the White House. He thinks 2008 is shaping up not as a narrow defeat for the GOP but a decisive 'repudiation.'"

And this backs up what I've been saying since before anyone even got into this race -- the Democratic nominee needs to run against Bush, no matter who the GOP chooses. Any connection to Bush at all is bad. And the more connections you draw, the farther the needle on the doom meter moves from "possible" toward "certain."

Let me give you an example. The one GOP candidate everyone's already forgotten about isn't Duncan Hunter or Sam Brownback. It's former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson. As the former head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Thompson was the only Bush cabinet official on the ballot. Actually, let me amend that. Thompson was the only Bush cabinet official who thought he'd be on the ballot. He didn't survive the non-binding Iowa Straw poll. Tommy was out before anyone even got a chance to vote for anyone else. He might as well have had "BUSH" tattooed on his forehead.

The reason that McCain's doing well is because the media coverage of that side of the race leaves voters largely ignorant. People don't have a favorable opinion of John McCain, they have a favorable opinion of the John McCain they've made up out of the media vacuum surrounding him. McCain's not a candidate, McCain's a projection. People have a favorable opinion of who they hope he is.

Now that the general election is -- for all intents and purposes -- underway, John McCain's going to get more scrutiny than he has so far. Obama seems to know this and has begun capitalizing on it. Christian Science Monitor's Peter Grier tells us, "[A]s the lengthy, tiring, roller-coaster race for the Democratic presidential nomination enters its (possible) homestretch, the senator from Illinois increasingly is ignoring the competitor from his own party to focus on presumptive GOP nominee John McCain."

Given recent polling that shows that voters are already concerned that McCain is too close to George W. Bush, Obama won't have to push hard to get the perception of McCain closer to the reality of him. "By behaving as if he has finally wrapped up the Democratic contest, Senator Obama may generate fresh excitement among his supporters and lure crucial superdelegates into his camp," Grier writes. Obama will also enjoy a bump in polling as the perceived nominee. Part of McCain's appeal is the settled nature of his race. He's basically coasting. Once he's back in a fight, he's going to take some serious hits.

So don't expect Obama to do well in W. Virginia. But he doesn't have to. At this point, he'd be wiser to worry about the general election and let Clinton have a few face-saving wins before she's forced to bow out. With her numbers, every win that's not a huge landslide is really a loss. Hillary Clinton's not the problem anymore. McCain is.

And he doesn't look like much of one.

-Wisco

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