Thursday, May 29, 2008

GOP strategists mull McCain ‘blowout’

Ok, don't take my word for it...here is the Politico's take, excerpted ...T

It sounds crazy at first. Amid dire reports about the toxic political environment for Republican candidates and the challenges facing John McCain, many top GOP strategists believe he can defeat Barack Obama — and by a margin exceeding President Bush’s Electoral College victory in 2004...

...the contours of the electoral map, combined with McCain’s unique strengths and the nature of Obama’s possible vulnerabilities, have led to a cautious and muted optimism that McCain could actually surpass Bush’s 35-electoral-vote victory in 2004. Though they expect he would finish far closer to Obama in the popular vote, the thinking is that he could win by as many 50 electoral votes...

...“A win by 40 or 50 electoral votes would be an astonishing upset, just a watershed event with all the issues that were stacked against him from the very beginning,” said David Woodard, a Republican pollster and Clemson University political science professor. “But it could happen. I know this seems like wishful thinking by Republicans. I’m thinking that Republicans could win by 40 electoral votes. But I dare not say it,” he added. “Certainly what is possible could come to pass.”

A top strategist with the Republican National Committee, who asked that his name be withheld to speak candidly, explained that by his own examination, “we’re actually sitting pretty well in most states.”

“There are a lot of scenarios that look good for McCain, and I almost would go so far to say that there are a lot more scenarios [than for Obama],” the strategist added. “I don’t think anybody over here wants to let themselves get too excited about it. It is an eternity between now and November. But McCain looks a lot stronger than our prospects as a party.”

It is virtually impossible to find an established GOP strategist who believes McCain will win in a landslide. But in light of the circumstances, more than a few Republicans are pleasantly surprised to find that McCain is at all situated to defeat Obama.

“The broader environment clearly favors the Democrat,” said Whit Ayers, another veteran GOP pollster. But Ayers argued that “a state-by-state analysis actually makes McCain a narrow favorite to win the Electoral College majority.”

“That would certainly run against the grain of history, if he pulled that off,” Ayers added. “But it’s also clearly plausible and a manageable outcome partly because of John McCain’s strength among independents and partly because of Obama’s weakness in culture, ideology and association.”

...Among the 10 strategists interviewed by Politico for this story, there was near-uniform belief that had any other Republican been nominated, the party’s prospects in November would be nil.

“No disrespect to the other candidates,” said GOP pollster Glen Bolger, “but if anyone else had been nominated we’d be toast.”

...“McCain is in a remarkably strong position for how poor the political environment is right now,” said Brian Nienaber, a GOP pollster. “McCain could win Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and Nevada with a high Hispanic population. It really does scramble the map of where Obama does find those electoral votes.”

Naturally, Democrats do not concede the point. But conversations with several Democratic strategists reveal that many acknowledge that the Republican scenarios are at least reasonable, (with) McCain’s ability to compete in some big industrial states offers a ray of hope in an otherwise dismal election cycle.

“We have to hold Michigan and Pennsylvania. McCain wins one of those states, we are in trouble. They have to hold Florida and Ohio or they are trouble,” Democratic pollster Paul Maslin said. “The truth about this race [is], this is the year that we shouldn’t lose, and we could lose.”

The GOP scenarios do not rely on some game-changing event but rather the possibility of Obama failing to overcome his own and his party’s weaknesses. Obama has long been thought by analysts to have a higher electoral vote ceiling as well as a lower floor than Hillary Clinton.

It is that potential Obama floor that increasingly occupies the minds of Republicans studying the map. Even the potentially dramatic rise in turnout of African-Americans may only gain Obama 1 percentage point in many swing states, according to Maslin. Yet Obama’s weaknesses may end up neutralizing some of those relatively modest gains.

Since 1968, Democrats have had a deficit with whites, particularly men. Some Republicans believe that Obama may exacerbate those Democratic challenges, especially in key rural regions like Appalachia, struggle to win back Hispanics or some women, and dash Democratic prospects during their most favorable landscape in at least three decades.

“There is a one in four shot that McCain can win an electoral majority in excess of 50 electoral votes, which by most recent standards would be a blowout,” Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio said. “Considering where the Republican brand is right now, that’s pretty phenomenal.”
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1 Comment:

S said...

The real issue is not how well Clinton, Obama, or McCain might do in the closely divided battleground states, but that we shouldn't have battleground states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule which awards all of a state's electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state. Because of this rule, candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided "battleground" states. Two-thirds of the visits and money are focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money goes to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people are merely spectators to the presidential election.

Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

The National Popular Vote bill has been approved by 18 legislative chambers (one house in Colorado, Arkansas, Maine, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Washington, and two houses in Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, California, and Vermont). It has been enacted into law in Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These states have 50 (19%) of the 270 electoral votes needed to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com