Monday, July 7, 2008

Obama’s Race against History

Barack Obama should easily beat John McCain.

After all Obama leads McCain by essentially every objective and subjective measurement, including (1) nationwide polling data, (2) polling data among key groups, (3) fund raising, (4) charisma, (5) speaking ability, and (6) the all-important barometer of public opinion. Believing that the nation is headed in the wrong direction, the American public wants change.

Regarding the public’s desire for change, let’s remember that in 1980 and 1992 Jimmy Carter and George H. Bush ran and lost against Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, who ran on platforms of change.

So if 2008 repeats the history of 1980 and 1992, Obama will win, maybe even in a landslide. And his slogan, “Change We Can Believe In,” could go down in history as one of the greatest, possibly ranking alongside such slogans as the “New Deal.”

But Obama is running against another history – 1948 and 1988.

In 1948 the handsome, suave and debonair Thomas E. Dewey led Harry S. Truman on almost all counts, so much so that the Gallup Poll stopped polling several days before the election. Dewey became overconfident, some would say even arrogant, in his race against the non-charismatic Truman, who was not a good public speaker.

Is Obama revealing a touch of arrogance in refusing to hold Town Hall meetings with the Truman-like John McCain and in delivering a major speech behind a prominently displayed presidential seal on his lectern?

In 1988 Michael Dukakis got caught in a vise between the left and the center of American politics. He ran so far to the left of center to get the Democratic presidential nomination that when he swung back to the center to compete against George H. Bush in the General Election he created a credibility gap. Neither the left nor the center could completely trust him. In the early summer of 1988 Dukakis held a commanding 17-point lead in the polls.

Is Obama in danger of blowing his lead as he shifts positions to the center on various issues?

So for Barack Obama, it’s a race against history: 1980 and 1992 versus 1948 and 1972. Will Obama win like Reagan and Clinton or lose like Dewey and Dukakis?

4 comments:

sdbranum said...

I believe I should be forgiven for viewing presidential polling with suspicion, especially since recent past history seems to indicate polling agencies have attempted to influence elections by showing the liberal candidate has much more support early on than he finally achieves on election day. Could manipulation of the data by selective wording of the questions be the cause for past support levels dwindling as election day nears? Might polling agencies start reporting more reliably as the actual vote nears, so as to not appear so blatant? I believe it is possible, and I certainly wouldn't be surprised if such turns out to be proven true someday.

Louis said...

What is missing in this analysis is the "elephant" and that is racial politics. Dewey and Dukakis were/are not black. The strong probability is that Obama has the African American voting block assured. What is left are the white, rural Americans and their vote will be telling: Will it be based on issues or based on the color of the man's skin> This will tell us how far we are in matters of race in the United States.

Frank Hargrove said...

Will this presidential election be an election of racial politics? Yes, why because this is America and color makes a difference and there are not enough Black votes in America to elect a president. Since I am a Black American I know all Blacks are not for Obama even though I am. I don't know why most folk think that all Blacks are for Obama. It is truly amazing that in racist American Obama will be to Democratic nominee. Just maybe there is a "new" voice in America that is not racist. This election will say volumes about racism in America to the whole world. If Obama wins I do not know any place in the world I would rather be on November 3, 2008 than in America.

Maria said...

The mood of the country is crucial for the race to be defined one way or another.
Jimmy Carter was running for re-election after a horrible first term, with the Iranian Revolution, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan hanging over his head.
In Reagan, the charismatic, "warm but cool", self-assured cowboy, people saw a chance to regain their self-confidence as Americans.
In the current mood, Obama,the young, articulate, charismatic, cool and self-assured candidate, is the epitome of the American dream we thought shattered forever in the last seven years. He is the closest equivalent of Reagan in 1980.