Saturday, August 23, 2008
Ms. Piggy for President
Back in the spring after Romney bowed out and McCain's nomination was a forgone conclusion. The Democratic primary turned especially nasty. At that point a friend mentioned that the internal bickering would doom whoever became the Democratic nominee. Certainly this sentiment was a mantra for the press as well.
Fast forward to late August, when after weeks of negative campaign advertisements were played, polls now show McCain in some places leading Obama. I have waited for this particular moment to reiterate what I said to my friend back in the chilly spring. I wholeheartedly believe that no matter who the Democrats nominate for this election cycle - provided the candidate makes no major gaffes and can present themselves admirably on television - the election will be won by the Democratic candidate.
The failed policies of the Bush administration and lack of leadership in Congress under the Republican Party have resulted in a terrible situation for the Republicans this election cycle. I truly believe that if the Democrats were to nominate Ms. Piggy, she would beat John McCain in the general election. That is not to infer that I believe the election will be a run-away like the press seem to indicate it should be. After two terms of office with President Bush the country remains as divided as ever (so much for him being a 'uniter and not a divider'). As a result, I think Obama will win by 2-3 percentage points at the most.
Unlike many, I don't really care about the polls right now. I attribute McCain's rise in the polls to two things - first, Republicans are reacting to their distaste for Obama and solidifying support among the party's base; second, McCain's negative advertisements have gone largely unanswered. The majority of people who will head to the polls in November are not nearly as political as those who are watching CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, etc on a daily basis... and they will not start paying attention to either candidate until September and the debates begin in earnest. At that point, the airwaves will be dominated by commercials and media outlets will obsess over debate performances.
With regards to how the media will be leveraged, it is anyone's guess who will be 'swiftboated' first. There is an equal chance for either candidate's campaign to be hijacked, and I won't bother to speculate on something I can not predict.
As to the candidates' ability to speak to the media and perform at debates, I feel very confident in Obama's abilities. McCain (despite his recent comments to the contrary) loves the press. However, Obama's charismatic presence is on par with Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and I think McCain is going to appear cantankerous and old by comparison.
Moreover, the tough debates from the Democratic primary have prepared Obama well, where as McCain never scored points in the Republican debates. His success was determined more by the failure of his rivals than anything he did or the way he conducted himself on television.
Lastly, on issue after issue, John McCain will have a tough time talking to the true independent who is honestly ambivalant or undecided. This is not to say that John McCain has some policy points that are valid and will appeal to many independents, but I honestly believe John McCain is too closely associated with George Bush - and those comparisons will only become more intense in the fall if the Obama campaign has anything to say about it.