BETWEEN THE LINES
Why McCain Won
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: how that scenario could (but likely won't) play out.
By Jonathan Alter | NEWSWEEK
Published Oct 25, 2008
From the magazine issue dated Nov 3, 2008
The conventional wisdom, which I share, is that Barack Obama will win this election, perhaps by a healthy margin. But Democrats are nervous wrecks; they're having nightmares that defeat will be snatched from the jaws of victory. To add to their misery (and guard against complacency), here's how that horror film could play out:
Of course, having done everything you could to get us to this result, including joining with campaign in a cabal dedicated NOT to report or to minimize any accidental reporting of stories that might not go away, including the candidate's scary and crazy friends, and all the votes that they paid ACORN work long and hard to register for them.
In the end, the problem was the LIVs. That's short for "low-information voters,"
And yet again, it is time to insult the voters for not "seeing the light" and voting Obama.
the three fifths of the electorate that shows up once every four years to vote for president but mostly hates politics. These are the 75 million folks who didn't vote in the primaries. They don't read newsmagazines or newspapers, don't watch any cable news and don't cast their ballots early. Their allegiance to a candidate is as easily shed as a T shirt. Several million moved to Obama through September and October; they'd heard he handled himself well in the debates. Then, in the last week, the LIVs swung back to the default choice: John McCain. Some had good reasons other than the color of Obama's skin to desert him; many more did not. In October, a study by the Associated Press estimated that Obama's race would cost him 6 percent. The percentage was smaller, but still enough to give the presidency to McCain.
I don't suppose that you might consider that all of Obama's wrapping himself in the cloak of racist victimhood could have been something of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Oh, yeah. I forgot, he is divine, but his failure is our fault. We dumb voters who have managed to elect persons of color who have character, and were pleased when the current President appointed other persona of color to his cabinet.
Obama's field organization was superb, so it was no surprise that most of the 18 million Hillary Clinton voters came home to the Democrats; the person-to-person voter contact (and significant resentment about the selection of Sarah Palin) made a big difference. But the huge swath of more than 30 million independents broke heavily for McCain. By piling up overwhelming margins in big blue states like California, New York and Illinois, Obama carried the popular vote, but he ended up like Al Gore in 2000—denied admission to the Electoral College.
More hating on Sarah. Listen Johnny, we know why you and the Democrats hate her so. She destroys the carefully cultivated perception that we have to have a "ruling class" which has trained their entire life to lead us. She is beautiful, has a family, and is pro-life. If the ruling class isn't a necessity, then maybe the Fourth Estate is no longer a necessity either, and with that responsibility goes great power. We get it. She threatens you and your friends. We like her anyway, and when she finds others like herself, you are really going to be upset. As for the Independents, I'm hoping that they can see through the fog of bullshit surrounding Obama and vote the way you fear.
The first ominous sign was largely missed amid the Democratic euphoria after Obama outclassed McCain on the financial crisis. While most of the country moved toward the Democratic nominee in early October, Ohio did not. Obama could never close the sale there. In a repeat of the Democratic primary, his big totals coming out of Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) weren't enough to offset larger-than-expected losses in the suburbs around Cincinnati and Columbus.
Obama "outclassed" McCain on the financial crisis? How does "Call me if you need me" turn into outclassing anyone? As for Ohio, its funny you should mention it, with all the Democratic voting chicanery, and ACORN issues there, and all.
Florida had looked promising for Obama for a time, but his weakness among seniors caught up with him. One national poll from early October should have been a warning: it showed him up by 7 overall, but down 14 among those older than 65. And Sarah Silverman's "Great Schlep" fell short. Obama easily carried the Jewish vote, but not with the 75 percent won by Gore and John Kerry. As it turned out, the real problem wasn't south Florida, where Hispanics came in surprisingly well for Obama. It was erosion in the critical I-4 corridor near Tampa and in the Panhandle, where the astonishing Republican margins among whites could be attributed only to race.
I would be astonished at such a turnout among Florida Hispanics, since they are largely of Cuban extraction, and they hate Communists. That Joe the Plumber slip? Yeah, they saw it too, I'm sure. As for all of those whites voting for McCain because they're racists? I'm not buying it. There are lots of reasons not to vote for Obama, and lots of reasons to vote for McCain. The fact that they voted for the white candidate doesn't confer a racist motive on them.
Obama shifted New Mexico, Iowa and Nevada from red to blue. But there was a reason Virginia hadn't gone Democratic since 1964. The transformation of the northern part of the state couldn't overcome a huge McCain margin among whites farther south. They weren't the racists of their parents' generation, but they weren't quite ready to vote for the unthinkable, either.
Paging American Voters! Paging American Voters! An Obama surrogate has once again called you racist in order to get your vote!
As McCain closed the gap in the last week with his message on taxes and fear of another terrorist attack, the race came down to New Hampshire (which went for Kerry in 2004) and Colorado (which went for President Bush). Obama needed one of them to get to 270 electoral votes. New Hampshire's fabled independents had long had a soft spot for McCain in GOP primaries, and they delivered for him again. Colorado, after flirting with Obama, simply reverted to form, with Palin's frontier image helping a bit.
Yes, and it certainly is not legitimate to remind the American voters that they have absolutely no reason at all to trust Obama on either of these very important points. Perhaps you can stamp your feet and cry for us, too.
Obama had wired every college campus in the country, and he enjoyed great enthusiasm among politically engaged young people. But less-engaged students told reporters the day after the election that they had meant to vote for Obama but were "too busy." History held: young people once again voted in lower percentages than their elders. Waiting for them turned out to be like waiting for Godot.
You call them "politically engaged". I call them "politically naive". They are kind of like the new girls at the first frat party of the year...yes, you can seduce them easily, but if you don't stick with them, they will slide out of your bed.
The Obama margin among young voters was underestimated a little in some polls because so many 18- to 24-year-olds use only cell phones. But the deeper failure of the polling came from methodology that could not properly account for the nine in 10 voters who won't answer a polltaker's questions. With ceaseless robo-calls and as many as 15 live calls from campaigns to each household in a swing state, even fewer people than normal took time in the last two weeks to respond. Who were the voters slamming down the phone? Disproportionately for McCain. In rebuffing pollsters, they skewed the sample toward Obama, inflating his "support."
Of course, polling disproportionately larger numbers of "likely" Democratic voters in your polls to attempt to suppress Republican votes by making it seem that there was a huge public demand for THE ONE didn't help your cause, either.
At the start of the campaign season NEWSWEEK asked, "Is America Ready" for a black president? The answer: only if Obama proved close to a flawless candidate, and even then, we won't know for sure until Election Day. That doesn't mean Obama lost because all, or even most, McCain voters allowed race to be a factor. But enough did to change the outcome.
Complete and utter bullshit. Conservatives have, at their core of beliefs, the belief in merit. We seek excellence, believing, as did our founding fathers, that the political climate should foster excellence wherever it is found, and if we do that, then the entire nation is enriched. The only people that race truly is an issue for is the left, who are determined to place Obama in the Oval Office as some sort of atonement for the nation's past, ignoring the price paid in blood for that past in the Civil War. Race has been on the lips of the left and the press throughout this entire campaign. The gender equality so often trumpeted by the left was tossed out the window by the left when Sarah Palin was selected as McCain's running mate, and America knows that the campaign was far from perfect, for either side, despite the obvious and irritating bias for Obama that the Press has suffered throughout the campaign.
Democrats are despairing over the results, fearing they might never view their country in the same light again. Even many Republicans are subdued at the news of McCain's victory. Having expected him to lose, they know the GOP has now completed a sorry transition from the party of Lincoln to the party of cynicism. McCain, they're reasoning, might prove a fine president, but it shouldn't have happened like this.
The best thing about this paragraph? It demonstrates how easily you write about a party "afflicted with cynicism" over a "racist" victory over Barack the Devine, without having a single source to support you erroneous conclusion. Many conservatives were voting against Obama before the conventions, not because they are all a bunch of RACISTS!!!! like you so cleverly allege, but because they don't like his Friends, and his stated policies are contrary to everything that they believe is correct for this country. However, Sarah's selection changed that. Many conservatives are now voting FOR the old guy because we believe in her and what she stands for. There's no cynicism there. Its enthusiasm. And if your scenario comes true, it will be elation, knowing that you, ACORN, and Obama did your level best to subvert the process and you failed.
It probably won't. Millions of people in the rest of the world assume that Barack Obama cannot be elected because he is black. They assume that the original sin of American history—enshrined in our Constitution—cannot be transcended. I go into next week's election with a different assumption—that the common sense and decency of the American people will prove the skeptics wrong.
Johnny, when "the rest of the world" gets our tax burden, then they get a say in who leads us. Until then, I really do not care what they say. You might also want to consider all of those other nations that have shown their enlightenment by electing black leaders themselves. I myself remember the celebrations when Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Russia, Japan, and the other countries of the civilized world elected their first leaders who were "persons of color". No wait....I can't, because they haven't. You see, that's where this ridiculous train of thought will carry you if you care too much about what others think, and don't do enough thinking for yourself. But then, I can't expect much from you. You're only a journalist, after all.