McCain's Electoral Math - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
McCain’s Electoral Math
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John Fund does some speculation about John McCain’s ability in the general election to hang on to the states Bush won while taking away some of the blue states. But I think that it is problematic to analyze this general through the lens of what happened in the last two election cycles. Though the 2000 and 2004 races ultimately came down to turning out the base in a few crucial swing states, most presidential elections in the modern era have been won by much more comfortable electoral margins, and decided by independent-minded voters who shifted one way or another. This was pretty much the case from 1964 through 1996 (with the exception of 1976).

It is my strong sense that this election year will move us away from the trend that developed over the last two election cycles, away from an iron clad red state/blue state divide, and back to a time when parties could claim victories in states that at first glance, would seem to be unfavorable terrain.

It’s pretty clear that a Hillary Clinton nomination would make things a lot easier for McCain, both because she would instantly unite the Republican Party, and also because he’d be much more formidable among independents. I think that with Clinton as the nominee, a lot more moderate Democrats would vote for McCain than moderate Republicans would vote for Clinton, and the number of anti-McCain conservatives who would be inclined to sit out the election would be minimal. Also, it will be hard for Clinton to argue that she represents change, at a time when that’s what Americans desperately want.

With Barack Obama as the nominee, things get trickier for McCain. Though conservatives won’t want to see Obama as president, he won’t generate the kind of visceral disgust that Clinton would, and thus anti-McCain conservatives would be much more likely to sit things out. Also, Obama is much more appealing to independents. I think a McCain v. Obama race would be a landslide in one direction or the other. It will come down to Obama as the change agent criticizing McCain for wanting more of the same, for wanting to keep us in Iraq for 100 years, for protecting the Bush tax cuts for the rich, etc, and McCain criticizing Obama for being on the outer fringes of the left, and for not having the experience to be commander in chief in a time of war. The age issue will personify this choice dramatically–either Americans will see Obama as too green, or McCain as too old. At the end of the day, one man will win the argument and a huge block of independents will swing in one direction or another, translating into an electoral rout.

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