Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 10, 2008
POLITICS: Not Letting Up

For conservatives and Republicans tempted to follow Fred Barnes and lay low a while, just notice what sites like the Huffington Post are up to these days: the #1 topic over at HuffPo right now, by the frequency of tags used, is "Sarah Palin":

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The Left will not let up its assault on Gov. Palin for any "honeymoon" period. We on the Right will indeed need both patience and perspective, as Barnes suggests, and elected Republicans will surely need to find some common ground with the new Administration. But we're all adults here; let us not pretend that calls for "unity" are intended to be mutual.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:13 PM | Politics 2008 • | Politics 2012 | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Crank, if the left won't stop, why is it McCain's people who keep leaking what is really interesting information: that according to them, their boss picked someone clearly unsuitable to lead. If she really is as bad as they are saying, he should have done the honorable thing and fired her. So please stop blaming the left. I guess it's convenient, but just so much BS.

You are a member of a party that is no so despised that your candidate had to try and never ever mention the name of the sitting two term president to give him a chance.

BTW, what should we call the corollary of the Bradley Effect: It seems as though the polls were wrong: the people were willing to vote FOR Obama, they wouldn't admit that they changed their minds. Interesting.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 10, 2008 1:51 PM

By all means, defend Palin from what appears to be some sketchy leaks by Republican staffers, but don't blame the media for reporting it or use it as an excuse to dig up equally lame material on Obama.

My biggest fear is that Republicans have taken away the following "lessons" from their defeat:

1) Obama won because the media was in the tank for him (No, that's not why he won), and therefore we'll have to dig up every little, petty issue we can dream up on Obama and draw the most partisan conclusions we can from our evidence.

It's a tactic that simply won't work, and the republicans will lose credibility among undecideds and independents. Who listens to an organization that takes an extreme stance on everything? It's the reason why Greenpeace and NOW don't have widespread popular support. They are so alarmist about everything that it's hard to take them seriously. It would be sad to see the Republicans go in that direction.

2) Obama lost because McCain was too moderate. (No, McCain lost because of the economic crisis and because of the unpopularity of George Bush).

I really hope that a Republican candidate emerges that I can believe will govern toward the center and offers a plausible alternative to Obama.

Posted by: MVH at November 10, 2008 5:39 PM

MVH -

1. In general I agree that the GOP shouldn't waste a huge amount of effort on things that will go nowhere. That said, you have to admit that the strategy you describe was extremely effective against Bush, and a similar strategy pretty well inundated Palin, in that it was just impossible to finish going through each charge and poking holes in it before three more would come over the transom. Eventually the sheer volume of attacks can overwhelm everything.

2. I'd agree that the financial crisis was the main reason McCain lost, and Bush's unpopularity was the #2 reason, and probably #3 was aspects of Obama's appeal that had little enough to do with anybody's policies. That said, McCain being a moderate ended up hampering him in a number of ways (I'm waiting until we get more final figures to look at the turnout numbers but it seems that the main difference from 2004 did end up being lower GOP turnout, along with much higher African-American turnout), and I have no doubt the party will be looking down the road for candidates who can draw cleaner contrasts and articulate a coherent, compelling message, which by definition a moderate candidate cannot.

As I have said before, "the center" is just too unstable to bank on because it's too ideologically heterogenous.

Posted by: Crank at November 10, 2008 6:31 PM

MVH,

I can't agree with your analysis. I agree that even though the media was in the tank for him, that was not a major factor. McCain ran a poor campaign. He did not emphasize his strenghts enough to give people a reason to vote for him. The material was there for McCain to win, but he failed to exploit it.

I also give credit to Obama for knowing that his best strength was to avoid side by side comparisions with McCain. Stay above the fray and keep talking generalities. Sure the media let him off the hook, but worse was that McCain did as well.

I agree with you last sentence with the following change "I really hope that a Republican candidate emerges that I can believe will govern as a Conservative and offers a plausible alternative to Obama."

Next time I want to see two great candidates running for President that we can be proud of either one of them winning.

Posted by: Lee at November 10, 2008 6:34 PM

Lee that hasn't happened in a long time, and won't ever again, thanks, in part, to blogs like this one. You see, when everyone pores over every misstep, every error (Africa anyone?), any excuse to lash out, well, nobody is perfect, and who would want that? Except for places like here, and its liberal counterparts. And the press, and, well, seemingly anyone.

Thinking about it, I have to disagree with Crank's assessment that Obama won because more black voters showed up and fewer GOPers did. Not when he won in places with few black people, but lots of swing voters. I think what happened is that (I think I wrote this somewhere else) a lot of people who were polled said they wouldn't vote for Obama, then a few said yes, more said they hadn't decided, or said no. In fact, they HAD decided, and they DID vote for Obama. So instead of saying they would vote for someone black (well, half black I guess) and then not (the Bradley Effect), they didn't want to admit it and then did (the Obama Effect?). The polls were wrong, but not in the way everyone expected.

I think those people really wanted someone to succeed, and decided they liked what they heard from him. And didn't like the way McCain and/or Palin were presented. And if you blame anyone, it's McCain. And really, it was the debates I think, more than anything. Obama answered the questions in a way that made him look Presidential, McCain did not. And the second half of the VP debate started to confirm that Palin was not ready. She was too canned, and you can't fool that many people so many times. They voted in a positive manner, something rarely done. Well, he did win, and, unlike what I am reading among the Republicans, I hope he succeeds. You all seem to hope he fails. For our country's sake, I hope he pulls it off.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 10, 2008 8:14 PM

well said Daryl

Posted by: CW at November 10, 2008 8:22 PM

Check out nate silver's analysis at 538.com. Obama outperformed Kerry in just about every single demographic, and by wide margins. Thus, his win can't be attributed to higher black turnout, which went from 11 to 13 percent of the vote, thus accounting at most for 2/9 percentage points of improvement. Women overwhelmingly voted for Obama, as did the young, as did Hispanics, as did Asians, and Obama outperformed Kerry in the demographics that favored Republicans as well.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at November 10, 2008 10:16 PM

A brief rephrase. Obama beat Kerry to the tune of 9 percentage points, only about 2 of which are accounted for by the increased black turnout.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at November 10, 2008 10:18 PM

"[A] similar strategy pretty well inundated Palin, in that it was just impossible to finish going through each charge and poking holes in it before three more would come over the transom. Eventually the sheer volume of attacks can overwhelm everything"

These charges came one after another because: (1) except for people in the Alaska, Palin was a completely unknown quantity, so no one had done any digging on her; and (2) she was selected very late in the game, so all these accusations came just before the election. In contrast, voters had time to digest all the Rev. Wright stuff.

However, her biggest blunder was her own: the Couric interview and that was the most significant one - it underscored that she really didn't know a lot of the issues. And personally, that was the only blunder that mattered to me, despite all the accusations in the media. I doubt I'm unique.

Lee - I agree that there were things that McCain could have done better, but I disagree that it would have made a difference. The economic crisis ruined everything for him. He had a good chance before it really exploded - the polls were narrowing. I can't remember how close it got, but his approval numbers were going up.

Posted by: MVH at November 11, 2008 7:46 AM

I don't ascribe the entirety of Obama's victory to black turnout. I do see black turnout as the major difference, along with lower turnout of the GOP base, in who came out to vote.

MVH - McCain was ahead in the polls before the credit crisis. He was leading in the RCP average, he was up 3 in Rasmussen's tracker 3 days running and had hit 50. The last day of that was Sept. 14. If the election had been held then he would likely have won. It was events that changed that.

Posted by: The Crank at November 11, 2008 10:33 PM

"McCain was ahead in the polls before the credit crisis. He was leading in the RCP average, he was up 3 in Rasmussen's tracker 3 days running and had hit 50. The last day of that was Sept. 14. If the election had been held then he would likely have won. It was events that changed that."

Right - and that's exactly why Republicans shouldn't be afraid to run a moderate again. If you believe what you wrote above, I don't know how you can call this election a vindication of the Rove theory. It was undone largely by events.

While you are certainly right that the middle is ideologically unstable, it is also much bigger than the Republican base.

Posted by: MVH at November 12, 2008 6:47 AM

MVH - To the contrary, the base is almost certainly at least twice the size of the middle - some studies suggest that "moderate" voters make up only 10% of the electorate, and any strategy that aims at winning more than about 55% of those voters is doomed to come to grief. It's like a baseball team trying to win the pennant by winning all the close games.

Posted by: Crank at November 12, 2008 9:22 AM

Interesting study. It's unfortunate that the study was conducted in a non-presidential election year, where surely more of the "non-voters" vote. It tends to skew the results toward the ideological extremes. I would also have liked to see the relative weight the voters placed on each individual issue positions, which after a brief skim of the study, didn't seem to be taken into account. The weighting issue could have a serious impact on their position on the ideological spectrum. (By weight I mean how important was this issue to them.)

Plus, given that McCain was ahead in the polls before the economic meltdown, you would have to show that a big percentage of the republican base, the hard core conservatives, stayed home. Are the numbers that clear?

If McCain could have won except for the whim of fate, then I have a hard time believing that a moderate republican can't win an election.


Posted by: MVH at November 12, 2008 3:30 PM

Sorry, in that first sentence, I meant that -more- of those moderate "non-voters" would vote in a presidential election year.

Posted by: MVH at November 12, 2008 3:40 PM

The media, nor the elitisit illuminati will let up on Palin, therefore a stronger leader, with more experience is needed.

Posted by: Ms. Know at November 13, 2008 10:12 AM

Wow, anyone else here think that maybe the left wing illuminati are obviously feeling very threatened by Gov Palin if they have nothing else better to do then continuing on with the media attack of her?!

Posted by: mnotaro at November 13, 2008 12:16 PM
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