Obama Should Not Be Trailing Congressional Democrats

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Sep 08, 2008 at 19:00

A comparison of presidential and congressional polls this cycle quickly shows that Obama is running well behind congressional Democrats. However, in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004, the Democratic nominee for President outperfomed the collective Democratic result for the national U.S. House elections. It's true:

1992 Presidential national popular vote margin: Clinton +5.56%
1992 U.S. House national popular vote margin: Democrats +5.1%

1996 Presidential national popular vote margin: Clinton +8.51%
1996 U.S. House national popular vote margin: Democrats +0.3%

2000 Presidential national popular vote margin: Gore +0.51%
2000 U.S. House national popular vote margin: Republicans +0.3%

2004 Presidential national popular vote margin: Bush +2.46%
2004 U.S. House national popular vote margin: Republicans +2.6%

Several items of note in these numbers, which I describe in the extended entry.

Chris Bowers :: Obama Should Not Be Trailing Congressional Democrats
Worth noting:

  • The belief that Democratic presidential nominees underperform Democrats at the congressional level is flat-out false. The last Democratic nominee to underperform congressional Democrats was Michael Dukakis in 1988.
  • Democrats won the 1996 popular vote for the U.S. House, showing once again how Republicans have successfully governed for so long with a 50% minus one strategy. That this is even allowed in a "democracy" is a sad testament to our form of government.
  • With the exception of 1996, when Clinton outperformed congressional Democrats by 8.2%, Democratic nominees have sported nearly identical popular vote margins to Democrats running for Congress. In 1992, 2000 and 2004, the difference was less than 1%.
  • This year, Democrats in the congressional generic ballot are outperforming the Democratic nominee. The latest Diageo poll showing a dead heat has Democrats up by nine in the congressional ballot. The Gallup poll showing McCain up by 10% among likely voters shows Republicans up by 5% in the generic ballot. While the poll tells you more about oversampling Republicans and Republican demographics more than it tell you about anything else, especially given how much it outlies from other polls today, the point is that congressional Democrats are still polling better than Obama.

Now, I know that pointing out anything wrong with the Obama campaign means that I am a panicking chicken little who needs to be quarantined from the level headed political professionals, but it is hard to see these numbers and not think that there is something very wrong in the presidential campaign. Democratic presidential nominees have outperformed Democratic congressional candidates for the past four electoral cycles. Usually, they are less than 1% ahead, but this time around we are nowhere near that result.

I don't have all of the answers to this problem, but I do stand by my thesis that it is mostly because of McCain's popularity, not because the country has a problem with Obama. The gap has persisted despite Obama sporting favorable ratings of close to 60% for the past several months. This gap has persisted all summer, long before people outside of Alaska had ever heard of Sarah Palin. It is a problem that seems mostly separate from Palin, and separate from Obama. The problem seems to be McCain himself.

I don't think national Democrats are doing enough to knock McCain down. I suggest they start with something simple: stop the tendency to preface criticism of McCain with a tribute to McCain. If McCain's extremely high favorable rating is pushing this election into Dukakis territory, then we don't need to add any more reason for people to think of McCain favorably. It is time to knock McCain back down. Let's start by ending the compliments and the tributes.  

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The No Maverick ad... (4.00 / 6)

 ...is a very good start. It's just a shame that at this juncture, it's only a start.

 But at least it wasn't prefaced by a rhapsodic tribute to His Powness.

 That's a quantum improvement right there.  

"We judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their actions. It is a great convenience." -- Howard Zinn

I disagree (4.00 / 2)
It's still a defensive ad that attempts to alter McCain's self-definition rather than a proactive attempt to define him.

There are any number of ways to do this. I seem to be one of the lonely few who don't believe that Bush = McCain is the right message, because it doesn't go at McCain's character directly.

If I were king of the campaign I would use humor and mockery to paint McCain as an out-of-touch, unstable possibly senile old fart.

[ Parent ]
I'm with you. Better to call him a 'sidekick' (4.00 / 1)
than 'not a maverick.'

But the ad is still good. Just not great.

And I'd do both the mockery and the McCain = Bush. I'd call him a 'Bush Baby.' A sidekick who throws temper tantrums and has no idea what real problems real adults face.

[ Parent ]
Good isn't good enough (0.00 / 0)
Only blows that really hurt, like the houses attack, will do.

[ Parent ]
Turning his supposed strong points against him isn't wrong... (0.00 / 0)
it's just that this has to be done in a way that sticks with the voters. The Obama camp should show they learned something from Kerry's debacle. Let the rethuglicans eat their own medicine! And make it a real bitter one!

[ Parent ]
Some of, but not all, of this trend is the incumbency rule, ya? (0.00 / 0)
As in, more democratic incumbents = congressional democrats will poll better.  That effect explains the shift from 1992 to 1996 and 2000, as the wave election in 1994 wiped out gads of Democratic incumbents and relpaced them with Republican incumbents in 1996.

Well, we had a huge swing in congressional numbers in 2006 that replaced republican incumbents with democratic ones in 2008.  

Also note that Dukakis, the last candidate to trail the congressional ballot (4.00 / 1)
was also around in a year where the Democrats had a majority in the House, and had extended a previous majority in 1986.

[ Parent ]
Exactly right on one point... (4.00 / 9)
"I don't have all of the answers to this problem, but I do stand by my thesis that it is mostly because of McCain's popularity, not because the country has a problem with Obama. The gap has persisted despite Obama sporting favorable ratings of close to 60% for the past several months. This gap has persisted all summer, long before people outside of Alaska had ever heard of Sarah Palin. It is a problem that seems mostly separate from Palin, and separate from Obama. The problem seems to be McCain himself."

It is quite simply that McCain is a formidable opponent and is not closely associated with his party.  This is the reason why you see a spread like this.  McCain is significantly outperforming his party.  Is this a failing of the Obama campaign?  Partially, but in some ways, it is much harder for a relative newcomer (Obama) to knock McCain down a few pegs when McCain's public reputation has been so good for so long.  Obama's been consistently hitting McCain as being the same as Bush, and that has been working to an extent, but it's hard for people to completely shake off the warm and fuzzy feelings that they already had for him from before, and those warm and fuzzy feelings came back to them again after McCain's speech.  They should wear off again.

I think Obama needs to basically make sure that he's not just criticizing McCain for being like Bush, but criticize McCain for being part of the disastrous Republican party (and not just the "Bush" policies of the past, but the REPUBLICAN policies of the last 8 years).  In other words, people are having a hard time believing Bush is the same as McCain.  McCain won't admit it, obviously.  However, McCain admits that he's a Republican.  Make him own that... He's a Republican who wants to continue the disastrous Republican policies of the past 8 years, just like Bush.  Obama actually did this in his acceptance speech a bit.  It needs to keep being reinforced.

It would also be nice for (4.00 / 1)
Biden to stop lauding McCain every time he opens his mouth. "My good friend John who served his country...yada yada yada." When are Democrats going to learn how to win? It's pathetic.

[ Parent ]
This IS a failing of the Obama campaign. (0.00 / 0)
You don't overcome the long held, even though phony, good reputation but reinforcing it with praise whenever you talk about the "Maverick"! That's wrong wrong wrong. And there's no excuse for such a blunder.  

[ Parent ]
There is no way (0.00 / 0)
for Obama to destroy McCain's reputation as a maverick.  Most of those who still believe that would take McCain's word over Obama's.

McCain has to destroy himself.  

[ Parent ]
Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama.. (4.00 / 5)
One of these things is not like the other........

C'mon, state the freaking obvious.  There as at least 10% of this country that will not vote for a black man.  Some of them may even be Democrats.

Obama was NEVER going to outperform the generic Democrat.

yes (4.00 / 1)
but that's all the more reason to hit McCain. They may not vote for Obama but a vote for Barr or a non-vote is fifty percent as good.  

[ Parent ]
OK (4.00 / 1)
But if we knew that, then why was it a good idea to nominate him? It is not like Obama turned black in the general election.

We have a once in a generation chance to score a huge trfiecta in D.C.  Doesn't it seema a little risky to jepordize that by running with a candidate who starts with a 10% handicap?

I ask as someone who mostly supported Obama suring the primaries.  

[ Parent ]
I disagree with his analysis.. (0.00 / 0)
And just posted a "what-if" scenario below.  I think a "Generic Democrat" would probably be losing by a lot more right now, and may even have been losing before too.  Does "Biden" count as a generic Democrat?  If he were our nominee, do you think he'd actually be performing better than Obama is now?  I find that hard to imagine.

[ Parent ]
Come on, Chris (4.00 / 7)
Someone as smart as you knew that nominating Obama was a risk because of his race, which is partly responsible for his problem with white working class voters, especially older ones. It was clear, or should have been, from day one that we were giving the GOP someone especially vulnerable to its racist cultural populism.

But anyone who pointed this out during the primary was quickly accused of racism--I was called a racist several times. And my critics, though not right to call me a racist, had a point: did we really want to not nominate someone because he was black? Wasn't it a risk worth taking?

Perhaps more to the point: Hillary was a risk too, and as it turned out, so was Edwards (we just didn't know it at the time.)

[ Parent ]
Certainly not (0.00 / 0)
Standing up for your beliefs when they are unpopular is a bad idea.

The liberal wiki
Send an email to terra@liberalwiki.com

[ Parent ]
At the risk of being banned (4.00 / 1)
I am trying to decide reading this and your previous post whether you are naive.

Honestly, I hadn't thought of y ou until the last few days in this light.

I am a black guy. I know a lot more African Americans than it seems you know. Whether they supported Obama or didn't support him, none of them thought the general was going to be easy.

Did you think we are living in a race blind society,and if not, what is this post about by you?

It's seems extremely confused about what living in a racist society means. Did you think racism was a Republican only affair?

Look, I am known sometimes as an asshole. So let me ask bluntly- a) did you talk to any people of color about what they thought of Obama's chances and b) do you understand racial history in American?

By both these measures- Obama is outcompeting anything that I could imagine. See- this is the difference of our views of our society. I see Obama- and that he's even at parity after the GOP marketing week is stunning to me. You see Obama- and you pretend that his polling should look like what? The generic Democratic candidate? No- what you don't ad is the generic white democratic candidate.

I strongly believe we will win. But no one said this would be easy.

Again, I hope you don't ban me, but I find this whole in of argument a little bit offensive only in the sense that you didn't realize this going in. It makes me wonder who do you have around you talking to you about these things. It's like my first time showing a white friend racism in DC. I had her stand back while I tried to hail a cab. It's like for the first time she saw. Is that what's happening with you now? Are you seeing?

[ Parent ]
One thing (0.00 / 0)
Seeing can be just as obscured when you see things that aren't there.  You overestimated Obama's troubles with race and Bowers underestimated it.

That doesn't make one of you more right than the other.

The liberal wiki
Send an email to terra@liberalwiki.com

[ Parent ]
I didn't overestimate Obama's trouble with race (0.00 / 0)
some of my friends did. I thought and still think Obama can win. However, that doesn't mean race wouldn't be significant. I believe these numbers are already factoring in the bradley effect as people have an out for explaining why they aren't supporting Obama. That's why the numbers are lower. Not because he won't win but because the racists are already being factored into the mix.

I don't understand bowers numbers- he's esentially arguing that because Obama isn't 5 points up after McCain's convention versus the Democrats who won in prior years by the time of the election- that means Obama is under performing. My point is- that's a bizzare standard when one take sinto account race. The goal is to win- not to compare how Obama may be doing in an already apples to orange situation of post GOP convention versus final election result comparision. Especially when this comparision ignores race.  

[ Parent ]
God... (0.00 / 0)
Agreed. Sadly.

I'm not black, but I'm from DC, have black friends, and lately have been talking to white democrats from Wisconsin. Obama is kicking ass compared to how I'd expect.

We all have to overcome racism. No, really, all of us. It's not just about communication or thought. It's hard for everyone. And it's particularly hard without positive personal experiences, which are precisely what people don't get when old family or cultural prejudices are combined with media narratives that reinforce fixed, tired roles for everyone involved.

This is an enormous issue, in spite of the fact that we haven't dealt with it directly for decades. This election is an opportunity to change the way that people think about people of a different race (in every direction). But even Obama's election won't eliminate the spoiler he wears, in spite of the fantastic job he's done of pretending that it isn't there.  

So yeah, Chris, I feel like I knew what I was getting into when I voted for Obama in the primary. This attack on racism would work a lot better if he wins, obviously, and the numbers are scary right now - but damnit there's something at stake here.  

[ Parent ]
My problem with Chris's response about... (0.00 / 0)
Obama's ethnicity--that we shouldn't have run him because he's black, and Americans aren't ready to elect a black man--is that he's essentially saying this election is too important to have a black guy lose it.  The only conclusion one can draw from Chris's comment is that we should wait 50 years before running another black guy--when whites are the minority.

I have a serious problem with that line of logic.

[ Parent ]
Stop this phony racist accusations against fellow liberals! (0.00 / 0)
This isn't about any "black guy" prejudices, there's not a single mention in Chris story about racism being the problem. This is about the strategy evidently being wrong. Polls show it doesn't work. Time for a change!

[ Parent ]
Oops, sry, this long thread confused me (0.00 / 0)
Now I see you're talking about Chris' comment here. You have a point. I apologize.

[ Parent ]
I tend to think (0.00 / 0)
while controversial, Chris has a point. I supported Obama because he was the best person for the job, still do, despite the fact that many prejudiced Democrats in my family said shit like "I don't want no President named Obama" or "He'll had Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan running the country"

Maybe it's not out of line to look at the possibility that this election was too important to win to nominate an African-American (or a woman) for that matter. The great thing about the Democrats is that we'd rather lose than tell a longtime oppressed minority "sorry, we're not going to risk it"

The key word here is lose. Despite losing, will we be remembered as the party that took the risk?

It's important to realize that Obama's race forces him to do 10x better, just as Clinton's gender did to her...so yeah he has to run like the best campaign ever to have a shot.  

[ Parent ]
Not out of line, but out of time. (4.00 / 1)
Too late. Obama is the candidate. What's the point in having a discussion about his handicaps now? We can't change them. What still can be changed is the camapign strategy, even though I doubt Axelrod and Co listen much to the blogosphere.

[ Parent ]
Because if what Chris is saying (0.00 / 0)
is the real problem, we need to learn from it.

[ Parent ]
Right. But not now. (4.00 / 1)
Next primary in 2012 is soon enough. There are more urgent issues right now.

[ Parent ]
Gosh Chris is that a rhetorical question? (0.00 / 0)
Doesn't it seema a little risky to jepordize that by running with a candidate who starts with a 10% handicap?

Yes it is very risky....what you are missing is that....Democratic primary voters are different from general election voters....that is, modern Democrats...no Dixiecrats around any more...... are not as moved negatively by questions of race. However general election voters are NOT Democrats ...for a reason and one of those big reasons is race.  

Those favorable ratings may not be as rock solid as you think.  Modern Americas have so repressed their racial discomforts that the reason they don't reveal it to pollsters is they are in no way consciously aware of them.

There is a Bradley effect in this election.  That Bradley effect is even hidden to those who may be suject to it.  When they don't pull the lever for Barack Obama in November they will think it will be for lots of other reasons.

I think he needs at least to be leading by 5-7 points to make up for the racial discomfort that still exists.

I also concur that John McCain is the best nominee the Republicans could have chosen...he is not a Republican to lots of voters...he is his won brand...John McCain.

Our two best candidates....Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama...both are subject to disciminatory effect.  I supported Hillary for many reasons....her partisanship and progressivism being the most important....but I felt that sexism was less hidden than racism in modern American and so we could see it and deal with it.  Ferreting out racism is akin to digging up the dead.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
your post is over the top hyperbole (0.00 / 0)
for example, if the racists have other justifications for which they can claim a lack of support of obama, your argument about the bradley effect then falls flat precisely because there i no reason for them to lie to pollsters. The bradley effect, which is bout exit polls by the way, pressumes a reason to lie to pollsters

[ Parent ]
Imho the Bradley effect is real, but so what? (0.00 / 0)
The only conclusion can be not to waste time and efforts on voters whose prejudices will trump all rational arguments.

[ Parent ]
everyone else (0.00 / 0)
is voting for Obama already. That's what the problem is. It's not that we're not trying to make headway with the undecided and swing voters...it's that we're NOT making headway.  

[ Parent ]
hyperbole? (0.00 / 0)
I said unconscious....these folks are NOT consciously looking around for an excuse....or a justification not to vote for Obama.   They are both unaware of their feelings and unaware that they might act on them.  

They are NOT lying to pollsters, they are LYING to themselves.  That is a very large component of the Bradley effect.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"

[ Parent ]
Waste of time (0.00 / 0)
We're stuck with Obama. Too late to worry about "handicaps". Let's talk about reaching swing voters instead, not wasting time on prejudiced concrete heads who can't be changed.  

[ Parent ]
Some of those prejudiced concrete heads (0.00 / 0)
are sometimes those "swing voters"  

[ Parent ]
OK. But we're talking about now (0.00 / 0)
not about past elections when those very same concrete heads maybe had problems deciding between, say, Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater. They certainly aren't swin voters today. Let's concentrate on the real undecideds.

[ Parent ]
Talk to real undecideds (0.00 / 0)
They're not really undecided, they're voters who want to vote for a Democrat, but a white establishment one.  

[ Parent ]
Tough luck. (0.00 / 0)
Not in stock this year, sry. The customer can have the Obama wagon in any color he wants so long as it's black. But at least it comes as a bundle together with the reliable 2008 Biden compact, and that's only in white.  

[ Parent ]
See that's the problem (0.00 / 0)
that's where it hurts the most. Obama needs to work extra hard to get people to "know" him, more than any White Southern Governor form a podunk town would have to, otherwise these "undecideds" may break for the "safe" choice in McCain.

Or maybe they break for Obama at the last minute

We don't know, but McCain shouldn't even be an option and he is, which is scary.  

[ Parent ]
But, again, we can't change that! (0.00 / 0)
So, aren't we somewhat only idly wasting our time discussing this? Hmm, or do you simply feel the need to vent your anger about life being unfair?

[ Parent ]
No, we're not (0.00 / 0)
I already said I'm hitting the ground in Virginia and hopefully Florida in October, which is the earliest I can get myself back to the States.

But it's important to talk about the fact that for many voters, Obama can bust out a PowerPoint presentation itemizing everything he wants to do for the country and people will stay say he doesn't know what he wants to do or isn't specific enough...because he's black and hasn't been around that long.  

[ Parent ]
1976 and 1980 are the match (0.00 / 0)
Jimmy Carter, also running as an outsider who would "change" Washington performed startling similarly to Obama's numbers running 11% behind the Democratic House landslide of 1976 and 12% behind the lesser numbers of 1980.  Carter won in 1976 with 297 electoral votes scraping up a better showing in the south than any Democrat since FDR and neeeding to do that.  He ran well behind traditional Democratic majorities in urban and heavily Democratic areas.

Carter had a lot of problems with Congress.  As Tip O'Neill told Jimmy, "We won 290 seats running against Nixon and we can win 290 seats running against you."  The outsider thing running against the Party establishment makes it a lot harder to get elected and harder to govern.

Jimmy Carter,otoh, did not run outside the local political organizations as Obama is doing.  He was unable to maintain his hold on the office when oil prices zoomed and we were confronted with the nightly embarrassment of the Iran Hostage situation (nightline started as coverage of Iran and had a daily logo every night: America Held Hostage Day xxxcomplete with an Arab in a khaffiyah).

[ Parent ]
This isn't helpful (0.00 / 0)
These are the battles of the past. The convention is over. We're stuck with Obama. And, really, Chris, you supported him and NOW you start worrying about a possible handicap? Honestly, I'm flabbergasted.

[ Parent ]
Answer your own question (0.00 / 0)
Why did you support him in the primaries then? Can you answer that?

[ Parent ]
well it could be that (0.00 / 0)
as obama has said from the very beginning he wanted to run a different kind of campaign, one that didn't go negative all the time, thats very high minded of obama, the problem is that while he is running a different kind of campaign the result may be the same.  

How to lose again (0.00 / 0)
If one boxer has on boxing gloves and one boxer has a knife, it's not much of a boxing match is it?

[ Parent ]
NOW he wants to run a different kind of campaign! (0.00 / 0)
But against Clinton, his camp pulled all stops! Don't you agree that this strategy of 'sticks for your allies, carrots for the enemy' is idiotic???

In US elections, there isn't a price for losing in a "high mindend" manner. And studies show that the alleged negative effect of negative campaigning doesn't really exist. If you sling mud, some of it will stick! So this comes down to throwing faster, with bigger chunks, and more accurate than your opponent. Obama's primary victory showed that this works. And so, this sudden shift towards a gentlemanly approach is wrong. This has to change!

[ Parent ]
i think there is a big problem with what's happening as well (4.00 / 1)
i can't help shake the feeling that mccain's poll numbers have been  steadily rising over time despite what i see as clear signs that they shouldn't.

at the same time, the obama campaign's strategy is not geared towards poll numbers as much turnout and registration, right?  so it's a bit too early to panic.

2008 (4.00 / 3)
I have two theories on this.  One is that it was always going to be a hard slog to get the first black president elected; I'm cool with that slog, aware of the dangers it presents, and willing to take the risk because I firmly believe Obama has the potential to be a truly great president (also, I think the chief alternative, Hillary, had her own deviances from the generic line that would have led to a similar polling position).  I just don't think that whether or not Obama and Biden preface their shots at McCain with a few kind words is what's going to make or break this election.  In fact, as a lawyer I find it to be an effective (and time-honored) way to attack, because it gives the attacker honest-broker credibility and makes the hit more believable.  

My second theory is unsupported without more, but it's mainly that this just happens to be a year when Democrats, generically, are on the upswing--in a pretty massive way.  So I don't think you can compare this to House tallies in 2004, 2000, 1996 and 1992; these years included a period of GOP strength in local races, and it makes sense that presidential nominees would outperform.  I'd like to see how the Dem nominee did in a landslide Dem House year.  Did Carter outperform the Dem congressional vote in 1976, for example?  

Also, how has the national House vote related to the generic ballot polls?  Is the final vote in the House races typically higher or lower than the generic ballot prior to the election?

Lastly, what's the GOP correlation?  Do GOP candidates over- or under-perform their party's House candidates, or not?  

Maybe you're onto something, but on the face of it this seems like a pretty superficial measure of where the race stands.  You're comparing a presidential candidate--who is being judged as an individual and is subject, at the moment of your snapshot, to all the various ups and downs and factors that affect public perception of him--to an average sense that most voters at this moment prefer Democrats to Republicans.  It seems like apples and oranges.  

Thanks chris (0.00 / 0)
I just posted a concerned diary on dkos and was eaten alive.
It was not a strong diary, but everyone just told me to shut up.

I appreciate you telling it like it is.  

We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join MoveOn.org and fight for progressive change.  

Honestly... (4.00 / 1)
I just can't get worried about numbers that come out immediately after the RNC.  If these persist for a week, then I'll start to get worried, but these polls are historically the BEST polling days ever for a candidate.  They should theoretically represent their max.  This shows that McCain can win... I think we already knew that.  But just averaging the max averages out of each convention we get something like O+6 and M+2, which comes out to O+2... pretty much where the campaign was beforehand anyway.

[ Parent ]
Been to kos this year? (0.00 / 0)
They don't seem to believe McCain can win. He's sooooo weak, remember?

[ Parent ]
Well.. (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, I visit Kos all the time... and Obama SHOULD win... but I think you'd have to be stupid to believe that McCain CAN'T win.

[ Parent ]
Well, you said it... (0.00 / 0)
"you'd have to be stupid to believe that McCain CAN'T win"
Your view of the new model 2008 Kossacks resonates with me.

[ Parent ]
Untrue (4.00 / 2)
I was at Kos today. In fact, they are cautious and say we have no idea where hte race is other than its close. It's only the sky is falling types who are over the top at this point.

[ Parent ]
yeah (4.00 / 1)
NOW they admit the race is close. This whole time they acted like a landslide was imminent and there's no way McCain would make it close.  

[ Parent ]
you know what- whatever (4.00 / 1)
i am tired of this. you can believe what you want. i regularly follow a lot of blog front pagers. not just this one. tell this stuff to someone who doesn't paid attention. i am not the audience for this.  

[ Parent ]
Going to throw something else out there... (0.00 / 0)
Do we actually think a "Generic Democrat" at the top of the ticket would be doing as well against McCain, who is very much so NOT associated with being a "Generic Republican"?  For instance, if it were Biden at the top of the ticket, or Kerry, or even Gore, do we think we'd be in a better position?  I highly doubt it... Maybe Edwards, but he obviously had his own problems that would've likely destroyed us in the presidential race, and even if not for that he's in a lot of ways not a "Generic" democrat either.

To be honest, I think in our primary we ended up with our best two hopes to win this year against McCain in Obama and Clinton. Seriously... try to imagine if Biden were the nominee right now.  Obviously, there's no way to know right now... but I think we'd be in a lot more trouble.

I think we are where we are precisely because Obama is such a talented politician.  Before the primaries started I was just happy that McCain seemed to have wiped out the summer before, because I thought he'd be unbeatable in a general election.  When he won, I was concerned... he was by far the best chance they had.  If you had told me then that McCain would've only been ahead by 1-2 points immediately after his convention, I would've laughed at you.  The fact that that's where we are now is a testament to Obama's strength as a candidate, not weakness.

I also think it might be that the GOP has been (0.00 / 0)
marshalling all of it's resources toward the McCain campaign.  They know they're screwed as far as the house and Senate go, so they're putting all of their chits on the Presidency.  That's why McCain could take public funding.  The RNC is essentially a McCain slush fund this year, and I would bet won't be used to help ANY other Republicans.

with ya mostly, Chris (4.00 / 2)
McCain IS popular, having peddled his 'maverick' bullshit for so long, with able assistance of the "press."  But I don't care what anyone says, if Obama was white, he'd be ahead by ten.  It's a freaking miracle we have any shot at all, this being America, 2008.  Add in the essential, incredible, willful cluelessness of half the voters.  But I sure am with you on the need for Obama and Biden to quit pumping this lying fossil up with every speech.  

Addedum (0.00 / 0)
White and from a small rural town, he'd be ahead by ten.

White and from some liberal place like Massachusetts, New York or California he's probably be ahead by like 2.

We cannot overlook the fact that Bill Clinton did so well because he was from a podunk town in Arkansas. When was the last time a Democrat from a liberal city or liberal part of America was elected President?

Kennedy, but even was from a state that had been historically conservative at the time and had just recently begun to turn.  

[ Parent ]
So what? (4.00 / 1)
What do you wanna do? Bleach him? The decision has been made, and it's too late to worry about suff like this now. Wouldn't it be better to concentrate on the swing voters who will decide the election, and finding ways of reeling them in?

[ Parent ]
We're doing that Gray (0.00 / 0)
and what we're finding is to way to reel them in is, well, bleach him.

[ Parent ]
This idea is a real Thriller (0.00 / 0)
Just look what bleaching did to Michael Jackson's popularity...

[ Parent ]
race as contributing factor should not be ignored nt (4.00 / 1)

More than one way to skin a cat (0.00 / 0)
It's almost universally accepted that driving up the negatives of the opponent leads to success in politics but that's not the only way to win. Sheldon Whitehouse beat a personally popular Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island by tying him to the Republican Party. Obama doesn't need to tear down McCain's personal favorables, he only needs to tie McCain to the Republican Party. There are potential blowback issues to making personal attacks on McCain. Obama is going as far as he can by saying  McCain is telling 'naked lies' in his ads.

John McCain

St. John's halo (0.00 / 0)
I'll try again.  

McCain was the Dems top choice for VP in 2004. That combined with repeated and longstanding praise from leading Democrats (e.g. "I would be proud to run with John McCain" and "John McCain is a great leader who would be great for the country." J. Biden) has welded the halo onto McCain.

It should have been obvious from the beginning that the Dems would have a hell of a time knocking it off.

Coming up with a strategy to defeat McCain requires recognizing this obvious, but almost universally ignored fact.

As for what might work, showing that McCain is, and referring to McCain as, a liar, as Obama's ads are now doing is a pretty good place to start, in my opinion.  

And Chris is entirely right that repeatedly praising McCain's service is probably the worst thing they could do.

Exactly! (0.00 / 0)
And to prepare against republicans countering with old footage of Dems praising McCain, concentrate on saying that's old stuff, and that McCain isn't up to modern times today (this will reinforce the concerns that age is a factor, too). Expose his programs as more of the same old Bush stuff and show that this won't help the middle class. Really, even more money and favors for the incredible rich oil companies, the same old healthcare in a new package, that same ole warmongering that started the Iraq war, the same lame economic policy that brought nothing for the average American, where is the effing difference to Bush? The message should be, we're not talking about the past, we're talking about change! And McCain ain't no force for real change.

[ Parent ]
The "I told you so's" (0.00 / 0)
This is from OpenLeft.

   * This year, Democrats in the congressional generic ballot are outperforming the Democratic nominee. The latest Diageo poll showing a dead heat has Democrats up by nine in the congressional ballot. The Gallup poll showing McCain up by 10% among likely voters shows Republicans up by 5% in the generic ballot. While the poll tells you more about oversampling Republicans and Republican demographics more than it tell you about anything else, especially given how much it outlies from other polls today, the point is that congressional Democrats are still polling better than Obama.
   * The last Democratic nominee to underperform congressional Democrats was Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Then this guy writes:
"Now, I know that pointing out anything wrong with the Obama campaign means that I am a panicking chicken little who needs to be quarantined from the level headed political professionals, but it is hard to see these numbers and not think that there is something very wrong in the presidential campaign."

God forbid that anyone writes anything negative about the Obama campaign because that is tantamount to taking the Lord's name in vain for a fundamentalist Christian.

Pollsters do not oversample. I've worked doing political polling at a firm for Clinton's 1996 campaign. You know who you are talking to. The only firm that may have fudged things was Zogby in the primaries.

Progressives have to get off their pravda self-censorship, especially now. The reason Obama is failing is he isn't asserting any unique identity. While we attacked McCain's bona fides as a maverick, many older people waited around for him to change back to the old McCain and that he started to do with his speech.

I asked a friend of the Pritzker family, who is also an expert on nationalized health care systems and worked for Cook County/ John Stroger Hospital what she thought of Obama's health care plan:
Caroline Skolnik
September 8 at 1:09pm

"I'm in rural guatemala, can't really answer emails. It's not a great plan from what I've read but better than more tax cuts and privatization."

Obama has mushed into a candidate with a complete lack of identity and that is his problem. He either has to become Hillary or he has to go back to becoming himself and asserting his gut and articulating what he means by "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

What was meant by that is that in order for America to make changes, people need to also take personal responsibility in how they live their lives. In that, a leader can inspire a nation to do that. However, that was not articulated very well so a meaningful slogan became an MTV chant.

Going back to Bowers rumination on criticizing Obama, these critiques are incredibly important if we are to hold our elected officials accountable. The person running for president is applying for a job we all pay for and one can't just let a job applicant slide.

Black folk always knew that Being Black would be the (0.00 / 0)
hardest part for Obama.

I'm sorry if this race has forced Progressives to step out of their comfort zone, but hey, that's the reality Black folks live everyday.

One of the reasons why Obama had to defeat HIllary for me, was because, she COULD NOT be allowed to use racebaiting AGAINST A FELLOW DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE.

IF she were to have won, then that would have been THE BLUEPRINT for how to take out any future Black candidate with aspirations higher than a gerrymandered Congressional seat.

Basically, for me, the whole ' we shouldn't run Black candidates because folks are racist' is complete bullshit. And, it says, with snide undertones, Black folk should sit in the back of the bus and be happy that they're there.

Fuck that.

Barack Obama's candidacy, irregardless of whether he wins has meant more to me than I even thought possible when he first began. He is a man of tremendous character. He and Michelle both. I am humbled at the way he has withstood the attacks that would have brought down a weaker person. I am in awe of his courage, and Michelle's too. I respect their love of this country and their patriotism.

When this all began, I said routinely,

Would White People Vote for a Black Man for President?

I didn't know the answer to this question.
I only knew I wanted the answer to this question.

I can say, without hesitation, if Obama were White, this would have been over this summer. Period.

That's how deep this race question is.

We're heading to a fork in the road for this country.

Bottom line to some White folks.

You're drowning. Your kids and grandkids are in the boat with you.

Do you
a) take the life preserver offered to you from the Black guy

b) take another block of cement that caused the holes in your boat in the first place from the White guy.

Obama's election is where the myth of America meets its racist underbelly reality. How it shakes out, I dunno.

But, instead of writing diaries, how about go out and talk to some other White folks about Obama.


Racism Is Not Obama's FAULT (0.00 / 0)
nor is it his responsibility to get immoral racists to have a spiritual awakening and have some moment of truth where they realize "gee, its just skin".....hell no. What kind of bullshit commentary is this? Are you serious with this "maybe we shouldn't have nominated the black guy because of the racists"...........wow......thanks for being so "progressive".  I guess we coloreds will just shuffle on to the back of the bus were we belongs and just wait for Mr. Charlie to let us know when they comfortable with us. Much obliged sur.


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