Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How John McCain lost

That's my latest American Spectator column:
John McCain lost the election Sept. 24 and Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. Nothing that is likely to happen between now and Nov. 4 can change this outcome.
Since Sept. 24, polls have increasingly pointed toward a Democratic landslide. Obama not only has an outside-the-margin advantage in nearly every national poll, but leads strongly in enough battleground states that if the election were held today, the Electoral College vote would be 353 for the Democrat, 185 for the Republican. Even Karl Rove's electoral map now shows Obama winning.
Two weeks ago, after polls first began showing a trend toward Obama, I warned against a Republican panic. The candidates had not yet met in their first debate and it was possible that a strong performance by McCain might shift the momentum back toward the GOP candidate.
On Sept. 24, however, the McCain campaign suddenly freaked out. The Arizona senator announced that he was suspending his campaign activity, seeking a postponement of the Sept. 26 debate, and flying off to Washington to push for the Wall Street bailout bill.
Read the rest. It's been headlined at Hot Air and linked by Mark Harvey, who isn't exactly a fan.
A lot of the angry reaction can be boiled down to abuse of the first-person plural -- "we." You see this in some of the Hot Air comments, e.g.:
Jesus. We’re supposed to just concede a freakin month before people even vote? No thanks. . . .
When did we become the quitters? When did Republicans lose their nerve?
In other words, "we" (conservatives) are responsible for the success or failure of Republican politicians and their campaigns. This is a sort of identity issue, like the Dallas fan who speaks of the Cowboys as "we" -- "We won Sunday!" -- as if he were actually wearing a helmet out on the field. Therefore, if a Republican politician loses, "we" are responsible.

This kind of thinking is bass-ackward. It exempts politicians from responsibility for their own actions. Did "we" tell Maverick to support the bailout? Did "we" tell him to blame Chris Cox for the financial crisis? Did "we" tell him to blame the problem on greedy capitalists? No. He runs his own campaign, and if he runs it off a cliff, "we" are not to blame.

The headline on my Sept. 24 blog post, reacting to the news that Maverick was suspending his campaign to push for the bailout was, "Holy crap!" That move made no sense. Despite a slow post-convention fade in his numbers, McCain was still in a statistical dead heat on Sept. 24 -- trailing 3 points in Gallup, down by 2 points in Rasmussen.

Just two days before the first debate, and the GOP presidential nominee does a total freakout. It was inexplicable then, and I've never heard any plausible explanation of why it was necessary as policy or politics. The fact that it sank his campaign -- well, it's just a fact. And "we" didn't have anything to do with it. I have no doubt that Maverick will blame conservatives for his defeat (he always does), but there's no reason we should volunteer as scapegoats.

BTW, I notice that one of the most vicious commenters at Hot Air, slagging me as a "Paulbot" -- wrong! -- is "funky chicken," who just happens to be the same guy that sneered at pro-life activist Becky Banks as "trout pout and kind of fugly." Irony.

UPDATE: Patrick Ruffini: Bringing up the Ayers connection in October looks "desperate."

UPDATE II: Obama +10 in Virginia.

UPDATE III: RCP averages: If this is not evidence of an incipient landslide, what is it? And if you've got some idea of how Team Maverick can reverse that momentum, how about you tell them about it?

UPDATE IV: Linked by Jules Crittenden, who loves him some celebrity cleavage.


  1. Your thesis only holds true if the next four weeks do not exist.
    Anyway, my copy of your book has shipped from Amazon, so I'll be on the lookout for a signature opportunity, sir.

  2. Did your analysis include the 2 polls today showing the race tightening? Do you think Ayers won't impact this election at all?

    I'm not saying you are wrong. I'm just curious.