Monday, January 21, 2008

Decisive issues, Part I: Electability

In the interest of greatly simplifying things, I am going to boil the race down to three issues, and evaluate the three leading candidates (Hillary, Obama, and McCain) on them. I am assuming at this point that McCain will win the Republican nomination. I am going to dedicate one post to each issue.

The issues are:

1. Electability.
2. Experience.
3. Moral authority.

First issue, electability. Which, for me, translates to three things. 1, who can win over independents? 2, who can mobilize their base, and 3, who can win over voters from the other party?

McCain has a clear appeal to independents. He's not particularly popular among some establishment Republicans (Tom Delay apparently still holds a grudge), but, come election time, they will vote for him. Whether or not he wins over Democrats depends on his opponent. Many Democrats are starting to turn against Hillary, and would consider voting for McCain instead. However, against Obama, Democrats would mobilize for Obama.

Hillary does not appeal to many independents. Some will vote for her because of fond recollections of the 1990's, which is a good reason - the 1990's were great, from many perspectives. However, against McCain, she will have to fight for them. She has started to lose many Democrats because of how she is running her campaign, and, unfortunately, because Bill is not campaigning very gracefully. She will not get many Republicans, if any.

Obama has a few issues with the base, but they are minor. Some progressives have issues with how liberal he is, and his comments on Ronald Reagan. Countering that, however, he can count on mobilizing the African-American vote, and possibly inspiring many people who otherwise would not vote. So he is overall positive with the base. He is attracting droves of independents, particularly among young people. This may make a difference in California, where independents can vote in the Democratic primary, but not the Republican one. And some Republicans are expressing support for him. Against McCain, it's not clear how much Republican support he can win, but the possibility is there. Here, McCain's experience may be an advantage.

This is how it stacks up:
McCain-Hillary: McCain mobilizes Republican base, wins independents, and possibly some Democrats. Advantage: McCain.

McCain-Obama: Both mobilize their base, both compete effectively for independents, both compete for members of the other party. Advantage: Neither. Tie.

No comments: