Sunday, August 10, 2008

Whistling By the Graveyard

During a recent Indiana Week in Review Show, a Republican panelist scoffed at the notion that Republican John McCain would lose Indiana...after all, a Democrat Presidential candidate had not won the state since 1964. I keep hearing from people like him - fellow Republicans who think there’s nothing to be concerned about when it comes to tens of thousands of new voters who signed up to vote in the Democratic Primary in Indiana. We Republicans are whistling by the graveyard.

I tell my political science students that when predicting election results, you cannot simply look at polling numbers without looking at the intensity behind those numbers. This election reminds me most of 1980. In that year, the race between Reagan and Carter was nearly a dead heat going into Election Day. Reagan though won by a landslide, carrying Republicans all across the country to surprise victories. Presently, the intensity gap between Reagan and Carter supporters in 1980 reminds me of the gap between the supporters of Obama and McCain.

This election is going to be about change and the economy. While I like John McCain, the reality is that he is viewed as a status quo candidate who is far more concerned about foreign policy than economic issues. That spells trouble. As things stand today, I expect the Democrats to score a huge victory on Election Day. I think this could well be the worst election for Republicans since 1974. I hope I'm wrong but my political instincts tell me otherwise.

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