Sunday, February 17, 2008

My idiosyncratic list of John McCain's negatives as candidate for President

It's reasonably clear now that John McCain will be the Republican nominee for President this year. As a Democrat I have to say that I think he is the strongest choice the republicans could make, but that doesn't make him a real strong choice. So I decided to list the problems Sen. McCain will have to overcome in order to win the general election. Here's my list:

  • The Recession. It is here, and the incumbent party will take the blame.

  • The fragmentation of the Republican coalition. McCain’s first efforts will have to be to pull the Republican Party back together, but the Social Republicans don’t trust him, the extremist conservatives and their radio talk hosts don’t like him, and his efforts to get those extremists to vote for him will be a turn-off for the independent voters he desperately needs in the general election.

  • McCain’s performance in the Republican nomination has been less than sterling. Starting as the front-runner, he immediately went bankrupt, was replaced by Giuliani, and when Rudy collapsed, the front runner because Mitt Romney rather than McCain. The refusal of a large block of Social Republicans to vote for a Mormon sank Romney, and then the choice devolved back to McCain, who has been unable to beat Huckabee convincingly.

  • The Republican anti-immigrant efforts are widely seen by Hispanics as being anti-Hispanic, much as was the case when then-governor Pete Wilson destroyed the California Republican Party with his very similar efforts.

  • The still lingering Iraq war. The war may cause some militarists to vote for McCain as most likely to conduct it with the greatest will, but at least as many voters, including a lot of independents, will vote against him for exactly that reason. As long as the casualty rate remains low, the media will not publicize the war, so it is not the level of problem the Recession will be, but it will be a net problem.

  • McCain’s reputation for a hot temper along with his clear militarism (Bomb Iran, 100 years in Iraq, etc.) will make him a prime target for being described as unfit to control the American nuclear arsenal, much as Goldwater was in 1964.

  • Bush’s unpopularity and the reputation for incompetence that the Bush White House has earned will carry over to any Republican candidate for the Presidency.

  • McCain’s demographic is primarily all white, all male. This is rapidly becoming a minority group of voters in America.

  • McCain is the oldest candidate every to run for the White House. McCain has glibly attempted to neutralize this but the comparison between the old man McCain and the much younger Obama will be very difficult for McCain to carry off successfully.

  • The general unpopularity of the Republican party and the clear exhaustion of the conservative movement present real obstacles for McCain, which his age and lack of charisma will do nothing to overcome.

There may be other items I am overlooking, but this is a large collection of negatives for any one candidate to overcome. It's going to be interesting to see how the McCain campaign attempts to neutralize these items.

This said, I still don't think the general election is going to be a Democratic Party blowout.

If I've missed anything, leave me a comment.

1 comment:

P.K. said...

This is not enough. These can all easily be changed into positives by midling debaters. We need strong negatives. Things this man did wrong.