Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It Ain't Over Til It's Over

The beloved baseball philosopher Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra infamously said "it ain't over til it's over" in 1973 during a losing streak by his New York Mets, who trailed the Chicago Cubs by 9-1/2 games in the final months of the pennant race, when asked about his teams chances of a comeback. Don't count John McCain out just yet, either.

I know. The most recent 39 state polls show Barack Obama with a commanding 273 electoral vote lead. If the election were held today, Obama would win every state John Kerry won in 2004 plus Republican strongholds in Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico. Ball game.

However, the problem with that math is that the election is still 28 days away. And, although the liberal media is already rubbing in the Obama annointing oil, the junior Senator from Illinois has never been comfortable holding a lead thus far in this election campaign. Couldn't do it in the final months of the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton. She clobbered him in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

And he couldn't do it against John McCain this summer when every reputable talking-head political pundit on television surmised he should have been up by at least 10 if not 20 percentage points.

On the flip side, Senator McCain seems to revel in being the underdog. His campaign was given up for dead last year in September when his relentless passion for victory with honor in Iraq seemed to be hopeless. Defeated, broke and given up on by the political establishment, Senator McCain did what every old soldier does when the chips are down. He pulled himself up by his bootstraps and threw conventional wisdom to the wind and took his message to the folks. And guess what? The surge began working, suddenly McCain's cause did not seem so hopeless and he stormed back through the field of Republican challengers to secure the nomination in March.

Once again, Senator McCain finds himself in a tough spot. He has lost his post-convention bounce and now trails in virtually every reputable poll. Senator Obama's lead has recently been anywhere from 5% to 9% nationwide. However, look a bit closer and you will see the lead diminishing just as every national election tightens. Today's polls show Senator McCain trailing by as few as 1% in several polls. He still trails in the overall electoral map math but this election will be won district by district not via national polls or by the expressed opinion of the elite liberal media.

And, for the millions of McCain supporters, there are several significant advantages which favor John McCain:

History on His Side

The most famous example of this come-from-behind strategy occured in the 1948 Presidential election. The incumbent President Harry S. Truman was anywhere from 5% to 15% behind on election day to Republican challenger Thomas E. Dewey. Heck, even the elite liberal media declared him the winner when Life magazine ran a pre-election magazine cover story declaring Dewey "The Next President of the United States."

However, instead of capitulating to the doom and gloom forecast, Harry Truman dug in and took his message directly to the folks. And guess what? Truman scored the biggest upset in Presidential election history when he defeated Dewey by 4% of the vote. The front page photograph of a victorious Truman holding the Chicago Daily Tribune on election night declaring his opponents victory is one of the most recognizable photos in the history of presidential politics and serves as a strong motivational tool for every political underdog in the country.

The Bradley Effect

Tom Bradley was the five-term mayor of Los Angeles from 1973 to 1993. In fact, Bradley was not only just mayor but the first and only black mayor of Los Angeles and served for the longest term in office of any mayor in Los Angeles history. After several reelections, Bradley decided to run for Governor of California in 1982 against Republican George Deukmejian.

After a long, tough campaign Bradley led his Republican opponent in most polls heading into election day. And, in fact, several major news organizations declared Bradley the winner within minutes of the polls closing. However, a funny thing happened when California voters emerged from the voting booth. Many of those voters who told pollsters of their intent to vote for Bradley prior to the election, did the exact opposite on election day. The result: Bradley lost by 1.2%, or less than 100,000 votes, to his Republican opponent.

The racial dynamics that appeared to undermine his narrow and unexpected loss gave rise to the political term "The Bradley Effect." This term refers to a tendency of white voters to tell interviewers or pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate then actually vote for his opponent.

The Times We Live In

These are dangerous times. We live in a world of uncertainty in our financial markets and uncertainty abroad. We are on the verge of the most significant financial crisis of our history and the most dangerous period of international affairs since the end of World War II.

In times like these, historically, Americans have chosen on the side of caution and experience in their national leaders. And, in most of these situations they have chosen Republican candidates to lead us through harm's way. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Republicans have won the Presidency seven of the past ten elections in the last 40 years. We have had Republican leadership in the White House for 28 of the those 40 years. And, both Democratic victories came during relatively peaceful times.


The 300-pound elephant in the room this election is the race card. I realize it is politically incorrect to mention this subject but it is true and has yet to rear its' ugly head. But just wait.

We can expect this race to get nasty in the final 28 days. Very nasty. And the lead plank of the nastiness will be the race card. Don't expect it to come from the McCain camp. Heck, Senator McCain even passed on the William Ayers and other radical Obama associations angle during last night's debate in deference to honor and civil discourse (focus group respondents also have overwhelmingly showed their distaste when either candidate goes negative and that had some impact as well.)

However, the fact that Barack Obama is black will definitely be a considerable factor in this election in the final days. This single issue will be much more impactful on the final results than a roomful of William Ayers', Reverend Jeremiah Wright's and Tony Rezko's combined.

It is a sad testament to our society that race will become the single largest issue affecting the outcome of this election but it will and is unavoidable. This is the first time an African-American has run for President of the United States. As much as we would like the outcome to be decided by a frank discussion on the issues, race will rear its' ugly head and will ultimately choose our next President.

2000 and 2004

The past two Presidential elections have come down to one state: Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. And despite all the rhetoric and slogans, the electoral map for this election is basically settling into the same mold.

This race will be decided in a handful of states: Nevada, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, and Colorado. All Republican states in 2004 and in which Obama leads in virtually every poll in these crucial "swing" states.

There is still time for John McCain to get his message of Peace, Prosperity and Reform through to these folks before election day.


So sit back and hang on. The last 28 days will be a wild ride. Expect the unexpected. Expect the race to tighten. In a "change" election year, the Democrats have the advantage and lead in the polls, conventional punditry wisdom, have the support of the women of The View and Tina Fay on Saturday Night Live and the lead in the ever important electoral map. Just the type of scenario a fiesty Maverick from Arizona likes.

Oh and by the way. Yogi Berra's 1973 Amazin' Mets rallied to overcome that 9-1/2 game deficit and won the National League pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

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