Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dukakis-Obama watch

With Clinton's 10-point victory over Obama in Pennsylvania, the specter of Gov. Michael Dukakis has arisen and attached itself to Obama. Dukakis, whom Poppy Bush defeated in PA in 1988, was the last Democratic presidential nominee who didn't carry the state in the general election.

Checked in at Google News and abracadabra! The name, Dukakis, popped up like a rabbit out of Obama's hat. A few articles and op/eds (Dukakis name emphasized.)...

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative columnist Jim Wooten [Bleh!]:

It is noteworthy, as others have pointed out, that Democrats are about to nominate another candidate in the mold of John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore — and one who’ll get the nomination by winning smaller states, like South Carolina, that the party has no hopes of winning in November. Except for his home state of Illinois, Hillary won the big states: New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, Florida Ohio and others essential to Democratic success in November.... ...[Obama's] base is blacks, liberals and young voters. Blue-collar workers making less than $50,000 a year, older women and Hispanics — key constituencies the party needs — aren’t with him yet.

Another conservative, David Frum at NRO, Obama = Dukakis?

Back in 1988, the elder George HW Bush defeated the Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis by convincing America that Dukakis was radically unacceptable: too left-wing, too weak, too out of touch with the values of ordinary voters.... ...So, the thought is spreading – can McCain win by doing to Obama what George HW Bush did to Michael Dukakis? If so, then his lack of a domestic platform may not matter much. Who remembers George HW Bush’s 1988 platform?

Frum concluded that Dukakis-izing won't work this time; 2008 is very different than 1988. M'yeah. But GOP smear tactics aren't.

TIME's A Willie Horton Hit on Obama?

Starting Tuesday, a group of conservative activists led by Floyd Brown, author of the famous Willie Horton ad used so effectively against Michael Dukakis in 1988, will begin a campaign to tar Obama as weak on crime and terrorism, a strategy that aims to upend Obama's relatively strong reputation among Republican voters.... ..."The campaign by Hillary Clinton has not been able to raise Obama's negatives," said Brown on Monday. "It is absolutely critical that Obama's negatives go up with Republicans."

Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Obama's patriotism:

Barack Obama believes his patriotism can't be challenged. Maybe he should talk to Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry.... ...Obama wants the race for the White House to be about hope. It probably won't be.... ...In 1988, Dukakis said the campaign was about "competence, not ideology." His opponent, George H.W. Bush, made it all about ideology. The GOP turned Dukakis into a civil liberties-loving elitist who let convicted felons free to strike again.... ...But Obama should be ready to face the political reality that accompanies some controversial choices... ...They include his decision to stay in a church whose pastor blamed America for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and his association, however tenuous, with a Vietnam-era radical named William Ayers.

John Dickerson at Slate, She's Got a Friend in Pennsylvania:

Clinton has some useful data to mine in the exit polls, particularly about those blue-collar voters we've been watching all election. Obama just can't get to them. He's tried everything: policy changes, bowling, drinking beer, and shelving all talk of arugula. He still lost to Clinton 54-46 among that group. The Clinton team will argue that without these voters, Obama will be like Michael Dukakis, a liberal favorite unable to compete against Republicans in Ohio and Pennsylvania because he can't woo regular people. Obama did win these voters in New Hampshire and Missouri but hasn't won among them since the Wisconsin primary in mid-February.... ...For those still debating whether Obama's remarks about small-town voters harmed him, the data suggest he hurt himself. Among gun owners, Clinton won 60 percent of the vote. Among small-town voters, she won 59 percent of the vote to Obama's 41 percent. In previous contests, Obama's had a slim 49 percent to 45 percent edge among small-town voters. Clinton also won among religious voters.

We don't really know what the Clinton campaign will argue. Dickerson speculated. However, if Hillary ends up with the popular vote edge including MI and FL coupled with the fact that she has won the big states critical to an Electoral College victory, then superdelegates need to weigh who can beat McCain in November.

Consider this from Sean Wilentz at Salon, Why Hillary Clinton should be winning:

Apr. 07, 2008 | The continuing contest for the Democratic presidential nomination has become a frenzy of debates and proclamations about democracy. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has been particularly vociferous in claiming that its candidate stands for a transformative, participatory new politics. It has vaunted Obama's narrow lead in the overall popular vote in the primaries to date, as well as in the count of elected delegates, as the definitive will of the party's rank and file. If, while heeding the party's rules, the Democratic superdelegates overturn those majorities, Obama's supporters claim, they will have displayed a cynical contempt for democracy that would tear the party apart.

These arguments might be compelling if Obama's leads were not so reliant on certain eccentricities in the current Democratic nominating process, as well as on some blatantly anti-democratic maneuvers by the Obama campaign. Obama's advantage hinges on a system that, whatever the actual intentions behind it, seems custom-made to hobble Democratic chances in the fall. It depends on ignoring one of the central principles of American electoral politics, one that will be operative on a state-by-state basis this November, which is that the winner takes all. If the Democrats ran their nominating process the way we run our general elections, Sen. Hillary Clinton would have a commanding lead in the delegate count, one that will only grow more commanding after the next round of primaries, and all questions about which of the two Democratic contenders is more electable would be moot. [Emphasis added.]

An aside worth mentioning: no one--Obama or Clinton--can win the Democratic nomination without superdelegates. The Obamasphere likes to disregard this fact as if Obama's pledged delegate lead is the Holy Grail, an idea propagandized by Barry's campaign and NBC. Nonetheless, it is true. The superdelegates will decide the nominee. Like it or not.

Paul Lukasiak at Corrente--an excellent blogger with both feet firmly grounded in reality--presented Survey USA polling analysis of nine states surveryed in April--CA, IA, MA, MN, MO, NM, OH, OR, and WI--compared to the SUSA 50-state poll conducted in February. Obama's ability to beat McCain is weakening. Hillary is getting stronger:

Barack Obama is hemmorhaging support against John McCain in states where Democrats can/should win in November.... ...In the last six weeks, Barack Obama has been losing support, while Hillary Clinton has gained support, when matched against McCain. Much of Clinton’s additional support is from voters who were undecided in late February, and Clinton essentially “split” the “recent deciders” with McCain; as a result there is little change in her margins against McCain. But people who were undecided whether they preferred Obama or McCain are also making up their minds – and choosing McCain. As a result, Obama’s margins against McCain are looking much worse.

Democrats may think they have the presidency sown up after the carnage and incompetency of Bush-Cheney. The GOP brand is in the tank. M'yeah. I thought only an idiot would vote GOP in 2004. So color me skeptical.

Clinton-Obama 2008. That's the ticket to decisively beat McCain.