Thursday, February 7, 2008

Democrat Who Will Fare Best Against McCain

One of my points below about electibility in my previous post is now obsolete. The Republicans pretty much as locked into McCain, so now questions of electibility are not as problematic; its no longer shooting a missile with a missile.

I still think that of all the years to be worrying about electibility in the general election, this is not the year. Folks, we are dealing not only with the vestige of one of the most unpopular and unsuccessful administrations here, but also the fatigue of 8 years with said administration. And then, there's the economy! If this isn't a perfect storm for a Democratic victory, I don't know what is.

With that caveat, I think a case can be made that Hillary would fare better versus McCain than Obama. My reasoning is based on the fact that year after year, McCain has one because of a single trump card, his military service. That's how he won his first election, and it has been easy sailing for him ever since. His famous quote in response to a challenge in his first debate was essentially, to paraphrase, "where were YOU while I was out fighting for our country?". The past 30+ years of strides in gender equality not-withstanding, the visceral reaction for non-Democrats is going to be kinder to a woman than a man, where neither has a record of military service. There might be an additional onus on Obama because so many African-Americans are in the military (not sure how that might figure into the calculus of public perception).

Plus, Hillary has a similarly pseudo moral smirky line with equal weight as McCain's. She was giving birth and raising a child.

There is another more subtle and abstract reason I think Hillary will fare better versus McCain. It follows from the fact that, however likeable McCain may seem to be, it is not because of his suaveness. He is not charming. In fact, he is a bit awkward, and carelessly speaks and then apologizes, and considers such gruffness a token of sincerity (or "straight talk"). When put next together someone who is almost the complete opposite, that is, charming and suave, as I consider Obama to be, it is going to likely highlight McCain's likeability. Maybe not, but I think there is considerable chance that McCain will be able to take advantage of this sharp contrast in demeanor.

Hillary, on the other hand, has the same awkward graces has McCain, but not on such a clumsy level. Next to Hillary, McCain just looks dumb. Next to Obama, McCain looks "authentic".

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