April 11, 2008

Is John McCain A Strong Candidate?

Polls give today John McCain with a statistically insignificant one-point advantage over Barack Obama, 46% to 45%. Yesterday, it was Obama leading McCain by that same statistically insignificant margin (it is important to understand that 46-45 may mean any result between 49 Obama and 42 McCain, or 43 Obama v. 48 McCain). In a match-up with Hillary Clinton, McCain would obtain 48% of the vote while Clinton would get 42%.
This almost perfect parity between the two main candidates is reflected in the balance of power in the Electoral College, which is what really matters in November. There, the race remains a toss-up: Democrats lead in states with 190 Electoral Votes while the GOP has the advantage in states with 189. When States that “lean” toward one of the two camps are added, the Democrats lead 243 to 240 (the magic number to enter the White House is 270).
All this means that John McCain, at the moment when Democrats are engaged in a dogfight, and mainstream media are all sweetness toward the Senator from Arizona, is not capable of obtaining a significant lead over Obama, and has only a modest advantage over Clinton. What is the reason of this relative weakness?
The only explanation is that McCain is the Republican candidate in a year when all the the strong currents of American politics favor the Democrats. The economic crisis and the social tragedy of million of people losing their home will be on the forefront of voters' concerns in November. The same can be said for the Iraq war, that vanished from the TV screen, but not from the mind of citizens: two-thirds still want the troops home ASAP.
After the Convention, if Obama will adopt Bill Clinton's 1992 slogan "It's the Economy, stupid!" that will be enough for the Democrats to win.