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WP: Ambushed by History


Henry

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Lombardi's kid brother is making a lot of sense in this thread.

I don't agree with the idea that Obama has made fewer than 3 mistakes this year, but I do agree that in comparison with McCain's herky-jerky campaign, they don't mean very much. His mistakes (so far) have been limited to issues that aren't long term front-and-center.

And Obama has benefited greatly from the fact that McCain, for all his scatter-shot antics and tactics-of-the-week, has drawn the line at personally propping up Ayers and Wright scarecrows for months at a time. A more pure Rove strategy would have been to recognize early on that the McCain campaign would obviously lose on the issues, so drag the whole election into the mud on day one and keep it there. It would have cost McCain some independents, but Obama would have had to respond in kind early and the negativity plus the associations could have cost him even more. In any event, a low, dirty, politics-as-usual election would have taken the shine right off Obama's claim to be different and caused more folks to stay home on Election Day -- a benefit for McCain.

McCain is a funny guy. He clearly has morals at least some of the time, which rules out a purely dirty but powerful campaign. Yet he's also clearly willing to crunch those morals underfoot frequently, which rules out the appearance of a more respectable campaign. He seems to be doing the worst possible thing as a result, trying to run both campaign styles at the same time. It's completely at odds with the consistent war-hero "maverick" image he's trying to create, and it just looks like he doesn't really know what he's doing.

Maybe he'll crush in the debates tonight, and things will change. (I hope not.)

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1. There's no evidence that small town white people like Biden. The Obama campaign has tried to push it, but there's no evidence its true. He doesn't have a history of doing well in primaries with small town white people.

It may be a bit of an assumption seeing as how I haven't seen too many small town white people polls lol. But Biden has been very active in PA and their campaign seems to be improving in places where Obama by himself was not doing so well (speaking of Obama mistakes).

2. Assuming McCain had picked somebody reasonable as VP, having Biden just emphasizes Obama's lack of experience.

I've heard this theory before but I just don't see how having more experience on the ticket results in a net loss. Especially against a candidate who wants to emphasize foreign policy over economics.

3. Biden's foreign policy credentials are actually not that strong (he voted against the first Gulf War, and then turned around and voted for this one. If McCain had somebody that actually carry the water there, they'd actually attack Biden on that

It would be pretty tough for the McCain campaign to make the first gulf war into an issue at this point. I agree Biden's vote on the current war in Iraq is a weakness and I would have preferred if Obama could choose someone who made the right choice.

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I disagree, McCain was ahead in the polls shortly after the GOP convention. McCain's campagne was pretty well run. They just didn't have much to run with....

It's hard to run your campagne as an agent of change when you are the incombent party and your candidate has voted with Bush 90% of the time. More than 90% of the time in the four years of his second term.

McCain lost this election when he decided to pander to Bush's base and turn away from indepenents in 2004. When he decided to reverse himself on all of his principled stances which made him the darling of independent minded fiscal conservatives and independents in general and bring himself in line with Bush.

McCain spent four years running towards Bush, enableing his policies, and spent three months running against him as an agent of change; and in the end the country just didn't believe him anymore.

It was actually not awfully run until about 2 weeks before the convention. I actually at one point in time said I think McCain actually has a chance to win the election. The "celebrity" adds were an effective and novel way to attack Obama on his lack of experinece. They did have message issues, but over all for that period it was not bad.

Unfortunately, it was the high point of the campaign.

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I don't have a problem with not disowning him earlier. The problem was talking in absolutes, 'I CAN'T disown him.' You find a way to make the point w/o the absolute.

Pedantics...

I would argue that it's amaizing Obama hasn't had a significant gaff on the stump.. I would argue that Obama's style of answering questions asked of him, contrasted first with Hillarie's disiplined technique of reciting canned blurbs regardless of the question is what first elivated Obama. It was also what most experts thought would end Obama hopes.

It's nearly impossible to answer questions asked of you hundreds of times a day, thousands of times a week, for two years and not make a huge gaff. Just ask Joe Bidden... Obama's foe's from Hillary to McCain were waiting to pounce on that gaff; and Barack hasn't given it to them.... That's why Obama has gotten this far, and why he's busting up McCain at this point.

He is the rare guy who can speak directly to the questions, and not seem rehersed, and yet not make the fatal gaff even after months or years on the stump.

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That's a good point. Seems to me Obama made a far bigger mistake when he said he would accept public financing if his opponent did.

That's such an Inside Baseball issue that I'm not sure 90 percent of Americans even understand it. Hell, I follow this stuff relentlessly, and I barely understand it.

I agree that he fumbled the Rev Wright episode. But I'm not sure how you handle that one smoothly. It's not easy to divorce one of your closest mentors/friends in public.

I don't get how Biden was a bad pick. It may have been a boring pick, but Obama's goal during the general election campaign has been to make himself boring.

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By late September, the VP pick issue had been mitigated by the right's incredible enthusiasm for her.

I think the left was equally enthused... donations to Obama had stagnated for a while and with the Palin pick, they went back up.

the moderates I think have been pushed away by Palin and that's what makes the Palin pick an overall negative, though it would not have been enough to get the election if events in the world didn't unfold the way they did.

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It was actually not awfully run until about 2 weeks before the convention. I actually at one point in time said I think McCain actually has a chance to win the election. The "celebrity" adds were an effective and novel way to attack Obama on his lack of experinece. They did have message issues, but over all for that period it was not bad.

Unfortunately, it was the high point of the campaign.

I actually thought the GOP convention was one of their strongest periods. It was hard with the Huricaine, but they dodged the bullet and pulled it off.

Then they totally lucked out with the Palin nomination. Folks are down on the Palin choice but I think she has been a huge asset to McCain. She gave McCain a good three weeks of parity with Obama, and continues to spark huge interest on the stump. Remember McCain had to cancel a fundraising apperance in Phoenix Arizona with the President before the convention for a lack of interest before Palin was tapped. ( moved it from the pro basketball arena to a private residence... just as good as canceled).

After Palin was tapped he's had 30,000 people showing up at his daily apperances. Quayle never gave GW that kind of breathing room. Palin has been an amaizing sucess for McCain.

The celebrity adds were a novel approach to attack Obama both for his inexperience and for being an elitest... Problem was painting a guy who grew up with a single mother on food stamps as an elitest just didn't ring true. That's been a continuing problem for McCain in this race. Every time you think he's got some traction, turns out he's lieing.

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I think you missed the campaign's biggest mistakes:

1. Saying "they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion." This mistake fueled Hillary's comeback, and made the Pennsylvania and West Virginia primaries unwinnable.

That was his biggest gaffe so far - though I don't think he was winning PA or WV anyway.

2. Saying he would sit down and talk with Ahmadinejad and others during the YouTube debate. He has been backtracking from that statement ever since, and he has been called out on it in every single debate by everyone from Biden to Clinton and McCain.

I don't think this was a mistake at all, considering the current administration has spent the last year rediscovering negotiation. Obama has emphasized diplomacy. Americans are ready for diplomacy again. Even the Bush Administration is talking to people like North Korea. I think Palin is the one who looks small in all this except with the "Bomb Them All" crowd which is her base.

3. Michelle Obama saying "For the First Time in My Adult Lifetime, I'm Really Proud of My Country." That statement helped resurrect Hillary's campaign from the dead, and Palin is still using it on the stump today.

Unless his mistake is "choice in spouse," I'm not sure how you pin that to Obama. And I also think that was terribly overblown and has lost any meaning as people have seen Michelle Obama more.

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Then they totally lucked out with the Palin nomination. Folks are down on the Palin choice but I think she has been a huge asset to McCain. She gave McCain a good three weeks of parity with Obama, and continues to spark huge interest on the stump. Remember McCain had to cancel a fundraising apperance in Phoenix Arizona with the President before the convention for a lack of interest before Palin was tapped. ( moved it from the pro basketball arena to a private residence... just as good as canceled).

After Palin was tapped he's had 30,000 people showing up at his daily apperances. Quayle never gave GW that kind of breathing room. Palin has been an amaizing sucess for McCain.

Palin has been a success in the sense that she actually has the Right Wing backing McCain at long last. The problem is, in selecting her, he has lost his own base - the Intelligentsia on the Right, Independents, and Moderates.

In essence, the McCain campaign has become the Palin campaign. And I'm not sure that this has ever happened in American politics. The Righ Wing is voting for her. The Independents are voting against her. And no one cares about McCain himself any longer.

He outsourced his own campaign.

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JMS, I don't disagree with you about the GOP. The point of the article is not to paint them as victims. It's about McCain. Given the circumstances, there is no way he could win this election, so to say he's losing because he's personally run a bad campaign isn't exactly accurate. That's the point. Not that the GOP doesn't deserve some backlash.
I think it's a little bit fatalistic to say that McCain couldn't have won this election.

Obama has basically changed nothing since the financial crisis hit. This should have been a huge opportunity, and McCain tried to seize it by riding to the rescue in Washington. He failed in that attempt, and that was the end of his campaign. He has been unable to articulate how his plans would change other than saying that he would consider a spending freeze. He has been on board with bailouts and has only proposed more bailouts ... I think this has been a huge mistake.

There is an easy message here, and the conservatives in the Tailgate seem to get it. McCain needed to simply say that the government's excess spending caused the problem, and that he will Maverick his way out of it. Instead of saying he would "consider" a spending freeze, promise that there will be a spending freeze. Say that debt is the problem both in business and in government, and that you're going to balance the budget. Give up your tax cuts, give up your big spending programs. Be bold and offer some real solutions. Put Obama on his heels.

...Instead, McCain has stuck to the playbook they wrote back during the Convention. He isn't backing off any of his tax cuts or his policy proposals, and he is sticking to the "October surprise" gameplan of attacking Obama on Ayers. He is basically running the same campaign he had planned before the financial crisis hit. He has allowed himself to become a victim of circumstances instead of reacting to the circumstances.

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Palin has been a success in the sense that she actually has the Right Wing backing McCain at long last. The problem is' date=' in selecting her, he has lost his own base - the Intelligentsia on the Right, Independents, and Moderates.

In essence, the McCain campaign has become the Palin campaign. And I'm not sure that this has ever happened in American politics. The Righ Wing is voting for her. The Independents are voting against her. And no one cares about McCain himself any longer.

He outsourced his own campaign.[/quote']

Problem is, it was hard to see what McCain stood for, since he's changed just about every position he has held. I agree that Palin gave people out there something more tangible about his campaign and did strengthen his ticket with the Republican base. As you say, tho, outside of that base Palin scares the crap out of people.

Obama has basically changed nothing since the financial crisis hit. This should have been a huge opportunity, and McCain tried to seize it by riding to the rescue in Washington. He failed in that attempt, and that was the end of his campaign. He has been unable to articulate how his plans would change other than saying that he would consider a spending freeze. He has been on board with bailouts and has only proposed more bailouts ... I think this has been a huge mistake.

I think Obama has been smart in staying out of the hot potato that was the bailout bill, which may hurt many polititian's careers. Better to stay out of it than come in with a half-baked plan and stomp all over what congress was working on.

I think he also made a mistake when he cancelled Letterman and proceeded to not do what he said he was going to do, which was to fly back to Washington and get his hands dirty. Instead, he got on news programs.

Course, it shouldn't surprise anyone after he admitted he wasn't strong on the economy. Those expecting a coherent plan from his campaign, especially when his economic advisors seemed to be part of the problem, were dreaming.

Jason

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Palin has been a success in the sense that she actually has the Right Wing backing McCain at long last. The problem is' date=' in selecting her, he has lost his own base - the Intelligentsia on the Right, Independents, and Moderates. [/quote']

I think McCain lost those people himself.. ( including me who favored McCain in 2000) due to his own decisions since deciding to clone himself with a Bush cell in 2003-2004. Many smart people in this country who trusted him on torture were flabergasted when Bush Cheney ended up supporting his "anti torture" bill and it turns out that the bill did more harm to POW rights than it did to protect them. Since then it's been down hill for conservatives who once followed McCain.

As I've said many times, McCain has flip flopped on just about every major issue since 2003. Some of them more than once. He's sold his soul for the GOP nomination and a chance at the Presidency and it shows.

In essence' date=' the McCain campaign has become the Palin campaign. And I'm not sure that this has ever happened in American politics. The Righ Wing is voting for her. The Independents are voting against her. And no one cares about McCain himself any longer.

[/quote']

I disagree Palin put new momentum and interest into the McCain's campagne, she lifted that campagne all by herself... The VP pick is traditionally a pick to bolster the ticket, it's just contemporary history that has changed that... Starting the Bush Sr. who picked Qualye, and then Clinton and Bush Jr.

He outsourced his own campaign.

Well it is called politics. It's hard to critisize him for making a political decision; especially one which worked out so fantastically well for him. The only thing he did wrong with palin is; it would have been better if he trusted her to actually speak to the press more. In protecting her he severely undercut her utility..

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If McCain had won the nomination in past elections, I'd have gladly voted for him.

All the things he used to be were things i could get behind and respect.

I don't know what the hell happened since the conventions. His campaign has embarrassed itself with Palin in my mind, and has disgraced itself with their attack dog tunnel vision.

I don't know that it's him or his advisers, but there's no way I could vote for him in good conscience anymore.

The economic downturn has had no effect on my decision.

For the record for anyone who doesn't already know, I'm an independent.

~Bang

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What a low-quality hit job.

Did McCain suddenly become a stumbling failure?

Maybe not suddenly, but yes.

Americans blamed the party with executive power, which is also the party most closely tied in the public mind to bankers and Wall Street. None of this was fair to McCain, who has never been the Wall Street type.

No, people blamed the republican economic philosophy of deregulation.

But the McCain campaign also proved itself capable of constructing an effective narrative: Obama as lightweight celebrity, McCain as maverick reformer.

They tried, but other than being close in polls I have not seen much evidence for this. I would attribute polls back then to people being more familiar w/ McCain.

He reasonably chose to work for a responsible bailout while hoping the markets would stabilize quickly.

No, he tried to seize the opportunity by playing political theater... unfortunately he did not bother to do anything that may have actually helped the process. By doing that he showed the "dark side" of his maverikosness, as well as inability to lead.

Then McCain raised Obama's past association with William Ayers -- a valid attack if properly raised.

The Ayers line of attack is rediculously weak. Maybe by "properly" they mean "not at all"?

Can anyone doubt that the past political association of McCain with a right-wing terrorist would attract some attention?

I can doubt this. We have seen a number of possible "attack lines" on McCain not persued by the Obama campaign and/or the media.

During the financial crisis Obama has contributed nothing of note or consequence.

"calling people" and "phoning it in" are two different things.

His only recent accomplishment has been to say questionable things in the debates -- attacking Republicans and capitalism for a credit meltdown congressional Democrats helped to cause, blaming America for Iran's nuclear ambitions, talking piously about genocide prevention when his own early Iraq policies might have resulted in genocide -- all while sounding supremely reassuring and presidential.

Obama attacking capitalism and blaming America? Spare me the :pooh:

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I think people love to see the Presidential Election as some sort of glorified horse race, where everyone has an equal chance to win and the only thing that affects the outcome is how you perform in campaign strategy and debates and so on. That way we all can criticize, and pick our moment when the guy "lost" the election by making some gaffe.

Not so.

Fact is, we have 2 major parties in this country. When the party in power performs well, it tends to keep winning. When the party in power governs poorly, it tends to get swept out. The pendulum swings slowly, but it is hard to stop it once it begins moving.

The Republicans have been in charge for a while, and most people don't like the results. Right now, the Republican brand is as low as it has been for 40 years. Republicans are getting their butts kicked in races all over the nation.

No Republican was going to do well in this situation. Romney, Guiliani, Thompson, Huckabee, any generic Republican - forget about it. Every one of them would have trampled flat in this election months ago.

The only chance the GOP had this year was to have someone at the head of the ticket who could separate himself from the GOP itself. John McCain was the only national candidate they had who might be able to do that. Frankly, the fact that the race was a close as it was a month ago is a testament to McCain's appeal. Unfortunately, he's still heading the GOP ticket. The fact that the race is moving away from him now is a testament to the lack of appeal that his party currently has with the electorate.

IMO.

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The only chance the GOP had this year was to have someone at the head of the ticket who could separate himself from the GOP itself. John McCain was the only national candidate they had who might be able to do that. Frankly, the fact that the race was a close as it was a month ago is a testament to McCain's appeal. Unfortunately, he's still heading the GOP ticket. The fact that the race is moving away from him now is a testament to the lack of appeal that his party currently has with the electorate.

McCain was truthfully the only choice for the GOP this year.

But I think the Dems did provide an opening by nominating the 'exotic' (for lack of a better and maybe more truthful word) Obama. Obama has had to spend an inordinate amount of time convincing voters that he wasn't some kind of Marxist Muslim Alien from Neptune.

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Exactly my thoughts Predicto.

I think people are reading this article as a defense of the GOP and an attack on Obama. I didn't read it that way. But more as noting the circumstances McCain was up against.

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What has happened over the last month is simple.

McCain's campaign has been based on his responsible' date=' level-headed leadership forged by hard experience. And he would contrast this to Obama's youth and inexperience.

Then two things happened:

1. The Economic meltdown hit and McCain behaved like an absolute maniac. First, saying the fundamentals of the economy are good. Then suspending his campaign because the crisis was so big. Then Promising to broker a deal that failed. Calling for the firing of the SEC head for no apparent reason. Then dropping a proposal in the middle of a debate that no one could really understand at first because it sounded just like the bill that had just been passed.

Meanwhile, Obama looked calm, cool, and collected. One looked Presidential. One looked like your crazy uncle ranting at Thanksgiving.

2. The bloom came off the Palin rose in a hurry. She's still a hit with the ever-shrinking Republican base. But to the rest of the country, she started looking like an ill-advised, poorly vetted choice made out of desperation by a candidate who clearly wanted to pick someone else.

And again, the question is: Who looks more ready to lead? Obama who picked Joe Biden - a man who despite his many flaws could become President in a crisis and not scare the living daylights out of you. Or McCain who picked someone he clearly had never even had a conversation with prior to the Convention and who doesn't seem to have the capacity to be President under any circumstances.

You can't base your campaign on "Leadership" and then display bad leadership.[/quote']

Well said....I couldn't have written it any better. People has wised up..Palin scares the hell out of me cause she's a heartbeat away from being leader of the free world and her "Joe 6 pack" and "gosh Darn it" attitidue will not cut it...although I like it when she winks at you...

And as the economy fell through the floor, it would only hurt mcsame.....

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McCain was truthfully the only choice for the GOP this year.

But I think the Dems did provide an opening by nominating the 'exotic' (for lack of a better and maybe more truthful word) Obama. Obama has had to spend an inordinate amount of time convincing voters that he wasn't some kind of Marxist Muslim Alien from Neptune.

You are right Obama's inexperience is one of his biggest liabilities, but

I think Obama's inexperience is also one of his biggest assets in a country looking for a change or new direction... I think the Democrates were very dissapointed with Bill Clinton's behavior and Gores subsequent loss of power because of Clinton Fatigue... Bill was a great president as fiscal manager and strategist, but he trashed their party and drug them through the mud. A total failure as moral leader of the country folks could look up too. Choosing someone totally isolated from the Clinton's was an act of retrobution by folks who were disatisfied by 8 years of Bill Clinton's rule, and angry that it exposed the country to 8 years of Bush rule.

When the apples in the barrel are rotten, you go to the tree. In Obama Democrates see a smart young guy, who is not tainted by scandals of the passed administration. Which makes him an even more powerful symbol of change for the country.

In this election, with the wheels falling off the wagon, experience isn't an asset.

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Exactly my thoughts Predicto.

I think people are reading this article as a defense of the GOP and an attack on Obama. I didn't read it that way. But more as noting the circumstances McCain was up against.

Well, the article does both of those things, actually.

As alexey's post points out in some detail.

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Fact is, we have 2 major parties in this country. When the party in power performs well, it tends to keep winning. When the party in power governs poorly, it tends to get swept out. The pendulum swings slowly, but it is hard to stop it once it begins moving.

Well I think the only folks claiming it's unfair to hold McCain responsible for GOP actions is the GOP... Folks have taken off their bush hats and put on their McCain hats and think they're invisible.

The only chance the GOP had this year was to have someone at the head of the ticket who could separate himself from the GOP itself. John McCain was the only national candidate they had who might be able to do that. Frankly, the fact that the race was a close as it was a month ago is a testament to McCain's appeal. Unfortunately, he's still heading the GOP ticket. The fact that the race is moving away from him now is a testament to the lack of appeal that his party currently has with the electorate.

IMO.

I would go even further. I would say McCain would have done it; except that he had to pander to Bush for five years in order to get the nomination. That's what killed him. McCain has long been the darling of independents and centrists across both parties. He betrayed those voters when he threw his arms around Bush, and he's having a hard time re-connecting with them now 30 days before the election.

McCain pulled an anti Clinton. Clinton believed if you weren't pissing of the folks on the edges off your own party you weren't doing you job, which he saw as appealing to moderates. So with no personal political beliefs of his own Clinton drove to the middle on most every issue.. ( wellfare reform, more cops on the streets, era of big governemnt was over, NAFTA )Clinton's government by polls.

George Bush believed the oposite. Bush and Karl Rove believed the middle didn't matter, energize the base. McCain executed the worst of both philosophies. He started with the center and the right didn't trust or respect him. So McCain drove to the right; now he's wondering why all the independants and moderates left, and the Right still doesn't trust or respect him.

I agree it's amaizing the race is this close.

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Well, the article does both of those things, actually.

As alexey's post points out in some detail.

As an undecided voter with no dog in the partisan fight I didn't see it that way.

Alexey's post seemed awfully defensive to me, but since I'm no fan of defending the GOP I figured I'd let it go.

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Exactly my thoughts Predicto.

I think people are reading this article as a defense of the GOP and an attack on Obama. I didn't read it that way. But more as noting the circumstances McCain was up against.

But there is another factor at play here.

Americans still don't mind voting for Democrats at a local level. But Americans - for whatever reason - don't seem to trust Democrats at a presidential level.

My side has lost all but three presidential elections since 1968. Our three big wins were:

1. A heart stopper against a guy who didn't want to be president in the aftermath of the biggest scandal in Presidential history.

2. A win with 43 percent of the vote during a really bad economy.

3. A win with less than 50 percent of the vote involving a very popular incumbent and a horrible opponent.

Meanwhile Rs win by monster blowouts.

It doesn't seem to matter what the circumstances are surrounding the election, Republicans seem to have a natural advantage during presidential elections.

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But there is another factor at play here.

Americans still don't mind voting for Democrats at a local level. But Americans - for whatever reason - don't seem to trust Democrats at a presidential level.

My side has lost all but three presidential elections since 1968. Our three big wins were:

1. A heart stopper against a guy who didn't want to be president in the aftermath of the biggest scandal in Presidential history.

2. A win with 43 percent of the vote during a really bad economy.

3. A win with less than 50 percent of the vote involving a very popular incumbent and a horrible opponent.

Meanwhile Rs win by monster blowouts.

It doesn't seem to matter what the circumstances are surrounding the election' date=' Republicans seem to have a natural advantage during presidential elections.[/quote']

In my opinion, that's because foreign policy is the biggest issue for most voters in Presidential elections. And Republican policy is more respected. Even after the disaster that was Bush Jr., McCain has had the public's trust in foreign policy matters over Obama.

This election is unique in that the economic situation is so disastrous that it is overshadowing any of that.

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