Saturday, May 10, 2008

McCain's Biggest Campaign Problem

Republicans don't realize it but, John McCain is probably their best chance for a win against Barack Obama. The fact that he isn't a staunch conservative is to his advantage in this particular (and most peculiar) election cycle. It means that McCain might appeal to the voters on the moderate left who aren't that comfortable with Barack Obama's questionable character, his very liberal voting positions, and his lack of experience. It means that McCain has appeal to Independent voters who might "not" be for the immediate bolting out of Iraq, taking weak positions against extremist countries like Iran, raising taxes on individuals and businesses that could hurt economic growth, appointing more socially tinkering Federal judges and Supreme Court justices, and creating another massive government program for health care that will probably create a future Social Security-like bailout for this country.

Let's face it. The Republicans, thanks to themselves and George W. Bush, are heading into the wind in this election cycle. They have lost control of both Houses of Congress and given the War in Iraq and the perception about the economy, there is really no way that a Republican should be given another shot at the Presidency. But, McCain's maverick "bio" may just buck that presumed outcome for the Fall.

Where John McCain appears to have his biggest problem is with his own Republican party. To the many far-righters, John McCain looks more like a donkey with an elephant's trunk and ears. To them, they can only see a "Judas" who walks with Teddy Kennedy on immigration and cavorts with Russ Feingold over campaign finance reform. Conservatives also point to his stand against the Bush tax cuts (although it was tax cuts "without" spending cuts that he was objecting to) as another problem with McCain.

To overcome this, McCain is spending a lot of time talking about all the conservative issues that he believes in. He is talking about appointing constructionist and not activist judges. He reaffirmed (over and over) that he will maintain the Bush tax cuts. He reinforces his belief in reduced spending. And, without question, he will stay in Iraq until the job is done. But, all this still might not help convince Republicans that John is truly a conservative Republican.

The question then becomes, will the far-righters vote for McCain? Sure they will. There is no way that they will vote for the very liberal Barack Obama, though some may not vote at all if it looks like Mr. Obama is a sure winner. But, if they go to the polls, they will vote Republican. So, what will be the problem if the far-righters aren't enthusiastic about John McCain? The problem will be the most important thing in an election against the very popular Obama: that is money, money, and more money! Typically, you can't expect people on the left to contribute to a Republican's campaign. It just isn't done; even if they do plan to vote for him. Real moderates and independents contribute very little to campaigns because they tend to remain undecided until just before the election. However, the real campaign money comes from the Republican base. Those far-righters. For McCain, though, this is a problem. He is almost the antithesis of excitement in his base when compared to Barack Obama. McCain's base sees him falling short of the true red, white, and not-so-blue American that the far-right Republicans expect out of their candidates. His base isn't really excited about him and their lack of enthusiasm has shown up in McCain's meager war chest. If McCain does lose, it will be because he didn't have enough money to win. His message won't get out to all those voters who can make the difference on election day.

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