John McCain is crushing Obama in the latest USA Today Gallup Poll. Among registered voters likely to vote in November, McCain leads Obama 54% to 44%.
Democrats are panicking. I have to laugh to avoid crying. But this is what I have been foreseeing for years. It's amazing that Democrats are now scrambling to figure out what is going on... when all they have to do is look at their Party and get a better understanding of the American voter. Democrats don't have much of a clue regarding either. And now they are once again standing at the edge of a cliff.
Everything is pointing in the direction of the Democrats this election year, yet they are fighting for their political lives in the Presidential race. Why?
I don't put much stock in National polls, since the General election is about 50 separate and unequal elections...all rigged and caged in different ways. However, when gaps are this wide in national polling it could spell trouble for the candidate with the lower numbers. Sure the Republican Convention is responsible for much of McCain's gain. However, that is probably not the only thing leading to the rapidly changing numbers. Voters have been successfully fooled by Republicans on the issue of domestic energy exploration (drilling). The "Drill Baby Drill" mantra was effective. Elementary...but effective just the same. Democrats have not been able to untangle the lies from the Republican misinformation campaign on this issue or on any other big issue for that matter.
The Dems could have preempted this (since they had to know this would be the Republican strategy) by conducting a massive voter education campaign about energy...informing voters of the Democratic Plan which is much more robust and comprehensive, and will create true energy self sufficiency, as opposed to the Republican proposal. Democrats could have used radio and TV ads, Televised Town Hall events, flyers & posters, and other means to explain to voters that domestic drilling would only be a win for the oil companies, and not the American consumer...and that it would take 10 years to get any relief and even then it would be financially insignificant. I heard an NPR report just today, where a bubba-like character (a McCain supporter) repeated the misinformation that drilling in Alaska would immediately lead to cheaper gas prices.
The McCain campaign advisers were correct last week when they mentioned that this election was not about the issues. They were absolutely right. And this is what Democrats don't seem to understand. I have been screaming this for years now (since the late 1990's). These elections are rarely about issues. They have not been about issues for a long time. These elections are about personality.
The American electorate is not very educated or informed when it comes to the issues. The vast majority of Americans are not issues voters. The average American voter would flunk an "issues" exam, as well as a foreign policy or geography test.
That's not how they vote! This is why Republicans use lies and distortions to try to fool voters- Because it has a track record of working in this Country. They know voters are not very knowledgeable about what the Hell is going on. The McCain campaign understands it and they are exploiting it for maximum effect. They figure, if they repeat the lies enough times.... folks will start to believe them and take them to heart. And it works! American voters fall for Republican games over and over again. Republicans have become masters at manufacturing their own reality and getting voters to eat it right out of their hands like sheep.
And since Republicans/Conservatives control large segments of the American media infrastructure, they are allowed to tell their side (to distort and lie) unimpeded. Establishing a media infrastructure is something that the Democrats still don't understand. This is one of the greatest failings of Democrats and Progressives in this Country...and it is a key reason why the Democrats lose big elections.
Republicans are much better when it comes to vision and strategy - not for helping the American people... they don't care about that. I'm referring to vision and strategy for winning elections and building the infrastructure to keep winning. They also tend to field candidates that Americans are most comfortable with... not necessarily the best candidate, but the candidate who best relates to the typical, White voter.
To add insult to injury, the Democrats decided to put forward what is basically an unelectable...or very difficult to elect candidate (as they so often do...Mondale, Dukakis, etc). Not that he is not a better candidate... he clearly is. But he is not someone who most White voters will support... not in a General Election- as I have mentioned so many times.
Another key mission for Democrats in the future (as I have mentioned many times) is voter education... educating the public about what is going on. This has to happen at the Middle and High School level and has to continue from there. Unfortunately the Democrats do not have an infrastructure that can take on a task this large. Voter education doesn't mean teaching voters how to vote...how to pull the lever. They know that already. Certainly that kind of education should be a part of any program. But what I am talking about is much more comprehensive, and includes adding certain things to the Middle and High School curriculum... such as Civic Studies, International/global affairs programs, Foreign cultures and religions, U.S. Politics and Current Events, International Politics, intense American government courses, Foreign policy studies, better World geography programs, etc. Americans should have a better grasp of events both at home and overseas...and they must have a seed planted in their minds that will keep them interested in domestic and world events and politics long after they leave secondary school. Once Americans are taught to be more inquisitive, we will have a more informed electorate (better not just for Americans, but for the entire World).
If the Democrats lose this time around it will be because they did not put forward the best "electable" candidate possible, still don't control their own message due to a lack of media parity, and as a Party they don't know their heads from their backsides.
Months ago, in my message titled "Obama's Fading Hope: America May Be Too Sick To Elect A Black Man For President", I pointed out many of these problems and described what the Republican angle might be in this campaign. And the Race factor can't be ignored. I still believe that this year wasn't the best time for a social experiment... that too much is at stake. I will believe that regardless of whether Obama wins or loses. I will always believe that it was too big of a gamble.
And this "take the high road" game that Obama is playing is a losing one. It's the same game that John Kerry played back in 2004... That may have worked in this country 30 years ago, but it doesn't fly today. Voters want to know how well you can fight for your position or if you're willing to fight for it at all. If it gets a little ugly, that is fine with them. It's a new Demographic. Kerry assumed that voters would respond to his "Shining City on a Hill" imitation of Reagan... again, another example of a Democrat imitating a Republican. That's part of Obama's problem right now - trying to be the "Shining City on a Hill Candidate". But voters don't respond to that in a big way. You saw the two dog and pony show Conventions. Voters hardly responded to Obama's staged grand celebration that unnecessarily wasted God knows how much money and resources. It ended up being a wash for Obama. He would have been better off in an arena- it would have been more intense and more intimate. But voters DID respond to the hate and vitriol spewed by the Republicans. Again... it shows how Obama and the Democrats don't understand American voters in terms of voting behavior, what they respond to, etc. Instead of avoiding the mistakes of 2004, Obama is attempting to provide a sequel for John Kerry's failed candidacy. Having a toned down (issues instead of attacks) Convention with no spark was a strategic blunder on the part of the Democrats.
That being said, I hope that Obama can pull off another miracle. But the task won't be easy. (see my posts "Obama's Fading Hope", and "Obama's uphill climb" where I pretty much predicted a tough time for Obama...in an election year that should be an easy win for a Democrat).