The coming Republican fall
Pay no attention to the national polls, an analysis of state voting trends shows Obama's the guy
Barack Obama's tour of the Middle East and Europe looked like the Second Coming. Barack sermonizes on a Jerusalem mount. U.S. troops cheer as Barack shoots a three-pointer with nothing but net -- the loaves and fishes. Jordan's King Abdullah personally drives Barack to the airport. A crowd of 200,000 applauds Barack's Berlin speech. Barack speaks to reporters in front of 10 Downing Street, with English bobbies on guard.
The media were seduced by the great pictures, but frustrated by a lack of gaffes. Meanwhile, in order to keep their ratings high, they are desperately trying to make the November election seem tight. Good luck.
National polls are irrelevant. Focus on the Electoral College. For instance, the West Coast map should not show Washington and Oregon as close. They went Democratic the last two elections, the polls show Obama well ahead and a recent Obama rally in Portland drew an astounding 75,000 people. California and Hawaii are even more solidly Democratic.
In the Midwest, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan also should not be counted as swing states, having voted Democratic even when the uninspiring John Kerry was the candidate. As for Iowa, George Bush won narrowly in 2004. But Obama has a powerful organization there that won him the primary, while John McCain did not even try to compete on the Republican side. Count Iowa for Obama, plus his home state of Illinois.
Obama will win the Northeast, as Democrats usually do, except perhaps New Hampshire (only 4 electoral votes). Forget maps that show Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware as doubtful -- they are consistently Democratic.
Pennsylvania is a key swing state. It voted for Kerry and Al Gore, recent polls show Obama ahead by double digits and Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell has a strong organization. Give Pennsylvania to Obama.
In other words, Obama will win all the states that usually go Democratic. That gives him 255 electoral votes. It only takes 270 to win.
What about other swing states? Obama is slightly ahead in Ohio and Florida. In Ohio (20 electoral votes), job losses and political scandals have resulted in Republican losses and a Democratic governor. In Florida (27), Obama is registering many new voters and recently struck a chord by criticizing Bush's restrictions on family visits and remittances to Cuba. Either Ohio or Florida would put Obama over the top.
Meanwhile, Virginia and Colorado are trending from Republican to Democratic. Virginia (13) has thousands of new residents who helped elect a Democratic senator and two Democratic governors. Obama has 28 campaign offices there and is currently ahead. Colorado (9) has elected a Democratic senator, governor and state legislative majority. It is currently dead even. In New Mexico, Obama leads by 7 percent. Even North Dakota, Montana, Nevada, Missouri and Indiana are close. Do you see why Republicans are so worried?
Also favoring Obama is public worry and anger about the economy, where McCain is clueless. McCain famously said he doesn't know much about economics and recently called the current pay-as-you-go Social Security system a "disgrace." He now supports Bush's tax cuts for the rich and has proposed tax cuts for corporations. His economic adviser, Phil Gramm (husband of Waialua's Dr. Wendy Lee Gramm), recently said that we have become a "nation of whiners" who are in a "mental recession." Stand by for more damaging economic stands.
Other Obama advantages:
» Most voters don't know that McCain is anti-abortion. They'll find out soon enough.
» Many seniors think McCain is too old to be president. They ought to know.
» McCain admits he doesn't know how to use a computer.
» People blame foreclosures and high gas prices on Republicans.
» Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed with Obama on a timetable for a U.S. pullout. McCain belatedly agreed with Obama that we need more troops in Afghanistan. And Bush implicitly agreed with Obama about negotiating with our enemies by sending a high-level diplomat to talk to Iran.
» Obama's speeches are the best we've heard in 40 years.
» On energy, welfare reform, capital punishment, faith and national security, he has moved toward the center, where the votes are.
» Obama's campaign is an awesome machine, registering record numbers of new voters, training and deploying record numbers of volunteers to turn out record numbers of people on election day, and using the Internet to self-organize supporters and raise record amounts of money -- $52 million last month. McCain's campaign is always fighting, changing its message, reorganizing and running out of money, despite George Bush's stealth fundraisers. The Bushies now running McCain's campaign are going negative. Too late -- people already know Obama.
» The Obama campaign has enough money for a 50-state strategy, forcing McCain to defend everywhere. For instance, Obama's people are registering large numbers of new black voters in normally Republican Georgia and North Carolina.
» Hillary Clinton is supporting Obama. Jesse Jackson attacked him, which probably helped with white voters.
» Less than 10 percent of voters are undecided (far less than usual at this stage) and women, Latinos, youth and blacks heavily favor Obama. His support of faith-based initiatives and a vigorous religious outreach campaign mean he will also peel off some evangelicals and Catholics.
Congress looks even worse for Republicans. Twenty-nine incumbents are retiring. Democrats have won three special elections in Republican House districts and will probably gain five to seven seats in the Senate.
And the inevitable disappointment after the election? Guess again. There are almost 2 million names in Obama's database. Imagine if they all e-mailed Congress on the same day. Terrified lawmakers might actually do the right thing.
Larry Meacham, former executive director of the citizens group Common Cause Hawaii, teaches political science at Hawaii Pacific University and Hawaii Community College -- and says he should know better than to make predictions.