Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The "Mythical" Obamacans

That is the cutesy term the Obama camp has given to Republican supporters. They are hyping it up to feverish proportions in an attempt to show he has "bipartisan" support in this election. Andrew Romano @ Newsweek investigates this, and determines that he does not have as many Republicans as his camp claims:

As we speak/type/read, the Obama camp is holding a conference call with reporters to unveil "Republicans for Obama," a branch of its operation designed to show that "Republicans are coming together in support of Senator Obama to bring change to Washington." That claim was verifiable during the early Democratic primaries, when Republicans willing to crossover and vote in the Democratic contests typically backed Obama over Hillary Clinton by overwhelming margins. Which is why Obama began telling his Obamacan tale in the first place. But now that he's vying for Republican support against a real, live Republican--a slightly different dynamic--I started to wonder whether the story would still hold up to scrutiny.* Obama may count prominent GOPers like Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, presidential granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, Fairbanks, Alaska Mayor Jim Whitaker, former Iowa Rep. Jim Leach, former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chaffee and former White House intelligence adviser Rita E. Hauser--all of them namechecked on today's call--among his announced (or likely) endorsers. But are there enough rank-and-file Republicans whispering their support at Obama rallies to actually make a difference on Election Day?

Before we continue I would like to point out that the Republicans listed above are moderates (on in Lincoln Chaffee's case, a "Democrat" in Republican clothing), and they do not represent the mainstream ideology of the Republican Party. They may have some Republican traits, but for the most part they are not true conservatives in the vein of Ronald Reagan.

As I discovered from examination the last 18 months of head-to-head general election polls, the answer seems to be "no." In fact, John McCain's share of the Democratic vote has typically--and surprisingly--been larger than Obama's share of the Republican vote. In other words, it's not that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright scared the Obamacan masses off, as some pundits have theorized--it's that they never existed (in any unprecedented way) to begin with. In December 2006--before the unfamiliar Illinois senator had officially announced his candidacy--McCain attracted 25 support among Dems versus Obama's eight percent among Repubs, according to a FOX News poll**. Those numbers tightened over the next few months of polling by various firms, but Obama never established a sustained lead. A February 2007 Quinnipiac survey showed McCain with 17 percent crossover support, for example, versus nine percent for Obama; in a June 2007 sounding by the same outlet, McCain still led 15 percent to 11. During primary season--between December 2007 and April 2008--McCain's Democratic number typically hovered between 18 and 22. Obama, meanwhile, never climbed higher than 13 percent.

Much of this gap can be attributed to the primary clash with Clinton, whose supporters often said they preferred McCain to Obama in head-to-head polls taken before the final Democratic contests on June 3. But even though McCain's support among Dems declined after Hillary bowed out--a natural result of Democratic unity--Obama's Republican backing didn't budge. Today, Republicans for Obama and Democrats for McCain effectively cancel each other out. The latest numbers from CBS News show Obama at 11 percent crossover support and McCain at 10 (and tied among Independents); FOX News puts the pair at six percent and seven percent, respectively--a result that closely matches where George W. Bush (nine percent crossover) and John Kerry (seven percent crossover) stood at this point in 2004. That also deadlock mirrors 2000, when George W. Bush won over 11 percent of Democratic voters and Al Gore poached eight percent of Republicans--and it means that neither Obama nor McCain, both of whom have repeatedly boasted of their "strong record[s] of bringing people together from the left and the right to solve problems," can currently rely crossover voters to carry them to victory.

I'm not saying Obamacans don't exist. They do. It's just that there's little statistical evidence to support the claim that the number of Republicans who favor this year's Democrat is substantially larger than the number of Republicans who favored his predecessors.

Things could always change, of course. Perhaps over the next 84 days the newly-formed "Republicans for Obama" will add a game-changing number of actual Republican voters to its current roster of Republican politicians. But I'm inclined for now to see it mostly as a publicity effort. With Obama
vacationing in Hawaii this week, the major challenge facing Chicago is finding a way to control the news cycle without its candidate's help. "Republicans for Obama" was today's solution--a convenient way to repackage a handful of well-timed GOP endorsements and reinforce the senator's "post-partisan" brand in the process. Whether or not it reflects reality, or has any electoral impact, is probably irrelevant--as long as it transforms a few whispers into a day's worth of headlines.

That is what this is all about. It is a repackaging of old information in an effort to claim that Republicans are leaving John McCain in droves. Attaching those Republican endorsements to this does not help the case. Both Chuck Hagel and Lincoln Chaffee are reviled in Republican circles, but we are guessing that fact fell on deaf ears in the Obama camp. We know it falls on deaf ears in the MSM which props up these so-called Republicans when they need someone from our side to berate the party.

Why does John McCain have Democrats that are in his camp to begin with? First it is because of the pretentious primary fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He has had a great deal of Hillary supporters come to his camp because they feel -- rightly -- that Senator Clinton was not treated fairly in the primaries. Second, a lot of Democrats do not believe that Senator Obama is qualified or prepared to be president. Third, he has worked across the aisle on numerous occasions (to our dismay at times) whereas Senator Obama has not. These all contribute to the Democrats in John McCain's camp.

We believe that the reason for even bringing it up to voters is because the Democrats are trying to paint Barack Obama as "the next Ronald Reagan." The problem with this meme is obvious: Ronald Reagan had a much larger resume that Senator Obama does, and he did not run to the Left to capture Democrat votes in 1980 and in 1984. He ran as a conservative, and promised that, if elected, he would work with the American people to change this nation for the better. Why? Because he loved this nation, and he realized it was at a turning point in history. Thanks to his bold leadership, he finished off the Soviet Union, and helped free Eastern Europe.

Senator Obama does not promise this to people. The empty rhetoric of "hope" and "change" lacks the specificity that President Reagan offered the nation. President Reagan did not mince words on what he intended to do, and how he intended to carry it out. Barack Obama is not telling us anything with any semblance of details. This has been a complaint not only amongst voters, but even a few in the media have stated he is being far too secretive about how he intends to carry out any of his ideas.

Finally, the effort to hype up the Obamacans might be due to the fact that he is losing support among Democrats. They are getting turned off by his pandering to moderates and independents. They feel it should not be necessary to do that, but Senator Obama is doing it, nonetheless, because he knows he cannot win with the base demographics his campaign is seeing. His pandering is likely to cost him more than what he believes he will gain from it. And Republicans will not be fooled into believing that he is the right person for the job. That is especially true given one of the key tenets of the Republican party and Senator Obama's hostility towards our view of this issue.



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