Monday 21 January 2008

On November 5th, the winner will be....

John McCain

Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, pitting her against John McCain. In a Clinton-McCain contest, I believe McCain will win by a margin of 3-5% of the national vote. Why?

1. Arrogance: Although Hillary Clinton is a well-qualified candidate, she does not inspire trust in the American public. Her speaking style makes her appear arrogant and far too smart for the electorate - the Al Gore syndrome.

2. Bill's Baggage: Hillary is trailing far too much baggage, including her husband. Bill was a political genius, but has now lost his touch. Why? Because he's running for his wife, not for himself, and because of this he's off-message. He increasingly comes across as a nasty daddy rather than the silver-haired former statesman he should be.

3. Inheritance: Too much about the Hillary campaign is about inheritance. The claim that Hillary has the most experience, and therefore is the most suitable candidate, will backfire. Americans love underdogs and challengers, not royalty (at least not in domestic politics).

4. Bland Campaign: Hillary's campaign has failed to ignite imagination or emotion, a notable achievement for such a historic event: It's the first time a woman could win the presidency. It's also amazing, given the huge errors of the Bush Administration. America is locked into a war in Iraq; went through WMD, Katrina, Abu Ghraib and now the sub-prime crisis; and has an administration that lied to the public on repeated occasions. Yet Hillary's campaign is failing to catch fire: the real challenger is Barack Obama.

5. Insider Status: Many voters believe that Hillary is an "insider", and as such risk trading one dark horse for another. Since 1975, the public has awarded the Presidency to the outsider on a white horse, riding to Washington to clean up the mess. This was the case with the Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush Jr. narratives. Poppy Bush was another insider: VP under Reagan, elected President on his own, he lasted only a single term.

On the other hand, look at John McCain:

  • A decorated war hero who served in Vietnam
  • Dedicated his life to public service, 25 years in the Senate
  • Carries his wounds with pride
  • A consistent, no-bullshit, no-nonsense demeanour
  • The antithesis of the political correctness that pervades modern culture
  • The right call on a number of political issues
  • Independence
  • The challenger and underdog.

McCain is a tragic figure, the Coriolanus of our times. Once the white noise of the political dwarfs who surround him fades away, the country will rally round him in a way they could never rally around Hillary.

Some other scenarios:

Hillary vs. Mitt Romney.....................................Hillary

Barack vs. John McCain....................................50-50

Barack vs. Mitt Romney....................................Barack

The other scenario too close to call will be if Michael Bloomberg throws his hat in the ring, runs a good campaign promising an effective, non-partisan approach to governance and the end of special-interest politics. This would capture the imagination of a good many people - myself included - although how he would actually implement anything is beyond me.

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