Wednesday, November 05, 2008

5 reasons why John McCain lost

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

With a win, a lot of people take credit. In a loss, no one wants to shoulder the responsibility. There is an old saying that "victory has a thousand parents but loss is an orphan."

So now that the election is over, let's take an objective look at the McCain organization and list the reasons that led to the demise of the campaign:

5. Campaign Leadership. The management and strategy of the McCain campaign started off rocky, smoothed out after his primary win, then the wheels came off after the Republican convention. The thing missing most from this Republican campaign was Karl Rove, or someone of his caliber capable of directing the day-to-day efforts and making the troops fall in line. But somewhere along the way, the campaign was hijacked by a rag-tag team of College Republicans who thought that gimmicks and indignation towards the media could be enough to shore up support. It worked among the base Republicans for a while, but it never got farther then that. And in the end, even some of the base drifted to Obama...or stayed home.

4. George W. Bush & The Economy. Running away from an eight-year disastrous run wasn't going to be easy for any Republican. Doing it on top of a 2006 Republican collapse in the wake of corruption scandals made it even harder. Add the economic meltdown into the mix, and McCain was left with very limited options. When all of this is compounded with the economic (and let's even say foreign) policy of Republicans, it wasn't just a hurdle - it was an albatross.

3. Sarah Palin. Which brings us to McCain's selection of a runningmate. Because of the problems of beltway Republicans, he felt he needed to reach outside of DC for a runningmate. And while she didn't sink the ticket, she did put a few holes in a boat that was struggling to stay afloat. Initially, her selection was hailed as brilliant: Outsider! Maverick! A woman (come on over Clinton voters)! But the presumption that these surface issues were enough to lure over Clinton Democrats belittled their intellect. Ultimately, it became painfully obvious that Palin's issues were incompatible with those of Clinton Democrats, and that she was as unqualified as they come to be the leader of the free world. Thus her selection became a focal point of McCain's judgment.

2. McCain vs. McCain. All said, the McCain we got in the general election was not the McCain we had come to know. He was partisan, he was petty, he used a lot of gimmicks (the suspension of the campaign, Joe the Plumber, the celebrity commercial). He didn't rise above partisanship, he didn't go with his instincts. He was handled by his advisors to the point to where his objectivity was clouded. Had he have run a disciplined, issue-focused campaign, with a loyal runningmate that he believed in (CT Sen. Joe Lieberman or MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty), the substance of this race would have been much different and the battlegrounds down the stretch would have been much more competitive. He would have had a stronger ability to shape debate, rather than just react to it.

1. A Culture of Change. Yet even if all of the above mentioned things were corrected, they may still not have been enough to stem the tide of change. There was a climate among the nation's citizenry that hasn't been seen or experienced in decades - maybe even in centuries. Barack Obama not only benefitted from this change, but he embodied it. This was the perfect storm for a Republican loss this year, and the GOP may have been doomed from the start no matter who they put up.