For the past six months, this race has been remarkably stable. A few things have dramatically shifted the poll numbers. Obama falling apart in Pennsylvania as Clinton outpoliticked him, though for her it was too litte, too late. Obama winning the nomination. McCain selecting Palin. McCain winning the battle of the conventions. Now that McCain has got about 90% of conservatives voting for him and Obama has about as many liberals as he can likely get (though he will continue to waste time trying to win disaffected Clintonistas), perhaps the biggest way to move poll numbers towards a landslide is to get the other guy’s base to stay home.
A few days ago, I voiced my opinion in the comments to another individual’s post that McCain was foolish to the extreme to raise a wedge issue such as ESCR that would divide our camp. But it got me thinking, what issues might divide Obama’s camp?
Certainly, the selection of Palin has helped divide the Clintonistas. We have a 2 point lead. But I fear this will not be enough. Given the liberal press and Obama’s cash advantage, McCain will bleed a point or two or three each month, even without making serious gaffes. It has taken a rather disciplined McCain campaign to achieve even what it has thus far.
But there is one major untapped power source that McCain has not yet been using. The time was not ripe before – it would have been too early, too much time for Obama to fix things.
The key to McCain’s victory, I believe is a simple divide and conquer strategy. Just like the GOP coalition, the Democratic Party relies on a coalition of diverse but potentially divisive interest groups that can be torn asunder given the right wedge issues. One such issue presented itself today as Amir Taheri of the New York Post reported Obama attempted to prolong the war.
This is a cardinal sin of 2008 American liberalism, an excommunicatory offense to many on the left. There are plenty of folks who wish to hush this up as quickly as possible. I believe Taheri knew the damning effect of this column. And really, the negative effect downticket for the Democrats could be tremendous. Their party standard bearer, who pledged immediate withdrawal from Iraq, who they have seen waffling to the middle on FISA telecommunication corporation immunity, on residual force in Iraq, on abortion, etc. do not trust him as much as they used to.
We need to broadcast this message to the base by focusing ads in Democrat heavy cities in swing states, which will help diminish the margins Obama needs in Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Denver, etc. to win. Obviously, McCain cannot come out and straight up attack Obama for wanting to keep troops in Iraq, but the message is that Obama is a flip-flopper, someone who will say anything to win office, someone who nobody can trust.
Obama, unlike McCain, has far more people who feel very strongly both for and against him. That is what we should expect from a rank and file partisan candidate. McCain has few who love or hate him, but many who like him, or could at least put aside their dislike in a “take the devil you know over the devil you don’t” sort of way. The fastest way to turn off Obama’s, or any candidate’s, for that matter, support among those who strongly support them is to cast doubt on whether they really stand for what the supporters so fervently hope the candidate truly believes in.
Obama made his bones on opposing the Iraq war. The country already knows the Democrats have milked this issue from political irrelevance to a powerful majority. Now their standard bearer is caught in a report merely wanting to use the Iraq war, to prolong it for his electoral benefit. Its what they hated about Bush. Its what they fear about Obama’s waffling. Its what they are angry about the Democrats for not doing when they took power in 2006 after pledging to end this war.
Here is an opportunity for a major brand boost. Democrats don’t end wars, Republicans do. Republicans do it by winning. Democrats prolong the wars and put us at risk with reckless and weak-faced foreign policy.