Friday, November 7, 2008

The End of Democratic Paranoia

Despite continuous polls predicting the outcome of this election in almost every swing state accurately, Democrats have been worried until election day and were genuinely surprised about the lop-sided electoral college outcome of this election. The reason for this phenomenon is not plain liberal pessimism, but the rational result of the experience of the past elections. The reason for the caution lay in the faulty polls of the last two election cycles and the freakish ability of Republicans to pull out last minute victories in a hostile environment (2004). Democrats have ever since lost faith in their ability to actually follow through and pull off a victory.

In 2008, neither of the phenomena has occurred in the least. The polls have been amazingly accurate with Politico's Swing State Map coming very close to a perfect prediction (even Missouri, Indiana and North Carolina only swung back to Republican in the last few days before the election, which can possibly be discounted by the early voting already completed before). After the pollsters were chastised in the last two presidential elections, they have clearly done their homework and predicted the outcome of this one almost flawlessly.

Secondly, the McCain campaign was nowhere near the quality of Bush/Cheney's team in the last two elections. The poor vetting of Sarah Palin or even Joe the Plumber (they heard about him on Drudge and invited the unlicensed plumber to be the central theme of the campaign promptly) and the endless swings for responses to the economic crisis have proved the Democratic fear of Republican voter psychology genius wrong. It is a misconception that this election was not winnable for a Republican candidate in this environment. McCain's brief upswing after the convention proved that voters were not set on a Democrat this fall. But is may well be true that the election was not winnable for McCain, who was prepared to win this election on foreign policy expertise and was thrown back by the tumbling economy. A more dynamic candidate with economic expertise and a disciplined campaign could have worked wonders even now. The poor handling of the campaign provided the final dagger for McCain/Palin '08.

The question remains whether Democrats will be able to move past the traumatic experience of losing in 2004 and 2008 and the feeling of getting robbed by Republicans twice. Paranoia has swept the party and a win was absolutely necessary to stop the nagging fear that Democrats no longer have what it takes to close the deal. This win should restore confidence and eliminate the fear that Republicans can magically pull off an undeserved victory. They had the same tool box available in the last three election and utilized it very well in 2000 and 2004. In 2008 they needed to work it to perfection and fell well short, while Democrats used the same tool box with nearly no flaws. We have taken the first step to get over this paranoia and now need to look ahead with optimism, knowing we can win.

1 comment:

Henra said...

Well said. It sounds like the kind of talk my buddy Howie Dean said to me a few months ago. People are very short-sighted. They forget that Bill Clinton ran brilliant campaigns.