Are You McSperienced?

1 comment May 14th, 2008at 08:10pm Posted by Eli

Or have you ever been McSperienced?

Nothing Republicans like more than pretending to be victims:

Age-based attacks on John McCain have much the same potential for backlash as gender-based attacks on Hillary Clinton, and racially based attacks on Barack Obama. Now that McCain’s age has become a national punchline, many seniors might back McCain simply because they take offense at that narrative. This is particularly dangerous in a general election campaign when seniors will be the main swing group. Even though the electoral effectiveness of the conservative backlash narratives against liberal elites and the civil rights movement have been seriously diminished by changing demographics, these narratives are still somewhat salient among seniors. Combining these conservative backlash narratives with an additional, age-based backlash could prove problematic for Obama.

Now, this problem might be hard to see, since Obama currently leads McCain according to thirteen of sixteen public polling firms that have published national surveys in the last month. Overall, Obama leads McCain by 3.7% in Pollster and 4.8% in Real Clear Politics. However, as strong as Obama is currently performing, he could be doing much better if he were to solidify the Democratic base. Obama leads by about 4% right now, despite only receiving between 65% and 75% of self-identified support according to the latest Rasmussen, Quinnipiac, and LA Times / Bloomberg polls. If Obama were to push his Democratic support up to 85%, then he would gain another 4% against McCain, and deliver a virtual knockout blow.

However, an age-based identity backlash could prevent Obama from delivering this knockout blow. Today’s Q-poll showed an 11-point age gap between voters younger and older than 45, and the LA Times poll showed a 20-point gap, both of which successfully keep Obama’s numbers low among self-identified Democrats. As such, it isn’t surprising that the McCain camp is already angling to create further problems for Obama among seniors by playing the age card:

The McCain campaign said Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois who leads Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, was hinting at something when he used the words “losing his bearings.”
It was “a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain’s age as an issue,” said Mark Salter, a McCain adviser, in an e-mailed statement.

Expect more of this. The massive Democratic advantage in partisan self-identification, combined with Obama’s strength among independents, means that McCain needs to peel away a decent amount of Democrats in order to compete. Having learned lessons from the Democratic primary, it appears his campaign has decided it they can win over self-identified, Democratic seniors by playing the age card, and creating an identity backlash against a supposedly “ageist” Obama campaign. Current polling indicates that this strategy might just be working, since the only reason McCain is still within striking distance of Obama, instead of being blown out of the water, is because Obama has not locked down older, self-identified Democrats. McCain will continue to do whatever he can to open this wedge further, because as soon as it disappears, the general election could turn into a blowout.

Hey, if the McCain campaign wants to keep reminding everyone that their candidate is really old, I say let ’em.  Obama himself should be as respectful as possible of McCain’s age, and talk up McCain’s energy every time the subject comes up.

In other words, just sit back and let McCain’s campaign do all the work of branding McCain as The Old Guy.

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

1 Comment

  • 1. charley  |  May 14th, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    hey, Dedicated…

    maybe he could be machine gun john,

    but i’ve been calling him the pasty old white man.

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