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May 12, 2008

Why John McCain Won 2008 in 2004


Ever since the 2006 congressional elections, and for probably even longer, just about every pundit and media outlet has predicted that a Democrat will win the presidency in 2008. This viewpoint has even spilled over into the political futures markets, where traders (presumably politically savvy predictors who are putting their money where their mouth is) give Democrats a 61 percent chance of taking the White House, compared to 39 percent for Republicans.


This conventional wisdom continues to permeate much of the politicos’ world despite the Republican nomination of an entirely electable John McCain; and not to mention the destructive ongoing primary campaign on the Democratic side, which only the deluded and the party’s public relations personnel can describe as “healthy.”


Yet just as the conventional wisdom has been proven wrong on Rudy Giuliani and possibly Hillary Clinton, it will again fail in November. Barring any significant unforeseen occurrences (on par with a major ethics-related scandal or a serious heart attack), John McCain will become the next president of the United States.


This became more or less clear not upon his nomination, nor at the beginning of this election cycle. John McCain won the 2008 election upon the re-election of George W. Bush on November 2, 2004. Why would I say something this outlandish? The two-part answer is simple – the economy and the war in Iraq.


Whether it is a good thing or not, the issues that have and will continue make a difference in presidential elections are military conflicts and matters related to the economy.


It is true that exit polls from November 2004 showed that moral values transcended all other issues in importance, to the shock of media types who were previously convinced that such archaic “values” ceased to exist sometime around the Spanish Inquisition. But moral values have not been a swing issue for years, and will not be for decades.


Indeed, most of the electorate is composed of static voters who will vote for the same party as long as neither they nor their party undergo significant ideological changes. For instance, those “values” voters will usually vote for Republicans, as will nearly anyone with a B or above in any legitimate economics class.


Those raised in an environment of dependency and self-victimization, on the other hand, will inevitably vote Democratic in one election, only to do it again in the next election because they’ll have forgotten that their favorite politicians haven’t done anything to improve their lot or eliminate their dependency.


Therefore, moral values, welfare, abortion and taxes are rarely swing issues. This is why the main issues that will impact independents this November will be their understanding of how the Iraq war is going, and their understanding of how the candidates’ different economic policies will affect them (again, this group largely excludes the economically literate).


Rewind to the fall of 2004. The Iraq war was not going as well as we had hoped, and the popular credit given to President Bush for the capture of Saddam Hussein 10 months earlier had already faded. But although the greatest military in the world might face difficult short-term obstacles, in the long run, given the time and resources to adjust, it could win any war against insurgents.


In the context of Iraq, four years from November 2004 indeed proved to be enough for the U.S. military to demonstrate sustainable success against its enemies. Assuming that John Kerry would have continued the fight in Iraq, this success would have benefited whomever the incumbent was, Republican or Democrat, along with his party.


Likewise, the recession that the Bush Administration inherited, and which was exacerbated by the September 11 attacks, was coming to an end in 2004, due in large part to the Bush tax cuts. It was clear at the time to anyone not in the media that this was the beginning of a great period of economic growth that, as economic cycles go, should continue into 2008.


And indeed, President Bush’s second term ran alongside a period of overwhelming economic success. Because this economic boom was largely a result of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, even John Kerry would have inadvertently overseen a period of economic growth between 2004 and 2008. Incidentally, only hours after the 2004 election results came in, we learned that the economy had added a mind-boggling 337,000 jobs in October 2004.


The party of the 2004 election victor, Republican or Democrat, would have been credited with both remarkable economic growth and immense success in Iraq. Assuming the static voters stay where they are, the independents have long been bound to swing toward whoever the 2008 Republican candidate is, delivering another White House term for the GOP. The fact that the Republican nominee is John McCain, a darling of independents, is just unnecessary overkill.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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