8 Reasons McCain Needs a Miracle to Win

John McCainIf you’ve been watching the news for the last month, it seems like John McCain might actually pull out a victory in November.  After months of the press fawning over the unlikely candidacy of Obama (remember, he’s a mixed race junior senator with no executive experience) the press has rediscovered that John McCain actually has the credentials, the political persona and the charisma of a fantastic presidential candidate.  Unfortunately for Senator McCain, he simply doesn’t have the support.  Despite popular polls numbers (this isn’t a popular election after all, it is a state by state winner take all contest) and a receptive media, eight national trends would make a John McCain victory miraculous.

Voter Registration

The Republicans are losing more and more registered voters to the Democrats and independents while the Democrats are registering unprecedented numbers of young, black and formerly disenfranchised voters.
Real Clear Politics states: “The number of registered Democrats in party registration states has grown by nearly 700,000 since President George W. Bush was reelected in November 2004, while the total of registered Republicans has declined by almost 1 million.”
The changes are most notable in Iowa and Nevada, two states that were majority Republican in 2004 (and voted for Bush) and now have more registered Democrats.  The other 5 states with growing democratic advantages are Oregon (10pts), New Jersey (14pts), New Hampshire (-.6pts), Connecticut (15pts) and Pennsylvania (12pts).
By most accounts, the Obama campaign machine has been impeccably organized, and it isn’t hard to understand why the Republican machine is failing.  Quite simply,  being a Republican is no longer as cool as it used to be.  As the Economist so aptly noted a year ago, no matter how clever the Republicans are at politics, at the end of the day when they were given the chance to lead, they failed.


Obama has 336 open offices while McCain has just 101. While field offices, like voter registration, doesn’t directly correlate to voters, one has to wonder where the McCain campaign will base their get-out the vote operations when the election arrives.  More specifically interestingly, McCain has 1 office in Colorado and 1 in Pennsylvania while Obama has 10 and 18 respectfully.


The 1.7m net loss net of Republicans since 2004 means independents are more important for McCain.  Historically he has garnered much support from independents but Obama is denying him an advantage as polls show them neck and neck.

Millennial Generation

One day, the Millenials, which are Americans under the age of 26 and are the largest generation in American history, (over 100m) will dominate American politics.  Obama has a massive advantage amount youth and his campaign has vigorously registered and engaged this demographic.  Whether or not this is the election that will permanently shift America politics from the Boomers to the Millennials, it’s clear that Obama has the age demographic advantage as there are nearly twice as many 18-30 year olds than there are people over 65.  For more go try USA Today and Wikipedia.


While Hispanics gave Bush an advantage in 2004 by giving him 40% of their vote, McCain will be disadvantaged by the fastest growing demographic in America.   Obama has a massive lead of 3:1 (63% to 23%) among Hispanics.


McCain is polling at 61% support among Evangelicals while Bush won 69%.  They aren’t going to Obama, who has the same 25% Kerry had in 2004, they’re simply deciding to sit this one out.  Why?  Many of their leaders want to disengage from American politics while others are under the influence of a right wing media that has historically despised Senator McCain.

Rush Limbaugh

America’s second most listened to talk show host (all hail Howard) thinks McCain sucks and hasn’t and will not motivate his listeners to vote for him.  In fact, he often threatens to work against McCain if McCain doesn’t veer more towards the right.

Read this transcript from his show:
RUSH: Because [the Republican Party] thinks that they own us, in the most crucial of earlier decisions, McCain is misjudging us. He feels he can pick whoever he wants, pro-choice Democrat running mate, and that everybody’s just going to march with him. But he figures wrong.  This is going to be a close election, and it’s not going to take a lot of people sitting on their hands to lose an important state or two.

CALLER: Mmm-hmm.

RUSH:  Now, Obama is out there firing up his base.  McCain is trying to deflate people like you.

CALLER:  He’s angering us, and I wasn’t going to vote for him. I was just not going to mark anything, but then when he pulled this — and I think, Rush, I really think — and I know you’ve done so much to get the word out. I really think that if he puts on a good, strong conservative, he has a pretty good chance of getting elected. But if he doesn’t, then the Republicans are going to say, “What’s the difference between him and B. Hussein Obama?”  And they either won’t vote or I don’t know, and it’s really scary and I’m worried about it.  I don’t like McCain; I never have liked him.

Bush’s victory was consistent with years of right wing media narration.  Those same people have been skewering McCain for a decade.  Now if they wanted to do an about face and support McCain, they would risk alienating their own audiences.


Ron Paul’s revolution is continuing via Bob Barr, a former popular Republican who turned to the Libertarian party and was polling at 6%. Unlike Nader who was a simply protest vote in 2000 and 2004, Barr and Paul, while not officially linked, are both aiming to realign the Republican party around an authentic small government platform.  Paul and his followers are vigorously organizing the “Campaign for Liberty” which will create a constituency that could support a real libertarian third party or could begin to realign the Republican party.   Paul has frequently stated he won’t support McCain unless McCain fundamentally changes his platform.  There will be no better way for the libertarians to flex their political muscle than resisting a McCain’s presidency.

Real Clear Politics Electoral Projections

As I see it, McCain is disadvantaged by national political trends, he lacks a competitive ground organization, he isn’t dominating the independent vote, he has an age demographic problem, he has a latino problem, an African American problem, an Evangelical problem and isn’t garnering support from right wing media celebrities.  Finally, there is a large and growing consistency within his party that would prefer to lose this election and return the Republican party to a small government platform than continue with business as usual.

Least we forget, the media is a business and they would prefer to have a ‘horse race’ political campaign going than inform Americans of the massive demographic hurtles McCain faces.  They would also prefer to report on national poll numbers that represent the insignificant popular vote than look at state by state numbers that clearly show an Obama advantage.  Take a moment to go through Real Clear Politics electoral college and see for yourself.

10 thoughts on “8 Reasons McCain Needs a Miracle to Win”

  1. Actually, if the election were held today, McCain beating Barack Obama by 10 electoral votes according to realclearpolitics.com

  2. Simple,
    Was there a specific section you thought weak or imprecise? I’m trying to improve my writing so any constructive criticism would be much appreciated.

  3. At least try to realize that every single argument has a counter-argument. I’m actually going to vote for Obama, but lets try to see both sides here.

  4. Walther,
    While I agree with most of your points I think the recent Real Clear Politics map proves that while it may take luck and some good circumstances, it’s not going to take a miracle.

    I do think you put a little too much emphasis on voter registration (of those seven states the only ones in play are New Hampshire and Nevada.)

    I also think the two performances at the MegaChurch last week will help out his issues with Evangelicals.

    Most conservative talk show hosts (O’Reilly, Hannity, Laura Ingram) have slowly come around to McCain and are no openly supporting him on their programs. Granted these people are not as influential as Rush, but they are doing their best to open people’s eyes to the problems with Obama. Neo-cons and Limbaugh listeners fear an Obama presidency enough to vote for McCain as a vote against Obama. If I had more time I would go through Rush transcripts to compare, but I would guess he spends more time bashing Obama than he does bashing McCain. It still will make some impact, though I think it may just lower turnout in bible belt places that McCain already has secured.

    I think the best point you bring up is organization. The RCP mapping shows that even though McCain has an advantage in the majority of important toss up states, he needs to work hard to maintain those leads and focus his organization on certain cities within those states. This will be his biggest challenge.

    One final note, while I think Joe Biden was a good pick for Obama, passing Bayh and Kaine will help McCain maintain his slim leads in Indiana and Virginia. With McCain seemingly picking someone who will help him boost his status in Michigan (Romney) or Minnesota (Pawlenty) as well as holding his Convention in Minnesota with the support of a popular governor, McCain can put these two states (and their combined 27 electoral votes) in play.

    Bottom line, McCain still has a lot of work to do. I just hardly think its gonna need a miracle.

  5. Just one last observation on Rush, I looked at his website and his most recent postings and all of them are pretty much Obama bashing. You won’t catch Rush praising McCain anytime soon, but it looks like the theme from these transcripts is that he gives McCain backhanded compliments by trashing Obama, who he refers to as “Barry the Messiah”

  6. When I say miracle, I don’t mean Jesus walking on water, I mean something very improbable, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epUk3T2Kfno.

    Bush didn’t win by much. Add voter registration trends, less Evangelical support, less Right Wing Media support and you have a difficult landscape for McCain to traverse.

    Rush is without a doubt in McCain’s camp and bashing Obama all the time, but he’s not 100% there like he was for Bush and if McCain comes towards the center during the next few months, Rush will be there to hold his feet to the fire.

    Basically, I think our mainstream media sucks and they collectively (not conspiratorially) reframed this election in a way that avoids the simple fact that McCain has some very serious hurdles. I just wanted to remind people of what those hurdles were.

    You and I, however, are in complete agreement (yay!) A McCain win is possible, but as the otters in the video above so cutely display, so are many things.

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