Monday, 6 October 2008

Hail Mary...

I have written previously that I though McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as running mate may have been the "Hail Mary" pass, the epitome of a last-minute, risk-reward strategy.

However, the New York Times thinks that it hasn't worked... and suggests the Republican ticket may need another trump play.

Their suggestion?

Ditch McCain. Put Palin at the top of the ticket. Make the race about the first woman v the first black man. Make it about cool v ice cold.

My initial thought is this: That is singularly the most crazy thing in politics since Gordon Brown invited Peter Mandelson back for a third stint in the Cabinet.

One thing is for sure though - the momentum, which had shifted away from the Democrats for much of 2008, is now swinging back Obama's way, just in time for the November election. The Republicans need to do something bold, or something needs to change; to break their way. Or Obama is getting the keys to the White House.

Anyone have any thoughts on what that could be?


Jeff 6 October 2008 at 15:25  

They could try suggesting Obama is a terrorist cos of his darker skin...? Oh no, they've tried that already.

How big is the poll lead at the moment?

I do think there is time for Americans to get cold feet and back McCain after all but it's Obama's to lose at the moment.

doctorvee 6 October 2008 at 15:34  

Well that is quite something Malc because that is the second time I have read this suggestion in about an hour, the other being on Political Betting. That maybe means that it's actually halfway likely. Yikes!

Jeff 6 October 2008 at 16:06  

Well, there is another possibility but I'm too kind to suggest it.

I am sure Political Betting wouldn't go copying Malc's fine work after all....

Malc 6 October 2008 at 17:43  

Thanks Doctorvee/ Jeff.

I can assure both of you that I am fairly liberal with my hat-tips and had I read it there first I would have referenced it. Political Betting is not one of the blogs that I tend to spend a lot of time on though.

No, a friend stateside sent me the link with the question: "Palin for President?" I thought it blog-worthy - clearly Mr Betting did too.

Kindly retract your insinuations!

Sam 6 October 2008 at 20:59  

Isn't the point of a Hail Mary that you throw it when you have no other options, no time left on the clock, and no hope? So why did McCain try it with 10 weeks before the election when he was level or up in the polls?

To go back to the "football" analogy, when you're 3 points up in the 4th quarter and you haven't even got to the two minute warning you stick the ball up your jersey and run the clock down.

McCain didn't even try that before making the reckless play. And when you've made that last desperate throw you don't usually have anything left.

Malc 6 October 2008 at 21:25  

Sam... yep.

The metaphor may have been somewhat warped.

The polls were beginning to turn - especially with the post-Dem convention bounce. Which is why I thought it was a good move then. That might not so much have been a Hail Mary than a huge completion on 3rd and long trailing by 3 with 2 minutes to go. Or something...

Now we're into Hail Mary territory though, I think. Pulling out of Michigan, Obama racking up a healthy poll lead, going on the defensive in Florida, Virginia, Colorado... Now's the time for the big brave play. Which is why we've seen the negativity, the Obama-linking-with-terrorists, the attack attack attack Palin.

You've got to think they're working up to something, something that could swing the race back to them. Is this is?

I doubt it. I can see even less people voting for Palin as President than are currently looking at voting for McCain. But they need to change something.

Sam 6 October 2008 at 22:34  

I don't think your metaphor was warped, I think it pretty accurately described the risk of the move. My point was that it also highlighted the lack of other options if (as seems to have happened) it didn't give McCain a big enough bounce to keep ahead of Obama in the national polls. Which given Palin's utter lack of experience, and worse her complete disdain for intelligence, knowledge, and education, was always a big risk.

As far as I can see the negativity is all the McCain campaign playbook has left. Which tends to reinforce your traditional voters, does little for undecideds, and can easily backfire once the DNC responds. I think that's all they got, and I think it's not enough.

Holyrood Patter 7 October 2008 at 00:05  

Jeff, depending on which poll, and factoring in the early indicators from todays voter registration close, I would humbly estimate Obama to have a lead of around 5.4%.

doctorvee 7 October 2008 at 00:23  


Whoops, I wasn't trying to suggest you nicked the story off Political Betting! I just found it interesting that two different blogs had independently come up with the idea. :)

Malc 8 October 2008 at 23:02  


He has one debate left, in which he needs to deliver a knock out. If he does not, I think then I may have to say consider calling the election for Obama. However, there are still a couple of things which may yet surprise, one of which may feature in a blog post soon.

One thing I should say though. Given the Iraq war, the American financial position (long before now) and the immense unpopularity of President Bush, this has been the Democrats election to lose.

It should never have been this close. With 4 weeks to go, we should be talking about how big Obama's Electoral College win will be or if he could carry 50 states. The fact that McCain is still in the game - and indeed, could still snatch it from him - suggests that Obama has not convinced America that he is the man to take them forward, to enact the change he so fondly talks of. The question then is: who is?

Sam 9 October 2008 at 00:01  

There will never be a 50 state win while the culture wars keep Americans so divided. There will probably never be an election that isn't close while issues like abortion, immigration, gun control etc divide the voters so radically. It requires the dumbest foreign policy failure since Vietnam & the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression to even get people talking about economics & foreign policy as electoral issues.

Well Clinton's "it's the economy, stupid" did the trick 16 years ago (seems a long time), but Bush's 'Mission Accomplished, I'm stupid', didn't make any difference to a country which barely notices real issues and certainly doesn't how to deal with them.

Obama & McCain both talk about change, about rewriting the rules of Washington politics, but both would be delighted with 51% of the vote. Or 270 electoral college votes. Which tells us all we need to know about the mandate they think is realistic.

Malc 9 October 2008 at 09:57  


I agree. America is so divided right now - its why contests like this get so negative. And maybe I was being a bit flippant with the "carry 50 states" line. But I think it emphasizes my broader point.

This election SHOULD have been won months - if not a couple of years - ago. As you say, Bush being "stupid" should have handed it to the Democrats, and with the Mid-Term wins in 2006, a new Dem Speaker etc, the Dems should have been looking forward to a comfortable Electoral College win in November.

The fact that they are not (well, not yet - though it might be coming) suggests that Americans are not convinced either by Obama as a President or by the competence of Democrats to take the country forward.

No mistake - I'm not an apologist for Republicans or Bush (especially not Bush). My point is simply this - THAT is a story. after 8 years of ann unpopular Rep President, the fact that Obama hasn't run away with this election is astonishing.

Sam 9 October 2008 at 14:05  

That is true, at the least the Republican candidate should have been struggling all the way.

But there are two counter-arguments I can think of.

First, in picking McCain the GOP (or at least the voters) were consciously picking a candidate who could seperate himself from Bush. And the whole campaign was run with virtually no mention of the sitting President (except in Democrat attack ads).

Second, the unpopularity of Bush 2 years ago and the resultant success of the Dems in the Congressional mid-terms might have backfired on them now to some extent. Given that voters usually elect a President & a Congressional majority from different parties, with a Democratic Majority in the Senate already (and that expected to increase) it might be that that is effecting undecideds & swing voters intentions.

So I do agree Obama had more advantages than he's making it look like, but I don't think that its that astonishing.

Malc 9 October 2008 at 15:43  

I think your second point has a lot of merit. I guess the first does too, I was just trying to be less consensual.

I just think if the Democrats had picked the right person for the job, they wouldn't have to worry over the next few weeks. The fact that they are still not certain of winning suggests they might not have picked the right candidate... maybe.

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