Sunday, October 26, 2008

What's changed?

More lovely McCain supporters, this time in Denver, Colorado:

(via digby)

Boy, all those people saying Obama is a communist are going to be awfully surprised when he doesn't nationalize the economy and send them all to re-education camps...or they just don't have a clue what the hell they're talking about, and will move onto the next smear/conspiracy theory once this one gets stale.

You know, I used to wonder how Bush could possibly have been re-elected in 2004. Sure, Kerry wasn't the most exciting candidate, but still, surely four years of W was enough for most people?

But in retrospect, the kind of people in that video were around then, just as they are around now. By which I mean tribalistic, anti-intellectual, religious extremist nutjobs who will still vote GOP even if it is revealed that the entire party has been replaced by green reptilian space aliens who eat puppies. When you take them out of the equation, you're left with a relatively small group of swing voters, alternately known as "Independents", "Moderates", "Uncommitted voters", or something similar.

While some small percentage of these people have valid reasons for being disenchanted with both major parties, the majority of them are low information voters that continually shift their allegiances with the wind, the "wind" in this case being the "daily news cycle". These are the people who normally can be counted on to respond positively to character attacks like the Swift Boat campaign against Kerry or the guilt by association nonsense about Bill Ayers, as well as shallow labels, like Kerry being a flip-flopper, or Obama being a socialist/communist/terrorist/celebrity etc. Such attacks have clearly worked on that crowd, as can be seen by their energetic shouting.

This year is different, mainly because 8 years of Bush is worse than 4 years of Bush, because Obama is a much better candidate than Kerry (conversely, McCain is a very poor candidate), because McCain was shown to be a sleazy liar on multiple occasions, because Sarah Palin proved to be a disastrous choice for VP in the long run, and because the Obama campaign has achieved its goal of registering millions of new voters.

But there's also something else that hasn't got much attention. First of all, anyone who was 14 in 2004 is now eligible to vote. Who do you think most of them are voting for? Second, lots of people who were senior citizens in 2004 are now dead. Who do you think most of them would have voted for? Thirdly, many new immigrants have arrived in the United States. Who do you think most of them are voting for?

Obama benefits from all three demographic shifts; young people and minorities are, in general, far more likely to support him, while senior citizens are much less likely to.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if the US electorate were identical to that of 2004, this would be a much closer race. Luckily for Obama and the Democrats, current and future generational shifts favor them unambiguously. As time goes on, it will become more and more difficult for Republicans to keep fighting the civil rights battles of the 1960s or the social issue battles of the 1990s, simply because most young voters don't care about any of it, not when there are such important challenges facing our generation.

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