Sunday, November 09, 2008

The next Republican candidate

I was interested by this story which, along with many others, is talking about Palin as a possible runner for the next presidential election. Absolutely ridiculous! We need to look closely at who in US politics is actually saying these things: extremist rightwingers and Democrats. The second group are significant. There is nothing the Democrats would like better than to stand against Palin. Barring disasters in this administration, they would definitely win.

Let us just asume that Obama is going to go into this next election as an averagely performing first term President. He has disappointed many but also reassured many. He has not been a great president but not a terrible one either. His message of change somehow feels a little unfinished, as such messages almost always do after one term. The economy has improved a little in the final years of his Presidency. (The health care thing, I am assuming, has not been done because if he has managed to do that he will have rewritten the electoral map). So, like most incumbent Presidents, he is going into the election with a decided advantage. It is not brain science: you can't run the same losing tactic against the same man twice and expect to win, especially when he has a distinct advantage on the second play.

What should the Republicans do? I am going to keep out of questions of what the Republicans can do, because their party may not be capable of following the only strategies that have any hope of putting them into power in 2012, but, assuming they are a functioning political force, they need to look at the nature of the new Obama coalition. It delivered a landslide, remember, so they have to address it, not the crazy notions flitting around in their own heads. If they try to analyse that coalition on an age group basis they are going to end up with their heads in their hands, so I reckon an ethnic breakdown is their only way forward. Boiled down to its bare essentials, Obama's winning formula was this: a 40 per cent or much better split of all the main voting groups plus monolithic (and voting) black loyalism plus a large majority of Latinos. The black group is going to be a little bit less motivated next time but the other groups are going to firm up for Obama, in all likelihood, so, if I was a Republican strategist, the group to aim for are the people from Latino backgrounds. The only thing I am not entirely clear on is the significance of Latinos in terms of the important electoral votes but the way I see it, not that I give two hoots, is that the only hope for the Republicans in 2012 is not Palin at all, but a socially conservative Latino man (?) with a massive dollop of charisma. If they try to do that with a VP pick they will fail. US politics has changed. After Obama, the next Democratic candidate will probably be female. If Obama gets a good health care package for the broad mass of the population through, by the way, the peeling off the Latino vote will not work and Obama will have built a historically enduring electoral coalition (including many of those lost working class whites).

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