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Sunday, June 1, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

From a speech by John McCain on May 6, 2008:

I have my own standards of judicial ability, experience, philosophy, and temperament. And Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito meet those standards in every respect. They would serve as the model for my own nominees if that responsibility falls to me.

Now, there may be a lot of Clinton supporters who are mad about the way things are proceeding (several were in evidence yesterday at the RBC meeting yesterday) and I have seen sound bites of some of them declaring that they will vote for McCain in the fall. Further, much of the focus has been on how upset women will be if Clinton isn’t the nominee. I suspect, however, that once the dust settles, quotes like that above will change a lot of minds in terms of whether they really are willing to engage in a fit of electoral pique.

Similarly, posts like this from HuffPo will have a lot of them rethinking their position: Toobin: A McCain Court Could Overturn Roe In “Maybe A Year”

whomever is elected president will almost certainly change the makeup of the court.

While the notion of Roe going away in a year is absurd (and indeed, I am not convinced that even a conservative shift on the Court will result in abortion policy changing as much as some think it will), the bottom line is that John Paul Stevens is 88, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg is 75, and Breyer, Kennedy and Scalia will be in the 70s by the time the next President put hand to Bible.

Somehow, I think these facts will persuade a great number of frustrated feminists to rethink any ship-jumping to the GOP or abstentionism in the Fall.

Indeed, I predict a hearty manifestation of the Deion Sanders Effect soon, wherein Obama goes from being on the hated “other team” to “my team.”

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  1. I agree that it is unlikely that there will be a lot of democratic faithful jumping ship to vote for McCain in the fall, I think it is quite likely that many will simply stay home.

    You have predicted that this will happen on the GOP side, with dissatisfaction among Republicans leading to lower turnout and assuring that the democratic candidate wins.

    I don’t understand why, when there is just as much dissatisfaction among democrats is just as strong - if we are to look at quantitative measures and not hunches and feelings.

    The most recent gallup poll ( shows that America’s approval rating of the Democratic-party controlled congress is at 18%. That’s lower than Bush’s approval rating, and ties the lowest approval rating Gallup has ever recorded. While it is true that there is a historical tendency for the Congressional approval rating to lag behind the President’s rating, the gap is usually very close (within a few percentage ponts) when the Congress is controlled by a different party than the White House (and a few points is statisitcally irrelevant). So I think it’s safe to say that people in both parties are extemely unhappy with both their own and the opposition party.

    Further evidence can be found in the Blogosphere - even on your own blog there have been comments left by Clinton supporters indicating their intent to stay home if Obama is the candidate.

    My question to you is why, in the face of this kind of information, do you think the Republican Party will have a low turnout and the Democratic Party will not? If it’s the historic tendency of supporters of one candidate to hop onto the other’s bandwagon once the primary process is over, I would submit that your position is weak because this primary race has been different from any past races. It has been closer, uglier, longer, and more emotional. It is also extremely charged with race and gender issues, which people take very personally. These things make it unlike anything we have seen before. In short, I think historical models are not useful for predicting what Clinton supporters will do when she either drops out or is forced out of the race for the nomination. If we are to guess (and we are guessing when we try to predict voter behavior) we must look at other measures to gauge voter sentiment and think logically about how they will act.

    It would seem to me that there is more data supporting the idea that the turnout for both parties will be unusual, unpredictable, and probably quite close.

    I do not think that the energy that has been exhibited in the primary cycle is going to translate into support for ageneral election candidate on a 1:1 ratio. Some will hop on the bandwagon but a lot will stay home. The numbers and rhetoric I’ve seen all point towards a lot of Clinton supporters boycotting the vote. There will be a lot of sour grapes and a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Why would we assume, when the evidence points another way, that all (or even most) who support Clinton will happily jump ship and board the Obama Express when Clinton is out of the picture?

    This will be a close election, and I can’t call it.

    Comment by Captain D — Sunday, June 1, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

  2. I have been meaning to compose a post that addresses your ongoing critique (which is fair) that the election is too close to call. I still disagree that the race isn’t clearly the Dems to lose.

    I will say this at the moment: there is excitement is ousting Republicans that will galvanize Democratic voters more than any excitement that will be similarly generated on the GOP side. Indeed, all Reps have at the moment is bitter disappointment, save at that the hardcore 30% GOPers who are GOPers no matter what.

    I really do think you over-estimate the degree to which the Clinton folks who are going to vote for McCain really are going to vote for McCain. Woman who went through the Women’s Rights Movements of the 1960s and 1970s may be angry right now that Clinton isn’t going to get the nomination, but if you really think that those types of voters will really risk a pro-life Court, you are mistaken. Those types, who right now are angry as can be, will vote for Obama in the Fall, and do so passionately.

    I also think that there are enough Republican voters who are so disenchanted with the war, the budget, the executive power issue and such that there are enough of them to depress turnout. I think some of them will vote Libertarian or for Obama. As I continually point out every time we engage in this discussion: it won’t take much in a handful of states for the Democrats to win. And the GOP’s current approval rating (and not just Bush’s) is pathetically low. The war is unpopular, gas prices are high and there is very little on the table for the “small government conservative” to get excited about.

    I agree that the popular vote will be relatively close-but, I have a really hard time seeing a GOP win in November. Now, those chances are better with McCain than they would have been with any of the other GOP candidates, but I still have a very hard time seeing a McCain win. However, time will tell.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Sunday, June 1, 2008 @ 5:21 pm

  3. Well, I am wrong about these things more often than I’m right. I think it’s because my crystal ball is actually made of Lucite; I can’t afford real crystal on a military disability pension.

    But to be clear, I didn’t argue that Clinton’s supporters will jump onto McCain’s train; I argued that some of them will take their ball and go home, and not vote at all. There is a huge difference, as one requires embracing your enemy, while the other does not; it is simply abstention from the process. While it may have the same outcome in creating a greater opportunity for your enemy to win, it does not carry the repugnancy that actually casting a vote does, and is therefore a far more palatable option for a person who is disaffected with their party. It’s also my position that a broad analysis including approval ratings for the Democrat-controlled congress (of which Clinton and Obama are a part) and evidence that I admit to be anecdotal seem to support this *possible* future.

    In truth I’m sort of playing the devil’s advocate, in that I think there are many possible outcomes for November, and I think there will be some surprises for all of us before it’s over. To be honest, I don’t know what I’m going to do in November; I’m one of many Americans who doesn’t know what to do, and whose actions therefore cannot be accurately predicted.

    One thing I would bet on (if I were a gambler) is that whoever is elected in November serves 1 term. They are going to inherit unpopular wars, an economy that has yet to have the bottom fall out from under it, and historically high gas prices (among other things).

    Iraq is a mess that will take far more than 4 years to clean up, no matter what approach is taken. Same with the economy - it is where it is because of decades of bad lending practices that have pushed our household debt beyond our gross domestic product; our enormous debt load is what is crippling consumer spending, and there’s no way to eliminate it with the touch of a magic wand. And the president can never do too much about gas prices, as they are (as you have observed in the past) primarily determined by market forces that the president of the U.S. can do nothing about.

    People will expect the new administration to “fix” all of these things, and will be sorely disappointed when in 4 years Iraq is still a mess, the economy is still weak, and gas costs even more than it did in 2008. These problems are all of a long-term nature that will require long-term fixes. America does not have that kind of patience or forward-thinking ability; no way the next president goes more than one term.

    All the talk of change is going to amount to a flatus in the wind.

    Comment by Captain D — Sunday, June 1, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

  4. Obviously sir you are living in a bubble !!! I have never nor will I now change my status as to how I feel about this election, its process and our seated polical party’s… If this election goes off as predicted I will either not vote at all, or write in a vote for Hillary Clinton… Hows this for thought I’m an ex Republican and after Ronald Reagan swore never to vote republican for the rest of my born days… I don’t doubt your one of the professors brainwashing young adults in college to vote for Obama… But may I remind you like a college degree & education Ther are no guarantees you will be successful… So, if the rest of the Country chooses to make uneducated decisions such as the last 2 elections… I’m willing to let the stones fall as they may… Again America and the intelligent Americans will get exactly what they ask for (amazing how that works)
    After this election I will be working fervently to start a new party as it is quite obvious everyone in charge now can’t handle the positions nor the authority which they were elected to guard or be trusted with… This election, should the choices be as predicted is incorrigible… God help us !!!

    Comment by Harry C — Sunday, June 1, 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  5. by the time the next President put hand to Bible.

    Of course, if Obama is the nominee, he will be swearing in on a Koran.

    Comment by Ratoe — Monday, June 2, 2008 @ 7:28 am

  6. You know, I’ve heard people say Obama is a “Black Muslim” but I’ve not seen much evidence of either. I don’t think he’s either of those things; he’s an American politician, which is a race and religion unto itself.

    Comment by Captain D — Monday, June 2, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  7. [...] me as symbolically even more problematic. And, as I noted the other day, there’s the whole abortion issue and SCOTUS. I have a very hard time seeing feminists in their fifties and sixties saying that they are so mad [...]

    Pingback by PoliBlog (TM): A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on Obama-Clinton — Wednesday, June 4, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

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