Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Why Did McCain Lose?

Of course, the obvious reasons McCain lost are that (a) the economy went into recession in the summer, (b) the Credit Crunch occurred, (c) Obama spent about twice as much (the figures are surprisingly hard to find for general election spending), (d) big media favors Obama. But it is still interesting to discuss what else mattered. There have been some people saying that McCain's problem was that he was too conservative on social issues. Just to state that is to sound ridiculous. McCain famously dislikes religious conservatives and, in fact, the only social issue I can think of on which he is conservative is abortion, which he downplayed during the campaign. He did choose Palin as his VP candidate, as a gesture towards conservatives in the party, but his staff then spent considerable effort undercutting her.

What McCain did was to run as a hawk on foreign policy--- not as a conservative, but as hawk, please note-- and as I'm not sure what on economic policy. He supported the Bush tax cuts, but Obama also postured as a tax cutter, so the difference between them was not clear to the ordinary voter. McCain emphasized free trade, but he did not run as a free marketeer generally. He criticized speculators and oil companies, and in general sounded more populist than conservative except for a tendency to talk about small businesses instead of workers. And he was very quiet about social issues.

What would have happened if he had resolutely attacked homosexuality? Look at what happened with the state ballot measures. Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage won with 56% of the vote. (McCain won Arizona at just 54%.) Florida's won with 62%. (McCain got just 49% of the vote there.) California's won with 52%. (McCain got just 37% of the vote there.) Arkansas' ban on same-sex adoption won with 57%. (McCain did get 59% there.) If homosexuality had been the focus issue, it seems McCain could have become President-- if he was willing to take the conservative position rather than follow the country clubs.

People talk about the need for the Republicans to attract more blacks and hispanics. Exit polls say that in California a massive 70% of blacks voted for the ban on gay marriage. Here's the obvious issue to steal away Democrat voters. The flat tax just isn't going to do it.



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