Has the heart gone out of McCain supporters?
One of the perils of being in the political prediction business is that what you write can come back to haunt you and I have made my fair share of wrong calls.
But there is one prediction of which I take enormous pride – made here on the site just four months after Bush had been installed for his second term.
In support of my argument on May 26th 2005 that people should back Obama at 50/1 I wrote: “Thinking forward just two and a half years you can see what a hurdle the Iowa caucuses in January 2008 are going to be for Hilary. The nature of this process and the way people get together and discuss the options saw off the favourite, Howard Dean last year and might be the context that is good for a charismatic contender like Barack”.
Now this morning, with just a day and a half of campaigning left, I’m going to make another call – that the young black senator from Illinois is not only going to win but that he’s going to win big. By that I mean that his victory margin in terms of votes will be at the high end of the polls that are coming out
My reasoning is that the way the campaign has been evolving has seriously knocked the heart out of McCain supporters and that they will be less motivated to go to the polling stations. This is quite a common effect in elections and is one of the reasons why the opinion polls can be so important in creating the backdrop against which the campaign operates.
The morale of McCain backers can be seen in an Associated Press-Yahoo! News poll which found that 43% of Obama backers said they are excited over the campaign, compared with just 13% of McCain’s. Six out of 10 Obama supporters said the race interests them, compared to just four out of 10 backing McCain.
Voter enthusiasm can matter enormously. The AP report quotes a political scientist who has studied voter behaviour saying: “Negative feelings about a campaign can discourage voters by making them less likely to go through what can be a painful process: Voting for someone who will lose.”
Republican supporters have seen their party choose a nominee who is out of sync with large parts of the core base, a V-P pick who has become a joke and a disaster, and a campaign that has appeared to have been out-flanked at every turn by the opposition. Is it any wonder that they feel down?
I’m looking at the electoral college vote spread betting this morning and might well be extending my position.