Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some 1976 campaign lessons

Michael Barone talks about them at NRO [excerpts].

Barone’s in italics; I'm in plain.

Looking back over the last 40 years, the presidential campaign that most closely resembles this year's is the contest between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in 1976. The Republicans were the incumbent presidential party that year, as they are now, but the Democrats had a big advantage in party identification — on the order of 49 percent to 26 percent then, far more than today.

I didn’t know the Dems in ’76 had an almost 2 to 1 party identification advantage over the GOP. That makes the Dems’ current party affiliation advantage the MSM keeps telling us is a strong indicator of Dem success in November seem like not such a strong indicator after all.

The Republican president who had been elected and re-elected in the last two campaigns, Richard Nixon, had dismal favorability ratings, far lower than George W. Bush's. His name could scarcely be mentioned at the Republican National Convention.

I remember ’76. President Bush will be nowhere near the drag this year Nixon was in ‘76. But you can be sure a day won’t go by between now and November without the Dems’ media flacks telling us what a drag Bush is followed by a litany of why he’s a drag.

The Democratic nominee was a little-known outsider, with an appeal that was based on the idea that he could transcend the nation's racial divisions. Jimmy Carter, a governor from the Deep South, had placed a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. in the state Capitol in Atlanta.

Obama’s claim that he’s the candidate who can transcend race is already fractured and will become more so as we get closer to the election.

Ford's political situation then was far more parlous than McCain's today. An early summer Gallup poll showed him trailing Carter by 62 percent to 29 percent.

We’re well past early summer with polls generally showing Obama and McCain in a statistical tie or Obama with a single digit lead. Carter’s early summer lead was 33% and Ford closed it to 2% on election day.

Barone goes on to discuss how that happened. He also has some advice for McCain.

Barone’s entire column is here.

Be sure to give it a look if you’re following the campaign.


Anonymous said...

America First
by Charley Reese
"Damn, but I despise politicians."

Anonymous said...

I think we're seeing some lowered expectations for the youth vote as Saint Obama more and more shows us he's just another politician. As I pointed out in another thread, just look at the "experts" he's assembled as his advisors--they're all Clinton re-treads. "Change?" I don't think so. What needs to happen is for McCain to start getting edgy and making the distinctions clear (yes, there are a few). Otherwise, his laid-back style will keep him from building any enthusiasm among GOP and Independents. Carter edged out Ford in 76 only because Ford was playing the role of nice-guy who wanted to apologize for the actions of RMN instead of running on his own strengths. Carter won only because he convinced enough people he was going to change things. He changed things, that's for sure. Just think how Saint Obama will change things if he gets in the White House.
Tarheel Hawkeye

wingnut said...

1976; I can relate. As an 18 year old High School senior, I was in an AP Political Science class. Out of 24 students, 2 of us supported Ford, the teacher and the rest Carter. Luckily, only 3 of us were old enough to vote in November. Our teacher got invited to Carter's swearing in ceremony; the other Ford guy and myself got to wait for Reagan in 1980. We got the better deal.