Friday, June 02, 2006

The 2008 Presidential Campaign - a Retrospective

With all the talk lately about conservatives hoping for Republicans to lose the House, and the formation of new third parties, and independent bids for the Presidency, I thought I'd take a crack at something to unite all those themes.

I'll preface this by saying that I certainly don't think that this will happen, but I think everything in here is plausible. And some things are likely. With that, I give you a look back at the 2008 Presidential campaign:

House Elects New York Senator Clinton President

(Washington, DC) – January 6, 2009 – In a dramatic conclusion to the most unusual Presidential election in the nation’s history, the House of Representatives and Senate elected Senator Hillary Clinton of New York as the nation’s next President and Governor Jeb Bush of Florida as Vice-President. While few could have foreseen such a result a few short months ago, the outcome is not a surprise. Mrs. Clinton’s elevation to the Oval Office has been expected since it became clear that Independent Presidential candidate John McCain could not win the support of a sufficient number of House members to earn him a majority of state delegations. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was elected Vice President in a largely party-line Senate vote, despite running on the third-place ticket of Virginia Senator George Allen.

While the 2008 campaign saw a variety of stunning events, the outcome of the Presidential election was in many ways determined on election day, 2006. At that time resurgent Democrats, aided by the unpopularity of outgoing President George W. Bush, saw a chance to claim a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years. They fell short that night – gaining only 13 of the 15 seats required. Victories in key races in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Minnesota however, yielded Democratic majorities in the Congressional delegations of those 3 states. Democratic representatives in those states voted in unison for Senator Clinton yesterday, giving her the margin of victory as she claimed majorities in all 3 of those delegations, among her 26 total votes.

The twin elections in the House and Senate were a fitting punctuation to a campaign in which Senator John McCain launched the first significant independent bid for the Presidency in 16 years. Senator McCain withdrew from the race for the Republican nomination after losing the South Carolina primary. He announced the end of his affiliation with the Republican party, declaring “you won’t have McCain to kick around any more.” Three days later he announced his independent bid for the Presidency with former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Lieberman had been defeated in a Senate primary in 2006, and renounced his affiliation with the Democratic party, in failed bid for re-election to the Senate as an independent.

McCain and Lieberman seemed to be a perfect match. Both were rejected by their parties due to deviation from ‘the party line.’ Each held to positions unpopular in his own party, even at the cost of their political careers. Ultimately the McCain-Lieberman ticket came in second place in both the popular and electoral votes, winning 37% of the vote, while carrying 18 states with 161 electoral votes.

When Senator McCain announced his intent to seek the Presidency as an independent, many analysts argued that he and Senator Allen would split the conservative vote. In the end however, exit polling showed that many liberals and independents supported McCain, responding to his promises to ‘end crony capitalism,’ and to ‘knock tweedle-dum and tweedle-dumber from their perches of power.’ The Senator promised that under a McCain Presidency, Washington would ‘once again be answerable to the people.’

Analysts have credited President-elect Clinton, who ultimately won 15 states with 224 electoral votes, with running a ‘nimble’ campaign. Sources close to Clinton say that she was ‘surprised’ that McCain campaigned so aggressively for the votes of traditional Democratic constituencies. Mrs. Clinton has also privately vowed ‘payback’ for former Vice President Al Gore, who campaigned for Senator McCain after being defeated by Mrs. Clinton in his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Senator McCain and Mr. Gore have vowed to continue the ‘crusade for representative government,’ and have formed a political action committee to support candidates who agree with their 10 point reform agenda.

Senator Allen expressed disappointment in the wake of the House vote yesterday, but promised to support the incoming President “anyway I can, in bringing a torn nation back together.” He further stated that “Jeb Bush is going to be the best damn Vice President this nation has ever seen," and said that the former Florida Governor will ensure that “there’s an independent voice in the White House, to make sure that those who support traditional values, smaller government, and respect for the law get a fair shake.”

House Speaker Boehner stated “I look forward to helping the President when she’s right, and convincing her of her error when she’s wrong – always pursuing the best interests of the American people.” Since election day, Speaker Boehner had led the effort to unite House Republicans in support of Senator McCain, as the only viable candidate to prevent Mrs. Clinton from winning the White House. This effort splintered when it became clear that most House Democrats would vote for Mrs. Clinton – even those who represented states or districts where Senator McCain had won a plurality or majority of the vote.

Majority Leader Reid issued a statement congratulating his former Senate colleague on her victory…

Back to the top.

1 comment:

The Blue Square said...

I'd say that's pretty accurate and pretty scary. I for one hope that a third party candidate would be a conservative dissatisfied with the GOP, even if s/he didn't win.