Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Hey, its time for you guys to review my homework. Basically, I'm a political science major and for one of my projects, I examined the 2008 election. I'm not going into stuff like multi-variate regression or crazy graphs or any type of sciencey-technobabble, just going to tell you what I found out in my study. Now, in case you're still following this story, skip ahead, because I'm going to spoil it: Barack Obama won. Okay, now there are a ton of books out there explaining how Obama won and stuff like that, but for this study, I'm focusing not on why Obama won, but rather why McCain lost.

One of the more popular theories out there
Media pundits tell you "OH GEEZ ITS ANYONE'S GAME NOW", but that's because they are trying to get ratings. Really, any political scientist will tell you that it was decided that Obama would win well before the election, it was just a matter of how much of McCain's ass he would kick. The first piece of evidence is that not even including Independent voters, the Democrats had secured just over 50% of the vote, more than enough to win the House and the Senate, and way more than enough to elect a Democratic president. According to the 2008 National Election Survey, the Democrats had a gigantic advantage over the Republicans.
As you can see, just before the election, 52% of respondents felt confident with their vote for the Democrats, a pitiful 39% for the Republicans and 9% in the middle. Now, I do have a theory that a lot of that 9% is actually former Republicans that just happened to be upset with their party and McCain won a lot of them back (McCain picked up 46% of the popular vote compared to Obama's 53%). That's roughly 7 of the 9% of undecided voters. So to give credit to McCain, he actually ran a very good campaign, but maybe something happened over the past 8 years that might have forced McCain to play on Legendary mode.
Just couldn't beat the final boss
Issues of illegal immigration and defense spending did not work well for McCain. No to mention, health care reform ideas were still somewhat fresh in voters' minds even though it wasn't the focus of the election. Even talking about health care could spell disaster for McCain, because no matter what idea he might have, Obama's ideas were better. Believe it or not, the issue of whether or not to raise spending on the military worked out well for Obama much more so than McCain. About 75% of the country believe that defense spending should stay where it is and only 10% think it should decrease (this is because the issue of terrorism has been brought up a lot more recently and Iran was getting a lot of press as well). As for the other 15% that said it should actually increase, most of them were Independents. This meant that Obama can even campaign on increasing military spending (a rather conservative platform) to get votes and still not alienate his own party base.
One eye-opening thing I discovered in the study is that even on hypothetical party platforms that Obama could take, he would still maintain over 90% of his Democratic support, this is not the case for McCain. Even on conservative positions on health-care, immigration, and defense, some Republicans actually voted for Obama. Some might see Republicans as stubbornly following their leader like sheep no matter what crazy-ass decisions they make, but for this election, this was not the case, rather this time around it was the Democrats (which are known for occasionally losing support over really stupid shit). Obama managed to secure incredibly powerful party support and other than his already-established advantage, this would be the main reason for his victory over McCain.
And Spider-Man, for thwarting his assassination
The biggest problem McCain had to face was the number one concern on Americans' minds at the time: a giant hole and our economy happened to be in it. I don't need to bring in some crazy graph to show you that Obama had a huge edge here, so even talking about it could pose some problems for McCain. Campaign strategists will tell you that if your opponent has a huge advantage on some issue, its best to just not talk about it. Well, McCain did talk about the economy a lot, but he tried to skew the discussion towards a territory that he was more comfortable with: taxes.
McCain campaigned against Obama's plans for tax increases. This was the only area where McCain actually managed to beat Obama in both Party and Independent support. By maintaining the focus of his candidacy on not increasing taxes, McCain managed to pick up a lot of support that would have otherwise went straight to Obama, he also managed to regain a lot of his own party support. Every possible issue that McCain could have run on, Obama ran on it better, but McCain actually had an advantage here; it just wasn't strong enough.
Anyway, that was kind of my analysis of the 2008 election. I thought instead of you guys getting your information from the biased media, you might want a look at how scientists analyze elections. There's a hell of a lot more to this study, like on the specifics of Obama's advantage but that's a completely different story and since I've got another paper I need to write soon I won't go into it. Anyway, stay tuned for a bi-weekly video game series review.

16 comments:

  1. No matter who is the winner or the loser is the media who chooses your president.

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  2. I agree.. its a popularity thing, not an actual policy thing

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  3. very interesting, i like your style

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  4. Loved the Transformers parody, lol

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  5. the media says which one you have to vote!

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  6. Interesting article. I still think Palin pretty much ruined McCain's chances. I guess she did us a favor.

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  7. Personally I wasn't really liking either of them. I would have voted McCain over Obama at the time, but now I'm waiting to see if there are ANY possible candidates that can fix everything Obama has screwed up.

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  8. I keep out of all of this mess really. But that Sarah Palin? Damn I would def. nail her. :D

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  9. Hahah love that pic with superman. Come check me out, alphabetalife.blogspot.com

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  10. when does this have to be turned in? i can post some cool stuff on sunday about this

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  11. @Ryan Lyles
    Its been done for a while, in fact, I just got graded on it yesterday: Its an A! Kind of a big deal since my professor is known for picking at things. If its slightly wrong, its wrong.

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  12. Wow, I never thought about it like that before. Thanks for explaining it.

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  13. Ah, I spent a lot of time looking at the 2008 election. It was my first real exposure to politics, and I love it. I am still considering Poli science as a major. Thanks for the read, it brings a lot of memories.

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  14. Obama and Spiderman pic is funny!

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