A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Obama endorsed by McGovern

Depressing to see the Democrats take collective leave of their senses.

We now have George McGovern endorsing Obama, which would be a bit like Michael Foot anointing a Labour candidate with the words "trust me, I know a winner when I see one."

Looking at the list of states Obama has won in the primaries it reads like a roll call of places that are either safely Democrat or totally unwinnable - if he gets the nomination it would be the equivalent to Labour picking a leader who was popular amongst the 10% of Labour voters in Surrey, and in our safest seats, rather than their opponent who was a proven winner in say Harlow and Dartford.

Postscript: my colleague has just said this comparison does Michael Foot an injustice, as even he wasn't as totally out of tune with the electorate as McGovern.


Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Well I am glad that Mrs Clinton has lost; her warmongering rhetoric won't help anyone (isreali or american)

What is your problem? Both are 3rd way Democrats; they have virually the same policies.

Obama for president!

8:24 am, May 08, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Sorry I forgot to ask this, did'nt McGovern endorse Clinton for the 2008 Democratic Nomination last year in October?

Maybe it was a momentry lapse of judgement.

8:39 am, May 08, 2008

Anonymous I Am The Beatles said...

Everyone thought Clinton was going to win last year (people seem to forget that now...)

The McGovern switch is huge. There will be many more coming.

8:43 am, May 08, 2008

Blogger Theo Blackwell's blog said...

The McGovern 'switch' isn't huge news at all. McGovern's candidacy in 1972 was widely seen as a joke, and a real low point in the Democrat's fortunes, much like 1983here.

In fact I suspect his endorsement will go down something like getting the thumbs up from Michael Meecher.

I can't understand why Newsnight made such a big deal out of it - unless, in this case rather lazily, they are adding to the narrative that Hilary should just quit.

The fact is that Obama has repeatedly demonstrated that he can't close the deal. Why couldn't he win Indiana if he is indeed the frontrunner? This should worry Democrat strategists for November - especially when McCain plays his trump card - standing for only one term only to deal with the countries problems post-Bush.

At a stroke this cuts Obama's healing-the-nation message down to size, connects with ordinary Amercians and represents change.

9:28 am, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Dan said...

Luke, you've gotten this wrong... there has never been any connection between the States candidates win in the primary, and how competitive they are in those States in the general election.

9:30 am, May 08, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Turnout in the Democratic primaries were high. There is obviously a wave of support for Obama and if the Democrats don't get behind him and push his nomination we could see McCain as president (who I am sure we all hope doesn’t get it).
The US needs a change in direction; perpetual war will be expensive both in blood and treasure. Obama is the only candidate willing to engage the "enemies" of the US in dialogue, as internationalists and socialists we should support him in this endeavour.
War should always be the last resort and his approach might make the US more friends than enemies.

10:41 am, May 08, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

But Luke, there are two candidates. Are you honestly saying you think Clinton is better placed to beat McCain?

If you're saying you don't think either of them can beat the Republicans, I might be inclined to agree with you, but the idea that a woman perceived as a career politician and who half the country absolutely hated even before the campaign started is better placed to win that one who looks as if he could get at least some people who don't normally vote out - that seems fanciful.

1:29 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous jdc said...

Look, I was backing Edwards, and I think you were doing so tactically, but Clinton has the biggest negatives of anyone.

She only won Indiana thanks to prominent Republicans calling on their supporters to go and vote for her because she'll be easier to beat in November.

In polling, Obama beats McCain in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado, and runs him close in a number of others where he beats Clinton handily. Clinton wins and Obama loses in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio - also Florida but that would sort itself out if Clinton gave up so they could sort the delegates.

Looking at places which were within 5% at the last presidential, you get Oregon (Obama likely winner), Nevada (tied), New Mexico (tied), Iowa (Obama), Minnesota (Obama), Wisconsin (Obama), Pennsylvania (Clinton), Ohio (Clinton), and New Hampshire (Clinton).

You also see states like South Carolina and Indiana in play under a hypothetical Obama candidacy. The question isn't "for whom did Democrats vote", but "which way do independents and undecideds break", and even in places Clinton has won, Obama has done better in many of them.

I think McCain will beat either of them, but the notion that Clinton should prolong her embarrassment is fanciful at best.

1:31 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very fearful - just look at the opinion polls. McCain vs Obama and McCain vs Clinton.

Only Clinton wins. Obama is buried.

How can a country / party do this to themselves.

2:26 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous jdc said...

"I am very fearful - just look at the opinion polls. McCain vs Obama and McCain vs Clinton."


I'm looking at yesterday's Gallup tracking poll.

Obama 46 McCain 45
Clinton 46 McCain 45

Or last week's USA today poll

Obama 47 McCain 48
Clinton 46 McCain 49

The Clinton camp increasingly doesn't live in the reality-based community.

2:30 pm, May 08, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

The Clinton dynasty produced a chameleon of a candidate this time around who tried to hide her preppy, policy-wonk background and appear to be a beer-swilling member of the working classes!

Of course, a Clinton candidacy would offer little in the way of real change and a continuation of neo-con foreign policy. Obama offers a genuine contrast - and about time too. It will be good to see Brown slung out - hopefully by the Labour party, but if they don;t have the courage I am afraid it will be the electorate - and the back of Bush as well.

People with an ounce of progressive instinct would support this, but then thats not somnething one could ever attach to this governments foreign policy - which inspired me to leave the Labour party along with thousands of others. Now the tories are credible again, there are no footsoldiers left to defeat them - and they won't re-emerge until New labour is finally buried.

Obama excites new sections of the electorate and will promote participation. And the outcome may be very positive indeed. But a Clinton presidency - nothing there to write home about. been there, done that....

3:01 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

Nonsense Luke, Obama has consistently outpolled Clinton in the weekly tracking polls showing how the democratic candidates would fare against John McCain. Obama has also consistently outpolled - in opinion polls and primaries - HRC among independents (i.e. swing voters), and analysis of the race in individual states suggests that Obama would do a better job of locking up the Democrats base states and of bringing weak republican states into play, so forcing the GOP on the defensive and likely bringing the Democrats significant advances further down the tickets (see http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/5/5/122655/5037 )

Obama is also better at fundraising than Clinton, raising the prospect that the Democrats might be able to outspend the republicans for the first time in recent history.

3:07 pm, May 08, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

new sections of the electorate = people who don't and probably won't vote and will be outvoted by those Americans whose idea of acceptable "change" is a 70+ year old white Republican senator from Arizona.

The myth of a vast reserve army of the dispossed just waiting to heed the call and start voting, if only Labour or the Democrats were exciting/radical enough is a) mainly a myth and b) trumped by the reserve army of conservatives which is far bigger and will turn out, augmented by scared-off swing voters, in any such scenario.

They weren't there for McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore or Kerry, and they won't be there for Obama - only difference is the speeches on the road to defeat will be better made (though content free).

3:26 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Clinton campaign formulated a poor nomination strategy. When it fell to pieces, the campaign essentially began improvising. To this day, it lives week-to-week, one "do-or-die" primary after another. This has diminished its capacity to take advantage of political opportunities. The Obama campaign, on the other hand, formulated a superb nomination strategy, which it is still following even after 14 months of campaigning, and which has minimized the damage from a major political controversy."


Clinton was too poor a candidate; her team was too internally divided and misguided (Wolfson said today that Penn had spent millions of dollars before he realised California wasn't winner takes all).

When you lose you shouldn't blame the electorate or you opponents, you should look at yourself.

3:41 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Supporter of the Akehurst Wisdom said...

As Luke says, the Democrats are making a big mistake here. Hillary Clinton deserved to win. Did you not hear about how she braved sniper fire in Bosnia? She has so much experience, what with having been married to a former President and everything. And it would have been a victory for feminism to have Hillary win the candidacy - not every sister has the guts to brave the humiliation and stand by her man when he is exposed as a lying philanderer. The New Labour establishment loves the Clintons and New Labour knows how to win elections *cough*. The Guardianistas and Compass-types prefer Obama, and they only know how to re-run episodes of the 1983 election disaster etc etc etc

3:45 pm, May 08, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Luke said,
"new sections of the electorate = people who don't and probably won't vote and will be outvoted by those Americans whose idea of acceptable "change" is a 70+ year old white Republican senator from Arizona."

Are you honestly suggesting that people who don't give a toss about the GE would spend time queuing and voting in a primary? Sorry old boy it just won't wash. Casting Sen. Obama as a hard line Liberal is just so nonsensical; it just makes me laugh. If you're voting for Mrs Clinton based on domestic policy, a leap to Mr Obama would make no difference.
Obama has the ability to appeal beyond the party faithful (something you have said is important), even Republicans like him. His political experience of working with them in the state legislature in the Illinois to advance progressive policies is worthy of note. He would be an excellent president.
You have little to worry about him; he is closer to your politics than mine.
If he does get elected Luke what would you say then?

4:05 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous David Floyd said...

Worryingly, I think Luke is probably right about this.

Clinton's primary campaign has been useless but my instincts still tell me that she'd have more chance of beating McCain than Obama.

The 'vast reserve army' issue is more complicated in the UK because there's other parties in the mix apart from the big two but in the case of the US I think Luke's pessimism is definitely well founded.

4:10 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

I think you are being far too pessimistic Luke. The 'vast reserve army' of republicans seems to be melting away - a large part of the base don't like McCain because he isn't a proper conservative. More moderate republicans and independents have lost faith because of the economy and the war. McCain stands for a continuation of Bush's vastly unpopular foreign policy, and has no ideas (or even knowledge) on what to do about the economy (which is in a far worse state than ours), and these things will be exposed once the democrats have stopped taking lumps out of each other (or to be more accurate, once HRC has stopped trying but failing to take lumps out of Obama). At the moment, the Republicans seem to be even less popular than Gordon is with out own electorate, and with far less time to turn it round.

Of course, one should never underestimate the ability of parties of the left to throw away elections, but this is not America in 1972 or Britain in 1983. The republicans seem to be in a similar place to the Tories in 1997 and Obama is not McGovern or Foot, but a moderate, focused Democrat, albeit one who eschews the failed triangulation approach of the Clintons.

4:52 pm, May 08, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Ravi says that people have spend time queuing and voting in a primary - but only 16 million ish have turned out for Obama in the primaries. You need the 62 million that Bush got - and in the right states - to win the General Election. So Obama needs all of the 16 million who have voted for Clinton (20% i.e. 4m of whom are at the moment telling polsters they would rather vote McCain than Obama), and another 30 million who haven't voted for either Democrat in the primaries.

4:59 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

After the primaries, supporters of one candidate always say they won't vote for the other candidate. in 2004, a significant proportion of supporters of McCain and Dean said that they wouldn't vote for Bush or Kerry respectively, yet when it came to the General Election in November, most of them did. Don't believe everything that Clinton's surrogates say on newsnight interviews.

5:07 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Andy said...

And if there are problems with supporters of Clinton not supporting Obama and vice versa, they are likely to be as serious for a Clinton candidacy as for an Obama candidacy. If, through some miracle, HRC gets the nomination despite loosing the race for pledged delegates, there will be outrage among African Americans. And this problem would be entirely of the Clintons own making. Before New Hampshire, HRC was actually ahead among African American voters. This changed when Bill got out his dogwhistle and started drawing comparisons between Obama and Jesse Jackson.

5:16 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke is right but still unfair by referring to Michael Foot. There are lots of complex reasons why Labour lost the 1983 election. Not even Michael Foot says he was the ideal leader at the time, and it was quite clear he only stood for the position with reluctance and a heavy heart because the party was in crisis.

5:58 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Andrew f said...

Yeah, absolutely suicidal, despite the fact that no statistical match-up has shown Mccain to be the likely winner over Obama. But nevermind that; let's move on to some more interesting points.

Democrats aren't choosing purely on the basis of who is more likely to win in November. They're choosing who they want to be the next president. You are cynical to assume that all politics internal to a party is by definition a debate about electability. You're *naive* to think it in relation to a primary process which millions of people participate in.

There's a reason, you realise, why 12.5% of the parliamentary Labour party has to sign off on any leadership candidate. Whisper it quietly: most of us aren't too scared to be left wing. Similarly, most Democrats aren't too scared to back a political revolutionary like Obama.

And if you think super-delegates would be well advised to defy the decision of the wider-electorate, you need to smoke something different. The result would be an angry Democratic base that stays home (or, say, votes for Nader) and a party that looks distinctly undemocratic.

So no, I don't think the Dems taken "leave of their senses"; they're just liberal.

7:39 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tories are set to record a 26% lead over Labour, according to a poll iin tommorow's Sun.

Any thoughts?

Why don't you tell us all about the 1902 US election?

8:42 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I think Clinton is better placed to beat McCain.

Anyway it really won't make a bit of difference anyway. American politics are pretty void of liberal policies full stop.

8:47 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

McCain is Heseltine in 1997 - more popular than the rest of his party, but out of ideas, and badly tarnished by the brand of his party. Even if he'd been leader instead of Major, the Tories would have lost. So it will be with the GOP. I'll stick my neck out here and say that Neil Kinnock would be able to beat McCain (if he wasn't barred from standing by the US constitution...)

11:54 pm, May 08, 2008

Anonymous jdc said...

As of today, by the way, Obama leads in Superdelegate support amongst Governors, Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and Distinguished Political Leaders. Clinton leads only amongst members of the Democratic National Committee.

8:15 am, May 09, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief, yet another snide, nasty little post. Given your analysis of the UK has been shown to be totally hollow, it is a little sad that you turn your attention to something that, unbelievably, you know even less about.

I guess it should come as no surprise that you are a Clinton fan – a nasty, political insider interested only in power and political infighting. Is she your role model?

12:38 pm, May 09, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brown makes Foot look good ..!

2:50 am, May 10, 2008


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