Over the past few days, I've spent far too much time talking several terrified Democratic friends down from the roof. Not to worry -- "terrified" is the natural state of many Democrats. After eight years of getting bludgeoned, Swiftboated and Bushed, it's understandable.
But wrong-headed. The attitude is best-exemplified in a recent Huffington Post in which the author gave 10 suggestions to the Obama campaign after first quaking, "As a Democrat, I am nervous and on the verge of desperation."
Now, mind you, this was written four days into the official campaign. Four days! And already she is "nervous and on the verge of desperation." It must be hellish just putting on shoes in the morning.
But to the larger point, I never believe in taking advice from people who are nervous and on the verge of desperation. Do you? That's a guaranteed recipe for disaster. While some of the authors' suggestions were excellent, the ones that were "yipes!" clearly came from desperation.
Believe me, I well-understand Democratic concern. And I deeply understand the desire for a scorched earth response after each lie. That does not, however, mean it's the best strategy. Barack Obama's team are very smart people. That a young black man ran for president, got 18 million votes and won the nomination...is remarkable evidence that these people know what they're doing. They'll make mistakes. But they've shown themselves adept at redressing them. At building a campaign.
However, concern is a very different fish than being terrified. Concern is having your hands on the wheel, watching the road, in solid control of where you're going.
I am absolutely convinced that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will win the election. Obviously, that means zero -- however I don't say it without specific, detailed reasons. Honestly, anyone can have opinions. To be able to defend them, that's the trick.
Here then are a dozen very specific reasons why Barack Obama will defeat John McCain for the presidency.
1) Democrats are furious at eight years of George Bush and seriously driven to vote. On Super Tuesday, 14 million Democrats voted, but just 10 million Republicans.
2) Even Republican analysts expect the GOP to get swamped in the House and Senate. History shows that voters depressed by their local races are more likely to stay at home, regardless of the national ticket. Conversely, Democrats are energized by their local candidates. I've long-believed the election will have what I call "reverse coat tails," where the bottom of tickets will notably help those at the top.
3) Because of the long and intense Democratic primary battle, the party was driven to register new voters, and also now has a deeply-strong "get out the vote" operation. The Republican primary was over early, so no such effort was done. Many stories have reported that the McCain campaign is very weak at the grass roots level. While the evangelical right is active in this area, it's in their area alone. The Democratic effort is across the board.
4) Close as the polls seem, some pollsters are now acknowledging they might not have taken into account the huge shift of voter identification from Republican to Democrat, which they themselves say might have made results appear closer than they are.
5) Close as the polls seem, pollsters don't call cell phones. And those who most-use cell phones only are young people, who overwhelmingly are supporters of Obama over McCain. A study last year by the Wharton School quotes pollsters acknowledging a very slight skewing from not calling cell phones...and are concerned it could grow. Another report from Pew Research noted that this could become a "major" problem -- and that report was three years ago. Considering the reality that young voters are fiercely-motivated for Barack Obama, none of that is being figured into the polls.
6) We don't elect by national vote. Among various state polls, Sen. Obama is ahead by around 30 Electoral votes. Though both he and Sen. McCain are short of the majority needed, Barack Obama has a polling lead in Electoral votes of over 15 percent.
7) Contrary to the Washington Post writing that we're in the "final stretch" of the campaign, we're actually at the very beginning. Both nominees were only settled a mere week ago. There are still four major debates. In 1976, Jimmy Carter had a 33-point lead after the Democratic convention; he ended up winning by two points.
8) MSNBC's Chuck Todd reported talking to Democratic pollster Peter Hart. Hart had said that in 1984, when Walter Mondale got a huge bump after nominating Geraldine Ferraro as his VP, it was the one time in the whole campaign when everyone got very excited into thinking they actually had a chance of winning. And then, as Hart noted, the bottom fell out, and they got crushed.
9) I've long believed that the debates this year will have a profound impact on the election, much more than in the past. People will be watching in vast numbers and watching closely. And the debates will significantly favor Democrats because Republicans will have to defend the core of eight years of the George Bush administration. The economy, housing, Iraq, leaving Afghanistan, the $482 billion deficit, global warming, the environment, health care, and on and on. And on.
10) Barack Obama did 25 debates, including many one-on-one with a tough Hillary Clinton. John McCain did perhaps six group debates, with all candidates largely agreeing and none mentioning George Bush. In 1960 and 1980, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan each were seen as risky against more-experienced opponents. But after their debates they both looked presidential - and won. After 4-1/2 hours, Sen. Obama too will be seen as presidential. Moreover, he'll look young and vibrant. John McCain is an unhealthy 72, and that will appear even more pronounced in comparison. If Mr. McCain continues to forget facts, or continues avoiding tough answers by saying, "I'll have my staff check that..." - or continues to get "prickly" when challenged - this will be clear and problematic to voters. More significantly, John McCain will be unable to lie about Barack Obama without response, with Mr. Obama standing next to him, ready to rebut every word. But most all of, John McCain is going to have to repeatedly defend his voting record that supported George Bush almost 95 percent of the time, while saying that he "agreed with George Bush on all the major issues."
11) As for Joe Biden's debate with Sarah Palin - Republicans tell us she is phenomenal. Amazingly qualified, the best governor in the U.S., an expert on both international and domestic affairs, so clearly Mr. Biden is the big underdog, hampered further by having no executive experience. Moreover, the people tutoring Ms. Palin are the very experts who created all of George Bush's beloved polices, and they'll be teaching her how to staunchly support each one. Ms. Palin's abilities are the stuff of legend, we're told, so of course she'll be brilliant. I don't expect gaffes by her, since she is the heavy favorite. But as long as Joe Biden can rely on his winning smile, he shouldn't lose too much ground.
12) After the debates, the election will eventually get around to issues. Because sooner or later people who are actually hurting and actually lost their homes and actually lost their jobs want at least some answers. Want some way out. And once there, on issues, that's the Democrats' playing field. John McCain can't avoid eight years of supporting George Bush.
To be clear, it's not "this easy." Republicans will run a strong, harsh campaign. And they have enthusiasm for the moment. But when so much is at stake, a two-month negative, non-issue campaign collapses under its own ponderous weight. And that's why, with all those very specific reasons above, Democrats will pull away and win.
This is not 2000 and 2004. People are seriously hurting. They've lost their jobs. Lost their homes. The country is $482 billion in debt. We're in two wars, with a third on the horizon. And remember: even in 2000, Democrats won the popular vote. And in 2004, George Bush only won by the smallest margin ever by a sitting president during a war. And in 2006, Democrats swept both the House and Senate - because People Get It.
I absolutely admit I could be wrong about this. But I require someone realistically explaining their own reasons why. Detail after detail. And if you can't, if you are unable to defend your opinion with reasons, then it's meaningless.
I refuse to get scared because of what Republicans might do and are doing. We know what Republicans might do. They've done it for years. When you react to what they do, when you get concerned, you play their game. And when you play their game, you lose. I intend to play my game. And in my game - issues, judgment, vibrancy, decency, ability and outraged anger at eight years of supporting divisive, disastrous policies trump everything, most especially empty pandering. And that game is a winner.