How many seats will GOP win this fall? It's up to voters, not RNC's Michael Steele.
Washington's 'political-industrial complex' obsesses over the performance of Republican and Democratic party leaders, but GOP gains will depend on conditions and candidates, not campaign turmoil and media narrative.
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Much has been written about the well-run and smart campaign assembled and accomplished by President Obama and his team. It has been described as revolutionary and groundbreaking in its use of technology and campaign tactics (and rightly so).Skip to next paragraph
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In contrast, story after story has detailed the deficiencies of the McCain campaign. And of course as far as the candidates went, you had the tremendous oratory skills of Barack Obama compared with those of John McCain.
However, an analysis of the political conditions and what they foretold suggests that these campaign and candidate advantages did not really translate into extraordinary gains.
For instance, the Democrats enjoyed a 5 to 12 point generic voting advantage going into the elections. Obama won by 7 percentage points. Absent some major disruption, any Democrat would likely have beaten any Republican by approximately the same margin.
This assertion raises an even larger question. Why do the media, pundits, and operatives constantly focus on tactics and committees and players, when those factors pale in comparison to political conditions?
First, it is easier to discuss and report that narrative, and it helps to fill the constant conversation on cable and the Internet. If those little things matter, then you have something to talk about 24 hours a day.
Second, the “political-industrial complex” that exists around Washington likes to feel like everything they do matters and all the little campaign decisions that are made have a big impact. This political industrial complex composed of media, pundits, campaign committees, officials, and operatives of both parties are in constant conversation with one another and reinforce the idea that each of them is powerful and has tremendous effect.
However, the 300 million Americans that reside outside Washington have control over their own ideas and thoughts and actions, and it is in their hands that elections ultimately reside. And it is voters that create the political earthquakes and tidal waves that affect elections year in and year out.
No matter what many around Washington think, the American public is not easily led around by a few folks in Washington and is not hoodwinked by either party. Yes, they sometimes make mistakes in elections (mainly out of a intense desire for change), but voters correct those mistakes quickly when they realize what is actually going on.
Maybe it’s time we all spent more time delving into what’s going on in America, and less time worrying and conversing about two dinosaur national committees who would be better off in the movies “Jurassic Park” or “Land of the Lost” than in the national political conversation.
Matthew Dowd is an analyst for ABC News and a veteran campaign strategist who managed the winning reelection efforts for President Bush and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s also a founding partner of ViaNovo, a management and communications consultancy, and the coauthor of “Applebee’s America: How Successful Political, Business and Religious Leaders Connect with the New American Community.”