Democratic strategists: Election could herald a 'lost generation' for GOP

Robert Frazier
At a Monitor breakfast Friday, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg said John McCain is losing ground with his 'Joe the plumber' economic argument.

While the McCain campaign says its candidate can still pull out a win, two prominent Democratic strategists – James Carville and Stanley Greenberg – say Democratic victories in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections could be so significant that they lead to a “lost generation” among Republicans.

Steve Schmidt, who is running John McCain's campaign day to day, this week told the New York Times that, “we have ground to make up, but we believe we can make it up.”

But at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Friday, Mr. Greenberg said that Sen. Barack Obama’s 12-point lead among independents in the National Public Radio Poll “puts this election well in the position to be an earthquake.” Greenberg was President Clinton’s pollster and his firm helps conduct the NPR poll.

Mr. Carville, who managed Mr. Clinton’s 1992 election campaign, said, “what you should do before you vote Tuesday morning is kind of look around and try to record in your mind what everything here looks like. Because Wednesday, it ain’t going to look like that.... There is basically going to be nothing left standing.”

Carville argued that if Democrats make strong gains in both the House and Senate, as appears likely, “there is not going to be a Republican Party infrastructure in place. The congressional leadership will not even run, probably won’t run,” for reelection to their posts.

Senator McCain’s economic argument featuring Joe the plumber and charges that Senator Obama will raise taxes on the middle class does not seem to be working with independent voters, Greenberg said. “They are losing the argument. Our poll as of last night shows Obama with a rising lead ... a plus-12 advantage on taxes.... They are losing on the central argument of their approach to the economy.” He argued that was “creating a mandate for their loss.”

In addition to faulting the McCain campaign for sticking with a losing economic argument, Carville said that the campaign’s biggest mistake was selecting Sarah Palin as its vice presidential candidate. “Obviously the Palin thing looked good for what 48 hours, 72 hours, a week, something. But when it went bad … it just went awful. I think that when the whole thing is written that is going to be the biggest mistake they made by far,” he said.

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