The Corner

McCain, the Base, and Turnout

On those vote totals again.  At the moment, Obama has 62.4 million votes, while McCain has 55.4 million.  In 2004, Bush won 62 million votes, and Kerry 59 million.

So if there wasn’t this vaunted through-the-roof turnout, what do the numbers say about McCain’s supporters?  I’ll have to look at this more closely, but if 2004 was, as everyone says, a base election, and Bush got 62 million votes, my guess is that McCain didn’t do as well with the Republican base as Bush did.

It appears that finally, on election night, McCain’s long-time problems with the GOP base caught up with him.  He did a lot to alienate that base back in 2000, and he began this race knowing that he would have to patch things up.  He accomplished some of that, but not all of it.  I can’t tell you how many Republicans I met out on the campaign trail who expressed a marked lack of enthusiasm for McCain’s candidacy.  Just last week, I met a very loyal Republican in Chillicothe, Ohio who said he felt a “Carter malaise” after McCain won the GOP nomination — and he wasn’t re-energized until McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.  So from Super Tuesday through the Republican convention, this normally active Republican sat on his hands.

In this sense, I don’t think the choice of Palin hurt McCain.  His problem was that he had to use a decision as momentous as his choice of vice president to shore up the support of a group, the GOP base, whose support he should have already had.  At the end of August, McCain was already in a hole with the base, and he never got completely out.  Things just catch up with you.

Byron York — Byron York is is the author of The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.

Most Popular

Film & TV

In Unsane, Aetna Meets Kafka

Unsane doesn’t take the form of a horror film; at first, it appears to be a Hitchcockian thriller about mistaken identity or perhaps getting ensnared in a web of bureaucracy. Yet with clinical detachment it develops into a nerve-flaying story almost too agonizing to endure. Unlike most horror movies, it isn’t ... Read More

Viva l’Italia?

Italy has just had elections, with very interesting results. I wanted to talk with Alberto Mingardi, which I have. He is one of the leading classical liberals in Italy -- the director general of the Bruno Leoni Institute, in Milan. (Mingardi himself is Milanese.) He is also an authority in arts and letters. In ... Read More

Putin and the Cult of Leadership

On Sunday, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin won an unsurprising reelection-campaign victory against Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, by a margin of 76.7 percent to 11.8 percent. The results were unsurprising because Putin is a tyrant who murders or imprisons political rivals, and who isn’t afraid to use ... Read More

Trump and Brexit Derangement Syndrome

I am not one of those Brexiteers who believe that Brexit and Trumpism are essentially the same phenomenon in two different countries. To be sure, they both draw on some of the same political trends, notably a distrust of elites and an upsurge of popular anger over evident failures of public policy such as illegal ... Read More

Stand Up to Putin

President Putin’s landslide victory in Russia’s presidential election was achieved against the lackluster competition of a group of mediocre candidates from which the sole serious opponent had been excluded; amid plausible allegations that his security services had tried to poison two Russians in England by ... Read More