The Campaign Spot

It’s a Tough Cycle to Run Young/Fresh Face’ Against ‘Trusted and Tested.’

Steven Stark, over at RCP:

History shows that the Democrats are up against an experienced, steady Republican candidate who is unlikely to make major mistakes. And their nominee, after a brilliant start in January and February to launch his candidacy and cement his base, hasn’t had a terrific six months. Obama continues to show few signs of extending his support to the demographics that are likely to decide the election — principally the working-class voters concentrated in industrial states such as Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

This ties into a conversation with Mrs. CampaignSpot last night.
If you had to pick two words most often used to promote modern Republican nominees — Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush, McCain — they would be “trusted” and “tested.” The only one on that list who comes close to being a “fresh face” on that list is George W. Bush, and he began the 2000 election cycle with extremely high name recognition and the Bush family Rolodex. People felt like they knew him already from his father.
By comparison, the Democrats are much more inclined to go with the fresh face/dark horse:. McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama. The only old political veterans on that list are Mondale, Gore, and Kerry, and the party flirted with Hart in 1984 and Dean in 2004. (McGovern was 50 when he ran in 1972, but he was associated with the young anti-establishment, “amnesty, abortion and acid”, etc.)
If Obama loses, many of his fans will take it as ipso facto evidence of deep and pervasive racism in America. But it is more likely to be that this wasn’t the cycle to run “young/fresh face” against “trusted and tested.”
We may be on the verge of winning in Iraq, but Afghanistan is getting tougher. Pakistan is still an unstable cauldron of extremism where America has limited options. Iran is seeking nukes and the Israelis have an itchy trigger finger. The Russian bear is in the woods again, stomping on Georgia. China is rising and showcasing authoritarian capitalism as an alternative to Western-style democracy. If the FBI is right, one guy with no state or group backing managed to terrorize Americans in fall 2001 by slipping poisons in envelopes. Gas prices are dropping, but Americans won’t quickly forget $4 a gallon prices, nor the recognition that faraway pipelines and Nigerian political stability can suddenly affect them at the pump. Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac ran aground, the housing bubble burst, the border’s not secure…
Maybe 1992, and perhaps 2000 were good cycles to run “young/fresh face” against “trusted and tested.” But this isn’t 1992 or 2000.


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