Saturday 4 October 2008

Analysis of the US Presidential Race

Yesterday I attended a Chatham House presentation by Professor Paul Green entitled "The Who, The What and The Why of the 2008 Presidential Election". It was an informative and entertaining session - Members of Chatham House can download and read the transcript at
http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/research/americas/research_events/view/-/id/913/. {if you are interested in International Relations it's well worth joining - there are many excellent meetings held in London - and if you can't get there (or want a reminder of what you've heard) - transcripts and recordings are available. Membership information is available at http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/membership/.}

Professor Green pointed out why this election is unique -
  1. The length of the campaign
  2. The emphasis on "change"
  3. The cost of the campaigns
  4. The unpopularity of the incumbents - Bush and Cheney
  5. The impact of gender and race - Professor Green argued that at the moment "Race trumps gender"
  6. The Sarah Palin phenomenon
  7. The state of the economy
Obama beat Hillary Clinton because -
  1. He had by far the better organisation
  2. Fundraising
  3. Use of the word change
  4. The Obama people knew the Democratic Party rules inside out
McCain beat a very weak field. Sarah Palin has been like an "Alka-Seltzer", helping the anti-McCain Republicans to come on board. The strength of McCain has been that he is at his best when being a straight-talking maverick - but, warned Professor Green, that may not work anymore.

At the moment an Obama victory looks more likely, but as Professor Green pointed out in his opening comments - "The 2008 U.S. Presidential contest is the strangest and most unpredictable battle in decades – perhaps even in almost a century. Why? Think of a sailing vessel trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean that every few days encounters a giant gust of
wind that propels the ship in a completely different direction.

Professor Green is also a political analyst for Chicago's WGN Radio - I'll certainly be listening out for his comments on that station (you should be able to listen live or download "Paul's Podcast" at http://wgnradio.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1)