Candidates Break Unwritten Laws

Who will win Tuesday night, we don’t know for sure. One thing is for sure: Barack Obama and John McCain have broken a number of old campaign laws. Many old folk wisdoms can be taken out with the trash. An incomplete list.

Campaigns are so expensive.

Well, that’s what we thought in 2000 and 2004 as well. Nonsense. Only in 2008 the era of the real big money came to light. When you count presidential races and (the more than 450) Congress campaigns, we are talking about a couple of billion dollars.

Republicans always have more money than Democrats.

That time has past. In 2004 Democrat John Kerry was already collecting almost as much money (328 million) as George Bush (367 million). This year Barack Obama (more than 600 million) knocked out opponent John McCain (who has much less because he accepted public funds) in the hunt for The Almighty Dollar.

Turnout at elections is always low.

Yes, that used to be the case. Only half of the voters showed up. That can increase to 65 percent now. That is still 15 percent less than House elections in the Netherlands. But you have to realize that voting or not in many American states, where always a Democrat or Republican wins, makes no difference for the end result. Sad, but true.

The youth is not interested. Also nonsense. In 2004 the turnout increased sharply. A record number of youngsters (18-30 years) registered their votes this year (mandatory in the U.S.), participated in the primaries and became active in a campaign. The expectation is that a very large number of them will vote on Tuesday.

A residing president helps his possible successor.

That is mostly the case. The prestige of the leaving man radiates on the coming man. But with Bush/McCain it is different because of the unpopularity of Bush. By the way, he does help McCain wonderfully: by remaining completely invisible! Painful!

Christians vote Republican.

That is correct for the large majority of the faithful. But more and more Christians turn to the Democrats.

Mudslinging in a campaign works.

Yes, that was true until 2004 (just ask John Kerry). This year it was less bad and the harassment commercials that were there (mainly from McCain against Obama) had very little effect. Obama’s supporters do not scare that easily. And it seemed to glide off Obama.

Americans do not vote for a black president.

That prejudice is gone now as well. Even if Obama would lose, the taboo on a black candidate has been broken. By the way, 12 and 8 years ago Colin Powell could have scored big. But he didn’t want to. His wife was scared that he would get murdered.

Late in the race the differences in the polls decrease.

Not this year. Obama stays ahead and his lead on McCain has increased in a couple of days from more than 5 to almost 7 percent.

Well, and then there are still the eternal folk wisdoms about the reliability of opinion polls. That is very hot these days, but no one knows how many voters will vote for McCain in the end because Obama is black. I do not think it will be very many. But if it comes to predictions, I shall be a bit modest.

And we already have a sure winner. The election round of 2008 has had an incredible number of Americans being involved in politics. Democracy has therefore already won. And I think that is wonderful news.

Have a great game!

PS: I looked up the weather forecast for you: it will be a nice day on Tuesday almost everywhere. Good for the turnout and therefore favorable for Obama.

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