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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Can Obama Win ‘Whispering Republicans’ ?

Patrick Healy’s article, “Obama Camp Sees Potential in G.O.P. Discontent” in today’s New York Times has one of the more eloquent plugs for the Democratic Presumptive yet uttered. And it comes from a pedigreed Republican, Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of one of the better GOP presidents.

Obama seems like a leader who can deal with challenges that are highly complex, nuanced and interconnected,” Ms. Eisenhower said, “and he has the language and communication skills and temperament to engage a set of world leaders who are his generation

In brutally-stark contrast to his opponent, I would add. Healy notes also that GOP campaign consultant Mike Murphy expects Obama to get more Republican votes than did Kerry.
Healy goes on to discuss pro-Obama stirrings among “whispering Republicans.” He cites the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll in which Obama got about 9 percent of self-identified Republicans (Kerry got 6 percent at mid-summer, ’04).
Democrats hoping to take a significant bite out of the GOP demographic, however, will not get much encouragement from the historical record. As Emory University political scientist Alan I. Abramowitz pointed out in a recent post at Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball,

…In contrast to the fluidity and unpredictability that has characterized the nomination contests in both parties, the voting patterns in November will be highly predictable and consistent with those seen in other recent general elections — close to 90 percent of all votes will be cast by party identifiers for their own party’s presidential candidate. Whichever party turns out more of its own supporters on Election Day is likely to emerge as the winner.

Still, we can hope that November ’08 breaks the tradition, at least enough to make a difference in one or two swing states. It’s been a long time since a Republican president blundered America into an elective war, and I’m sure there are growing numbers of conservatives out there who are tired of seeing their taxes squandered on the open-ended occupation of Iraq.

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