Battleground States

Demographics and mood of voters may reshape the electoral map

Boulder in droves. Demographics will play a huge role. They won’t absolutely determine the outcome, but will shape the outcome.”

Galston predicts that if Obama is the presidential nominee, he will win the lion’s share of a record turnout of black voters and perform extraordinarily well with young adults. McCain will get a wide majority of “whatever evangelical vote turns out and do very well among the oldest Americans,” he says. Galston also believes Obama will get a large majority of the Jewish vote.

The badly damaged Republican “brand” Bositis speaks of could also impact election results this fall. “It’s certainly shaping the battlefield of the campaign. Bush’s unpopularity has driven down the percentage of the electorate that identifies with the Republican Party,” Galston says. “That’s what Republican operatives mean when they say the Republican brand has been discredited. People don’t want to call themselves Republicans anymore. Conversely, party enrollment among Democrats is way up in part as a reaction to Bush’s policies and unpleasant memories with how the Republican majority in Congress conducted itself a while back, he adds.

Galston points to the fact that McCain, unlike former President George H.W. Bush, cannot run for the third term of a popular incumbent. “He’s going to have a very hard time equaling the enthusiasm that’s rained down in the Democratic Party. The best he can do is try to scare Republicans and as many independents as he can scrape up by claiming that Obama will be a liberal or even a radical president, contrary to his claims that he wants to bring the country together and is capable of doing so.”
McCain might possibly have had an easier time in a contest against Clinton. “Republicans who aren’t enthusiastic about McCain would be enthusiastically opposed to her,” Galston says. McCain would have been the beneficiary. “I don’t think that Republican antipathy for Obama has reached anything like the emotional pitch that has been there for a long time with Clinton.”

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