Sunday, November 09, 2008

How Lehman Collapse Elected Obama

After Tuesday's electoral defeat, something of a Republican civil war has erupted. Prominent conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter who strongly opposed McCain during the Republican primaries, but temporarily stopped criticizing him before the election because they disliked Obama even more and because they liked Sarah Palin, have now again started to attack McCain and his associates and blamed the defeat on McCain being the Republican candidate. More moderate Republicans by contrast blame Palin for the defeat, and some McCain staffers have even started to launch an anonymous smear campaign against Palin by for example alleging that she didn't know that Africa is a continent and not a country. These allegations are clearly false (See here for more on this. See also this on some other false smears) but the fact that such a campaign has started does not bode well for the Republican party.

In reality, the cause of the Obama victory is neither McCain or Palin. The cause is instead the acute financial crisis that began in mid-September after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the sharp economic slump this triggered. While the Republicans really weren't more responsible for this than the Democrats (Republican presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. and Jr. did nominate Alan Greenspan, but so did Democrat Bill Clinton) and Obama's solutions sure weren't any better than McCain's (quite to the contrary), but since normal people don't understand these things very well and instead instictively blame the incumbent party, McCain lost a lot of voters to Obama because of this. Remember, before the Lehman collapse, McCain actually held a lead in the polls, so it is likely that had the Lehman collapse occurred just two months later, Obama would have lost.

5 Comments:

Blogger Acton. said...

This is interesting. If Mr Paulson went leftist and bailed out Lehman, we may not have Mr Obama as president. So which is the lesser evil? A socialized Wall Street or a socialized White House?

1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely disagree. You fail to realize that the Obama campaign was much better run than the McCain campaign.

12:01 PM  
Blogger stefankarlsson said...

Anonymous: But if that were really true, then how come McCain had a lead in mid-September?

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stefan, the nomination of Palin created quite a stir and boosted the McCain/Palin ticket. Once many independents and moderate conservatives learned the truth about Palin and saw McCain's campaign ran on nothing but personal attacks, they turned to Obama.

I definitely agree that the economic slump contributed greatly to Obama, but I disagree with your notion that McCain would have won if not for Lehman's collapse. Obama was behind Hillary and McCain and his campaigns were simply better run and Obama's brilliant public speaking skills didn't hurt.

8:57 PM  
Blogger stefankarlsson said...

We can't know for certain how things would have turned out if the Lehman collapse would have taken place in mid-November instead of mid-September since we don't have access to an alternate universe where all facts are identical except for this one factor. But I think the empirical pattern of the poll data clearly indicate that it was the one key factor deciding the election, as McCain's number started to fall dramatically.

The truth about Palin is hardly what the left-liberal media delivered. For example, with regard to the "Bush doctrine" question in the Charlie Gibson interview, her answer was actually the correct one as there are more than one Bush doctrine ( the policy of "you're wither with us or with the terrorists" version, the policy of preemptive attacks version, the spread of democracy as a method to undermine terrorism version and so on). While many voters likely weren't aware that the liberal media interpretation of this was misleading, the fact remains that no significant change in poll numbers followed that interview or any of the other interviews.

10:06 PM  

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