The year-end reviews have started, and several days ago NBC Political Director Chuck Todd took a look at 2008 and concluded:
1. The middle shifted away from the GOP.
2. It occurred in hard-nosed political terms when the Republican Party steadily, inexorably lost moderate and independent voters in election 2008. A good part of Obama’s win will be credited to Obama’s skills and charisma, to John McCain’s fumbles and to the economy’s meltdown. But Obama also had another ally: the Republican Party’s often-dismissive attitude towards the sentiments of moderates, independent and centrists.
None of those blocs are monolithic. But more often than not the GOP paid lip-service — not serious attention to — the voters who helped decide this election and many past ones. (If you don’t believe that, read this book: Independent Nation, by John Avlon.)
In reality, this is a trend that was quite evident in polls leading up to election day, the opinions of main stream media columnists and even in posts on modest weblogs such as The Moderate Voice (regular readers could see writers evolve before their eyes). There was a drip-drip-drip of moderate, centrist and independent voter support way from the Republican Party and its Presidential ticket — ironically during a year when it had a candidate that had worried Democrats due to his longtime appeal to “the middle’s” voters.
There were several tip-offs that the 2008 incarnation of the GOP and its Presidential ticket were losing what some call the “mushy middle” but which history indicates in electoral terms is often the “mighty middle.” One key tip-off was the surprising number of Bush 41 administration officials and associates who clearly were going to vote against their own party. If the party could not even hold onto supporters of Poppy’s Republicanism (and Colin Powell was merely the highest profile one) — which was far different than his son’s — then how could it hold onto the moderates and independents who tend to favor consensus, diplomacy and issue-oriented politics?
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.