Dowd: Top Five Reasons McCain Will Likely Lose

By Ed O'Keefe

Oct 27, 2008 10:03am

Opinion by Matthew Dowd, ABC News Political Contributor

So, we have a little over a week left in this campaign, and hundreds of thousands of people have already voted, and at this point it looks like Obama will win unless something catastrophic happens (probably has to be a major mistake on his part).

And there has been a ton of discussion recently about why McCain is probably going to lose.  I want to add my two cents to that discussion because it is a bit different than others, and being statistic oriented I am going to give each factor a percentage of what it represents as a cause of that likely loss.

Here are the top five Dowd factors of a McCain loss:

1. Political Environment: 60% of the reason for a probable McCain loss.

We have an incumbent president with the lowest job approval ratings in modern times –- lower than Nixon as he was pushed from office because of Watergate. 

In addition, nearly 90-percent of the country thinks things are on the wrong track. This all has given Democrats a generic ballot lead of double digits. (Generic ballot is when you have no names just party and ask who the country wants in office).   

This wave would be hard for anyone to stop. 

That is why the equilibrium of this race has always been one with Obama with a three or four point lead. The last couple of weeks has merely moved Obama’s lead closer to the generic ballot number.

2. Brand Damage: 20% of the reason for a probable McCain loss.

Sen. McCain, over the course of the last few years, has damaged his original brand of an independent maverick who would throw the flag on either side of the field. The seeds of this brand damage were sown years ago as McCain coddled up to the religious right and President Bush. 

And that damage was exacerbated in how his campaign has been conducted over the last few months –- negative attacks voters could care less about and emphasizing issues about which only conservatives seemed to care.

3. Palin Pick: 10% of the reason for a probable McCain loss.

The Palin pick for vice president made McCain look like a total political opportunist as the American public came to the conclusion that she was unqualified for this office. 

In addition, swing and moderate voters were put off by her views on many issues and her personal attacks on the Democratic ticket.

4. Debates: 7% of the reason for a probable McCain loss.

It is very unusual for one ticket to win every single debate. According to polling and most focus groups, Obama won all three presidential debates and Biden overwhelmingly bested Palin.

McCain, when the debates were done, had no more opportunities in a big way to address a large audience. The Democrats won the debates in a substantive way, but more importantly, temperament was highlighted, which hurt McCain.

5. Financial Meltdown: 3% of the reason for a probable McCain loss.

The collapse of Wall Street put the economy front and center, and the way McCain handled the challenge didn’t make voters feel warm and fuzzy. 

Keep in mind: before this happened, the economy was already the number one issue –- it just became even more important because of the mess. 

Remember, Obama was already rising back in the polls after the initial Palin/Republican National Convention bump wore off. 

I know this is a very simplistic explanation; I’m sure there are other factors, but these are my top five reasons why John McCain is likely not to be moving into a new house in January.

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