Election outcome: Three issues and 18-percent
The bi-partisan pollster, Scott Rasmussen, suggests his readers should look closely at one of the “internal” figures inside his overall polling data. It is a percentage of likely voters who have yet to commit to either Obama-Biden or to McCain-Palin. Currently 41-percent on each side of the political divide say they have decided for whom to vote and will not change their minds. That leaves 18-percent who, depending on which way they swing, will decide this presidential election.
But, from an overall perspective (prior to the end of the two political conventions and prior to the advent of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on the national scene), the expectation had been in the 60-percent range for a Democrat victory. Now, the data show McCain-Palin with a 50.3-percent chance of victory and Obama-Biden at 48.7-percent. Polling data aside, it is probably fair to say that the 18-percent will decide how to vote based on their concerns about three issues:
First, the economy, which is mostly a victim of our failure to develop our own energy resources. So, the camp that offers the most practical energy solutions will score on that. Albert Einstein defined insanity as: “Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.” That admonition applies to our repeated failures to develop our own energy resources and our repeated failures to understand that inevitable hurricanes dictate the need for more, not less, off-shore oil exploration and to construct more refining capacity much farther inland.
Secondly, the threat of terrorism. Even The Washington Post admits al-Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq. Al-Qaeda’s shattered fragments are living in caves along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Even so, enough radical Islamist jihadists remain here and there to be a threat to the U.S. and Western Europe. Yet the failure of al-Qaeda to mount another attack on the American mainland since 9/11, 2001 cuts both ways. Some will recognize that as an achievement of the Bush Administration. Others may conclude the danger is past and will vote for a softer approach to the radical Islamic jihadists.
Thirdly, what do we do about a resurgent and combative Russia? Voters will have to decide which candidate can better deal with the petulant Putin. Barring a coup, Putin, the former KGB officer, might remain prime-minister-for-life.
Ruler of a mineral-rich land mass spanning 11 time zones, Vladimir Putin understands our dependence on foreign oil. In fact, our petro dollars are providing Putin the means to send a Russian aircraft carrier task force into the Mediterranean. Moreover, Putin and the pro-communist Hugo Chavez are planning joint naval maneuvers in the waters off Venezuela. Last week, two Russian long-range bombers landed in Venezuela.
While the USSR may have died in 1991, it left some rather robust remains. A few months before the Soviets submerged; this observer was in Moscow looking at the readiness of Soviet military vehicles and equipment. Even the most casual observer would conclude that Soviet forces were being maintained at a high state of readiness. No vehicle oil was dripping onto the streets of Moscow or Minsk or Leningrad. No broken headlights or tail-light covers or torn or missing tarps -- the minutia that tell a larger readiness story -- were seen. To the bitter end, the Soviets were buying more guns than butter. So, the return of a well-oiled Russian Bear should come as no surprise.
Meanwhile, both camps worry about endorsements from the “wrong” people. In a recent interview on WABC Radio, Hamas political adviser, Ahmed Yousef, said his terrorist group supports Obama. McCain worries about endorsements from the too-far right. Obama says he worries that McCain doesn’t do e-mail.
Soon, when those virtually uncontrolled 527 groups start blazing away on TV at the uncommitted 18-percent, all of us should worry because, as they say in war and politics: Truth is the first casualty.
Retired Army officer, syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
©2008. William Hamilton.