Plouffe and Axelrod, last summer
A forum at Harvard put the big guns from the recent engrossing political season -- David Axelrod and David Plouffe for Obama; Rick Davis and final chief pollster Bill McInturff for McCain -- on stage last night to mull over how they did it. The usual pundits are passing out tidbits. Because they lost so badly, the Republicans offer the interesting morsels. Here are some from several sources:
I think it is worth highlighting that this is a Republican pollster rejecting inflaming racial fears for reasons that were not only pragmatic, but also, at least marginally, ethical in a utilitarian sense. They couldn't have governed after a victory based on stirring up hate, he says. This quite evidently didn't apply if the hate being stirred were religious/cultural, as was evident in the choice of Sarah Palin as the running mate, something Davis and McIntruff still defend.
With the Northeast, upper Midwest, and Far West increasingly nailed down for the Democrats and the deep South nailed down for the Republicans, the Mountain West and Southwest seem to be the only swing regions -- and the Latino vote will matter more and more. Fifteen years ago, pollsters were not very good at sizing up the Latino vote in California, but they've learned. Now they have learn how to measure yet another region.
The Republican pundits blame McCain's defeat first and foremost on public revulsion with the Iraq War. His stumbles on the economy only dug him deeper into a pit the war had already made for him. Peace movement stalwarts need to listen up.
Bloomberg further describes what, for such highly competitive men, must have been an agony.
These are a couple of guys who are even more relieved than most of the electorate to move on to other concerns!