The McCain/Palin team were faced with almost every possible impediment to victory.Number one,and perhaps the key factor,was a media hugely,in fact obsessively in the can for Obama.Further,rather than as a corollary simply ignoring the GOP team the media embarked on a campaign of vilification perhaps unprecedented in recent electoral history-to the level in fact that any semblance of balance was destroyed.
Secondly,the Republican team were shouldered with the burden of an extremely unpopular President,so unpopular that mechanisms were found to keep both Bush and Cheney from the nominating convention.
Thirdly,and perhaps the final straw,the campaign was hit when the economy succumbed to a massive financial panic with the ensuing need for immediate,massive and unpopular emergency measures which,whatever their validity,pleased no one.
Of course there were things done during the campaign which might have been done better (as is the case with any campaign) e.g. "suspending" the campaign at the height of the financial crisis,McCain's handling of the bailout and of course his staff's handling of Palin's activities.Also,and something I very much agree with Palin about,the campaign was reticent about raising "legitimate questions" about Obama's past and associations.
However,I do not believe these sundry items,if handled differently,would have made enough of a difference to have changed the eventual outcome-a state or two might have been saved at best.
Thus,with a grossly biased media supporting a candidate of unique background with a message of hope and change,a highly unpopular administration,an economic crisis of unprecedented proportions since 1929 and the usual campaign mishaps the fact that McCain/Palin won 22 states with 173 electoral votes of the 270 required to be elected (popular vote totals do not have final bearing on who wins)the GOP team did remarkably well.So well that a solid basis for victory in 2012 has been put in place.
The following two states were lost by under 1%.North Carolina 15 electoral votes lost by 0.4% and Indiana 11 EV 0.9%. Nebraska 1 EV 1.2% (The GOP won Nebraska's four other EV's). At the next level Florida's 27 EV's were lost by 2.5% and Ohio's 20 by 4.0% and at the highest level for this exercise Virginia's 13 EV's by 6.3% and Colorado's 9 EV's by 8.5%.
All these states were won by Bush in 2004 and only lost in 2008 in the most difficult of electoral circumstances which,with Obama no longer the symbol of hope and change, will not be repeated.It would take just a small movement against the sitting party to return most of these states to their historic place in the red column
There is another factor in play-population shift and the consequent change in electoral votes,some states gaining EV's and some losing.The projections,for the States under consideration here are:
Florida +1 to 28 Ohio -2 to 18.For states safely in the red column the gains are Texas +3 to 37 Arizona +1 to 11 Georgia +1 to 16 South Carolina +1 to 9.With these population based gains,plus regaining the 5 states from 2004 (and Nebraska's one EV) Palin would have 265 EV's-just 5 EV's short. Winning Colorado's 9 EV's would give her a comfortable victory and a 4 EV cover to allow for any loss of EV's in the 2008 won states e.g. Missouri and Louisiana.
There is an alternative route which is instead of Colorado substitute Iowa,which loses one EV to 6 and would also do the trick.Iowa,which was also a Bush 2004 state was lost by 9% but given Palin's obvious appeal to the evangelical element in that state it could be won-especially of course if she wins that states primary battle.There are various alternate projections (e.g. Michael Barone in U.S. News&World Report) but this analysis, if adjusted to reflect alternative EV forward projections, still gives Palin the victory.Importantly,this path to victory would give Palin 28 states-well over 50%, which would further legitimize her election if won through the electoral college rather than through a majority of votes and the electoral college.
Thus the electoral map looks very promising.Hold the states won in 2008,reap the electoral college gains from population shifts,benefit from any voter unhappiness with the party in power (the economy/wars/the bloom off the rose of hope and change) and have a candidate with enormous appeal to the base.
By 2012,with Palin at the head of the ticket the Republicans will have a seasoned campaigner,well versed in the the issues of the day and a hugely dedicated mass of supporters willing to work and raise money from dawn to dusk-I envisage a supehuman effort eventuating the likes never seen before.Palin has taken every sexist, biased, distorted shot thrown at her and not only is she still standing she is growing in stature all the time-a fact which is obvious to all (and the root cause of all the spiteful bile being thrown at her by the liberals).No other viable, that is winning, candidate exists for the GOP in point of fact because if she is not nominated the base will simply stay home and wait for 2016.
Presuming Palin is the 2012 standard bearer I believe the best strategy would be to not spend one cent or to set one foot in any state except the ones won closely in 2008 and the ones in the winning formula.The exceptions being Michigan, which she is morally bound to campaign in given her strong feelings about the perceived mistake in pulling out of that state in 2008, and also Pennsylvania and New Hampshire as investments for the future-and because you never know what may happen.
It should be easy to once again win the 22 states the McCain Palin team won in 2008 and not too difficult a challenge to regain the states lost by a below 2% margin.If most resources in time,manpower and money goes into the rest of the 4-5 historically red states which will provide the winning EV's (and perhaps a VP candidate from one of them) it should be an easy run to the White House for our first female President.
Of course 2012 is a long way off and even if Obama's polls drop into the 30's, the economy might pick up enough to provide the electorate with a sense of stability and growth.If that is the case then there might be another Reagan versus Mondale result,this time against the GOP, no matter who the candidate is.However,given a still stagnant economy ,and other factors,America will start getting used to the term "Madam President".