I've said for two years now, since before the 2006 election and shortly afterward, that the Democrats, not the Republicans, face a fight for their survival in 2008. That if they don't win in 2008 it would be difficult to even imagine ANY set of circumstances under which they COULD win. And that they were preparing very poorly for both the 2006 elections and the 2008 elections.

And I was right.

As I said they would over a year ago, the Republican candidate has coopted the message of CHANGE, relying, as they always do, on the stupidity of the American people. As always, this is a winning strategy.

Sadly, disastrously, McCain is now odds-on to be the next president. (BTW, the Kos daily tracking poll apparently oversamples Democrats. According to Gallup, Dems currently have a 5 percent advantage in party identification; the Kos poll samples 9 percent more Dems than Republicans. Look at pollingreport.com. Only one poll in the last two weeks has Obama with a lead).

How did the Democrats lose this election?

Ironically, they lost it the same way Bush lost Iraq. By not understanding their basic disadvantages and not doing what was necessary to secure the victory.

The Dems lost this election last year, two years ago. Thinking 2008 was a slam dunk, they have done nothing to undermine the Republican "brand," assuming that people were so disgusted they would turn away from the Republicans in droves (just as Bush assumed the general hatred for Saddam in Iraq would pave the way for US success there).

But the people did not greet the Democrats with candy and flowers. The default vote in this country is still Republican. The last 8 years have been a complete disaster. Bush and Co. have done nothing right. Nothing. Everything sucks and close to 80 percent of the people think the country is on the wrong track. It's inconceivable that the Republican candidate is within 20 points of the Democrat, let alone leading. But the Dems are losing because they did NOTHING to convince the people that these problems are not the fault of Bush, but the fault of the Republican Party.

For 30 years, the Republicans turned "liberal" into a dirty word. I haven't heard one Democrat use the word "neocon" (or "right wing") in a similar manner. They simply have not damaged the Republican brand at all. Has Obama or Biden even TOLD people that Palin is right wing? Apparently, the only people stupider than American voters (who elected Bush twice and now McCain) are the Democrats who can't win a national election despite every imaginable advantage.

I wrote here in June 2007 that the Republicans had to be feeling pretty good about the way they were situated for the 2008 election, given all that had happened the past 7 years. I warned that this election was not in the bag at all, that the Dems were preparing badly and were at risk of being destroyed as a national party (because after they lose this, they may as well not bother running anybody for President next time. If they can't win this year, they'll never win).

I got hooted down, and I hoped the hooters were right. They weren't. I pray I'm wrong. Maybe Obama can do this. I was worried in December that he was waiting too long to surge in Iowa and New Hampshire, and I was wrong. But there just is no way to turn back the clock. Just as Bush lost Iraq by October of 2003, the Dems squandered this election in 2007 (or even 2006) when they failed to marshall a campaign to hang Bush's failures on the Republican ideology.

I'm signing off now. I can't take the coming debacle: the debates in which Obama outperforms McCain on every level, but still makes no headway. The flailing desperation of the Dems as the lead in the polls that they nursed so carefully all of last year turns into an ever-widening McCain lead before their astonished eyes. Their impotent outrage as the party of the rich presents their candidates as reformers. I've seen this movie. It ends badly.

Originally posted to LongTom on Wed Sep 17, 2008 at 04:27 AM PDT.

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