The results of the 2008 presidential election are clear. With a substantial margin, in line with expectations supported by nearly all polls, the American people decided that the new President of the United States is going to be Barak Obama. In the months and years ahead countless articles and many books will be written about this election. Let me offer here some considerations about the strategies pursued by the two nominees.
Barak Obama ran a better campaign. He largely said all along what the majority of people wanted to hear. On regulation (more is better), taxation (tax the rich), health care (there are too many uninsured or underinsured), and trade (negotiate better deals for the US) his positions were more in tune with the general mood of a country very concerned about the state of the economy. McCains’s possible edge in terms of energy policy and perceived ability to control government expenditures was just not enough. The first-term senator succeeded in connecting his more seasoned opponent to the “failed policies of the Bush administration” of the last eight years and the tumultuous and worrisome developments on Wall Street in September and October. McCain did not manage to distance himself enough from the current administration’s economic policies nor to highlight the congressional Democratic leaders’ stance of brushing aside some of the crisis’s warning signals. For instance, he did not exploit the latter’s cavalier attitude toward the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operated, entities which he had strongly criticized over two years before and whose reform he had supported unsuccessfully. It was a prescient position, obviously regulatory in nature, which should have been emphasized more in a Republican campaign otherwise characterized by a general resistance to government meddling in the economy.