As the general election comes closer to an end still no one knows who our next president will be. Polls currently show Obama in the lead, but polls don’t actually mean anything at the end of the day. McCain will more than likely win the general election for four key reasons; race, gender, age, and appeal.

In the 2008 presidential election race has been the elephant in the room from the start. (Well McCain has been the elephant in the room, so lets say the awkward topic). Few people want to talk about it and half the time when it comes up someone shouts, “racist!” But race will play a major factor in this election nonetheless. Polls will not show racism, but focus groups sometimes can. According to Jerry Austin, Democratic political consultant, white, blue-collar males in Pennsylvania focus groups agree. Many focus group members agreed they supported Obama, he is the democrat, union candidate that fights for their issues, but a lot said when it comes time to vote they don’t know if they can vote for a black person.  An article by Hans Nichols agreed that voters will not poll their racism, but they will vote it. No one knows your vote, but people fear what they say to a pollster can come back to bite them.

Another elephant in the room is VP nominee Sarah Palin just so happens to be a woman. Though many people claim gender won’t sway women voters it is still a serious issue that might just be underestimated. The first question is, why is voting for a woman because she is a woman a worse decision than voting for a candidate because of their party affiliation? For many women Palin represents so many lost hopes and dreams for what women can achieve and women’s rights in general. Many women will vote for McCain/Palin because having a woman in office represents more of their ideals than a man ever could. There is a great deal of gender identity going on in elections. It is the same reason men overwhelming did not support Hillary Clinton, they cannot identify with a women so they would rather vote for a man regardless of issues and experience. People don’t seem to put it in that perspective very often though.

While we are on the topic of Palin lets talk about appeal. Breaking down the candidates, Obama appeals to the lower class and African Americans, Biden appeals to well off white males, McCain appeals to the same class as Biden, add veterans and than you have Sarah Palin. Palin appeals to blue collar, middle class, rural Americans. This is not a bias viewpoint, go to any small town and ask who they think is the most like them of the four. She is not one of the rich and famous, she talks like anyone you might meet on the street, she hunts, raised a family and through her own will power became a city mayor and then governor. It’s hard to argue that small town people, a very large voting population, have felt ignored and cast aside by Washington politicians for years. Palin is one of the first candidates in years that bridges that gap.

Age is the final turning point of this election. Obama has been catering to the youth and their vote. He has mobilized and excited them with a promise of change in their direction and the use of new media. The problem is the 18-29 voter group has always held the lowest turn out. If the youth vote really steps up and comes out swinging there is a good chance that will tip the scale and give Obama the win, but if it does not Obama might be in trouble. The use of new media has been heavy by the Obama campaign and effective so far. He has paved the way for campaigns to come, but it still hasn’t been proven that it will get people to show up to the polls. Obama’s youth might really hurt him with the highest voting group, the senior citizens who McCain just so happens to be one of.

All things aside the only poll that will count this year will be the one on election day. Age, race, gender and appeal will all play their part, and if the election follows the past trends McCain will take this election by a very narrow margin.

–posted by Henry Kepps

Originally posted October 13, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

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