BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America
« Previous | Main | Next »

McCain's mini-surge

Justin Webb | 10:14 UK time, Thursday, 27 December 2007

No better example of the importance of momentum in presidential politics than the news (news!) that John McCain is on the ground in Iowa, having spotted sudden opportunities there that did not exist a few weeks ago. Hats off to the slimmed-down McCain team for managing this mini-surge so well.

McCain in Iowa in NovemberI have long thought McCain would win the nomination as the other candidates imploded, and the "Huckaboom" plays wonderfully into this; a win for Huckabee in Iowa might well lead Republicans to panic and search for someone who is, well, better capable of winning in 2008 - and a decent showing for the war hero may do the trick.

I wonder if the media's previous love affairs with McCain might be the reason why so many are so unwilling to see the obvious truth now: that he is very much capable of winning. If Barack Obama does badly in Iowa - if the balloon bursts - independents in New Hampshire will flock to McCain (for those outside the US: the New Hampshire rules allow independent voters to choose which party primary to vote in), having no great desire to go for Hillary Clinton, and the nomination will be his.

How odd that the choice of Republican candidate might depend so heavily on the votes of Democrats in Iowa and independents in New Hampshire - but that is one of the wonders of the way things are panning out this season.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:22 AM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • John Kecsmar wrote:

Blimey...this is so confusing. I thought that an election is about about to take place. Little did I know that I need a PhD in political science and american history to udnerstand how such a simple thing, voting, can be so complex....Im sure it'll all come out in the wash!

  • 2.
  • At 11:49 AM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Thomas Charles William Travers wrote:

I agree. John McCain will be nominated for the republican ticket.

His knowledge his life experiences and family history would indicate that he is the leader of choice for the President of the United States.

This is my country and I want a leader who can make the difficult decisions that will need to be made in order to keep our country from imploding from immorality, financial chaos and excluding Mexican immigrants from our boarders. Have we forgotten our heritage as a nations? Where is the justice our founding fathers intended for all men of all nations?

John McCain knows what our country has become and how to lead us out of our self-destruction as a once upon a time great Nation.

  • 3.
  • At 12:34 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Christopher wrote:

I do hope your wrong but I fear you might just be on to something, I pray that New Hampshire independent Democrats are not so stupid as to vote for Mc Cain, because he is I believe the only republican capable of beating hill-bama, so somebody please tell them. I mean Mc Cain's a nice guy, but he will get eaten up and used by the republican machine once in office.

  • 4.
  • At 01:37 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Lewis wrote:

McCain?! The American people along with the rest of the world do NOT want a pro-war candidate... A vote for McCain is liek voting for Bush...again...

  • 5.
  • At 02:19 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • jhm wrote:

FYI: Americans, such as yours truly, somewhat exasperated by the jejune indigenous MSM in the US, are tuning in to the BBC both for a greater understanding of the issues and outsiders' reactions to them. I wonder if it would be out of order to suggest that, along with the minutiae of US electoral procedures, some expatiation on how things work in the UK [and beyond] might be provided.

In any event, I thank all British taxpayers for the BBC.

  • 6.
  • At 04:20 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Daniel Weisler wrote:

McCain will not win against Hillary because of the concern about his age. It would be a mistake to nominate him, when Mitt Romney could instead tap him for his Secretary of State. We need someone to actually manage the financial mess coming out of Washington - Romney is that person - that should be job #1. World politics should be next and for that he could count on McCain.

  • 7.
  • At 05:17 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • eblair wrote:

I retract the last comment, I had not seen Mr Webb's post on Dr. Paul. However, everything I said still applies to the BBC website as a whole. Apart from this blog, there is barely a mention of Ron Paul.

  • 8.
  • At 05:51 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Taylor Houston wrote:

Republicans and independents are begining to sober up after the circus of immigration debates-- as their vision clears, John McCain is the proper choice for the nomination.

Agree that the process is confusing- I live in Texas, a solidly republican state, all delegates in the general election will go to the republican nominee. So for me, the democrats might as well live on Mars, a vote for them here is truly wasted. So, my duty is to choose a republican nominee that I can be happy with, which leads me to Senator McCain. Arguments against McCain include that he is "pro-war"-- is that different than Huckabee/ Giuliani/ Romney/ Thompson? Don't forget that McCain is also pro-Europe, pro-Environment, pro-Reform.

  • 9.
  • At 06:50 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

McCain? Are you kidding? McCain will be 72 years old in 2008; that's three years older than Reagan was in 1980. McCain has sold out on whatever credibility he had in 2000 to become a Bush lapdog, and very few people take him seriously now. Did you see him get booed at various Republican debates? Or make a fool of himself by claiming that Baghdad was safe? Also, McCain has no money to speak of. I don't think even New Hampshire will go for him. Romney is the man to watch in all this.

  • 10.
  • At 07:17 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Ka Wah Chan wrote:

While the United States of America is facing military crisis, at the last seconds, the folks of Iowa and New Hampshire should pop up their decision to cast their Primary Election ballot to elect the honorable influenced veterans (R) Sen. JOHN McCAIN and (D) Sen. JOSEPH R. BIDEN to be the party's presidential nominees; also invite (D) Sen. JOHN F. KERRY and (D) Sen. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD to join the 2009 White House's cabinet.

  • 11.
  • At 08:00 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • gg wrote:

I just pray that we have elections - not convinced that bush and friends won't bring us another "terrorist" attack prior to the elections, invoke martial law, and become dictators for life!

  • 12.
  • At 08:44 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Brett wrote:

Your choice of nomenclature may be ironically appropriate, i.e. to refer to McCain's alleged campaign uptick as a "surge" (mini or otherwise). This, unfortunately, is the same euphemism used to describe America's latest escalation in Iraq; which is no doubt why you chose such a dubious term to apply to McCain's campaign as he has been the leading advocate of such a 'stategy' in Iraq for some time now. If he were to win we could very well expect to see a further expansion of the Vietnam-style calamity that is unfolding in Iraq at present. This is exactly what happened forty years ago when another perennial Republican candidate, the infamous Richard Nixon won the '68 election and went on to make a very bad situation in SE Asia much worse by trying to achieve an unattainable military victory, before the US was finally forced to admit defeat and pull out. McCain very likely would repeat such a disastrous policy in Iraq, as he has already indicated. This must not be allowed to happen again. America slaughtered an estimated three million people in SE Asia during the Vietnam era for which we can never make amends. We've already exterminated in the last decade and a half, probably ("we don't do body counts"!) over a million in Iraq. Will we exceed the Vietnam carnage before we're done?

  • 13.
  • At 11:11 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Any comparisons between McCain and Bush are unwarranted. McCain spent a good part of his life in a Vietnamese POW camp and understands the true cost of war. He's a highly intellegent moderate republican which is exactly what we need. The last thing we need is another irresponsible president like Bush to put us in more debt and do more damage to our international image. Hillary is as reckless as Bush but just with different agendas. McCain has a lot of Reagan qualities to him and that's exactly what we need.

  • 14.
  • At 11:31 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Badgerman wrote:

Even though I'm English I've found this election to be one of the most intriguing political events in a long time.

Frankly our elections lack the razzamatazz of our American counterparts. Whilst they have politicians who can truly inspire people, like Obama, we get to choose between a few blokes whom are as appealing as dishwater and have the charisma to match.

I think I have been caught up in the Obama hype, which is odd considering this election will have negligible impact on me, but I can appreciate a good politician when I see one.

One thing I'd add is that the mainstream US media outlets that we get in the UK seem quite like our own news channels, just a bit less formal. The exception, of course, is Fox News which to me is a horrifying concept of delivering news to the public.

Also, Edwards/Hilary/Obama would be fine by me. The Republicans are such a mixed bag that the Dems simply look like a safer bet.

  • 15.
  • At 12:04 AM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • John Kecsmar wrote:

In a nut shell, the UK parliamentary system differs from a presidential one in that the person who "heads" or "leads" the country is not directly elected. That is the election of the party leader is not elected during the main "general election".
The leader is chosen by either the memebers of his/her party whom are elected as Memebers of Parliament (MPs, same as your senators)in an election and/or the members of the party MPs and memebers of the political party, from the general public. (just like Joe Bloggs being a "member" of the Neighbour hood watch or PTA or similar)

The leader then takes the agenda and menifesto of the party to the public.

So whilst there is a degree of "personality" in the leader, one is ostensibly voting for the party and what they represent, rather than an individual person and his/her beliefs, as in a presidential election.

The voting is conducted on one day throughtout the whole country, after some several weeks of campaining. The vote that is given, is a vote for the party of choice. There are often some 10 or more parties to choose from, but in general just 3 major parties end up with the power, owing to their higher vote count.

The party has a representative for the county (State). In the general election, the vote cast is counted within the county (state) in which one lives. The individual that is representing a party, is much more personal, as this person, in general, lives in that county. So often someone may cast a vote owing to the personality, rather than the party they represent. The elected MP of that county can then ask questions on "your" behalf in parliament etc.

The person/(party) with the most vosts, wins that county and is then elected as an MP and represents the party to which he/she is a member.

The party with the most MPs takes power (there is also a certain number that must be exceeded to gaurantee a "win"). The leader of that party, then becomes the Prime Minister.

So, the prime minister is representing the views of the majority of people who voted to carry forth with a mandate based up the issues that that party campaigned upon.

Finally, to pass Laws or "issues campaigned on" for the country, a vote is taken inside the parliament. The vote is by the elected MPs. Obviously if one party has a large majority of elected MPs, the laws or "issues" debated from the party manifesto, are passed easily. Hence a party with a large majority will be able to pass legislation easily and change occurs much quicker. If the number of MPs from each major party is similar, then it becomes much harder to pass legisaltion as a majority vote by the party in power is often never achieved. (As in the case of John Major).

He is my Senator and I think he is great, but as President? Trying to imagine him with his finger on the nuclear trigger. Khartoum, you mean there was a city with that name?

  • 17.
  • At 12:55 AM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

jhm, I don't know what you are talking about but if you want to know what is going on in the US Presidential race, don't waste your time with either the American mass media or BBC, tune in to PBS and C-Span. Right now everything is very fluid, there are no clear choices in either party and if most voters are like I am, they don't really like any of the candidates. For me in the past, I've voted for the lesser of the evils and I think I might have to vote that way again. I think on the Democratic side, Edwards has a very good shot in Iowa. He's reportedly been campaigning there for 7 years. Hillary came in very late in the game and seemed running scared a few weeks ago. In a TV interview with her husband, he presented what appeared to be a very weak candidate but the pundits say things may have turned around for her. The rules of the caucuses are very complex running over 70 pages. This seems like a weird place and way to start a Presidential campaign but that's the system.

  • 18.
  • At 01:26 AM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

It's true that momentum is very important, but corpses don't often come back to life. There are good reasons why McCain is langishing in all the national polls, and his gung ho stand on the war is just one of them. His worst problem is that the electors know him all too well.

  • 19.
  • At 02:37 AM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

As an American and a veteran, I wholeheartedly support John McCain. The push by Iraquis for a permanent American base there and the Surge have resulted in a temporary lull in violence. Hopefully all of the anti-war voters will realize that a gradual reduction and cooperation by other nations will be our best chance for a successful Iraqui government. McCain is the most honest and experienced politician of any party and he will be the best choice for America.

Still no mention of the supposed Republican "long-shot" who raised £6M in a single day - more than McCain has in his entire war chest. How strange.

So who was this candidate who raised £6M in a single day? Google "Ron Paul". You'll never hear about him from the BBC or US MSM - he voted AGAINST the Iraq war. How embarrassing.

  • 21.
  • At 12:55 PM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Justin wrote:


I've spent a decent amount of my time on the blogosphere defending the impartiality of BBC news yet now I'm beginning to wonder if I've been wasting my time.

Virtually every single one of your blog entries has focused on Republican party candidates with barely a passing mention to any of the Democratic candidiates.

I understand that the whole nature of a blog means that some of your own personal opinion will be expressed but there is still scope to give equal weight to both of the main parties, something which you have not done.

While I am grateful that you have not stooped to the depths of Fox News and while I do merit you with being very well informed, I do hope you will begin to give equal measure to the Democrats in ths blog.

  • 22.
  • At 03:04 PM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Why is it that candidates like McCain and Huckabee are supposedly "surging" in popularity in recent weeks yet they're both broke? If Huckabee is nominated, the republican party would lose the general election. This would force republican voters to do some "soul-searching" and (hopefully) return to their roots - fiscal responsiblity, non-interventionalism, less government... or, we could just nominate Ron Paul.

I respectfully disagree that McCain will get the nomination. He has been in the spotlight too long (much like Hillary) and I think the American people are looking for a "fresh face". But, maybe I'm wrong. We'll see who comes out on top over the next few months.

  • 23.
  • At 03:59 PM on 28 Dec 2007,
  • K. Tyson wrote:

McCain has a unique position in American politics. Although I can't imagine him winning (in part because of his age), people do respect him--at least for his service in Vietnam. Because he was the son of a high ranking military official, McCain was given the opportunity to leave a prison camp early. He refused on the grounds that the other prisoners were not being freed.

I will be voting for Ron Paul. However, I do respect McCain.

McCain will NEVER become President because he is an open-borders globalist who teamed up with Ted Kennedy to amnesty 20-30 million illegal foreigners.

McCain is DESPISED by citizens across the political spectrum who want immigration to be legal, controlled and reduced. The Senator is fine with opening America up to any Mexicans and others who want to come here -- tens of millions who will never assimilate is no problema to him.

He says that he "got the message" about enforcing the border, but no one believes that. A President McCain would surely give citizenship to all illegal aliens who are currently living here -- a policy that would entice even more millions to come.

  • 25.
  • At 12:13 PM on 29 Dec 2007,
  • Ross McLean wrote:

I'm afraid the issue is age. I strongly supported McCain in 2000, and I think he might even have had a shot in 2004, had he chosen to go for it. But we have to be realistic. The man will be 72 next year, running against a vibrant youthful opponent (whoever it is). It is just too old to be starting out, in presidential terms. It's sad, but it's true. (And to those who say age should not be an issue, I ask them: would you still say that if he was 92? or 102? Well all I'm doing is drawing the line a little earlier).

  • 26.
  • At 04:06 PM on 29 Dec 2007,
  • South Austin wrote:

McCain is another Bush. His message on Iraq is that he doesn't care what the American people want, he knows best. His supporters and admirers "spin" this by saying that he is a man of principle. I prefer to call it the way it really is. Arrogant, condescending and totally out of touch with the people he is supposed to be serving.

  • 27.
  • At 01:59 AM on 30 Dec 2007,
  • Joel Monkarsh wrote:

Just because McCain could be elected doesn't mean he will be nominated. However, if Hucklebee wins in Iowa, although you have to wonder if Republicans are really that stupid, McCain would carry New Hampshire and be the logical choice for the nomination.

  • 28.
  • At 03:59 AM on 31 Dec 2007,
  • chillie Rhon wrote:

John McCain all the way!

He is the only honest candidate today. It is true he will not back away from this war. That is because, it is not the right time to do so. However, it is also the fact that he would not have taken this country to war in the first place as he will not use false pretense to mislead the country / congress. He is a statesman and it is about time this country has a dignified Commander In Chief.

  • 29.
  • At 06:28 AM on 31 Dec 2007,
  • Grant wrote:

This is good news for both Republicans and Democrats. Obama may be able to unite people with fancy speeches, but McCain has a proven track record of uniting politicians with compromise policies. He's a Republican even democrats will want to vote for.

  • 30.
  • At 06:14 PM on 31 Dec 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

McCain and Clinton are both globalists and warmongers! Both want to expand and modernize the US military - to fight who, I ask? Where will they get the soldiers?

McCain1 wants to create a Wilsonian 'League of Democracies' to *add to* (as opposed to replacing) the World Government mix (UN, WTO, ...). That way the goverment can do an end-run around the UN when they want to bomb the next country.

Hillary1 wants to use diplomacy *along with force* to rebuild other nations, and insists that "the world still looks to the US for guidance. (!?!)"

John and Hillary are opposite sides of the same coin. This shows that there is no more left and right in US politics - just right and wrong!

My vote will go to Dr Ron Paul!

1 (Articles in the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of the journal Foreign Affairs.)

  • 31.
  • At 01:28 AM on 01 Jan 2008,
  • Ramesh Bhambhra wrote:

I agree with you. Hil-Bom and Huckaboom are out. It is Edwards vs. McCain down to the wire 49/51.

  • 32.
  • At 12:10 AM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Patricia Otuma wrote:

I must object to reporters,especially male reporters referring to Senator Clinton as though she is just a former first lady running for president.She is a senator of seven years standing who sits on crucial Commitees including the Senate Armed Services Committee.She is also a strong advocate on health care and rural affairs.So please give her the respect she deserves.In 2004 when Senator Edwards was running for the presidency he had only served one term.You did not question his inexperience.Sexism is at play here.It is rather tiring and boring

This post is closed to new comments.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.