John McCain's unquestionably a popular figure, but David Kusnet is also surely right that it's hard to see him winning in bleak economic times if he keeps talking the way he was talking at his South Carolina victory speech. There's just nothing in there whatsoever to suggest that McCain has any awareness of anyone experiencing any kind of financial difficulties. What's more, I think it'll actually be quite hard for him to pivot in a more sympathetic direction. After all, throughout all his flipping and flopping and back again of the past ten years, the "cares about people in economic pain" persona is one he's never tried on. And I think he's never tried it on because it runs contrary to his entire schtick, which is all about finding causes greater than ourselves, salvation through nationalism, etc., etc. On some emotional level, he probably thinks a woman who needs to declare bankruptcy because the racked up massive credit card bills while her uninsured husband was dying of cancer should just grin and bear it the way he did as a POW.
After what he's been through, it's probably hard to muster a ton of sympathy for workaday problems. And yet that's what politics is all about. By the same token, though, I think it would be foolish to confidently predict economic conditions eleven months from now. Maybe things will get worse . . . maybe they'll turn around. But if they don't turn around, it does seem like potentially big trouble for McCain.
Photo courtesy of Victory NH