A landslide in the making?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I cannot stop thinking about how this presidential election might turn out.

I won’t predict an outcome. Why? Well, the last time I tried to make such a prediction — Hillary v. Donald in 2016 — I got the surprise of my political life. I actually wrote on this blog that I thought Clinton would roll up a landslide against Trump.

Oh, how wrong that was … yes? So, I’ll move on.

The difference between then and now is stark in at least one key aspect.

Joe Biden is rolling up a lot of Republican endorsements. Clinton did not enjoy such a broad crossover appeal four years ago. Indeed, I am thinking at this moment of the last time we saw this kind of inter-party attraction.

Barack Obama didn’t have it in either of his successful presidential election campaigns; nor did George W. Bush; Bill Clinton didn’t, either; George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan depended on GOP votes; Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford had nothing of the sort.

That brings me to Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign. That was the first year I was able to vote for president. I cast my ballot for George McGovern. It turned out I was one of the “few and the proud” who voted for Sen. McGovern, who lost the popular vote by 23 percent and got swamped in the Electoral College 520-17.

That campaign featured an unusual crossover event: the formation of a group called Democrats for Nixon. The leader of that pack was a Texan named John Connally, the former governor of Texas. Big John cobbled together an alliance of Democratic pols who just couldn’t throw their support behind the progressive candidate for president. McGovern was just a squishy liberal who would surrender to the communists in Vietnam.

They helped propel President Nixon to a smashing victory.

As we move closer to the 2020 election, I am left to wonder whether the Republican pols who have turned their back on Donald Trump will be able to persuade their fellow Republicans into the Democratic fold.

Trump clearly has a firmer hold on the GOP faithful than McGovern ever had on Democrats; after all, he was nominated in 1972 at a convention that was damn near torn apart by intraparty disputes. That’s not the case now.

However, the enormous number of GOP-backed political operations that has turned on Trump fill me with a glimmer of hope that there well could be a significant victory for Joe Biden in store.

It won’t be on the scale of the landslide that Richard Nixon rolled up in 1972 … but it could be significant.

Do not hold me to this. My heart is speaking more loudly at this moment than my head.