Mitch Daniels’ George W Bush Problem

Now that he’s not running it’s irrelevant, but I have to say that I think a lot of conservative elites seem to me to have been vastly overstating Mitch Daniels’ electoral potency. Candidate attributes normally don’t make a big difference in election outcomes, but insofar as they do make a difference “was a high-level member of the George W Bush administration” has to count as a major negative. After all, Barack Obama’s overwhelming vulnerability is the fact that his presidency has coincided with hard times for the American people. The obvious counterargument is that Obama’s presidency has coincided with the urgent need to dig the country out of the ditch into which Bush drove it, and frame the choice as one between continued progress and a return to the failed policies that created the mess.

Recall that linking John McCain to George W Bush was the key theme of the Barack Obama campaign:

Any Republican nominee is bound to agree with many Bush administration policies, and the Obama campaign is sure to point this out. But at the margin it’s much easier to pull off when the candidate involved was literally a high-level policymaker under Bush.