I really wish I could find the article I glanced at yesterday postulating that the presidential race is not looking like a blowout for Obama because the contest has been framed as a referendum on Obama rather than a referendum on Bush and the Republican party.
The thought that struck me is that when an election gets framed as a referendum on a candidate that candidate or party usually loses. I think that the reason that Gore did not receive enough support in 2000 to overcome the Nader voters is that the voters were fatigued by the emotionally charged Clinton presidency. In 2004 the vote got framed as a question of whather Kerry was really presidential or if he was just another politician. I think that 1996 was 2004 with Dole in the place of Kerry.
The exception seems to be 1988 which was a referendum on Reagan in which Bush I won.
What do you think? Is this how the outcome of our elections is decided – by voting against whoever the debate is centered on? (If so I would predict that 2010 will be a bad year to be a Democrat seeking election – regardless of the outcome this year.)