Not since Ronald Reagan has any Republican been in the position to change the American political landscape as fundamentally as John McCain stands to do in November. His candidacy will be the catalyst that completes the migration of all remaining white Southern Democrats to the GOP. The first wave of converts, the Reagan Democrats, were more ideological and conservative than the McCain Democrats. Many who crossed party lines in the early 1980s had been Wallace Democrats before they became Reagan Democrats. This new group is different. McCain will attract moderate and even left of center Democrats who are not quite ready to support either a socialist (Hillary) or a Socialist (Obama). Their lite liberalism has more in common with McCain's lite conservatism than with the 1960s radicalism of their own party's candidates. Critics will no doubt attribute their crossing of party lines to issues of race or gender and that may indeed be a factor in some cases. The same phenomenon might have been seen in reverse if Colin Powell, another lite Republican, was the candidate instead of McCain. The truth, however, is that if it had been any woman but Hillary and any black but Obama most white Southern Democrats would have supported them against a conservative zealot.
As for the zealots who cannot see their way to supporting McCain because his conservatism is not as pure as they would want, they will have the choice of sitting out this election or voting for McCain anyway, since, clearly, they will not support Hillary or Obama regardless of the infantile threats of some prominent and obscure pundits to do so, which, if sincere, would put them out of the conservative mainstream and make them bigger renegades than the man they claim to detest.
If conservative voters desert the GOP because McCain is the candidate, their absence will be more than offset by the desertion of Democratic Party's base if Obama is not his party's nominee for president. This prospect, or Doomsday's scenario, has the entire Democratic establishment in a panic. Ted Kennedy, although he knows perfectly well that Hillary will be the standard bearer in November, expects it and is relieved by it, nonetheless is supporting Obama to preempt a mass defection of blacks from the party. I suspect that he is doing so with Hillary's approval if not Bill's. Now, more than ever before, the Democratic Party must at least seem inclusive of blacks. They are hopeful that Obama's endorsement by the dean of liberals, the heiress of Camelot and other Democrats from its matted glory days will convince African-Americans that they still do have a stake in the party, that it is not a party dominated by old white liberals (male and female) who know what is best for them though they have been less than vocal in recent years in support of their interests.
By no possible calculation could John McCain lose in November, and this is indeed remarkable. Little credit is owed to him personally and even less to Bush who has done as much as any sitting president can do to insure that his party gets voted out of office. It is, rather, a happy confluence of events and the peculiar predicament in which the Democratic Party finds itself which will get John MacCain elected president.