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Role reversal

All the difference ill-thought out war does make. In 2003, pundits lamented the Democrats’ lack of unity and stood in awe at the ideological coherence of the Bush Republicans. While few GOP candidates batted an eyelid for green lighting Iraq, Dems were busy voting for it before they voted against it. The Texan cabal that had raided Washington seemed unified in other areas too. From banning abortion to abstinence drives, the Christian Coalition captured the hearts and minds of religious types on both sides of the Mason-Dixon. But the failure to win over Iraqis in the same way and the scandals – financial and sexual – that dogged the party has changed everything. Unity has ebbed away and has been replaced by confusion and disillusion amongst the rank and file, with no one Republican candidate capturing their imagination. The yo-yoing fortunes of frontrunners McCain and Romney is in large part due to their polar opposite world views, which is pulling the party in two directions.

Now all the talk is of a united Democratic Party, remarkable giving its ramshackle performance four years ago. Its leaders are communicating with its base in a way unseen since JFK – the huge boost in primary turnouts is testament to this. And when all is said and done, there is precious little difference between Clinton and Obama, hence the emphasis on likeability. While they slog it out over style, the GOP is engaged in a fight for the heart and the soul of their party.

This race is easily the Democrats’ to lose.

Reasonable people

Where they must win