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    Monday, February 27, 2006

    McCain Vs. Edwards 2008?

    Ezra Klein has a great post on a compelling 2008 match-up: McCain vs. Edwards. Unlikely? Of course. But I didn't say "likely," I said "compelling". My Amusement Park's #1 Most Loathed Politician against My Amusement Park's #1 Most Loved Politician ... the possibilities!

    Senator McCain has a strong lead against all the top Democratic presidential contenders except for John Edwards. When posed in hypothetical match-ups against the leading Democrats, John McCain breaks fifty percent against Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton and outpaces each by double-digits. Senator McCain’s lead is fueled by the majority support he receives from independent voters in each of these contests. McCain would face a more competitive race against John Edwards. McCain receives the support of 47% of registered voters compared with 41% for Edwards.

    Previous polls have shown similar results, with Edwards outpacing other Democrats against McCain. Gore and Kerry, by the way, each lose by a whopping 17% to McCain in the latest run. And there's reason to think that Edwards would have a particular advantage against McCain in the general election.

    A lot of McCain's appeal comes from his image as a bipartisan maverick. It's not just that people like bipartisanship, it's that his lack of an obvious partisan bent allows voters to project their fantasies onto him. Before seeing any specific data about his position on abortion, for example, it's easy to imagine that he's one of those moderate pro-choice Republicans (who don't actually help pro-choicers when the chips are down, but let's set that aside for a moment). As it turns out, he's in favor of banning abortion with no exceptions except rape, incest, and the life of the mother. When you look bipartisan, a big group of voters in the middle find it easy to project their preferences onto you, as long as you can keep quiet about your actual views.

    The key to beating McCain is to destroy his bipartisan reputation. This is supported by Ezra's observation that McCain does a lot worse when you call him "John McCain, the Republican" and poll him against someone who you describe as "the Democrat." Polls like this better approximate how McCain will be seen in the heat of an election. It's easy to look like a bipartisan maverick when you're brokering compromises in a congenial Senate, and you have lots of control about which issues you want to address. It's a lot harder when you're actually running for office. It's well-nigh impossible if you've voted against minimum wage increases and other pro-worker measures throughout your career, and you're up against a mill worker's son who can drive the minimum wage issue harder than anyone else. The old stereotype of Republicans as mean old men who don't care about workers will replace McCain's bipartisan reputation.


    And then there's this brilliant little bit on "Red State Regionalism". I'm not totally on board with the idea that someone has to talk about God in every sentence ad infinitum, which is what I think a lot of Dems now think is the way to win. I mainly think it's the sound of his/her? voice and his/her? background that does the trick.

    Back to the McCain vs. Edwards idea: the "meanie" thing would go great. McCain out there ranting and raving and Edwards out there smiling and orating. McCain's only good when he doesn't like what's happening; it's hard to see him having a positive, hopeful vision for the country. Edwards is postivity-hope-faith-blah,blah,blah. Plus, you know McCain would be below the belt every step of the way (for once, I mean this in a bad way)and Edwards wouldn't go there.

    McCain is not an "everyman" type of guy. Just because he, like our current President, got bad grades (at a very prestigious college, for both men, mind you) doesn't mean he's "just like you and me." For one thing, you and I didn't appear in hit Hollywood comedy The Wedding Crashers.

    One more thing: McCain being a POW is good stuff for him, but I'm kind of starting to wonder if having served our country in the Armed Forces is, sadly, rather a political liability these days- someone's bound to find out you weren't as awesome as it seemed you were. I'm not saying it should be that way, I'm saying I'm glad it can be used against someone who deserves it for once.

    Check this out: Stop John McCain 2008! I LOVE this site! Cheers, Nate.

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