Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Who Could Beat McCain?

Bear with me for a moment, please! I am looking for wisdom from the group. Assume that McCain will be the GOP nominee. (Many of you do not accept this premise, I know, but ignore that for now.) My question is: which Democratic candidate would have the best chance of defeating McCain?

I have looked at the head-to-head polling data, but I cannot see a clear indication. While the most recent polls show Hillary losing to McCain while Obama and McCain are in a dead heat, those numbers have fluctuated wildly over the past several months, depending on circumstances.

The simple answer would seem to be: Obama appears to attract more Independent support than Hillary--more even than McCain--so Obama would seem to have the better chance. But here is my worry: when the Obama bubble gets punctured and the media end their love affair with him, will Obama's support dry up? Obama still has not faced any strong opposition. Can his message of hope and optimism survive the Republican attack machine? Can Obama avoid being painted as a light-weight? As RbR points out, even while they are ga-ga over Obama, the media still downplay the substance of Obama's campaign.

My vote depends on the answer to this question, perhaps entirely so.


The Law Talking Guy said...

McCain does not have the money to do battle past NH. He may get some, but Super Tuesday remains a very big obstacle. Giuliani for one is banking on it.

Who can eat McCain? The biggest issue will be the war.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I suppose you ignored the first paragraph of my post... :-(

The Law Talking Guy said...

I didn't ignore it, but I felt the need to emphasize the issue.

You are correct that the greatest problems of the Obama campaign are the perceptions that (1) he is not a winner and (2) he is a lightweight. #1 is fading fast, but #2 is a problem. People keep waiting for "the mistake" that will define him. It may or may not come.

Here's my question. As of now, there are certainly people who will vote for Obama but not HRC. Are there any voters who would vote for HRC but not for Obama?

Dr. Strangelove said...

"Are there any voters who would vote for HRC but not for Obama?"

Yes, of course there are. To me, it's not so much a question of waiting for an Obama "mistake" as waiting for the Republican attacks. When Obama gets swift-boated--and I don't think it's an "if"--I think we will discover his support is very thin. His winning margin in Iowa, those first-time independent voters, is notoriously fickle. Will they still come out for him when the glow fades and he starts to smell like just another politician?

Dead Parrot said...

Dr. S, I think that Obama would not fare well in a race vs. McCain. McCain and the Republican Party would hammer Obama for his lack of experience. Plus McCain still has some appeal to the independents he attracted in his prior runs at the White House. I think that HRC or Edwards could stand up better to McCain.

But to a great extent the success of Obama or McCain (assuming that they win the nominations) will be dependent on external forces. If the world is more violent between now and November, if there are terrorist attacks on Americans or our allies, if the situation in the Middle East/Iran/Iraq deteriorates, then support moves to the more experienced candidate (McCain). But if the economy sinks and more people are out of work, then support will migrate to the candidate of hope and change (Obama).

All of this assumes that Bloomberg does not enter the race.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Dr.S says to my question "Yes, of course there are." Who? Obama appeals more to centrists and independents, but seems to have no trouble atracting liberal votes too. HRC's vote is primarily aging portions of the Democratic base, unions, etc. I fear that in a contest with McCain, he will be attractive to independents, but HRC would not be. Obama will likely still be atractive to independents. The "swift-boating" is the same thing as the "mistake" I referred to - a media moment that (like Dukakis in the tank or GBushSr. checking his watch druing the debate) that defines a race. I am optimistic that he can avoid such things, as Clinton did.

I am not sure Dead Parrot's analysis is correct. His argument seems to be that the Obama support also within the Dem party represents a willingness to talk about domestic issues rather than fear and foreign policy. This makes some sense. But it's not so straightforward. If IRAN becomes the issue, this helps McCain b/c of perceived experience and all. If IRAQ becomes the issue, this kills him. My money is on Iraq to fall apart again. It's a safe bet, sadly.

Also, McCain is more vulnerable than Obama to swift boating. Keating 5, anyone? He has a much longer record that can hurt him.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think any of the top 3 Democrats could beat McCain on the war issue. I think Hillary would have the hardest time doing it though as she is so polarizing and would encourage otherwise apathetic Evangelical Conservatives to vote for McCain despite their dislike for him.

I think Obama's label as a "lightweight" is fading fast as well. He is a VERY smart guy and it is starting to come across - finally - in the news coverage. Obama vs McCain would be a genuine battle for independents and the main issue would be the war. Edge Obama.

Hilary can't go after McCain as effectively on the War as Obama can because she has had just about every position you can imagine on this war so far.

Edwards is both a lightweight and too far to the left on economic issues. He's a recycled New Dealer/Great Society guy. Yawn. Been there done that - in the 1970s - didn't work out. Next idea please.

Dead Parrot said...

You may be overestimating the extent to which many November voters have been paying attention to the primary races. If Obama wins the nomination, he will still have a lot of work to do to educate voters about who he is and what he stands for. The independent voters may well hold the key to the election and Obama is relatively unknown to them, certainly compared to McCain.

Once the nominations are certain, the candidates will begin to form their teams of advisors. Picture this - Obama backed by Colin Powell. That would be a powerful force against McCain.

Bell Curve said...

Picture this - Obama backed by Colin Powell. That would be a powerful force against McCain.

Ugh. Do you want the guy who lost his reputation telling the world Saddam had WMDs on your ticket if you're running as an anti-war candidate?

Dr. Strangelove said...

LTG: my apologies for answering flippantly when I wrote, "yes, of course there are," voters who would vote for HRC but not for Obama. I was thinking trivially, to the extent that any voting preference you can think of is surely represented in the electorate. But let me give you a substantive answer.

The people I am talking about are the frightened moderates. (Maybe "soccer moms"?) These are independents who are tired of the war in Iraq, tired of the broken health system, and tired of Bush--but who are still nervous about the war on terror. What they really want is a liberal candidate who will also make them feel safe--and that's how Hillary has positioned herself. These frightened moderates feel more comfortable with Hillary's experience and pragmatism than with Obama's appeal to hope and optimism. If the world gets scarier, these frightened moderates would choose McCain over Obama, despite his stance on the war, but they would gladly take Hillary over McCain.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Check out this article. The author argues that only McCain can beat Obama.


Raised By Republicans said...

I think independents are more sick and tired of the war than they are scared of terrorism. It's a close call and events could change that but I think the country is ready to listen to someone who tells them that being hawkish in Iraq doesn't help.

Who is this guy writing that article? His reasons sound like a fantasy scenerio for McCain fetishists.

The main reasons seem to be that this guy thinks McCain can convince people that escalation in Iraq is the rigth path and that since Obama is the most clearly anti-war candidate that gives McCain an advantage. Whaaa????? What universe is this guy living in? If McCain makes the war in Iraq his main issue, he'll get creamed. If you think the violence in Iraq is going to be minimal between July and November, you're nuts.

If you really read the article it is clear that this guy is an partisan McCain supporter trying (rather despearately I think) to convince other Republicans that only McCain can slay the Democratic dragon du jour. I wonder if he wasn't saying that only McCain could beat Clinton a few weeks ago.