May 20, 2005


Could New York Vote 'Red' In 2008? (Dana Blanton, May 20, 2005, FOX News)

While Sen. Hillary Clinton easily tops several Republican opponents in hypothetical 2006 U.S. Senate match-ups, New York voters are fairly evenly divided when it comes to possible 2008 presidential candidates, according to a FOX News Poll. [...]

In the 2004 presidential election, the state backed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., over President Bush by 58 percent to 41 percent. Even so, when asked if the 2008 presidential election were held today almost half (49 percent) of New York State voters say they would vote for Giuliani over Kerry (42 percent).

Giuliani also has a slight 2-percentage point advantage over Sen. Clinton on presidential vote preference (compared to her 10-point advantage in the Senate race). If the Republican candidate were Arizona Sen. John McCain against Clinton, the state’s voters were sharply divided — 42 percent McCain and 41 percent Clinton, with 17 percent undecided.

"New Yorkers have become very comfortable with Mrs. Clinton as their senator, and she will be very difficult to beat in a re-election race. A race for the presidency, however, is a completely different ballgame and even among her supportive constituents in New York there are some who are not sure she is right for that job," comments Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Research, Inc.

Senator McCain's proven ability to make inroads in Blue states makes him the likely GOP choice in '08.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2005 6:17 PM

This is an honest question for OJ and anyone with thoughts on the subject--who was the last Republican presidential nominee to tick off the party base as much as McCain has?

Posted by: Timothy at May 20, 2005 6:25 PM

Dole, Bush, Ford, Nixon, Ike, Dewey, Willkie, Hoover...

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 6:28 PM

Zell Miller has proven ability to make inroads in Red states. He ain't gonna be the Dem pick in '08.

Posted by: b at May 20, 2005 6:48 PM

Do you have any examples? I'm not trying to argue, I'm just curious. I agree with you that McCain would be a great (strategic) choice, and I'm curious about the precedent.

Posted by: Timothy at May 20, 2005 6:54 PM


You are correct that McCain is a unique as*..annoying person, but speaking as a conservative Republican, I'll vote for him if he is the nominee. OJ is correct that Republicans need to start making inroads in the Blue States.

My personal choice would be Guiliani, but if he doesn't sell then to heck with him. By the way I'm from a southern Red State and I assure you that the South can certainly be won by Democrats if they tweak their approach.

Posted by: h-man at May 20, 2005 6:54 PM


But no ability to hold Blue states.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 6:55 PM


Phyllis Schlafly first came to fame with A Choice Not An Echo about how the Eastern Establishment kept foisting liberals on the Party despite the conservatism of the base.

The establishment lost its power with the rise in importance of the primaries, but nixon was challenged from the Right in '68 and Regan almost unseated a sitting president in '76. The Right never trusted George H. W. Bush or Bob Dole, but both got the nomination.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 7:01 PM

h-man: I'm definitely with you there. McCain would be a great candidate not just because he'd win, but because he'd have coattails even in the blue states (such as mine). I'm just having a hard time seeing him win the nomination after everything he's pulled, unless he puts his back into some solid conservative efforts.

OJ: Those fall pretty far short of McCain's shabby treatment of the base. Dole and Bush--and all the 'establishment' types--may have neglected the base, but were they ever outright antagonistic? (Actually, I assume Nixon was, so there's one).

Additionally, there's a big difference between someone who's a part of the establishment and is antagonistic to the base, and someone who's not establishment, and is antagonistic to the base. McCain has been hostile both to the establishment and the base (partly because, thanks to Reagan and W, they're largely the same thing these days). That seems to me like a tough hill to climb.

Posted by: Timothy at May 20, 2005 7:10 PM

McCain does need to realize he will need the base for core support come the general election of 2008, if he wins the nomination. He may be getting good press right now, but that's only as the default candidate the media can embrase to show they're fair to Republicans. Come the fall of '08, he'll suddenly find many of his media "friends" laying out some of his questionable past acts instead of treating him like one of the fellows.

Posted by: John at May 20, 2005 7:25 PM

Dole, the Tax Collector for the Welfare State, always had bad relations with the base after he became Senate leader.

Bush's blue smoke and mirrors, voodoo economics and his pro-choice position made him untrustworthy in the eyes of the Right.

There's no evidence that the base in the country feels McCain to be their antagonist. He certainly polls well with them.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 7:28 PM

Good points. But against Hillary, John Kerry would poll well with the base. McCain would also do well against Giuliani. But against a dark horse candidate with impeccable conservative credentials... harder to say.

We could end up watching a Republican version of the '04 Dem primaries, pitting an ideologically compatible, charismatic, but previously unknown governor against a Vietnam Vet who's "more electable." I suppose it worked out well for the Vet last time, so you could well be right.

Posted by: Timothy at May 20, 2005 7:35 PM


Even the dark horses lose in the GOP. If Taft and Reagan couldn't pull it off it seems unlikely anyone in the current crop can.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 7:46 PM


Which will bring the base to his side.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 7:54 PM

Upon reflection, you're probably right.

But the one variable we're ignoring is the current president. Would you agree that if Bush throws his support, even tacitly, behind any candidate, that candidate immediately becomes the frontrunner, whether or not they were a dark horse to begin with?

Posted by: Timothy at May 20, 2005 7:55 PM

McCain will not be the nominee in '08. He will be 72 years old. That will disqualify him with the American public. Look for Allen, Frist, or a popular governor to get the nod. I also think that Jeb Bush may be a popular VP candidate but that could change. Another possible VP candidate may be one of the popular generals depending on how desperate the next 3 years are.

Posted by: Pilgrim at May 20, 2005 7:57 PM

Running on an understanding that he only wanted one term he'd be younger when he left officve than Reagan was. 72 isn't old anymore.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 8:00 PM

I tend to agree that McCain won't run. One difference between now and pre-Reagan is that, pre-Reagan, neither evangelicals nor Catholics were part of the Republican base. Conventional wisdom is that, if unexcited by the Republican nominee, Catholics will vote for the Democrat and the evangelicals won't vote.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 20, 2005 8:04 PM

Catholics voted for him in 2000 because of the Bob Jones kerfuffle.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 8:16 PM

I should have put in a paragraph. I was saying two different things:

1. McCain won't run

2. The base is different now.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 20, 2005 8:53 PM

He may not, though once guys get the presidential bug they have trouble losing it.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 8:58 PM

One of the largest fundraisers in the GOP-- if not the largest, in the top five-- is from Tennessee. One of his sidekicks is a high school classmate. He told me that they (he was a 2004 Super Ranger in 2004 in his own right) couldn't raise 10% of their usual haul if they tried to do it for McCain.

Posted by: Dan at May 20, 2005 9:04 PM


No, he won't matter that much. The exceptions would be his brother, who he could help, and whoever might replace Dick Cheney as VP.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 9:05 PM

This is a new era. The Internet has changed politics. Before the base couldn't organize against a candidate they disliked, or rally behind a dark horse. Now they can coordinate their activities.

I do agree that if anyone wants to catch up to McCain and Giuliani, they'd better get going.

Posted by: pj at May 20, 2005 10:25 PM

At Tradesports, George Allen is now the favorite for the 2008 Republican nomination, at 19.7%. McCain is at 17.8%, Frist at 15.7%, Giuliani at 11%, followed by a bunch of people who have no chance like Mitt Romney.

Allen and Frist are baggage-free. If George W. continues his party building, it may be enough to just be a solidly conservative Republican.

Posted by: pj at May 20, 2005 10:30 PM

Senators have voting records--none are baggage free.

Posted by: oj at May 20, 2005 10:36 PM

The base of the GOP until about 1978 was the country-club set. Prim, proper, and uninformed to a large degree. After Reagan's challenge to Ford, it began to change, and by 1984, it was quite different. I knew lots of Republicans in various "leafy" suburbs of large Eastern cities who were never really comfortable with Reagan, and certainly not with Newt. But they were (are) vastly outnumbered by the new base of the party, from places like Sugarland, Gwinnett County, Orange County (still), Iredell County (home of NASCAR), suburban Florida, much of the rural areas across the nation, and so on.

Two points: first, if McCain wants to win, he will vote to change the filibuster rule (if necessary). Otherwise, he won't finish 3rd or 4th. Period. The new base cares about this issue, and they are well informed about it. Second, George Allen is a Senator, but he also has an affability and a family pedigree that will win him votes from the new base (except possibly from Dallas), and from the electorate at large as well.

To the question about (GOP) candidates hostile to the base, Nixon, Ike, and Ford are not the best answers - they were outliers to some degree. The 1968 Nixon ran against a tortured candidate from a tortured party. Ike would have won running as a Libertarian. Ford almost won despite the pardon and Reagan's challenge, but he ran under the shadow of Watergate.

It is better to consider Rockefeller (who was never nominated), John Anderson (who went nowhere), Jimmy Carter's re-election effort, and George McGovern (who was certainly hostile to the Daley Democrats, now wasn't he?). And don't forget Joe Lieberman, who is currently hostile to the Democratic base. As McCain considers the price of his fealty towards the media, he will learn what it has cost him.

And if he announces he will serve just one term, how do we know it won't sink him on the spot? It might make him seem even older (and weaker).

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 20, 2005 11:57 PM

The base was 1% of the population?

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 12:04 AM

I know OJ likes McCain but I don't think he is going anywhere. His appeal to the blue states is overrated and a MSM creation that will dissapate once the NYTimes and other turn their guns on him. He has antagonized the GOP base with CFR and other issues and siding with the filibuster will make it worse. As stated above he will be the GOP's John Kerry - all focus on his war record and avoiding his senate record.

Posted by: AWW at May 21, 2005 12:12 AM


I'm not a McCain fan. I think his temperament ill-suited to the presidency. But he'd win so easily and in doing so help the party so much that I'd support him.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 12:26 AM

The "old" GOP base voted for Alf Landon in 1936. Nobody else did.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 21, 2005 12:42 AM

Yes, and at that nadir he got 36.5%

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 12:49 AM

I pray McCain is not the nominee against Hillary! in 2008. I wouldn't know which evil to vote for and I'm a die-hard Republican. McCain would be dangerous to this country. He is not a good guy. Forget temperament, when you scratch the surface of this guy, his old friend Kerry looks principled.

Posted by: NKR at May 21, 2005 12:54 AM


So he'd be an average president.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 12:59 AM

If I were sure he would be an average president, like George Bush I, I'd be OK with him. But I think of him more as another Nixon, who may well set conservatism and the party back. Maybe that's just my paranoia speaking, but his temper, selfishness, and hostility to Christians strike me as dangerous.

Posted by: pj at May 21, 2005 8:49 AM

The nadir was pretty grim, eh? I'm not sure what you are arguing with. Goldwater's in 1964 was low, too - but he started something that continues to grow today.

The old country-club set had nothing to do with the farmers who (sometimes) voted GOP in those days, but today's conservatives are more likely to stick together, and more likely to continue voting Republican.

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 21, 2005 3:27 PM


No, the nadir was quite lofty considering the GOP had driven the country into the Depression and revealed how easy it would be to come back. When your base is 36.5% of the population even after such a disaster --and despite the fact the white South voted Democrat then -- it's obviously not the country club set.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 3:32 PM

Probably the same group who voted for Bush, Sr. in 1992. And yes, that is a grim nadir (for a country that is essentially as conservative as the US), after the votes of 1980, 1984, and 1988.

However, McCain has no connection to the country-club set, either (what's left of them). So he is already down a few percent of the base. :>)

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 21, 2005 7:00 PM

But he adds Southerners and Catholics, so starts from a base of 50%

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 7:16 PM

What makes you think McCain gets the Catholic vote? He's wishy-washy on abortion, supports embryonic stem cell research, and CFR was bad news for antiabortion "special interest groups." The only people I know who want McCain to be nominated (present company excluded) are all Democrats, center to left.

Posted by: ted welter at May 22, 2005 10:36 AM


He did best in the Catholic Rust Belt. polls suggest he's doing rather well with Republicans too.

Posted by: oj at May 22, 2005 10:45 AM

Even with the help of the MSM, McCain has pretty much destroyed any chance he might have had to get the GOP nomination in 2008.

If he votes against the rules change on filibusters of judges, that will just be the final nail in the coffin.

The Republican base will want a nominee who can carry on the legacy of George W Bush -- with maybe a little more attention paid to illegal immigration. For a senator from a border state, McCain has paid remarkably little attention to the flood of illegal immigrants. Perhaps he realizes that, in the long run, these immigrants will be a net plus for the country. But in the context of the next election, this is not a good issue for him.

The GOP will nominate a governor, or a former governor. George Allen? Mitt Romney? Will they promise to finish the job that George W Bush has started? I think so. Rudy Giuliani? Too many differences on social issues. Maybe if Bush got 4 of his Supreme Court nominees confirmed, the country could take a chance with a pro-abortion Republican. But not til then.

If McCain runs, his association with Russ Feingold will be another reason why he can't win.

Posted by: J Baustian at May 23, 2005 3:07 AM


The base likes him, but even more important independents and Democrats do:

Posted by: oj at May 23, 2005 7:13 AM