February 27, 2007


POLL: McCain the most popular presidential candidate nationwide (Keating Holland, 2/07/00, CNN)

Arizona Sen. John McCain is now the most popular presidential candidate among likely voters nationwide, and for the first time, McCain has more support than George W. Bush in hypothetical match-ups against Al Gore, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

The poll, conducted February 4-6, consisted of interviews with 1,018 Americans -- including 386 registered Democrats and 401 registered Republicans.

If the election were held today, 58 percent of all likely voters would choose McCain and 36 percent would pick Gore. In the same scenario, Bush would beat Gore by a smaller 53 percent to 44 percent margin. McCain also possesses a larger lead than Bush over former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley. [...]

More bad news for Bush: nearly two-thirds of all registered Republicans say that they would prefer a candidate who is not tied to the party's leaders. That indicates that Bush's ace-in-the-hole -- endorsements and organizational support from officeholders around the country -- could be used against him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 27, 2007 1:02 PM

I think the moral of that story is that we don't swear in John McCain.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 27, 2007 1:23 PM

CNN was pushing him even then. But the Straight Talk Express proved to be a bit crooked, especially with respect to campaign talk about incumbents, eh?

Posted by: ratbert at February 27, 2007 1:40 PM

McCain fizzled in 2000 despite good polls. But don't worry, he'll do great in 2008 despite awful polls.

Okay, Orrin is looking at today's polls on the Real Clear Politics page and getting depressed. So he has to pretend that polls don't mean anything. And sure, polls can change.

But just what can McCain do to alter the numbers? The next big thing from McCain is the suicide pact - as far as GOP primary voters are concerned - with Teddy Kennedy on immigration. This will not improve his standing with likely voters in the Repub primaries. In fact, Kennedy-McCain may well finish any chance the Arizona grouch has for the nomination.

McCain could go negative on Rudy, as Orrin has been urging. But the downside risk is considerable. McCain is already carrying baggage as an old grump who dislikes lots of people, not least Republicans. Really vicious rips at Rudy won't help that image, and there's no guarantee that any of Giuliani's support knocked loose by the attacks would necessarily gravitate to McCain. There are younger and literally more attractive alternatives available.

My strategy for McCain would be simple: get as far away from Kennedy and immigration as you can. Don't attack Rudy or any other GOP candidate. Act nice to every Republican voter in sight - especially conservatives - and never give another interview to the NYT.

McCain's so far behind that any strategy may be fruitless at this point. But "No More Mr. Mean Guy - Especially To Republicans" looks like the most promising approach.

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 27, 2007 2:06 PM

So what does this show? That the GOP doesn't pick its nominee based on "electability" but based on "whose turn is it?" And there McCain wins. Of course, 9/11 changed everything, and so it's tough to count Rudy out at this point, even though he appears to be running a half-hearted campaign at best.

Posted by: b at February 27, 2007 2:09 PM

You're using evidence that McCain underperforms his poll standing to adduce that McCain will outperform his poll standing?

Posted by: pj at February 27, 2007 2:29 PM

b - I watch Rudy at the Hoover Institute last night on C-SPAN and it didn't look half hearted to me. The crowd really liked him even after he answered some pretty hard questions.

I personally like what he's doing - it's just too early to be going 5th gear already.

I know Dick Morris is an idiot but he really throws OJ's hero under the bus today. Basically saying he is spending his (too little) money on bad decisions.

Posted by: BJW at February 27, 2007 3:01 PM

I know this is rubbing Orrin's nose in it, but Rasmussen just came out with their latest tracking poll on the GOP primary. McCain has slipped to his lowest level ever, and is in real danger of falling into third behind Gingrich. The numbers are 33-17-13 Giuliani-McCain-Gingrich. Seems incredible, but Kennedy-McCain is already wrecking the grump. All it took was a flurry of media stories. I hate to think what happens when the bill actually hits the Senate.

Romney "perked up" to 10%, as conservatives continue to bail on McCain. Don't want to sound melodramatic, but this is Arizona meltdown, guys.

By the way, Rasmussen's latest horserace shows Rudy thumping Hillary by nine points. Hey, he said it, not me.

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 27, 2007 3:09 PM

You guys paying attention to the market????

Posted by: Sandy P at February 27, 2007 3:20 PM

Yes, national polls are meaningless to how the GOP picks a presidential nominee. Rudy this time is McCain last time.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2007 3:35 PM

Yep, the U.S. averages are down about 3% after China sold off big. Similar declines in Europe. We were bound for a correction after the big gains over the last three years.

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 27, 2007 3:38 PM


Maybe a few people polled paid attention to his diatribe against Rumsfeld recently. There are still a few of us who hold still hold Rumsfeld in high esteem. McCain, not so much....

Posted by: Rick T. at February 27, 2007 3:41 PM

Sorry, Orrin, but McCain this time is McCain last time. Oh, maybe the stock market will take a little glare off Anna Nicole...not much, though.

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 27, 2007 3:42 PM

The shot at Rumsfeld didn't help. Just played into McCain's I-Love-Bashing-Republicans meme. But that was a while ago.

I saw some mightly loud posts about Kennedy-McCain when the stories hit the wire last week. Really, when that bill gets to the floor - if McCain is anywhere near it, much less has his name on it - the Arizona codger could be nestling in fourth place behind Romney.

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 27, 2007 3:48 PM

BJW: I was referring to campaign infrastructure, which McCain has been building for a couple of years now, and it's my understanding Rudy hasn't really done anything.

The main risk for the GOP is that the nominees for both parties are going to be known 9 months before election day. Given the fact that the MSM is going to do everything it possibly can to destroy the GOP nominee while protecting the Dem nominee, there's plenty of potential for disaster, especially given that we already know Rudy & McCain have plenty in their closets that most voters don't know about...

Posted by: b at February 27, 2007 4:32 PM

Yes, it was cheap of McCain to dump on Rumsfeld, who has been a transformational figure.

McCain's biggest problem is that he doesn't seem to have any real core supporters, any base of his own. Independents don't really count, now do they?

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 27, 2007 4:38 PM

Rumsfeld is a national treasure.

Posted by: erp at February 27, 2007 4:56 PM

It's fair to point out that the WoT is a distraction from what W and Rummy are there for. The problem is McCain thinks the Iraq war matters more.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2007 6:10 PM


They couldn't stop Reagan twice, Bush Sr. or W twice.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2007 6:11 PM


Yes, Rudy will be the Rasmussen president as McCain was last time. But Maverick gets sworn in in January '09.

Posted by: oj [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2007 6:13 PM

oj - McCain cost himself the nomination in 2000 by attacking the Republican base (attacking Christians). He's attacked the Republican base several times since. His record is notably empty of attacks upon liberals.

In the end, it's not so much a matter of positions as of character. Rudy Giuliani was viciously attacked by the left throughout his may mayorship, and he stood his ground, refused to be intimidated and bullied, and implemented a number of conservative policies.

Since bullying and intimidation are the principal tactic of the left, Republican voters want a strong person who will stand against them. McCain just hasn't demonstrated that. Quite the opposite, he's demonstrated a penchant for piling on. He has little hope of regaining the trust of most conservatives, not when Giulani and Romney are both fine alternative candidates.

Posted by: pj at February 27, 2007 7:16 PM

You bet--can't wait to hear a guy whose entire career is based on arresting squeegee guys propose easing up on crack dealers and Colombians.

Posted by: oj at February 27, 2007 8:40 PM