August 21, 2007


McCain understands Granite State (Jennifer Donahue, August 21, 2007, Boston Globe)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN just spent two weekends in a row in New Hampshire. Unlike some of the candidates who didn't run in 2000, he understands two important things about the state's presidential primary contest. One is the importance of the August before the primary. In August 1999, McCain solidified his base in New Hampshire, while George W. Bush all but ignored the state. McCain won the primary, though not the nomination.

The other thing McCain knows is that New Hampshire gives supposedly faltering front-runners a chance to come back. By campaigning intensely in the state, Al Gore effectively stamped Bill Bradley out in August 1999. Similarly, as insurgent Howard Dean focused on Iowa over New Hampshire in August 2003, John Kerry faced frustrated voters in New Hampshire -- and ended up winning.

What McCain has in common this year with Gore and Kerry is that the press anointed all three as front-runners before the campaign began. The expectations for such "early favorites" are often based on polls taken so early that only the candidates with existing name recognition place well.

These expectations are also impossible to meet. As obscure candidates become known and gain a little ground in the polls, it suddenly looks as though the front-runner is in free fall. The money race is then affected by the press coverage and poll numbers, which make it harder for the "early favorites" to raise funds.

McCain has been both the beneficiary and the victim of this dynamic.

The dynamic that matters is that the GOP has nominated the next in line in every cycle since the primary selection system was adopted.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 21, 2007 7:21 AM

That's good?

Posted by: Genecis at August 21, 2007 9:16 AM

The Kerry/Dean comment is silly. Kerry won Iowa, which made him the nominee.

Posted by: Ibid at August 21, 2007 9:32 AM

Bob Dole killed that dynamic.

Posted by: Gideon at August 21, 2007 9:48 AM

McCain understands Granite State

So what. He also "understands" sucking up to the press, suppressing free speech by everyone else, and Savings and Loans financing, too.

As for him being "next in line", Bob Dole may have killed it, but Keating-McCain has spent the last few years driving the wooden stake into its heart after shooting it with a silver bullet and cutting off its head.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at August 21, 2007 10:34 AM

Dole won.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2007 11:58 AM

I'm not sure how Bush II fits in with that dynamic. He wasn't very well known prior to 1999. I don't think many people thought of him as "next in line."

Posted by: Brandon at August 21, 2007 12:08 PM

You're kidding, right? Even before they ran in '94 President Bush's son was the next in line. It was supposed to be Jeb, but Lawton Chiles stole the FL election, so the mantle transferred to W. That's why he had more money and endorsements than any candidate in history. It's also how he managed to beat McCain, who was the far superior general election choice.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2007 3:14 PM

I know OJ ain't a McCain fan, nevertheless, his attraction to his theory of GOP nomination style has put him in the uncomfortable poistion of cheering on a horse that is falling further and further behind...

Posted by: Benny at August 21, 2007 5:19 PM

Benny: The horse is dead. Not mostly dead. Barbaro dead.

Posted by: b at August 21, 2007 5:40 PM

OJ still has that ticket raised in his hand and is waving his hat with the other and urging McC on with all his might.

Posted by: Benny at August 21, 2007 5:44 PM

Reagan was dead after IA. Bush was dead after IA. Dole was dead after NH. W was dead after NH.

Except that they were next in line, so they won. McCain is in far better shape than any of them were after their losses.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2007 8:06 PM

For the umpteenth time OJ, your Reagan/Bush I/Dole/Bush II analogy doesn't fly because none of these guys spent the previous 6 years ticking off their base at every opportunity.

The only thing keeping McCain in this thing is his strong stance on Iraq and there are days he appears willing to throw that away to get back into the MSM's good graces.

Posted by: AWW at August 21, 2007 8:34 PM

Totally ahistorical. The Right loathed Bush and Dole and W began his campaign by attacking the Right and ran as a compassionate conservative in order to repudiate them. But the base isn't the Right. It is conservative and gives the nomination to whoever's next, as one would expect of conservatives.

Posted by: oj at August 21, 2007 9:09 PM

oj: Give it a rest. In 1999 W was leading by overwhelming margins in national polls. As one would expect the establishment candidate of the conservative party to do. McCain is currently running 4th. This campaign is over. It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late campaign! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace!

Posted by: b at August 22, 2007 11:47 AM

Yes, the campaign was over and W had no challengers. McCain was running behind Powell, Quayle, Kemp, etc.

Posted by: oj at August 22, 2007 12:07 PM