August 25, 2008


Why McCain is Floating Lieberman and Ridge (Barry Casselman, 8/25/08, Real Clear Politics)

It appears to me that Senator McCain, after his impressive performance at Reverend Warren's event, and his unambiguous declarations of his pro-life position on the issue of abortion, is not going to choose a pro-choice running mate, even if he wanted to do so.

As measured by the polls at least, Mr. McCain has drawn even or possibly slightly ahead of Mr. Obama, and is clearly enjoying a upsurge that could be capsized if he were to make a choice that would upset too much a part of his political base.

So why is Mr. McCain and his campaign allowing and even encouraging the speculation about a pro-choice running mate? I think the answer is that he is sending a signal to independent voters, moderate Republicans and disaffected Democrats that he is the kind of Republican who they will likely feel comfortable with should he win in November and replace President George W. Bush., even if they disagree with him on some issues.

I think the McCain campaign has diagnosed the political environment for this year's presidential election to be one in which they must capture the bulk of the independent vote, and make inroads in some traditional Democratic constituencies. They would like to have included black voters in that, but with Mr. Obama's candidacy, there is simply no hope for that. There is some opportunity for notable gains among blue collar workers, Jewish voters and Hispanic voters, as well as those women still angry about the defeat of Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic
nomination by Senator Obama.

Many Catholic, Hispanic, orthodox Jewish and evangelical women are pro-life, but the largest number of women, especially older women, remains pro-choice. If they perceive Mr. McCain as an inflexible social conservative, they will vote for Mr. Obama, even if they are not enthusiastic about doing so. Of course, if Mr. McCain picked a pro-choice running mate, he would get many of their votes easily, but the cost to the McCain campaign would simply be too great to make this a wise decision.

So the McCain campaign is taking the next best course, that is, openly praising moderate and pro-choice Republicans and Democrats who support their candidate, and including them as "possible" running mates.

The one redeeming feature of Independents is that they take even such trivial gestures seriously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2008 7:07 PM
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