February 25, 2007


Voters Remain In Neutral As Presidential Campaign Moves Into High Gear (Pew Research, February 23, 2007)

The 2008 presidential campaign has kicked off earlier than usual with more candidates than usual, but many people appear not to have noticed. Americans are no more likely to say they have given the presidential campaign much thought than they did in December, and just small minorities can name a candidate they might support.

The public's lack of engagement in the campaign is reflected in how people are reacting to the large slates of potential candidates in both parties. Of the announced and highly probable candidates, only a few in each party are widely familiar. The results of in-depth questions suggest that the images of even the well-known candidates are fairly thin. [...]

Specific impressions of the leading candidates generally reflect either the national roles they have played or the visible aspects of their backgrounds: Hillary Clinton as the wife of former President Bill Clinton; John McCain as a Vietnam POW; Rudy Giuliani as a mayor and 9/11 figure; and John Edwards as a lawyer and former vice presidential candidate.

Barack Obama is an exception to this pattern. When people are asked what comes to mind when they think of Obama, a lack of history predominates; words like "inexperienced," "young," and "new" are frequently mentioned.

The Clinton and McCain campaigns will be the ones to describe the Mayor and Senator Obama to us and neither is likely to come out of it well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2007 9:57 PM

I was listening to a local radio show tonight where the liberal host was asking his conservative Republican politician friend how he could possibly endorse a candidate who's views were basically the same as the host's: pro-gay, pro-abortion, pro-gun control. He also pointed out that in New York you could have voted for Giuliani on the Liberal Party line. The Republican basically tried to ignore the question and talked about 9/11, security, and turning New York around. The host clearly had the upper hand with this easy line of attack. It was awkward, and this guy's not even the candidate.

I mean, I love Rudy, but...

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at February 25, 2007 11:06 PM

Rudy is pro-gay by some standards, but he's not by gay rights standards, or even by Democratic party standards. Pro-abortion? From what I've read, he's a leave-it-the-states Federalist, which has always seemed to me to be both Constitutional and a reasonable compromise. Pro-gun control: conceeded.

But compared to any current Democratic candidate, he's Calvin Effin' Coolidge. Face it: politics involves compromise, and one way that manifests itself is that every four years we get to vote for someone who seems least unrepresentative of our views. (Double negative intentional.) If Rudy is what it takes to keep Hillary or Obama or Edwards out of the White House, I'll jump at the chance to vote for him.

(I've read lots of complaints about the lack of good conservative candidates, but the field seems better than on the other side. Hillary: strongly disliked by about 45% of the country, often clumsy, controlled, even robotic. Obama: a wet-behind-the-ears Chicago machine liberal who spouts platitiudes and avoids revealing his true beliefs, because he can't get elected on those. Edwards: a trial lawyer who got rich with a discredited junk-science theory that obstetricians cause cerebral palsy. Does nobody notice what a weak lineup this is?)

Finally, OJ: you keep writing that Rudy's past is going to hurt him, yet you never mention that McCain has his share of history: does the term "Keating 5" ring a bell?

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 26, 2007 12:54 AM

McCain has run before.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2007 7:53 AM


It is not a only question of being federalist or not. At a basic level, people want to know, "What do you believe in?"

Rudy's answer, "Leave it to the states", may satisfy some people, may not satisfy others. The bottom line is, it divides the Republican Party base of voters. How much, no one knows, but it will depress Republican turnout. Whether the difference can be made up by attracting marinal independents is a judgment call for the candidates to make.

Posted by: sam at February 26, 2007 8:42 AM

I registered as a Republican the first time I voted (Eisenhower in 1956), but if my fellow Republicans stay home again because they're still in a snit, I'll be forced to change my designation to Independent.

Posted by: erp at February 26, 2007 9:04 AM

Clinton and McCain can spend whatever they want to paint their opponents. But, given their history with the truth, will anyone believe them?

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 26, 2007 10:28 AM

OJ - You might be right about Rudy but one thing is for certain. John McCain is old....real old. He is going to be front and center for the next year and half and the voting public is going to see how old and tired he really is. There is no way people are going to pull the lever (or press the touchscreen) for someone who looks like he could tetter over at anytime. Not with the events going on in the world today.

Another thing, Reagan's past views did not hurt him when he ran, and I expect neither will Rudys.

Posted by: BJW at February 26, 2007 11:52 AM

As you've bought the portraits of them that their opponents painted so too will you buy the ones they paint of their opponents.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2007 11:52 AM

OJ: Not on a national level, against the full weight of the Democratic party and the MSM, he hasn't.

Sam: Despite OJ's writings to the contrary, there is a substantial libertarian portion of the Republican base. They'd be thrilled with a president who wanted more strict constructionists on the Court. As for the social conservatives who want abortion banned on the federal level, would it really be a tough choice for them to choose between 1) a leave-it-to-the states Federalist and 2) the Democratic abortion position? I don't see Rudy splitting the Republican base so much as being enough of a centrist to win nationwide by getting swing votes.

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 26, 2007 12:53 PM

He did in 2000. He took the hits and emerged. Rudy hasn't and can't withstand it.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2007 4:15 PM

Reagan, Bush and Dole were all old. We're the grown up party. Rudy's immaturity hurts him.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2007 4:16 PM

McCain didn't take Democrat and MSM hits in 2000. Indeed, they were practically cheering him on, on "let's you and him fight" grounds. But once he's running nationally against a Democrat, they'll put a maximum effort against him, and you can be sure the Keating stuff will come up.

And Rudy is immature? Compared to Hillary, Obama, and Edwards? I think not. McCain still seems like too much of a loose cannon to me, and McCain-Feingold tells me he doesn't have enough respect for the Constitution. (I know the same charge can be leveled against Rudy re gun control, but the 1st Amendment is more crucial to me than the 2nd.)

Posted by: PapayaSF at February 26, 2007 5:30 PM

Orrin keeps promising a withering attack on Rudy by the grumpy old Arizona man. McCain better gin up that attack right quick, because he's fading faster than whatever movie won the Oscar. The Real Clear Politics average of all polls now has the elderly grouch down thirteen to Rudy. And that's before the admiring NYT editorials about the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill, soon to infuriate GOP primary voters everywhere.

Posted by: Casey Abell at February 26, 2007 7:32 PM

Polls one year before the first primary are worse than useless. How many people are paying attention? 1% of the population? It's just political junkies. Any relation to the "base" or the "electorate" is purely by accident.

Posted by: Bob at February 26, 2007 8:26 PM

McCain's a military man, why would he waste his powder when no one's paying attention and Rudy remains unlikely to even run?

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2007 8:56 PM

Rudy, like Maverick in 2000, won't make it to the general to take such "hits." Of course, McCain faced Bush/Rove, who make the MSM seem like pussies.

Posted by: oj at February 26, 2007 8:58 PM