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The McCain Democrats May Matter More Anyway

Philip Giraldi [1] makes a lot of sense in challenging the recent [2] frenzy [3] of [4] “Obamacan” [5] discussion [6].  He is quite right that we have been caught up in speculation that’s quite far removed from most Republicans and conservatives, and he’s also right that at this point it is premature to dismiss Obama.  It’s worth noting that a lot of the speculation about Obama’s electoral prospects has often taken for granted that he is in a position to poach on McCain’s territory and expand the Democratic coalition, but it seems distinctly possible that he will hemorrhage so much Democratic support in the general that any gains will be quickly erased.  To the extent that polling this far removed from November is any indication of real voting preferences, however many Republicans say they will back Obama are outnumbered in just about every state by the Democrats who will back McCain.  One example of this comes from North Carolina [7] today, as Rasmussen has found that 56% of Clinton backers in the Democratic primary say they are not likely to vote for Obama against McCain.  Since just 33% of respondents prefer Clinton, the probable loss of this many voters is in line with the 16-20% of Democrats Obama loses to McCain across the country outside of “blue” states such as Maine [7].  (In fact, this figure seems slightly better than the 23% of Democrats he was losing to McCain in a poll from late March [8]; in that poll, he was getting 15% of Republicans.)  Typically, Obama is drawing two-thirds or sometimes just half as many Republicans outside “blue” states.  It is likely true that Obama is drawing many long-time Republican voters to his side, but what he seems to have difficulty with is keeping the Democrats that previous nominees have won.

P.S.  For a few other examples of this: in New Jersey [9], McCain has 24% of Democrats, Obama 18% of Republicans as of a week ago; in Wisconsin [10], McCain has 16% of Democrats, Obama 10% of Republicans.  By comparison, Missouri [11] is a disaster for Obama: McCain gets 22% of Democrats, Obama 7% of Republicans.

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3 Comments To "The McCain Democrats May Matter More Anyway"

#1 Comment By jaloren On April 5, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

“To the extent that polling this far removed from November is any indication of real voting preferences…”

Well, to what extent is polling this far removed from November any indication of real voting preferences? As far as I can tell, the answer is little to none. It seems to me that these types of electoral predictions are without evidentiary basis–i.e. speculation.

I argue this for two reasons: voters possess notoriously short attention span and it will be a close election (even though it should not be). As a result, the winner of the election will be determined by events that neither campaign will have control over (e.g. recession, price of oil, another terrorist attack etc).

#2 Comment By Daniel Larison On April 5, 2008 @ 5:16 pm

The non-incumbent party always polls better this far in advance of the election, and then performs worse come Election Day. This is what I have been saying for weeks and weeks. We can rattle off the list–Nixon, Carter, Dukakis, Bush the Younger–and see that the incumbent party candidate gains strength as Election Day nears. Sometimes it is not enough to win (1968), and other times it is enough to result in a near-landslide (1988). So the answer to your question is: to some extent. But the pattern suggests that the likely Democratic nominee is not going to get stronger, but rather the opposite. Otherwise, when the challenger didn’t lose ground from early polling it is usually because the incumbent party candidate was leading comfortably all along. I agree that it will likely be a close election, which is amazing when you look at things like the generic ballot in Hotline’s new poll. Dems win the generic ballot by 8 points, and both of their candidates trail by at least 2.

N.B. I am not making predictions. I am reporting what the polling data show right now. So, actually, forget about what this does or doesn’t tell us about November. It definitely reflects with some accuracy what public attitudes are at the moment.

#3 Pingback By Eunomia » Barr And Obama On May 19, 2008 @ 10:38 am

[…] Obama’s biggest potential problem among his Republican supporters remains moderate Republicans, who are exactly the sort of “soft” or independent Republicans whom Obama should be able to peel away under normal circumstances, but whom McCain appeals to for reasons that continue to escape me.  Single-issue antiwar voters who back Obama will not be pulled away by Barr for two reasons: Barr is not running a purely antiwar campaign, but a comprehensive small government, conservative-libertarian campaign, and they believe that Obama can actually end the war, which is their top priority (that’s why their single-issue voters).  As I have said before, though, this microscopic analysis of Obama’s Republican and right-wing supporters will probably matter very little to the final outcome, because McCain continues to pull away more Democrats from Obama than he loses among Republicans. […]