« RIP Don Knotts | Main | Attention Campus Leftists »

February 26, 2006

Bipartisan Maverick Destruction Advice

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

I think George Allen is a more likely 2008 Republican candidate than John McCain, but it doesn't hurt to have a plan for every possibility. And given my mad Edwards love, I'm itching to put this bit from the latest Marist Poll where everybody can see:

Senator McCain has a strong lead against all the top Democratic presidential contenders except for John Edwards. When posed in hypothetical match-ups against the leading Democrats, John McCain breaks fifty percent against Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton and outpaces each by double-digits. Senator McCain’s lead is fueled by the majority support he receives from independent voters in each of these contests. McCain would face a more competitive race against John Edwards. McCain receives the support of 47% of registered voters compared with 41% for Edwards.

Previous polls have shown similar results, with Edwards outpacing other Democrats against McCain. Gore and Kerry, by the way, each lose by a whopping 17% to McCain in the latest run. And there's reason to think that Edwards would have a particular advantage against McCain in the general election.

A lot of McCain's appeal comes from his image as a bipartisan maverick. It's not just that people like bipartisanship, it's that his lack of an obvious partisan bent allows voters to project their fantasies onto him. Before seeing any specific data about his position on abortion, for example, it's easy to imagine that he's one of those moderate pro-choice Republicans (who don't actually help pro-choicers when the chips are down, but let's set that aside for a moment). As it turns out, he's in favor of banning abortion with no exceptions except rape, incest, and the life of the mother. When you look bipartisan, a big group of voters in the middle find it easy to project their preferences onto you, as long as you can keep quiet about your actual views.

The key to beating McCain is to destroy his bipartisan reputation. This is supported by Ezra's observation that McCain does a lot worse when you call him "John McCain, the Republican" and poll him against someone who you describe as "the Democrat." Polls like this better approximate how McCain will be seen in the heat of an election. It's easy to look like a bipartisan maverick when you're brokering compromises in a congenial Senate, and you have lots of control about which issues you want to address. It's a lot harder when you're actually running for office. It's well-nigh impossible if you've voted against minimum wage increases and other pro-worker measures throughout your career, and you're up against a mill worker's son who can drive the minimum wage issue harder than anyone else. The old stereotype of Republicans as mean old men who don't care about workers will replace McCain's bipartisan reputation.

It's sort of like the way Bush was able to redefine Kerry. Since Bush was seen as a decisive and forceful leader, he was able to easily cast Kerry as indecisive and flip-floppy while reinforcing positive perceptions of himself. Edwards' blue-collar roots allow him to do the same when he casts Republicans as enemies of the working man. Lots of Democrats try this, but it works best when a candidate can first get working-class people to identify with him. For Edwards against McCain, the ethos, pathos, and logos are all in place.

In the comments to my last post, Iron Lungfish was concerned that Edwards' lack of experience in foreign policy would cause him trouble against McCain. My answer, basically, was that I've never heard of an American whose vote in November was determined by experience on any issue. Michael Dukakis showed us that competence doesn't win elections, and what is experience supposed to give you beyond competence? In fact, one could argue that the more experienced candidate has lost the last 30 years of American presidential elections. If you can get people to nod more when you talk about an issue, you win that issue, regardless of how experienced or inexperienced you are. And with McCain's view that we should send even more troops to Iraq, I don't like his chances against Edwards in the nodding game.

And that's how you destroy McCain's biggest asset. Run John Edwards, and shout it from the rooftops -- Republican John McCain is no friend of working people.

February 26, 2006 in Election 2008 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c572d53ef00d8345a9b4c69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Bipartisan Maverick Destruction Advice:

» Why the Dems Need John Edwards Against John McCain from Bloodless Coup
I don't think Neil the Ethical Werewolf is as clear on this point as he could be, but I think that there's more than a little bit of smart analysis in his argument. If the Democrats are going to successfully... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 27, 2006 3:43:20 PM

Comments

Face it: McCain is soon to be the latest in the long list of American Bills of Goods.

Posted by: Dan | Feb 26, 2006 8:02:00 PM

"Michael Dukakis showed us that competence doesn't win elections, and what is experience supposed to give you beyond competence?"

Credibility. And "competence" isn't what gains politicians credibility on national security: it's toughness, or the appearance of toughness. John McCain, as a superhawk war hero who's served on a stackful of Senate committees, has resume cred and toughness cred. Whatever you can say for Edwards, he does not have the optics of "toughness." He has the optics of "fresh-faced political newbie," which works when playing the role of a young, up-and-coming Dem senator but leaves you open to an attack on your experience in an actual campaign - as happened, over and over again, in 2004.

"And that's how you destroy McCain's biggest asset. Run John Edwards, and shout it from the rooftops -- Republican John McCain is no friend of working people."

I'm not even sure how this works. You destroy McCain's national security advantage by fighting him on poverty? How long can "change the subject" work? McCain's "send more troops" line works for him in the vein of the incompetence dodge. As an outside-the-White-House war supporter, McCain gets the best of both worlds by claiming the toughness of a war supporter, while distancing himself from the war's failure by claiming that it would've gone oh-so-well if only someone like him were in charge (which is just why you should vote for him!). What you need to go up against McCain isn't the fresh-faced poverty-fightin' boy, but someone with national security gravitas - like a General, for instance.

And do you really want to stake the White House on polling two years before the election? Right now any poll is going to guage name recognition, and the only potential Dem candidates who outscore the last VP candidate in name recognition - Hillary Clinton and John Kerry - have sizable negatives going for them (Kerry lost last time around; Hillary Clinton carries a planetload of baggage). The vast majority of the country won't be paying attention to the race, much less the polling, until the primaries are nearly over. There was polling back in 2002 that showed Lieberman looking reeeeaaaaal hot.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Feb 26, 2006 8:15:34 PM

Oh, if it were that easy, Neil.

McCain has high name recognition and nobody has attacked him on the national stage. And noboby will, including Edwards.

We can only hope and prey (pun intended) that the Republican righties won't swallow this horse-pill. If he gets the nomination, he will win. McCain will run another national security election, ignoring domestic issues, and gather up the independents and the Reagan Democrats, again.

Unless... the public is wanting a change of the 'throw the bastards out' variety. That's probably too slender a reed to rely on, given that Rove is still free to roam the country.

Let's face it, the Dems don't know how to do Rovian attack-and-lies elections, and the Repubs have had squadrons of guys honing their skills at it for decades.

Against McCain, I'll stipulate that Edwards might do better than Hillary could, but it won't be enough. But fear triumphs over domestic issues, and Edwards doesn't have a story in that kind of game.

Posted by: JimPortandOR | Feb 26, 2006 8:24:21 PM

I neglected to mention that McCain has mastered the 'aw-shucks' personal image that makes him one of the boys. And he's proved that he's capable of kissing right-wing ass when he has to, so maybe Bush could transfer the mantle.

How does the sound of McCain/Cheney sound to you? LOL

Posted by: JimPortandOR | Feb 26, 2006 8:30:26 PM

You destroy McCain's national security advantage by fighting him on poverty?

Well, the point of the post is how you undo his image as Bipartisan Guy. I'd say that, and not national security, is his biggest asset.

There's simply no way that "Send more troops" is going to be a winner in 2008. People are getting exhausted with the Iraq War, and they'll be even more exhausted in two and a half years. If you give people 4 options, "send more troops" gets 19% support in the polls, versus 25+ for each of "withdraw all", "withdraw some", and "stay put". It's a more extreme position than Bush had, and that's the wrong direction when faith in the war is decreasing. America in 2008 is going to say that "more troops" is a maniac's position. Whatever credibility you came in with is going to be absolutely demolished if you say that.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 26, 2006 8:35:12 PM

"There's simply no way that "Send more troops" is going to be a winner in 2008."

This is true, but it doesn't have to work in 2008 if Bush starts pulling out before then. Then, instead of "Send more troops," McCain's line will be "Should've sent more troops, back when we had the chance," along the lines of Bill Kristol's "Neoconservatism would've worked, if only it got the chance" (or its intellectual parent, "Marxism has never failed because true Marxism has never been put into practice"). If the GOP is smart, they'll have pressured Bush into pulling out by then, leaving other GOP candidates, including McCain, to make this exact sort of argument.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Feb 26, 2006 8:45:08 PM

"Well, the point of the post is how you undo his image as Bipartisan Guy. I'd say that, and not national security, is his biggest asset."

I'd say his image as Outsider Reform Guy, of which his Bipartisan Guy image is just one aspect, is his biggest asset right now. Nobody's going to expect McCain to be bipartisan while he's running for president. What he will do is rely on his image as a reformer, and the minor-but-visible things he's done over the years to enhance that image (McCain-Feingold, the torture amendment, etc.). You can bet he'll make a lot of noise about the fact that he fought the administration on both those issues, so he has the appearance of moderation and reform-mindedness. Hmmmm, a record... of doing things... with experience... could it be it might be actually helpful? No! I've been told nobody gives half a damn about resume stuff.

I expect McCain's support to flag when left-leaning moderates find out that he's an actual conservative. But if anyone can sell the GOP's slash-Medicaid, kill-the-poor agenda - or at least make it go down real smooth - it'll be McCain, one of the last surviving budget hawks in Congress. He'll dutifully tell the public that he slashed all those programs because America needs a balanced budget, and you can't have some crazy pie-in-the-sky liberal spending like a drunken sailor on universal health care! Why, he's so into balanced budgets he even voted against George Bush's tax cuts (there's more Bipartisan Reform points)!

Now, it's true that people tend to like talking about balanced budgets and small government a lot more than the real thing. But Bush was spending like a maniac while he was cutting programs for the poor, and he still won the last election. By that token, wouldn't McCain do better than Bush by cutting those programs while insisting it was all for the greater cause of fiscal solvency? You might say that Bush only got away with dumping on the poor because Kerry was such a terrible speaker and Edwards will articulate his case against McCain much more clearly, but this ignores the fact that the 2004 campaign was never about poverty in the first place: it was resolutely dominated by terror and national security concerns. Unless there's a sea change in public sentiment between now and 2008, we'll need someone with credibility on national security - and that's still not John Edwards.

Posted by: Iron Lungfish | Feb 26, 2006 9:32:10 PM

Nice post Neil. You lost me for a minute with this reasoning: "Michael Dukakis showed us that competence doesn't win elections, and what is experience supposed to give you beyond competence?"

But you got me back with: "If you can get people to nod more when you talk about an issue, you win that issue, regardless of how experienced or inexperienced you are. And with McCain's view that we should send even more troops to Iraq, I don't like his chances against Edwards in the nodding game."

I'm not totally sold on Edwards yet, but this is good stuff.

Posted by: Jedmunds | Feb 26, 2006 9:33:51 PM

The biggest problem for McCain is that you don't win national GOP primaries by being bipartisan. If his maverick/bipartisan image is the main thing going for him and he tries to stick to that through the primary, whether he could be Edwards or anyone else won't be an issue.

McCain's big decision is whether he really wants to win or not. To win the GOP nomination, which is really all he can worry about right now, he will have to move to the right - hard. It could be that he will do exactly that, and proclaim loud and long how anti-choice he is, how anti-gay he is. Maybe he will get on a stage and hump James Dobson's leg, I don't know. But if we face McCain the 2008 GOP Nominee for President, it won't be McCain the Maverick.

Posted by: Stephen | Feb 26, 2006 9:58:08 PM

Lungfish, if Bush pulls out a lot of soldiers before '08, I think it'll make Iraq much less of an issue in that election. So McCain's "I told you so" won't do him much good.

Thanks, jedmunds! The point from the Dukakis bit was supposed to be: Dukakis ran as an experienced/competent guy and lost, showing that experience/competence isn't a winner.

Stephen, I think McCain will make all sorts of right-wing moves to help himself win the nomination. (I think he'll fail, though, and lose to Allen.) But I think he's hoping that enough of his maverick reputation will survive the GOP nomination process that he'll be able to come back to it in the general election.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 26, 2006 10:13:59 PM

I think McCain could win the GOP primary for the same reason Kerry won - he is perceived as the most 'electable', and while a few political junkies and bloggers on the right hate him for being disloyal, I doubt that most rank and file Republican primary voters feel the same way. Plus even the people who used to hate McCain the most seem to be coming around to him.

This then presents enormous problems for the good guys, as we have every reason to suppose that the national media will present McCain to the public in a manner in keeping with his 'maverick', uber-ethical persona. Yeah, he'll have to run right in the primaries, but he can still count on Tim Russert et al. to slob on his knob every day during the general election campaign.

Posted by: Dadahead | Feb 26, 2006 10:39:14 PM

"The man I am running against has more experience than anybody, and that's why I'm running."

Ronald W. Reagan - 1966

Posted by: DrFrankLives | Feb 26, 2006 10:44:47 PM

Hmmm, well chalk me up as someone who thinks that Hillary Clinton is the most electable of the high-name-recognition Dems and that we'd be best off running an unknown quantity (and who thinks McCain is on fast track to the GOP nomination barring health problems). As a basic brand, McCain's Republicanism beats establishment Democratism hands down. If we run someone against McCain who has already lost (or "lost" as the case may be) a national election, the 2008 general will be a massacre -- so that's kind of a low bar. I'd argue that the real case for putting up Edwards against McCain is that Edwards in a way is the best of both worlds: he has high and favourable name recognition, but is a fairly unknown quantity as a face/speaker/partisan, is "fresh" and a reasonably credible outsider. That could break either way, of course, his high initial positives make him arguably less risky than, say, Mark Warner or Evan Bayh.

My gut still says Edwards isn't the one, that he's a grossly overrated speaker/ campaigner, and that his ideal future is for the next Dem president to appoint him to oversee and implement a far-reaching national anti-poverty program. (As a candidate, he'll run smack into the national and press corps cynicism that meets any politician who tries to talk about the public interest or social responsibility without a really good gimmick, and he's not agile enough to deflect it.) But obviously, that's a purely anecdotal, subjective opinion.

Posted by: Laura | Feb 27, 2006 12:12:50 AM

McCain is one of those guys where the more you know about him the less you like him. His bipartisan image is fragile and entirely dependent on the Pundit Class's bland acceptance of it. All we have to do is paste the picture of him hugging Bush on a national ad campaign and he loses 5 points right there.

Posted by: Sandals | Feb 27, 2006 12:50:54 AM

They have McCain v. Gore/Kerry/Clinton/Edwards, and the same for Giuliani (who I expect to be the Republican nominee, just a gut feeling based largely on their obsession with 9/11). I really wish they included Obama in those numbers.

Nice strategy post Neil, you've nailed the key to tearing down John "the corporate media lies and calls me a maverick" McCain.

Posted by: Joe | Feb 27, 2006 12:51:15 AM

lets be honest: swing voters and others not active in party politics vote based on who is the greater alpha male in teh race. edwards has that smiley, tom-cruise thing, but against mccain he just a little puppy dog.

Posted by: anon | Feb 27, 2006 1:16:21 AM

Thanks, Joe!

Laura, I'm sort of curious about why anyone would think Hillary had the best chance. If you'd like to post it at your place some weekend, I can promise you a link and a response.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Feb 27, 2006 9:17:06 PM

Ooooh, Neil, how could I turn down that offer?

Posted by: Laura | Feb 27, 2006 10:37:43 PM

Why do we think that any friend of the working American would win an election in this country? That's a serious question.

Posted by: eRobin | Feb 28, 2006 8:20:13 PM

Actually being a friend of the working American comes with a number of costs. I'm optimistic that being widely recognized as a friend of the working American is sufficient to overcome those costs.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Mar 1, 2006 9:35:55 AM

mccain will not have the support of conservative/religious rep voters. he needs the support of dems and indies to capture the presidential election. dems and indies liked mccain because he was willing to go against his own party and appeared not to be cast from the 'new republican' mold. however, mccain is doing all he can to pander to the neocons and bible thumpers in his own party. in the process, he is turning off those moderate reps, indies, and dems who would carry him to an easy presidential win.

he seems to be knocking himself out to appease an extreme group of voters at the expense of the huge mainstream with whom he had widespread support. he looks foolish, and he looks like he is selling out. this is a 'new' mccain for many, and a negative change in his carefully cultivated image.

Posted by: tlc | Jun 7, 2006 1:22:12 AM

something else crossed my mind.
has mccain's time come and gone? he was sooooooo ripe for the nomination in 2000, before he was bushwacked. he could have handily beaten gore in a matchup. but, we saw how he was trashed by the bushies, and then how he fell into line afterwards. it seems pretty obvious that the payoff for being a good little soldier was that the money machine and the party power would support him for the nomination as it *should* have done back in 2000.
is maccain already too muddied?
is he too out of step when side by side with younger, more dynamic prospects? an enormous part of mccain's image is war hero; that may be a big selling point to boomers, but does it hold up for younger voters? can he relate to issues younger voters find important?
my gut tells me that mccain is becoming something of a relic as well as a sell out.

Posted by: tlc | Jun 7, 2006 1:38:18 AM

liqingchao 07年08月30日
google排名
google排名
wow gold
wow gold
powerleveling
powerleveling
wow gold
wow gold
powerleveling
powerleveling
power leveling
power leveling
wow powerleveling
wow powerleveling
wow power leveling
wow power leveling
wow power level
wow power level
world of warcraft powerleveling
world of warcraft powerleveling
world of warcraft power leveling
world of warcraft power leveling
Crm
Crm
呼叫中心
呼叫中心
客户关系管理
客户关系管理
北京月嫂
北京月嫂
china tour
china tour
hongkong hotel
hongkong hotel
beijing tour
beijing tour

北京律师
北京律师
礼品
礼品
礼品公司
礼品公司
会议礼品
会议礼品
商务礼品
商务礼品
保洁
保洁
保洁公司
保洁公司
翻译公司
翻译公司
上海翻译公司
上海翻译公司
北京翻译公司
北京翻译公司
北京搬家公司
北京搬家公司
鼓风机
风机
风机
货架
光盘刻录
光盘刻录
光盘制作
光盘制作
光盘印刷
光盘印刷
红外测温仪
红外测温仪
超声波测厚仪
超声波测厚仪

超声波探伤仪
超声波探伤仪
频闪仪
频闪仪
涂层测厚仪
涂层测厚仪
电火花检测仪
电火花检测仪
google排名
集团电话
集团电话
网站设计
网站设计
多媒体
监控
监控
搬家公司
搬家公司
条码打印机
条码打印机

Posted by: wslmwps | Aug 30, 2007 2:12:30 AM

EVE ISK
EQ2 Gold
FFXI Gil
Guild Wars Gold
Lineage 2 Adena
Runescape Money
wow power leveling
wow gold
cheap wow gold
World of Warcraft Gold
wow power leveling
EVE ISK
EQ2 Gold
EQ2 plat
everquest 2 gold
FFXI Gil
FFXI Gil
Guild Wars Gold
Lineage 2 Adena
Maple Story Mesos
Runescape Money
Runescape Gold
runescape items
SilkRoad Gold
wow gold
warcraft gold
cheap wow gold
wow gold
warcraft gold
LOTRO Gold
wow power leveling
cheap wow gold
wow gold
cheap wow gold
wow gold
runescape gold
runescape money
runescape items
cheap runescape money
cheap runescape gold
wow power leveling
wow powerleveling
world of warcraft power leveling
wow power leveling
wow powerleveling
world of warcraft power leveling
wow power leveling
wow powerleveling
world of warcraft power leveling
wow power leveling
wow powerleveling
world of warcraft power leveling
ffxi gil
guild wars gold
eve isk
Final Fantasy XI Gil
ro Zeny
wow gold
cheap wow gold
cheap wow gold
eq2 gold
eq2 plat
everquest 2 gold
lotro gold
lotro power leveling
lotro powerleveling
swg credits
swg credits
swg credits

Posted by: azavin | Sep 20, 2007 12:12:51 AM

仓储笼
仓储笼
折叠式仓储笼
仓库笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼
北京仓储笼
广州仓储笼
杭州仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
蝴蝶笼

折叠式仓储笼
仓库笼
仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼
塑料托盘

仓储笼
仓储笼
仓库笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼
折叠仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
折叠仓储笼
仓储笼
仓储笼
仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
蝴蝶笼
储物笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼
北京仓储笼
广州仓储笼
仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
蝴蝶笼
储物笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼
北京仓储笼
广州仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
储物笼
上海仓储笼
南京仓储笼
北京仓储笼
广州仓储笼
仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
蝴蝶笼
储物笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼
北京仓储笼
广州仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
蝴蝶笼
储物笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼
北京仓储笼
广州仓储笼
仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼
蝴蝶笼
南京仓储笼
上海仓储笼
北京仓储笼
广州仓储笼

仓储笼
仓库笼
折叠式仓储笼

Posted by: judy | Oct 1, 2007 4:26:14 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.