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November 20, 2006

Thank You

This, from the Anonymous Liberal, deserves to be quoted in full:

Despite the fact that it’s still 2006, there seems to be a new 2008 presidential poll released every few days. The latest, a Pew poll, reports the following results:

Republicans

Rudy Giuliani……….27%
John McCain……….26%
Condoleeza Rice…..21%
Mitt Romney………..7%
Newt Gingrinch…….6%

Democrats

Hillary Clinton……..39%
Barack Obama…….23%
John Edwards……..10%
Al Gore…………….10%
John Kerry…………7%

So what does this mean? Is Hillary a lock? Is Giuliani in the driver’s seat? No and no.

The bottomline is this: these polls are all but meaningless. Perhaps nothing illustrates this point better than looking back at polls from this point in the last election cycle. For example, a Fox News poll conducted in January of 2003 (which was closer to the election than we are now) reported the following results:

Joe Lieberman……29%
Dick Gephardt……15%
John Kerry………..13%
John Edwards…….8%
Al Sharpton……….5%
Howard Dean……..2%

The only polls that have even a sliver of relevance right now are those coming out of Iowa or New Hampshire -- and even they lack any significant predictive power. Primaries aren't decided in November of 2006, and the trends that will decide them aren't even yet in place. Remember that when, in a month, the media gets bored of 2006's aftershocks and turns its attention to 2008. Gephardt, of course, dropped out after the first primary, and Lieberman ended his ignominious campaign in a five-way tie for ninth, or something.

November 20, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

Chris Bowers on MyDD suggests applying a "known universe correction to these kind of polls, that involve basically dividing the poll result by the portion of the population that recognize the candidate ...

IOW, percentage support among those who recognize the candidate's name.

I am sure that we are all aware that any poll at this stage is not a prediction of voting behavior in primaries more than a year away, but rather an indication of the political terrain facing prospective candidates as they engage in the "Silent Primary", continue working on the foundations of their bid, and pursue the early stages of the campaign on the ground.

Posted by: BruceMcF | Nov 20, 2006 11:14:52 AM

I would LOVE to see Rudy Giuliani run in '08. He's their version of Hillary: The candidate who cannot win, yet sucks up cash like a solid-gold Hoover upright. He burned through something like $50 million, he and his Mini-Me, in 2000 against Hillary in the Senate race, and he still lost. I can see him whipping through $100 million and still not even making it past New Hampshire.

Posted by: Phoenix Woman | Nov 20, 2006 11:21:53 AM

Well, Giuliani dropped out of the race against Hillary in 2000, because of prostate cancer IIRC.

It's really not worthwhile to play guess-the-candidate games right now, even for political junkies; the more interesting exercise is trying to figure out which direction the electorate's taking, and then the best candidates will become more obvious. Next summer, after six months of a Dem Congress and the GOP re-priming their machine, we may have a better idea of the kind of narrative in which we'll have to fit a candidate.

Posted by: latts | Nov 20, 2006 11:29:36 AM

Hillary was essentially recruited to run against Giuliani in a high tier fight. The state Democratic party was in the doldrums, running decent yet uninspiring people.

Giuliani's reputation began to tarnish significantly when, during the course of the campaign, it became clear that he and his wife were seeking a divorce and he was having an affair. Not necessarily deal breakers, but in the light of his "more moral than thou" stands (i.e.: the infamous Brookly Museum incident)... he took a big hit.

Giuliani did not lose to H. Clinton, rather he withdrew from the race. In his place, the state Republican party picked Rick Lazzio, a state law maker from Long Island who managed to convince the electorate that he was a thug during the televised debates.

Posted by: LeftistBoddhisatva | Nov 20, 2006 11:31:47 AM

Giuliani would have beaten HRC if he'd stayed in. Lazio was a freakshow.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Nov 20, 2006 11:37:08 AM

The national media will of necessity concentrate on the horse race between well-known candidates - giving them a tremendous advantage. I wish this weren't the case, but it is. I'd like to see some more Governors in the mix early on.

Meanwhile both parties seem to have a dearth of candidates that appeal to their base voters. McCain/Guiliani are not the obvious candidates of the hard-core factions of the Repubs (Giuliani clearly gets the CorpCon support, but not the TheoCons, NeoCons, and traditional fiscal conservatives), and Hillary (and maybe even Obama) are not the natural candidates of the progressives/liberals in the Dem. party - in Hillary's case because she has publicly and deliberately tried to throw off the 'liberal' label.

When it comes down to the actual election (not the primaries), the independents will rule, as they clearly did in many 2004 contests. My guess now is that McCain has the edge with this population (incorrectly he IS perceived as moderate), and maybe the Rethugs will back him not only because of this, but also the dearth of currently-known 'moderates' now left in the Rethug party don't provide alternatives that are plausible as centrists. Romney may try to gain this position, but he has serious obstacles from the evangelical right on his Mormonism.

Anyway, I sure don't like the thought of 12-15 months of speculation ahead, with so few really viable candidates in either party. Maybe I just need to accept the idea that Hillary and McCain are the likely candidates and bury my head under my pillow until the fore-ordained conclusions are ratified. Then I should emerge, clothes pin firmly attached to my nose, and vote Dem knowing that Hillary won't win. I have the same feelings that I imagine a person on death row having: the end is in sight, so just accept it.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 20, 2006 12:04:13 PM

I don't find national polls of each party's primary contenders particularly interesting, for all the above reasons, and that's why I don't post them. The IA / NH one-party polls do give some useful information (especially when you consider that we don't have much rigorously collected data of that kind.) And head-to-head polls pitting various Democrats against various Republicans are useful because they're our only source of rigorously collected data about who wins over swing voters.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Nov 20, 2006 12:38:50 PM

Tim, Guliani was not well liked by republican upstate, especially after the whole Donna Hanover thing, and Lazio was viewed as another Al D'Amato clone from the Republican Long Island machine. My guess is Guliani doesn't motivate upstate voters any better than Lazio did, and Republicans can't win statewide races without them.

Posted by: Geeno | Nov 20, 2006 1:56:47 PM

He would not have beat HRC- as has oft been pointed out - by 2001, he was on a severe decline, and was headed toward being considered only an average mayor at best.

Posted by: akaison | Nov 20, 2006 2:10:52 PM

Half the people who select Hillary are those who've dipped into the same koolaide the white house drinks.
They fantasize that if we elect Hillary we will get Bill back. They live in lalala world. If they vote for Hillary they get Hillary. If they got realistic I'd like to see those numbers.
In the meantime, if the polls were conducted in different parts of the country and not just around the bubble they would find Hillary is not the big thing the bubble people think.
Talk to people in Minn, or Wisc. or Ok. or Col. and you will find she is not the great front runner the media thinks she is.

Posted by: vwcat | Nov 21, 2006 2:11:45 AM

Hillary & the DLC would do well to remember that, though she is viewed as competent, one of the main reasons a majority of New Yorkers voted for her in 2000 was that the Republicans' irresponsible impeachment of her husband created such indignation here that a response was deemed necessary.
In 2006 a competent Democratic incumbent was re-elected during a period of even greater Republican irresponsibility and corruption.
Her demonization by the right wing gives Hillary great name recognition. However, it is hardly a reason to put her in the Oval Office.

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