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January 22, 2007

Is McCain Unelectable?

Steve is right. McCain's vaunted electability -- which even I've bought into -- is a myth, a sham, an illusion. Poll after poll shows him losing to Hillary Clinton or John Edwards or Barack Obama. And McCain certainly doesn't lack for name recognition or media exposure. Indeed, unlike Clinton, McCain really does strike me as being near his ceiling. The media's portrayal of him is unfailingly positive and laudatory, but the campaign will inevitably unearth his vast array of extremely conservative, hawkish, unpopular views. If his talkshow ubiquity and leftover goodwill isn't translating into imposing leads now, he's in real trouble.

January 22, 2007 in Election 2008 | Permalink


We don't hold a national election for president. We have state, district, protectorate, and commonwealth elections for president on the same day. These national amalgamation polls mean nothing. If you want to make the Hillary argument please list the states that Kerry lost that Hillary can win.

Posted by: poofla | Jan 22, 2007 11:48:23 AM

If you want to make the Hillary argument please list the states that Kerry lost that Hillary can win.

Ohio. New Hampshire, Nevada, Missouri. Arkansas, Florida.

There are a lot of swing states out there. If the 2008 election happens in a political climate similar to the one we have now, a candidate Hillary would take several states that Kerry didn't. The disastrous Iraq War has created the possibility for just about any Democratic candidate to beat Kerry's results.

This doesn't mean that Hillary is a good candidate - and it doesn't mean that McCain is a bad candidate, at least not yet. It means that as things currently stand, the Democrats are in good shape.

Posted by: DivGuy | Jan 22, 2007 12:04:42 PM

And--don't forget this, even though the media does--McCain is deeply hated by a lot of the core activist groups on the conservative side. I can't see the NRA or any of the pro-life groups working for him against Edwards.

Posted by: SamChevre | Jan 22, 2007 12:13:54 PM

If his talkshow ubiquity and leftover goodwill isn't translating into imposing leads now, he's in real trouble.

Okay... but which is it? A few posts ago, you said (rightly, I think) that we are way far out to be giving poll numbers a lot of credence. But now McCain already has an insurmountable electability problem, shown through polling, and he might as well give up now. Which is it? I only ask because it's a long time between now and November of 2008, and there will be a great deal of pressure to take the temperature of this Presidential baby every 10 minutes and anxiously report the slightest blips as somehow having world-ending seriousness. Virtually no one is paying attention to all of this right now; those who are - me included - are the saddest, life-needing sort of political junkies. Enough already. McCain may yet be the Republican nominee with agood shot at winning. It's way to soon to make a lot of conclusions about whether or not he can win.

Posted by: weboy | Jan 22, 2007 12:17:43 PM

If McCain's public (on national TV) conduct continues along the lines of his appearance last Su on MTP, he's not going up in his prospects. He seems defeated already and the right-wing attack machine hasn't even gotten into gear yet.

My own opinion is that McCain is showing the signs that Reagan did in his second term of being increasingly unable to sort out the mental issues and sound coherent.

Reagan was protected, and very carefully scripted by his staff so the real truth still hasn't emerged about his mental capacity.

McCain really can't get away with that in the midst of a national election campaign, and I suspect he and his team know that.

Totally independent of his growing record for flip-flopping, incoherence, and ass-kissing of Bush and the religious right, I really don't think the country will back a guy with more than a few hints that his age is being reflected in his decreasing mental capacity to function.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jan 22, 2007 12:46:52 PM

The reason I think McCain is in trouble is not because of what the polls say, and not even because of his marriage to the war in Iraq, but because of his countenance over the last months. On Meet the Press yesterday he looked exhausted, uncomfortable, diminished. He spoke barely above a whisper. There was no fire in his eyes. He looked as if he barely had the energy to stand up, much less lead the country. It's not that he's too old--plenty of seventy-somethings have enough juice to be president--it's that he no longer believes what he says. He's lost the energy and passion afforded by conviction.

Posted by: david mizner | Jan 22, 2007 1:01:40 PM

What poofla said. These national polls mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, and I wish you guys would stop quoting them (I'm seeing this all over the left blogosphere). That said, I agree that McCain is toast, but for slightly different reasons: as Josh Marshall has pointed out, his pandering to the extreme right (which still distrusts him) has alienated the independents that were his base of support. I think David above has a good point also: I assiduously avoid watching the talk shows, but I keep hearing McCain looks worn out. That can't help him either.

Posted by: Rebecca Allen, PhD, ARNP | Jan 22, 2007 1:55:36 PM

I understand what Rebecca and poofla are saying about national polls, but c'mon. They don't mean "absolutely nothing"--they are quite relevant. Only three times out of 54 the presidential elections in U.S. history has a candidate won the electoral college without winning the popular vote. And the popular vote in those three exceptional elections was very close.

It may be too early to make much of the head-to-head numbers, but they are still useful polls.

Posted by: Joseph Hovsep | Jan 22, 2007 2:45:58 PM

McCain is clearly unelectable. The reason is simple: Iraq. However unpopular the war is now, it'll be even more unpopular in 9 or 12 months. By then, either McCain will have changed his position -- and will therefore be the ultimate example of a follower, not a leader -- or he won't have changed his position and he'll be irrelevent. For McCain, Iraq is kryptonite.

Posted by: Ady | Jan 22, 2007 5:52:20 PM

Flip/Flop Late Update: (via Atrios)

McCain Blasts Cheney Over Iraq Failures, Continues To Distance Himself From Escalation Plan

Also in the interview, McCain continued his back-pedaling from the escalation strategy that he first proposed. After offering a full-throated endorsement of the Bush plan just days ago, McCain opened the door to the redeployment of U.S. forces back to the borders of Iraq should the president’s plan fail. He added, “I don’t know if this is enough troops or not. I can’t guarantee success by doing this.”

The Straight Talk Express got derailed, fell over the bank into the river, and is now headed for immortality as the engine and cars lie on their back with wheels upward (like a dead insect).

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jan 22, 2007 7:36:11 PM

(i'm just dumb about closing italics: sorry)

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