It certainly looks like it will be McCain winning the GOP nomination. Very interesting they would go for a 71 year old man but his strengths are that he’s seen as more moderate than Romney and Huckerbee. In the general election therefore McCain can claim a little bit more ground than either of those other two because he is not pegged over on the right. (9u11iani has never been a factor, he just had high name recognition.)
(See update below on Edwards dropping out. Now Dem nominee looks most likely to be Clinton, as polls have shown all along.)
That means McCain can get the majority of GOP support plus try to get centrists and independents. Of course Romney and Huckerbee are somewhat more preferred by the arch-conservatives and the fact that their campaigns imploded must be worrying for them. He he!
I suppose McCain will run on positioning himself in opposition to Bush, despite the fact he votes almost all the time for Bush and really likes him!
The trouble with this is that if he’s after the disaffected vote, which of course is substantial, he runs up against a backstop in that these voters are more naturally aligned with voting for the other party, namely the Dem nominee. If you oppose Bush why not just vote Dem? So there’s only so far his support goes.
As I said 10 days ago when it began to look like McCain would win in Florida and thus the nomination, he will present the toughest opponent for the Dems.
You can track head-to-head here.
This certainly doesn’t mean he would win though and I still place my bets on a Democrat winning.
- Conservative media elites will thrash McCain.
- McCain only has Iraq.
- McCain is soft.
Now, with all of this said, I still think that Romney would have been 5-7% easier to defeat. Further, with Romney we had a much better chance of a blowout election that could result in a generational mandate that would realign American politics. However, I just want to make it clear that McCain is still a highly vulnerable target, no matter who wins the Democratic nomination (Clinton and Obama perform roughly equal against him). Better yet, defeating McCain by 5% or more would send the Republican Party reeling for a long, long time to come. Even better than that, a narrow victory over McCain, coupled with progressive primary challenger success and big wins in the Senate, would still produce the most progressive government in D.C. in forty-five years, and possibly ever. Beating McCain crushes Republicans and conservatives over the long-term, whereas beating Romney would only be a temporary victory.
So bring on McCain. While I would have preferred Romney, there are still many benefits to McCain as the Republican nominee.
All of this is right, perhaps obviously so, and I would add that the country is ready for a new party in the White House. This is really why there are so many good Democratic candidates and why the GOP candidates are, let’s face it, pretty much second tier and uninspiring.
Update: John Edwards to drop out, no immediate endorsement. So from five somewhat viable candidates a week ago we’re left with three, and with 2 most likely (McCain vs. Clinton).
I expect Edwards would prefer Obama but will wait until after Super Tuesday and then endorse Clinton.