Sunday, January 20, 2008

Democrats for McCain?

The more we get into the GOP primary season the less sure we are of a frontrunner, right?

I'm close to staking my reputation on McCain's emergence as the clear GOP standard bearer, but by the looks of
this morning's Los Angeles Times' analysis you'd think McCain was still a longshot:

John McCain's victory in South Carolina puts the Arizona senator in a strong position to win the Republican presidential nomination -- but only if he can follow up with another win in Florida nine days from now.

"This is a huge win for McCain," said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican campaign manager who is not affiliated with a candidate. "He has the most momentum going into Florida next week."

South Carolina was an important test for McCain because its Republican electorate is dominated by Southern social conservatives, the voters who derailed his presidential campaign in 2000.

An exit poll of primary voters showed that McCain didn't win a majority among conservative or evangelical Christian voters this time, either - but he won just enough of their votes to deny victory to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who failed to unify social conservatives behind his cause....

McCain can now claim that he has won hotly contested primaries in the campaign's most conservative Southern state, South Carolina, and its most moderate Northern state, New Hampshire -- a useful argument in a party that is searching for a candidate capable of unifying its fragmented parts. That puts McCain "in the strongest position of any candidate at this point to win the nomination," Reed said.

But the results in South Carolina still fell short of the kind of unalloyed triumph for McCain that might have vaulted him into a clear lead.

And who's going to challenge McCain for the Republican mantle (he's hardly the underdog anymore)?

Perhaps Romney, if he can win some voters outside of his Mormon base. I don't think Giuliani's going to come out of Florida as the GOP's white knight. His strategy of holding back from the early contests has dramatically relegated him to the sidelines. Thompson's holding off on announcing his exit from the race, although it's clear that his third place finish yesterday is about as high as he's going to go. Sadly, Huckabee sullied himself in S.C., and I doubt he'll recover (he hasn't won since Iowa).

Having said that, I was impressed to see Pete Abel at The Moderate Voice endorse John McCain for the presidency as
the choice for the Democrats in November!

Abel founded the moderate blog,
Central Sanity ( which now looks to be going under). He writes from a decidedly eclectic persuasion, which sometimes results in unusual political positions. Frankly, I don't read him much anymore, because I can't stand the ideological hypocrisy at TMV.

That said, Abel makes an interesting argument this morning:

The contemporary Republican establishment does not like McCain and is expected to pull out the stops to derail him leading up to Florida and Super Tuesday. And if the Senator from Arizona still manages to win Florida despite that opposition, watch out. The week from Florida to Feb. 5 will get very ugly, to the point that some of us will be looking over our shoulders, fearful that the alert hairs on the back of our necks pre-sage the rise from the dead of the pre-reformation ghost of Lee Atwater.

What’s more, regardless of what the GOP Establishment thinks, the boost that McCain’s 2008 S.C. primary victory gives him among Republican voters could have precisely the opposite effect among Democrats.

BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) Democrats will remember, all too well, South Carolina’s role in their nemesis’s march to the GOP nomination in 2000 and, from there, to the White House. In turn, that memory will make BDS sufferers question the judgment of S.C. Republicans and thus force them to question the candidate for whom a majority of S.C. Republicans voted this year.

Other Democrats — who are not fond of Bush but don’t froth at the mouth every time they hear is name — will fear McCain for different reasons, namely: He is the one Republican candidate who consistently keeps pace with Sens. Clinton and Obama in head-to-head polls for the general election.

Collectively, these factors paint a grim picture for McCain in the 16 days remaining between now and the evening of Super Tuesday, when the polls close.

I won’t attempt to talk the Republican establishment or BDS sufferers out of their opposition to McCain. They’ve already lost their collective minds. But I do want to make a special appeal to non-BDS Democrats, whom I believe are still grounded in reality and who, at the end of the day, are not that much different than their moderate GOP counterparts like me.

Those Democrats should support McCain – if not in votes, then in dialogue – for two key reasons.

1. McCain raises the ire of the contemporary Republican establishment because he rejects their meaner instincts.
As I’ve written before, McCain decries torture while the Establishment excuses it. He fights pork-barrel spending while they enable it. He calls for policies to combat global warming while they deny it. He seeks reasonable compromises on immigration policy while they stoke fear and prejudice.

2. McCain represents for Republicans what Obama represents for Democrats: a meaningful step away from the last 15-plus years. I’m not saying either man will revolutionize partisan politics as we know it, but both promise (at a minimum) evolutionary progress toward a different America. And if we truly believe country is more important than party, then we owe it to ourselves to boost the two candidates who (among all their peers) represent the best hope for moving us in a post-partisan direction, regardless of our individual party loyalties.

That’s my argument. Take it or leave it … but at least, consider it.
That's beefy.

What's not clear is why non-BDS Democrats should switch partisan loyalties to vote for a Republican?

Abel's right though: It is going to be a tough couple of weeks for McCain.

Still, I'm almost convinced that the political momentum of the electorate will overpower a GOP demonization campaign against McCain. Public opinion polls forthcoming this week will likely record a solid bounce in support for McCain as the GOP nominee. I've already noted many trends in public opinion here, and one in particular stands out:
McCain stands above every other candidate in the race - Democrat or Republican - in leadership qualities and electability.

As McCain has progressed, I've been dismayed at denunciations of him among conservative bloggers (one said the thought of choosing him "
makes me throw up a little in my mouth").

I find such sentiment strange and disturbing, considering
the stakes for the country should the Democrats take power in '09.

It's a fascinating thing that some Democrats are now calling for a McCain presidency. I'd be even more fascinated if some regular old Republicans did so as well.

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