Adam Nagourney of The New York Times at least seems to get the main reason John McCain's campaign is floundering -- right-wingers despise him -- but in addition to citing complaints McCain is hearing about his less-than-hardline immigration stance and his former opposition to the Bush tax cuts, Nagourney cites this bit of conventional wisdom:
The outsider of 2000 is now an insider: the familiar face of Washington and the Republican Party, tied to an unpopular war and an unpopular president.
ABC's Jake Tapper, also covering McCain, stresses that point even more than Nagourney does:
... what once seemed his greatest political strength -- his popularity with moderates and independents -- has dissolved because of his strong support for President Bush's re-election and for the president's war, a war he is linked to more than any other candidate.
... somehow the Straight Talk Express took a detour into Iraq.
I think this is nuts. Why would opposing a war Republicans absolutely adore be causing problems for McCain among Republican primary voters?
It's dated information, but look at the results of this year-old poll conducted by the Diageo firm for The Hotline:
In a head-to-head, Giuliani and McCain are dead even. But look closer: Rudy leads by 14 points among those who "strongly approve" of Pres. Bush's job performance.
The two are tied among those who "somewhat approve" of Bush. McCain clobbers Rudy among the 18% who "disapprove" of Bush.
Giuliani was surging then, and McCain was losing his lead. Those trends continue. So why shouldn't we believe it's for the same reason?
And which group do you think is larger? Let's look at the most recent New York Times/CBS poll:
...Republican voters remain largely loyal to Mr. Bush and his positions on the issues. Among Republicans, 75 percent approve of his job performance, and by overwhelming numbers they approve of his handling of foreign policy, the war in Iraq and the management of the economy.
Let's sum up: Republicans love Bush, still. Republicans love the war. Republicans who love Bush vastly prefer Rudy to St. John.