Thursday, April 10, 2008


I'm the guy who said last June, at a time when predicting anything short of a Democratic blowout could get you carted off to the loony bin, "I guarantee the next president will be a Republican." So I find this depressing, but not really surprising:

This WNBC/Marist Poll of New York State reports:

· A McCain/Rice ticket would edge out both a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket for New York’s 31, usually true blue, electoral votes: 49% of registered voters in New York State support a John McCain/Condoleezza Rice ticket compared with 46% who support Hillary Clinton as president and Barack Obama as vice president. The Democrats don’t fare any better in New York with Obama at the top of the ticket as president and Clinton as vice president. McCain/Rice receives 49%, and Obama/Clinton has 44%. Although an Obama led Democratic ticket does better against McCain/Rice among non-enrolled voters than a Clinton/Obama ticket, Clinton/Obama is stronger with women against the Republicans....

You'll be told that this is happening because the Republicans, almost by accident, nominated the one candidate who would be even remotely competitive in the general election. You'll be told that this is a temporary state of affairs that will be reversed as soon as the Democrats have a real nominee, who will get a big bounce in the polls as soon as the nomination is secured.

Sorry, I don't buy any of that.

Democrats went into this race assuming that whoever they nominated would have a huge advantage over the Republican nominee because he would be, well, a Republican. But polls using the names of real candidates have shown for months that the Republicans were going to be competitive, and not just with McCain as the nominee -- Giuliani beat Clinton and Obama in some polls; hell, even Mike Huckabee got within a few percentage points of Clinton.

I do agree that both Democratic candidates have been tarnished in this long nomination fight -- but the bigger problem goes back way before this contest started.

Republicans attack every Democrat who so much as approaches real power, relentlessly and in a huge number of forums. Democrats don't do that. The public hates the war, hates Bush, and doesn't like the GOP, but the public hasn't heard over and over and over again that McCain and Rice are among the biggest enablers of the war, that they're Bushies, and that they're Republicans. I don't care if all this is self-evident -- say it.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: When Democrats talk about McCain, the way they should speak is: "The Republican policies of my Republican opponent, Republican John McCain..." America should think McCain's first name is "Republican," the way they used to think every Democrat's first name was "Liberal."

But this isn't happening -- and I think Democrats wouldn't have figured out that it needed to happen even if they'd had a nominee by February or March.

Maybe the Dems will eke out a win this year, but this poll just confirms my sense that John McCain is the favorite in this race -- and could even, like Poppy Bush in '88, win an electoral-vote landslide.

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