News from the Votemaster
Newsweek ran a poll asking about whether people had a favorable/unfavorable impression of Barack Obama and John McCain. The results are Obama 56%/32%, McCain 55%/32%. It is amazing that they are practically identical and so positive. With a Karl Rove pupil, Steve Schmidt, now de facto running McCain's campaign, no doubt the mud will start flying fairly soon in order to reduce Obama's favorables. And Obama has said he isn't going to just take it like John Kerry did in 2004, so no doubt it will be flying both ways come the Fall. The voters say they can't stand negative campaigns but they work.
Time also has something interesting: a column by Michael Kinsley about the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Many Republicans have hated and distrusted John McCain for years and have major ideological differences with him, yet they are coming around to him with the attitude Lyndon Johnson had about the Shah of Iran: "He's a bastard, but he's our bastard." In contrast, the feud between the Obama and Clinton people goes on despite it only having lasted 6 months and Obama being in favor of just about everything they have supported their whole lives.
But all is not hunky dory in McCainland either. The LA Times has a story headlined: "Under New Management, Week One is a Weak One." His economic advisor, former senator Phil Gramm, said that we have a "mental recession" and Americans should stop whining about the economy. Then McCain himself said that it is a disgrace that young workers pay into the social security pot and old workers take money out of it (which was the design from day 1--it was never intended as a personal savings account). While McCain isn't responsible for what Gramm says, the Republicans hammered Obama for what Rev. Wright said. Either you are judged by the company you keep or you're not, but the same rules are going to apply to both sides this year.
Chris Cillizza, a well-respected blogger at the Washington Post listed his current top five current picks for Vice President. Here they are.
Cillizza has experience but no more information that anyone else. The people who know aren't talking. Here is a brief rundown of each of these candidates' strengths and weaknesses, starting with the Democrats. Tim Kaine is from a crucial swing state. If Obama wins Virginia, he needs only only more state to add to the Kerry states. On the other hand, Kaine is not well known nationally and has no foreign policy or military expertise. A Kaine pick is purely an attempt to win Virginia (and maybe North Carolina) and nothing else. Evan Bayh might be able to make Indiana a swing state. He has lots of experience and few enemies. The downside is the loss of a Senate seat as (current and likely future) Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) will replace him with a Republican. Kathleen Sebelius might attract women voters and independents but she might also repel women who really want Hillary. She can't bring in Kansas. Joe Biden brings in years of foreign policy experience. No one will question his credentials as he has been in the Senate longer than McCain. On the other hand, he brings in no state or demographic group and he talks too much so he'd probably be better as Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton would certainly bring in the 18 million people who voted for her in the primaries, but she is still very divisive and will hasten the unification of the Republican Party. Also, the absence of a white man on the ticket will hurt the Democrats in Appalachia, where men will feel everyone counts except them (ditto for Sebelius).
Now the Republicans. Mitt Romney is the first choice of many business leaders and some conservatives. However, his stands on many issues this year are the opposite of what they were when he was running for governor of Massachusetts so he will be labeled a flip flopper. His Mormon faith will also be a problem for many evangelicals. Furthermore, McCain really dislikes him. But John Kennedy's dislike of Lyndon Johnson didn't keep Johnson off the ticket in 1960. Tim Pawlenty is probably conservative enough for the Base but moderate enough for the independents, which is no mean feat. However, it is doubtful that he can even bring in Minnesota. Why Cillizza puts Ridge in the list is a mystery. His pro-choice stance will make the Base apopletic. They distrust McCain to start with and a Ridge pick would only confirm their worst fears. Bobby Jindal is even younger (37) than Obama (46), thus destroying one of McCain's best lines of attack. Jindal also dabbles in exorcism and the Democrats will make him out to be a kook. Thune is completely unknown and brings in nothing. Of the Republicans listed, only Romney and Pawlenty make sense. Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) really should be on the list, too.
It is important to realize that the candidates intentionally leak many names to please some group or other. For example, by leaking Hillary Clinton's name, Obama may try to please her supporters by making it look like she has a chance when she probably doesn't.
One one poll today, in Washington state, and Obama is comfortably ahead here as usual.
-- The Votemaster