Thursday, November 8, 2007

John McCain is Hitting Stride at Right Time

by Frank Donatelli
Reprint from

Evidence continues to accumulate that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) is making progress in his comeback effort to secure the Republican presidential nomination. McCain and dark horse Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are on the upswing, while the support levels for other candidates are either flat or actually declining.

Consider these recent developments:

First, McCain won the endorsement of Sen. Sam Brownback, the conservative, pro-life senator from Kansas. Brownback will campaign for McCain and be very helpful among social conservatives, especially in the caucus state of Iowa. Thus far, Sen. McCain has not been able to get traction with social conservatives, despite boasting the most pro-life voting record of any of the top-tier candidates. Brownback will remind conservatives that actions speak louder than words, and that only John McCain has by action demonstrated a real commitment to protecting human life.

Second, three national polls released in the last week confirm that John McCain is alone in second place among all of the GOP candidates. The ABC-Washington Post, Pew Foundation and Marist polls all show McCain moving into second place behind Rudy Giuliani while the others remain farther back. This represents a substantial gain for McCain in the last several months.
Third, a number of state surveys confirm that it is McCain, not Giuliani, who runs best against Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.). It is true that Rudy does better in very blue states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but these are long shots for any GOP nominee. The better test is who does best in real Midwest battleground states such as Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the evidence suggests that McCain runs better than Rudy in those key states.

Fourth, the continuing threat of some social conservatives to refuse to support Giuliani, or even to back an independent candidate in the general election against him, represents the continuing problems that a Giuliani candidacy will have in keeping the Reagan coalition of social and economic conservatives together. The best road to a GOP victory next year is to keep the base intact and add moderate and independent voters who like the GOP candidate’s expertise on national security and foreign policy issues and his willingness to work with the other party to fashion legislative solutions to our problems. That profile fits Sen. McCain much more than Rudy Giuliani.

The election season is just now beginning. Voters are looking hard at the choices available. John McCain is hitting his stride at just the right time.

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