Mike's postPew
Some might argue that the horse race polls may reflect the old axiom that voters put more emphasis on the person than the party. While this is certainly true, the crucial personal dimension in a period of national discontent, is whether the candidate is seen as an agent of change. And at this early stage in the game, the Republican front runners might just fill that bill. A recent Pew survey found that most voters make a big distinction between both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani and President Bush. Both candidates are seen as less conservative than Bush, and much closer to the average voter's own political beliefs. In contrast, Newt Gingrich was the only Republican candidate tested in the Pew poll who was placed right next to the president on a liberal-conservative scale. Gingrich, of course, is not a front runner, and most voters say they will not vote for him, if he is on the ballot in '08 Another piece of evidence for the potential appeal of the Republican frontrunners is the support they draw from political independents--the group that was so eager for political change in 2006, and played a decisive role in the Republican congressional defeat. A recent Pew poll found that as presidential candidates both Giuliani and McCain were about as appealing to independents as were Clinton and Obama, even though a plurality of independents say they lean Democratic these days.
Ryan Lizza