Thursday, July 31, 2008

5% of Democrats Say They'll Vote for McCain

The question is: How consequential is that? Is that enough to swing the election to McCain or are those Democrats concentrated in comfortably red states already? I don't have an answer, but I would like to open the topic up for discussion.

These numbers are based on the current Rasmussen national poll that was released under the somewhat misleading (yet more eye-opening) headline, "30% of Conservative Democrats Say They'll Vote for McCain." That's great, but only 18% of those Democrats polled in the two weeks the survey was conducted said they were conservative. The release goes on to list the numbers broken down by age and race, but not by region or by state. Now, I'm sure that information is available via subscription, but I'm not privy that information (Perhaps some of our readers are.).

But what do you think? Is 5% enough to hurt Obama? It is certainly better than the 28% of Hillary supporters who said they'd vote for McCain back in March (if Obama became the nominee).


Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (7/30/08)

BarackBook: An Experiment Gone Wrong

Frontloading Under Fire, Part II

8 comments:

Jack said...

If only 5% of Democrats vote for McCain, that's actually great for them. According to this FiveThirtyEight post, "John Kerry lost 11 percent of Democrats to George W. Bush; Al Gore lost 11 percent to Bush and 2 to Nader; Bill Clinton lost 10 percent to Bob Dole and 5 percent to Ross Perot."

Considering the circumstances of this election, with all the reports of PUMAs who intend to vote for McCain, as an Obama supporter I'm very happy with only losing 5% to McCain.

Josh Putnam said...

Good memory, Jack. That post had slipped my mind. Thanks for adding the link.

I suppose the 5% figure is misleading as well. Not all Democrats voting for McCain will be conservative ones. Though, I'd imagine a good portion of those crossover Democrats will be.

Jack said...

Speaking of my good memory, I haven't gotten my pencil sharpener yet ...

In all seriousness, Rasmussen says that Obama has the support of 78% of Democrats. It does not say, however, how many are undecided, how many plan to vote for McCain, and how many plan to vote for a third party candidate or not at all. I do believe that some of them will vote Democratic, as they will realize how much closer Obama is to their views than McCain, but how many will do so is uncertain. Certainly, some diehard Clinton supporters (and possibly diehard supporters of other candidates) and some of the more racist voters will not vote for Obama, making me think he'll lose slightly more than the other 10%.

Another possibility that would cause more conservative Democrats to vote for Obama is this: McCain may have some problems with his base and feel the need to shift to the right (or, considering the fact that I think he's already done this, stay to the right.) This would cost him among Democrats not quite conservative enough to identify with the Republican party. Meanwhile, Obama, with an enthusiastic base, could feel more comfortable continuing to move to the center, helping him with moderates and conservatives.

Of course, Obama does have to be careful if he does move further to the center, as he does not want the attacks of "flip-flopper" to damage him.

Robert said...

If the issues are decisive, Obama should win most of the skeptical Democrats and many of the Independents. I agree he can't go too far toward the Center, but he can afford to go to the Center more than McCain can because Democrats are hungrier than Republicans.

A key, however is how the election is cast. Recent Rove-like commercials from the McCain camp are trying to cast the election as a referendum on Obama. The Obama campaign has been trying to cast it as a referendum on the Bush years. Early on, Obama was winning on the anti-Bush sentiment, but the recent jump in McCain's poll numbers suggest that the anti-Obama trajectory is working. The MSM appears to be abetting the McCain campaign by playing the Brittany/ Paris ad ad nauseum. In our discussion group, Paul indicated that it doesn't matter how the commentary is couched as it is the message that comes through. Are Brittany and Paris the Swift Boaters of 2008? We'll know in about 100 days.

Josh Putnam said...

Yikes, the pencil sharpener! I just got off the phone with the manufacturer and he said they are back ordered because a Chinese supplier has shifted their efforts toward Olympic sharpeners.

On another note...

I think this is an interesting discussion about candidate positioning. Jack, you mentioned the idea of McCain moving to the right to keep his base intact. I agree with that and that's why his VP choice is so interesting. I haven't heard much about how the social conservatives feel about Pawlenty, but I know that they don't seem too terribly enthusiastic about Romney or Crist either. Huckabee? This is just like the primaries. The Christian right is complaining about all the possibilities, but aren't offering up or supporting anyone they may actually like (and probably won't until it is too late...again). [Rob and I had a discussion similar to this yesterday.] My point is that the VP choice for McCain is likely to turn some of those folks off. And that really puts the pressure on him to do something to win them over. ...like move to the right. That's not really going to help him though.

SarahLawrenceScott said...

McCain's unusual position relative to his party may shed some light on the recent negative advertising. "Common sense" suggests that negative advertising usually hurts both candidates, but hurts the target more. That's why it's used.

But in this case, McCain's numbers seem to have ticked up a bit recently--particularly his core numbers.

Here's my speculation: McCain's support, particularly from much of the Republican base, has been very lukewarm. He's tried moving to the right, but it doesn't have much effect, because the memory of hard-core partisans (on both sides) is long. But attacking fiercely--that's red meat. If McCain can't convince some brands of conservative that he loves their principles, at least he can convince them that he hates what they hate.

That means McCain's next step is very tricky. This time around, Republicans and Republican leaning independents are probably not quite enough to win. To actually get there, he has to use his boost in the polls from consolidating conservative support to convince others that he's got momentum and benefit from a bandwagon effect, without turning someone off in the process.

That's an interesting strategy, if it's what's going on, but it's a tall order.

Josh Putnam said...

Honestly, and I've said this before, I dislike short posts like this. However, it does allow commenters to fill in the gaps and engender a good discussion.

Scott, I like this "red meat" angle. "Let's attack the Democrats and make them look foolish like we always do (or have often enough recently)." That restores order in the Republican universe and it likely wins them points with the base. However, as you say, it is tough to transition from that to making a bandwagon effect appeal to independents who are likely to be turned off by the attacks.

So much of McCain's road is treacherous, but that's what makes the perceptions that he's close still so interesting. I keep reading about how this election is like 1980 and that voters are ready for change but aren't yet comfortable with voting for Obama. McCain's job between now and November is to make sure that comfort zone is not reached. Things look good now, but will they in a month? Two months? Election day? We'll have to see.

Robert said...

Scott and Josh,

Great points. Obama needs to counter with something like the Republicans are good at attacking, but they just can't govern well.