McCain's House of Cards
Conventional wisdom goes that Rudy will be eaten alive by the hard right once he enters the primaries, leaving McCain as the sole contender who can beat Hillary. But can McCain build a constituency out from the conservatives who will putatively abandon Rudy (outside of his paid staff)? The Gallup poll, Strategic Vision state polls, and a new blogosphere poll all suggest that the answer is a clear and resounding "No."
Savvy '08 watchers were rocked this week by the "surprising" news that McCain is found unacceptable by 4 in 10 Republicans. This was no surprise to those of us who have been watching the Internet for months. Now, a new blogosphere poll has come out mirroring the Gallup poll, and it not only asks how acceptable the candidates are, but asks their supporters to rate themselves on a conservative scale from 1 to 10.
And with nearly 4,000 votes cast, John McCain has the most liberal support base (6.01 conservative) of any candidate, except for Chuck Hagel (5.89). Rudy's support base is nearly a point more conservative (6.88), which places his supporter base in the solid mainstream of the Republican Party. Other candidates of note who rated more highly are Mitt Romney (7.02), Bill Frist (7.23), and George Allen (7.41). Rudy's supporters look more like Sam Brownback's (7.45) than John McCain's. Rudy only gets net negative ratings in the 10% or so who categorize themselves as "ultraconservative" and even 36% of them approve of his candidacy.
Oh, and this solidly conservative group of bloggers find Rudy to be acceptable by 61% to 31%, while McCain is unacceptable by 69% to 22%.
This poll merely confirms something else we had known for a while: what support McCain does get comes from the GOP left. These people either won't vote, or will gravitate to whomever else becomes the maverick flavor of the month as McCain rehabs himself into a Falwellian.
We see this hinted at in the Strategic Vision polls, all of which show McCain bleeding support once a candidate like Condi is entered into the race. Condi is somewhat of an enigma, a default choice for the wavering or unaffiliated. McCain's RINO supporters seem to fall disproportionately in this category.
Counterintuitively, Rudy's support seems harder to budge and more grounded in the mainstream of the party, with the people who attend Lincoln Day dinners, walk precincts, and generally decide primaries.