Rudy as Reagan; McCain as Ford
Over at Race42008, I run the numbers on Michael Barone's latest polling analysis regarding general election matchups involving Rudy, McCain, and Hillary. Barone finds that Rudy and McCain are both bringing new voters into the GOP tent that President Bush couldn't. What's so interesting is that each candidate brings in an entirely different bloc of voters. While both solidify the libertarian southwest, McCain appears to be pulling in disproportionate numbers of voters in New England, the Pacific Northwest, and the upper midwest, while Rudy does better across the Rust Belt, in the industrial north, and in Florida. All of this leads me to conclude the following:
On McCain's support:
So how does McCain get to 351 electoral votes in a matchup against Hillary? By bringing into the fold what I like to call the “Ford Republicans,” voters who reside in states that went not only for Clinton, Gore, and Kerry, but for Dukakis in 1988. They’re the pre-Reagan Republicans who haven’t really voted GOP since the 1970s.
And on Rudy's:
But Rudy does even better than McCain in the ultimate electoral vote count, winning 354 electoral votes against Ms. Clinton. He does this, in my view, by winning back the Reagan Democrats — white ethnics who are largely concentrated in the Rust Belt (and the retirees who moved down to Florida) and who voted for Reagan and Bush 41 in the 1980s. Barone finds Rudy outperforming Bush in the states in the NYC media market, such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Rudy also brings Rhode Island into the mix, a bastion of Italian-Americans. I find Rudy outperforming Bush in Pennsylvania as well. McCain does not make waves in this area. The working class, ethnic Catholics of the industrial north are ready to come back into the fold if Rudy’s the nominee. They don’t seem particularly excited about McCain.
The task for conservatives, then, becomes to decide who they want to lead their party: Ford or Reagan. They made this choice once before. Something tells me the result won't change much this time around.