McCain: GOP’s Only Hope?

January 14, 2008

CNN’s new head-to-head general election poll, released on Saturday, shows the only Republican candidate not getting smoked by Obama OR Clinton is none other than John McCain.

According to the survey, both of the Democratic front-runners, Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, hold mostly double-digit — and statistically identical — advantages over Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, drawing greater than 50 percent support in each hypothetical matchup.

The Republican candidate who gives Clinton and Obama the closest race in the new poll is Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is essentially tied with both: He draws the support of 48 percent of those surveyed to Clinton’s 50 percent and Obama’s 49 percent.

The most logical deduction from this would be that McCain has more appeal to undecided swing voters than anyone else in the GOP field. But why? McCain has been staunchly pro-war, and, as Fox News mentioned during the New Hampshire debates, has the tendency to appear to be part of the problem rather than the solution to a “broken Washington” (with apologies to someone not mentioned in the poll, John Edwards).

Question: Would McCain’s nomination indicate a return to the conservatism of the Reagan era, or a moderation of those values to attempt to save political capitol in a post-Iraq War era? We’ll know soon enough.

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