Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Republicans Want Obama

National elections run on different principles than primary elections. National polls tell a different story from state-wide primary polls. And so far as the national election goes, Republicans have been quick to seize on the development of an Obama win in Iowa and some polls showing Obama ahead in New Hampshire. They had nothing but good things to say about him in their debate this week. Why are the Republicans excited by the prospect of an Obama nomination? Several reasons: Obama, from their point of view, is less formidable of an opponent than the Clintons would be. The Clintons have long since established that they can take a pounding and give as good as they get, while Obama, with his platitudes and conciliatory rhetoric, appears much softer for a roughing up (this will be a factor for him even after inauguration, should he win). McCain would beat Obama, and that's the only Republican-winning match-up where I would say "would" instead of "could." McCain could beat Clinton. That's the other story, the re-re-resurrection of John McCain. My view is that the suddenly tangible prospects of a McCain candidacy and an Obama candidacy are dangerous waters for the Democrats. If Huckabee is nominated the Republicans lose. I was going to go on to say that the Republicans won't nominate Huckabee, but I don't think anybody knows what the GOP primary electorate is going to do, especially once it goes to the South. McCain is the best Republican to put up in the general, and so it's a worrisome development that the public is finding its way back to him. Romney and Giuliani are both capable of putting up a fight and getting lucky. Thompson is out of it, although I was surprised at James Carville and Mary Matalin on Meet the Press last week who seemed to feel strongly that he was still in. Surely they must know something that I don't know? But in the general the Clintons beat any of them, only McCain would have a chance. The Democrats' best hope is Hillary vs. anybody but McCain.

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