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Polling: Conservatives Look at 2008

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ABC News’s The Note provides this poll data from the 2005 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) gathering of conservative activists last week:

Who will be the Democratic nominee in 2008?

68% Clinton
6% Edwards
5% Richardson
4% Warner
3% Bayh
2% Kerry
2% Clark
1% Vilsack
1% Feingold

Who will be the Republican nominee in 2008?

19% Giuliani
18% Rice
11% Allen, Frist, McCain
4% Owens, Romney, Santorum
5% Gingrich
2% Pataki
1% Hagel, Huckabee, Pawlenty
0% Barbour

Hmm, the conservatives think the choice in ’08 will be between two quite liberal (from their point of view anyway) candidates – the 68% for Clinton is rather remarkable, but maybe it reflects wishful thinking on their part. But I wonder if the Giuliani nod reveals what they see as his personal strength, or a sense of pessimism regarding the conservative social agenda.

Speaking of which, in today’s Washington Post, Terry M. Neal says social conservatives aren’t pleased with the efforts of a certain Mr. Bush:

    Bush has not fulfilled his promise to provide faith-based programs with $8 billion – one-tenth of the supplemental budget for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan last year alone.

    In other words, even as Bush used the faith-based initiative to define himself and energize religious voters, he’s given little more than lip service to the policy.

    There are similarities between this and the gay marriage issue. In an interview with The Post in January, President Bush made it clear that this was not exactly his top priority. Social conservatives were also dismayed to learn last month that when Senate leaders drew up a list of 10 priorities, a constitutional ban for gay marriage wasn’t among them. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said on Fox News recently that Senate leaders might not push the amendment this year, but perhaps next.

Better still from my personal perspective: never. Were I a screaming social conservative I might feel a little had right now, but I’m not so I don’t. In fact I feel rather vindicated, but I’m not smug or anything.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • $8 BILL !!!!!!!

    I didn’t know it was that high.

    They seem rather naive with their presidential picks, though perhaps they were given a short list.

  • Eric Olsen

    silly conservatives: Trix are for kids

  • No it’s not that, it’s just obvious Hillary won’t be the nominee. She may run, but even that’s an outside shot.

    She’s done her job and worked across the aisle – in other words nothing on the map over the last few years of what gets someone elected these days.

    And Guiliani. Well, 9-11 will have been seven years removed from 2008. He won’t be able to run on those memories; people will have forgotten his strong leadership immediately afterward.

    I guess from a room full of political thinkers (right?) I expected more nuance. But again they were probably given a short list to choose from.

    The reality, of course, is no one has a friggin clue. Was Kerry a known name floated out there in 2000? No, not really. Neither was Edwards. About the only person people felt were guaranteed to run were Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman.

  • How about Condi up there with 18%? What exactly have they been smoking out there in conservative poll land? Condi is a wonderful lady, but my god she’d be an awful candidate. Might as well nominate Harold Stassen if he’s still alive. Hell, a dead Barry Goldwater is more inspiring than Condi.


  • Eric Olsen

    I totally agree that right now no one knows who will move to the head of the pack, but it does seem unlikely to be Hillary, Rudy or Condi, the CPAC’s “most likely” three

  • It is interesting that 49% of NY Republicans approve of ‘ultra-liberal’ Hillary Clinton’s job performance while only 40% disapprove.

    That’s an improvement, among Republicans, from 37% to 49% btw 2002 and 2005.


  • Eric Olsen

    I am less convinced now than just a few months ago that Hillary WON’T be the nominee – there is no question she is busy moving toward the center.

  • I don’t much like this list or percentages myself. That said, I do agree that Clinton is the early Democratic favorite, but not by nearly the margin stated.

    McCain and Hagel deserve far higher percentages on the GOP side. And Rice as a front-runner is just this side of wacky (can anyone imagine attack ads featuring Rice stating before Congress, “Yes, I believe the report was called… bin Laden set to strike in the US…”).

    Temple – Edwards and Kerry were known as up-and-comers in 2000, and were seen as early players in the run-up to the ’04 primaries.

    Eric Berlin
    Dumpster Bust: Miracles from Mind Trash

  • Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Howard Dean are all names that were nowhere on the Democrats’ radar by this point prior to the campaigns where they made a splash…so it’s way too early to hazard a guess on what will happen with the Democrats.

    Republicans tend to be more likely to nominate someone who did significantly well in a previous nomination fight (GW Bush is a notable exception…but Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, and George Bush Sr. all come to mind)…so McCain doesn’t seem too far off the mark.

  • The Democrats like to nominate ‘dark horse’ candidates. They’ve had some luck with it over the years – picking some charismatic unknown from outside of the main political spectrum and portraying him as the bold challenger to the opposition establishment. The results have been good as far as getting someone elected, but kind of crappy as far as the quality of president this approach produces. It’s what got us Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson who were among the worst presidents of this century.

    As for the Republicans, their approach is more conservative, and I think that despite his age we have to consider McCain the frontrunner. He’s more conservative and more morally acceptable than Giuliani. They may put Rudy out there to scare the Neocons, and then give them McCain as a compromise.


  • It’s really all up to the residents of Iowa and New Hampshire (and just a few other states) to pick the nominees.

    Going purely from these numbers, I think Clinton beats Giuliani. She would also beat Rice. Might have a harder time with McCain but she could handle Frist and Allen.

  • Scott — I might agree with your prediction, but I’m not sure where you’re starting from. Are you using the percentages presented by The Note as evidence of who will be the next President, or are you simply declaring Clinton’s relative strengths against potential candidates (assuming a head-to-head race in which each one has won his/her nomination)?

    Dave & Bill: I agree with both of you in the sense that Clinton and McCain have to be seen as the early front-runners.

    And let me clarify: we’re talking real early here. This is all happy-fun speculation time for political junkie types.

    (I assume we’re all card-carrying members here?)

  • I was going purely on assumption based on whatever.

  • RJ

    I’d like to see Governor Owens on the GOP ticket. Perhaps with Senator Allen?

  • RJ

    If Hillary runs (and she will), she will almost certainly get the nomination. The Dems absolutely LOVE her.

    Why? No one knows…

  • RJ

    “McCain and Hagel deserve far higher percentages on the GOP side.”

    They are both likely too “moderate” to win the GOP nomination.

  • RJ

    “Going purely from these numbers, I think Clinton beats Giuliani.”


    “She would also beat Rice.”

    Iffy, but Rice ain’t gonna run.

    Might have a harder time with McCain”

    McCain would kick her ass!

    “but she could handle Frist and Allen.”


  • “McCain and Hagel deserve far higher percentages on the GOP side.”

    They are both likely too “moderate” to win the GOP nomination.

    Well, at least no one’s mentioning Brownback yet… (thanks Lord of his choice)…

  • I am always surprised by the enthusiasm for Hillary ’08. She has definitely taken centrist positions, and has done a good job of being active in the Senate.

    But if Kerry/Edwards didn’t sell in enough swing/red states, wait until Hillary’s on the ticket. There’s an incredible level of antagonism towards Hillary in much of the South and Midwest.

    Imagine if John Kerry had not served in Vietnam, and was a woman, and was married to Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, and had been demonized by conservatives on a daily basis for the last 15 years, instead of just during the last 6 months.

    Kerry only got 48% of the vote . . . I’d put Hillary at 45% or 46% at best, with even more of the negative coatail effect that is destroying the Democratic party in red states.

  • Thad – You bring up very perceptive points, but discount the power of Hillary’s husband. Never count that man out in a political fight. The move to the center has already begun. Next will become the move to become the presumptive nominee.

    I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Hillary R Clinton as the first female President of the United States.

  • She definitely has a stage presence that Kerry never had, and Bill is a good asset. But I just have seen too many anti-Hillary bumper stickers – from when she was merely First Lady – to think that she can win nationally. A lot depends on what happens with the political climate 3-4 years from now, I guess.

    I actually think that a Republican like Christie Todd Whitman might have a better shot at the first female president mantle.

  • All of those bumper sticker folk would have never come within a hair’s distance of voting Democrat anyway, Thad.

    The future for the Dems lies in the West: Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico.

    That’s actually why Bill Richardson could become a huge name over the next few years.

  • Eric Olsen

    Hillary is busy trying to show people she is “different” now – if she can accomplish that she could get the nomination. I still think winning will be very tough though, but as Thad says, it will depend on the climate at the time. I think th ecountry will be ready to give the Democratic nom a real good look by then after 8 years of Bush.

  • Eric Berlin: “The future for the Dems lies in the West: Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico.”

    No doubt. I think in 2008 we will see all of those states as battlegrounds.

    “I think the country will be ready to give the Democratic nom a real good look by then after 8 years of Bush.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Especially if the Repubs can’t field a candidate with charm and wit (much like George W Bush).

    My biggest question in 2008 is about the very Conservative Christian right. After eight years of Bush with zero of their perogatives accomplished, will they be willing to throw their support behind another Republican candidate even if it was one more moderate than Bush?

  • Condi seems like a perfectly credible candidate to me. I don’t know that I’d necessarily support her, in that I don’t know what her positions on most issues would be, exactly.

    Assuming, however, the likelihood that she’d be fairly much to the conservative side, she’d be very credible. Why wouldn’t she? She’s already the favorite of the Republican base, and it seems likely she’d yank the critical black vote right out from under the Democrats. How could she be beat?

    The main downside is simply that she has never specifically run for office before, but that could be just as much turned into an advantage. She’s simply not going to have much in the way of campaign finance scandals or questionable relationships with donors who got government contracts, and that sort of thing. She’s fresh and clean there.

  • Condi is a smart woman but I agree with Dave on this one. Rice would be awful as the Republican candidate.

    A Rice/Clinton matchup would easily go to Clinton. Easily. If she ran in 2008, after 8 years of Bush, she would most likely just offer a continuation of Bush policies. Some Republicans would LOVE that of course, but Rice is no Bush. She lacks the charm and the wit and she is already a very polarizing figure.

    In 2008 I think the vast majority of Independents and all of the Democrats (and even a small section of Republicans) will be ready to halt the US lurch to the right and head back into sunnier territory. With Rice at the helm, that would not happen.

  • Scott, you seem to think that Americans are going to be just itching to elect a liberal in 2008. Therefore, Condi would get beat. That sounds like wishful thinking.

  • “Scott, you seem to think that Americans are going to be just itching to elect a liberal in 2008. Therefore, Condi would get beat. That sounds like wishful thinking.”

    Look again. What I said was Condi would get beat because she would be a bad candidate. I certainly don’t think Americans will be “itching” to elect a liberal and never said that either.

    Very simply put, I think most Americans will want a more moderate person (Republican or Democrat) in office.

  • A Whitman vs. Clinton race sure would be interesting. Clinton might be perceived by some the more conservative candidate with the way she’s been charging towards the middle recently.


  • RJ

    “A Whitman vs. Clinton race sure would be interesting.”

    It would be interesting for me, because I’d have to vote for a third-party candidate!

  • RJ

    Just thought of something:

    The US has never elected a female President. There are many out there who would not vote for one.


    The Dems nominate Hillary as expected. The GOP nominates a woman as well, in order to prevent a widening of the gender gap.

    And then a credible MALE independent candidate decides to throw his hat into the ring (a disgruntled McCain, for example)…

    That would be VERY interesting…

  • Eric Olsen

    it would be interesting but there would be a big stink about that candidate looking to exploit political misogyny which would be very difficult to counter: “Do you beat your wife often?”

  • I agree with RJ that the first-female-President dilemma is an interesting one. Would a Clinton, Rice, or Whitman gain enough votes from Soccer Moms/Security Moms to make up for the loss of votes among more old-fashioned voters who wouldn’t vote for a woman? Maybe, but who knows.

    Also, the various comments about the future of the Christian Conservative influence on politics are interesting. On election night, Ralph Reed talked about the 4 million evangelicals he was bringing out, and he was right. But how old are the people in that segment? And if they’ve never voted before, can they be relied on to come out regularly in future elections?

    Based on people I know, most of the hard-line Christian conservatives are older, whereas the younger conservatives are much more geared towards tax/military issues. In 20-30 years, “conservatives” might be much closer to libertarians on social issues than they are now – in other words, closer to the current Northern definiton of “conservative” than the Southern one.