The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder has examined some recent polls and has determined some common themes among them. The first one may surprise you:
There is a remarkable consistency across all these polls, one that helps us draw certain boundaries around the electorate. There will always be variation, either random or events-driven, but the rough plot lines of the next few months are clear:
(1) McCain runs better among Republicans than Obama does with Democrats. The difference is not that big — eight points in the CBS News survey, if I recall, and five points here — but it is noticeable. This is probably an after-effect of a contested primary; it may also have to do with racism, with unease about Obama’s resume, and with unease with the content of his message (butter versus bread.) There are more Democrats than Republicans, so Obama comes out about even, if a little bit ahead. Given the composition of the electorate, he should be doing a little bit better among Democratic women, among white Catholics in the Midwest and among national security-conscious swing voters.
As far Obama’s attempts at making the economy the focus of the general election campaign, Ambinder writes:
(4) The economy isn’t working well as an issue for Obama. Yes, Americans think he speaks more their concerns, yes, they are more comfortable with Democratic policy positions, yes, they say that the economy is the most important issue to them (Dems, independents, Republicans), yes, the objective condition of the economy is poor and consumer anxiety is manifest… but still. It should be the wave issue of this election, and it’s not. The Obama campaign assumes that the election will be a referendum on the Bush economy, but it may well be that, as Obama himself has said, voters don’t believe that the president has much control over the economy and therefore, when those 10 million or so independent/swing voters select the attributes that will guide their choice, economic stewardship isn’t one of them. Put another way, it’s much easier for an election in 2008 to be a referendum about the war — politicians made choices that led directly to the war — but it is objectively difficult for voters who have a basic knowledge of economics (even if it’s intuitive) to blame the Bush tax cuts. The economy is working for Obama, but it’s not working as well as it ought to be. Does he need a new argument? Is a new argument out there?
Make sure to read the whole thing. There’s some good, insightful information there on trends we may or may not be seeing in the coming months, depending on the mood of the electorate.
In related Election 2008 news, the McCain campaign has seized upon recent remarks by Barack Obama on the USSC’s Boumediene ruling , which gives habeas corpus rights to suspected terrorists. Obama, in a nutshell, explained in an ABC interview his agreement with the decision, and expressed a belief that the criminal justice system is perhaps the most effective, lawful way to deal with suspected terrorists:
And it is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. And there has been no evidence on their part that we can’t.
And, you know, let’s take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.
And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, “Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.”
So that, I think, is an example of something that was unnecessary. We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws.
McCain campaign Foreign Policy Advisor Randy Scheunemann said in response: “Barack Obama’s belief that we should treat terrorists as nothing more than common criminals demonstrates a stunning and alarming misunderstanding of the threat we face from radical Islamic extremism. Obama holds up the prosecution of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 as a model for his administration, when in fact this failed approach of treating terrorism simply as a matter of law enforcement rather than a clear and present danger to the United States contributed to the tragedy of September 11th. This is change that will take us back to the failed policies of the past and every American should find this mindset troubling.”
Something else they could have added to that that would have been the nail in the coffin would be to remind people that Obama surrogate and fellow Senator John Kerry, who recently suggested that John McCain was “confused” and “‘unbelievably out of touch” on issues related to the Global War on Terror, tried selling the terrorists should have their day in court approach in 2004 when he was the Democrat nominee for president, and, well, how did that platform work out?
Legal eagle Beldar opines:
I pray tonight for the continued vigilance of the host of angels who, together, are struggling to keep Andrew McCarthy’s head from exploding. If you don’t already know what the co-lead prosecutor from Obama’s “model case” has to say about Boumediene in particular, and using the civilian justice system to fight terrorism in general, start with this essay; then this; then read a review or three of his new book, or better still, the book itself, which is aptly titled (in description of people like the junior senator from Illinois): Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad. Suffice it to say, McCarthy’s first-hand experience proves Obama to be a spectacular, mind-boggling fool on this entire subject.
Obama is already living in a fantasy world, one in which cold-hearted dictators will swoon in his presence like the hyperventilating fans at his rallies. But at this rate, I expect Obama to suggest, come October in one of the presidential debates, that if we’ll just modify some of our spotlights to project a giant bat-image against the clouds, Commissioner Gordon will be able to mop up what’s left of the war in Afghanistan within a fortnight.
Ask yourself this: Can you imagine a serious political candidate for any office saying such a thing in October 2001? Can you imagine a Supreme Court so intruding itself into military and national security affairs then?
But these idiots have completely forgotten 9/11. They’ve willed it down the memory hole, because they’re so damned focused on condemning George W. Bush, who of course is the preeminent source of evil in the world today.
I don’t question their patriotism. I question their sanity.
I question both.