December 23, 2007

McCain And Obama The Mo Men?

The Boston Globe's new poll puts both New Hampshire primaries in dead heats with sixteen days to go. As other polls have shown, Barack Obama has succeeded in overtaking Hillary Clinton and now has a slight two-point lead. For the Republicans, John McCain has made a run at Romney and now only trails by less than the margin of error (via Memeorandum):

Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination was all but dead this summer, has made a dramatic recovery in the Granite State 2 1/2 weeks before the 2008 vote, pulling within 3 percentage points of front-runner Mitt Romney, a new Boston Globe poll indicates.

McCain, the darling of New Hampshire voters in the 2000 primary, has the support of 25 percent of likely Republican voters, compared with 28 percent for Romney. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has slid into third place, with 14 percent. A Globe poll of New Hampshire voters last month had Romney at 32 percent, Giuliani at 20 percent, and McCain at 17 percent.

Among Democratic voters, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has opened up a narrow lead over Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, 30 percent to 28 percent. That, too, represents a major shift from last month's Globe poll, which had Clinton with a 14-point advantage. Former senator John Edwards of North Carolina remained a steady third at 14 percent.

Romney has had some rebound in Iowa as Mike Huckabee took a lot of heat on a wide variety of issues. If Romney can win Iowa and take a narrow loss in New Hampshire, he could survive, especially if Rudy Giuliani continues to retreat in the larger states. If Huckabee beats him in Iowa and McCain beats him in New Hampshire, Romney will have a hard time gripping any traction at all as the race moves towards South Carolina and Michigan, let alone Florida, New York, and California.

The bigger problem in this poll is for Hillary Clinton. If Obama wins the first two states in the primary race, she will have tremendous difficulties in recovering momentum. People don't like her, and unless she can rebuild that air of inevitability, voters will gravitate towards the affable but inexperienced Obama. Even if she can eventually outdo Obama for the nomination, two successive losses will make it clear that even with all of the advantages she had in this race, the Republicans will not have an insurmountable task in convincing voters to reject her.

How did McCain make it back? He stuck to his guns and stripped his campaign down to the bare minimum, and he openly acknowledged his failings on the stump. New Hampshire has always been friendly ground for him, but polls in other states (such as California) indicate that he may be able to parlay a New Hampshire win into greater momentum -- if he wins. If he can do that, he could become the Comeback Kid of 2008.


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