Presidential race tightens up

  Sen. Hillary Clinton (AP)

The races for both parties’ presidential nominations are showing signs of tightening. Yet a closer look at the numbers also reveals intriguing crosscurrents that raise questions about how solid the presumed Democratic advantage may be in November 2008.

Surveys show that people would clearly prefer that the Democratic Party win the White House next year, which political operatives and analysts attribute to the deep unpopularity of President Bush and the war in Iraq and a broad desire for change.

When top Republican and Democratic candidates are paired, however, the GOP hopefuls generally do quite well or at least hold their own.

Next year’s Election Day is eons away in political time, and many things could happen to alter today’s dynamics. For now, the surveys raise questions about whether the apparent Democratic edge would really hold up should GOP candidates with moderate credentials like Rudy Giuliani or John McCain face Democrats such as Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama.

When people are asked which party they want to capture the White House, "They tell you about the general climate or mood, and that’s not good for Republicans," said Whit Ayres, a GOP pollster not working for a presidential candidate.

"It’s almost a ‘Do you want George Bush to be president again?’ question," he said. "But it’s not the case if you say, ‘Do you want Hillary Clinton or Rudy Giuliani to be president?’"

For now, Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, remains atop his GOP presidential rivals while New York Sen. Clinton leads the Democratic field. But with few voters focusing yet on those races and a long way to go, their standings are vulnerable and may be eroding already.

Early polls are important, not as predictors of who will prevail but because strong showings make it easier for candidates to attract contributors, campaign supporters and media coverage.

"Voters are still going through the sorting out process," said Geoffrey Garin, a Democratic pollster not aligned with any candidate. "The opinions voters express are not at all inconsequential, but neither are they necessarily very permanent."

For months, Clinton has enjoyed a healthy lead over her closest competitor, Obama, the Illinois senator, leading him in some polls by 2-to-1 margins or more.

Late last month, an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll showed her advantage shrinking to 5 percentage points. A USA Today-Gallup survey in mid-April showed her with the same edge, while another by CNN-Opinion Research Corp. showed her lead dipping to 4 points.

But the soundings were unclear. The NBC-Journal poll was a drop from a 12-point Clinton advantage in March, but the change was within the sampling margin of error, meaning it didn’t necessarily reflect an actual shift in voters’ sentiments.

At the same time, other national polls by Newsweek, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, Quinnipiac University and others showed either a wider lead for Clinton or little recent change.

The results have been similarly mixed on the GOP side.

Giuliani’s lead over McCain fell to 15 points in a Newsweek poll earlier this month, and to 8 points in a Quinnipiac University survey. Other polls showed him with a steady or larger advantage.

"It’s very early and very fluid," said Ed Gillespie, a lobbyist and former Republican Party chairman. "I think you’ll see a lot of fluctuation between now and January."

That is when the first party primaries and caucuses will begin, though some states are still considering moving up their nomination contests.

Looking ahead to the general election, war-weary voters seem ready for change.

A mid-April Gallup poll showed people preferring the Democratic Party over the GOP to win the presidency by a substantial 51 percent to 38 percent. Democrats had a 43 to 34 advantage in a Quinnipiac University poll one week ago.

Yet in face-offs in which Gallup and Quinnipiac pitted the top contenders against each other, the two Republicans won most matchups and came out even in the others. The strongest showing was by Giuliani, who was preferred by up to 9 points.

The Newsweek survey gave Democrats more hope, with Clinton, Obama and former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., leading when matched against the top GOP contenders, except that Clinton and Giuliani ran about even.

"They show Hillary definitely can win," Mark Penn, Clinton’s chief strategist, said of the discrepancy between the party matchups and the candidates’ head-to-head pairings. "After she is nominated there will be a huge consolidation of votes among Democrats and she’ll shoot up a number of points."

Andrew Kohut, who heads the nonpartisan Pew polls, said the ability of the GOP front-runners to outperform their party in the surveys should give Democrats pause.

"Presidential elections basically come down to continuity versus change, and there’s certainly a predisposition to change," he said.

Guiliani and McCain are both viewed as "quite different from Bush" and could have legitimate chances of winning in 2008, presuming the conservatives who dominate the GOP select either of them as the candidate, Kohut said.


  1. Carl Nemo

    Candidates for both parties don’t seem to realize it, but they are becoming media sponsored pests. The election is quite aways off and it seems that daily we are having their names and faces collectively shoved down our throats. Many of them are sitting representatives and have work to do; i.e., extricate this nation from the Iraqi debacle, impeach Cheney, Bush or both, and scrounge up some money to rebuild the Southland and storm damage wherever it might occur in this nation post springtime storms, rather than fawning over and facilitating the Bushista plan to financially break this nation with their Middle Eastern adventurism.

    These fools don’t seem to realize they’ve already become as nuisancesome as a pesky blowfly on a dog-day afternoon! It is my hope that within the remaining months of these lengthy non-campaigns that a fresh face comes forward that virtually blows away all their schemes to make it to the presidency.

    “We the People” need to quit playing this silly media sponsored political selection game where the shadowy mega-rich controllers determine who the candidates are going to be, then the media moguls who are also part of the same cabal begin to systematically shove them down our collective throats. Elections are going the same path as holiday marketing creep. Christmas displays in August type of nonsense. With the www Americans could come up with a consensus as to who they “might” want as a candidate then simply write their name on the ballot either at the polls or on a mail-in basis. People need to step back and think for a minute how the whole candidate selection process works. It’s media-based hype and “steering” plain and simple. They select the candidates, then they allow “we the people” to enfranchise “their” choice. In other words they give us all the rope we need to hang ourselves every four years…! They, the shadowy controllers always win with their chosen “republicrat”, and “we the people” always seem to lose when we vote them into office.

  2. Sandy Price

    I remember trying to locate candidates before television. We used to gather one party or the other to a town meeting and throw out our questions on various subjects. It was impossible to get all the candidates running for Federal positions into the smaller beach towns where I lived.

    We got on mailing lists and most of us supporters had our own mailing lists where we could share the information learned from being on other’s lists. Our media was post cards.

    I’m not steered by the media but I am on sites such as this one where I can ask questions of other like-minded voters. I learned from watching the Republicans last week that none of them were qualified to represent me in the White House.

    You are right and we must learn what we don’t want as well as what we do want and I haven’t seen it at this time.

    Just imagine how great it is when all of us can watch these debates and come here and discuss them. This is fantastic! I thank Doug for this opportunity. I thank you and all the others for being so consistent in following the discussions.

  3. Carl Nemo

    Thanks Sandy for your comments, but…

    as they say we’ve “come a long way baby”… :) The web is a wonderful tool it gives anyone and everyone that’s computer savvy the ability to communicate as you say, then why not a universal “web convention” sponsored by the millions that participate in the www.

    Hey, we don’t have to find a city to sponsor our convention or the folks that sponsor such a convention to have to deal with the law enforcement issues, the hookers etc…:)) Maybe I should contact a few of the major political web orgs and have them sponsor a web-convention. “We the People” will truly choose “our” candidates for both the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency and put the mainline “republicrat” conventions on ignore. Incredibly qualified people who don’t have the backing from corruptive sources such as the existing candidates would have a chance to making it to the presidency. We could actually get someone that’s truly qualified; i.e., somone with some brains and a good dose of ethics.

    Once a consensus is reached, we can then simply do a write-in of our chosen candidates and completely bybass the “duty” process. Why do people settle for such obvious “steering” on the part of the major parties. The people don’t choose a candidate, they end up choosing from among those candidatese “proffered” to them by the shadowy oligarchs that control this nation.

    Btw these shadowy controllers gather in rich men’s clubs like the Knickerbocker Club, The Cleveland Club, etc. Every major city has these enclaves of where these stuffy, uptight, incredibly wealthy characters gather and they determine who’s going to be proffered to us. Think not, then I suggest everyone get a copy of “The Rich and the Super Rich” by Ferdinand Lundberg. The book was written in the late 60’s but I recommend it as “required” reading for those that really want to know how the U.S. wealth accumulation and political systems work, not the childish feelgood crap that’s taught in political science and economics classes at either the high school or college level.
    Things are not what they seem to be. The American political system operates within the paradigm of a “crooked casino”, it’s operators are crooked, and the laws are written to facilitate and protect the casino. It’s a rather lengthy book but once you stick your nose within, you cannot stop reading. When you are done you will feel surely educated concerning how your casino operates, but you will feel impotent and drained at the same time.

    So I feel the www hasn’t even seen it’s potential for truly empowering “we the people”. For the first time in U.S. political history it could liberate us from the yoke the existing political selection process. In fact recent elections have demonstrated the power of political blogs over election outcomes and how candidates are perceived by the electorate. I say lets go one better and have a “web-convention” for “we the people” by-passing their canned, ritualistic, selection process…!

  4. Sandy Price

    “We the People” has been a hide out for the worst possible scam in America. It is a group who is trying to sell the concept that we do not have to pay our taxes. Half their leaders are in prison and the other half are on their way. The LP has it’s own scam being run by a Movie Producer who is trying to sell his own film.

    I attend several conventions each year on issues such as tax improvements, Campaign finance controls, and they all become nothing but how to demonstrate against what ever is currently legal.

    We are all confused because the parties are floundering around within their platforms. I have no idea what the Democrats are selling as it sounds like socialism to me. The Republicans are even more scary as they are preaching a Theocracy at this time.

    I am always eager to attend a convention when it discusses corrections to the system. But it is impossible in America today to find enough people who are familiar with the Constitution to sit down and listen to each other’s opinions. We have to work within the Constitution or anything we come up with will be trashed by the Supreme Court.

    You are right and that most conventions play to the choir. There’s one coming up in July where the Social Conservatives will be meeting in Texas to play their moves for the 2008 election. They have some good items on their agenda but will come with religious strings and that is not for me.

    We could open another blog for all the bloggers to get involved in but in 2 minutes it will end up in a rage of hell arguing about abortion and gay marriages. There is no compromise on these subjects because they are personal choices not federal laws. How would you set the standards on something like this?

    This is driving Doug crazy and has for years due to the emotions of all of us. Hell, I’ve been banned several times. You set up a conference and I will bring some people…..

  5. Carl Nemo

    Hey Sandy, there’s no need for you, Doug, and others to go crazy over coming up with some visible proposals. I whipped these up in about 15 minutes. We can’t do this on the main site, but we can migrate to the Reader Rant section and start hammering out the “WWW New Concept Convention” and we will select “our” candidate/s… :) I have some candidates in mind that I won’t list in this communique, but they are nationally well known and they would more than likely take care of everything I’ve listed on this proposal worksheet. They are also highly electable at least as surely or moreso than the duty “duds” that have been proffered so far. :))

    Candidate Proposal Worksheet

    1. A balanced budget with absolute, no holds barred fiscal discipline.
    There can be no sacred cows such as defense, Medicare, school lunces etc. If we have to cut the budget by 10-20 percent then everyone gets wacked equally. It keeps it simple and equitable.

    2. Legislation concerning school prayer, alternatives to evolution, anything to do with the concept of God, gods, or religion or
    linking religion to natural origins will not be part of any proposal. They simply are not appropriate to the legislative process and are
    in violation of Constitution principles. It’s a non-issue at the Federal level other than to see that the U.S. Constitution is upheld.

    3. The subject of the indemnification of Gay marriage is off the table at the Federal level. It will be left up to the individual states
    to decide how to treat the subject. If it’s a bible-thumpin’ state then I guess gays won’t fare well in that area, but if it’s a more
    enlightened state then no doubt the issue will be handled more equitably. The federal government has no place forcing such
    legislation on the individual states of the United States. Simply put it’s a non-issue at the Federal level. If states want to pay the freight for such liason then let them go for it.

    4. A serious reduction in the number of Federal employees to equal or exceed the amount of down-sizing that’s occurs in the private sector. Government employment numbers indexed to the proportionate number found in the private sector on a per capita basis. The Federal government has grown and is growing at an ever alarming, tax-base destroying rate.

    5. Civil Service laws need to be overhauled so government employees at any level can be terminated for just, documented cause,
    without red tape and endless hearings

    6. Concerning abortion. A woman has a right to choose, but not including partial birth abortions. Partial birth can only be done if
    the full-term pregnancy is deemed life-threatening by medical professionals. Government subsidies for abortions are limited to one child only, the second government fee- paid abortion is linked to tubal litigation or whatever method is necessary to stop the party
    from serial pregnancies. The pregnant party is always free to pay for the abortion privately, but if they wish to use government funds then they will have to adhere to mandated guidelines.

    7. The War Powers act to be recinded and the sole power to wage war re-affirmed to the Congress of the United States, with no
    discretionary latitude given to a sitting President as far as it’s waging, or continued waging without Congressional oversight. The
    Executive is still the “Commander in Chief” of operations, but is stripped of any power to unilaterally wage war or to continue wars indefinitely without Congressional oversight.

    8. All Executive Orders created by standing Presidents to be evaluated and rescinded except those that truly are necessary for protecting the nation and it’s infrastructure in times of war or natural disasters. Those deemed as over-reaching and unrelated to national emergency or public safety on the part of the Federal government will be rescinded.

    9. The concept of “signing statements” to be disallowed by Congressonal statute. Laws proffered by Congress and the Senate shall stand as written and cannot be modified by Executive Branch interpretation of the law signed into passage via signing statements.

    10. Term limits mandated for the House and the Senate each allowed only two terms. They also cannot go for re-election after a break in served, limited terms.

    11. The elimination of PAC’s, and severe lobbying restraints in terms of contributed amounts and/or non-monetary percs that can be tendered by groups registered as lobbyists or influence peddlars.

    12. The banning of groups that represent foreign governments, or foreign corporate interests from being involved in the lobbying

    13. No one with dual citizenship to any nation can serve as aides, or advisors to the Executive or Legislative Branches of the U.S. government.

    14. To pursue the concept of dropping the income tax and to go to a national sales tax or VAT tax. The derivative benefit would be the dissolution or pruning of the IRS and the byzantine tax code that costs individuals, corporations, and the taxpayer a fortune
    to administer and maintain. It is an annual ritual that needs to be deadlined. We’ll do just fine with a national sales tax. Everyone
    pays their fair share as a function of their consumption. There would be a sales tax on the transferrence of real property, both residential and corporate. The tax cannot be increased without approval of the voters on a national basis.

    15. The Patriot Act rescinded

    16. The Military Commissions Act recinded

    17. Habeas corpus uequivocally re-instated into the greater body of U.S. law without any exceptions, such as military tribunal purposes etc.

    18. Posse commitatus re-affirmed preventing the military or para-military organizations such as Blackwater Security et. al. from policing the U.S. at any level from city, county, state or federal during an emergency. The job is within the purview of the National Guard and the state governors that oversee them.

    19. Individuals and the officers of corporations engaged in defrauding the United States in a time of war shall be levied treble fines and full term prison sentences without parole if found guilty of such crimes, otherwise regular proscribed punishments extant under United States Codes shall be levied against the guilty parties.

    20. to be cont’d by “we the people”

    p.s. I can assure you that the “duty” pols that have been proffered to this point, wouldn’t even care to “discuss” 20 percent of the proposals on this worksheet, simply because they are part of the club that’s intent on slapping more coils of chain about our collective bodies…!

    Carl Nemo… **==

  6. Carl Nemo

    My apologies…

    “litigation” should be tubal “ligation”. The former is performed by a lawyer without a license to practice medicine and the second performed by a doctor and hopefully gets the job done… ; )