I find this interesting and am curious as to what you all think it will mean for the coming campaign:
If John McCain is elected President, 63% of voters say it’s at least somewhat likely that he will reach across party lines and work effectively with both Republicans and Democrats. Fifty-two percent (52%) say the same will be true if Barack Obama is elected President. The two candidates remain very competitive in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans believe McCain would reach across party lines effectively. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Democrats say that about Obama.
However, 47% of Democrats also believe that McCain could effectively reach across party lines. Republicans see Obama in a much more partisan light—just 25% believe he would function effectively on a bi-partisan basis.
Among unaffiliated voters, 61% see McCain as able to work effectively with both Republicans and Democrats. Fifty-six percent (56%) of unaffiliated voters say the same about Obama.
McCain is seen as the more uniting candidate by men and women, young and old, white voters, conservatives and moderates. Obama is seen that way by African-Americans, other minority voters, and those who are politically liberal.
Assuming that Obama is the nominee, does this argue for putting a Republican like Chuck Hagel on the ticket? Or does it argue for Obama to reach beyond his base coalition with something other than a tack to the right to meet John McCain "in the middle," which is how this will be spun?
I am conflicted on this. The conventional wisdom says that the Dems should try to turn McCain's image to that of a more doctrinaire conservative and have Obama do some sort of dramatic bipartisan gestures like picking a Republican for the ticket. The first part won't be easy because his "maverick" reputation is so well established but I think it still needs to be hit hard. Republicans are the bums they want to throw out right now, and McCain is Republican, maverick or not. Going after that brand is worth doing for the party and for the down ticket races alone.
But the second half of the equation, I'm not quite sure about. It's certainly going to be tempting for Obama, assuming he is the nominee, to move pretty hard right to counteract the "most liberal member of congress" rap. Many people will argue that he must restore bipartisan cred in this year in which it's established conventional wisdom that the thing most people yearn for more than anything is unity and consensus. But I'm not entirely sure that's what people actually want. My sense has always been that people are terribly dissatisfied with their government and the direction of the country but I've never been convinced that they attribute the problems in Washington to too much partisan loyalty to the Democratic party. I may be wrong about that, but I would love to see some data to support that idea before we go with a Democratic/Republican ticket (which would be nearly impossible for me to feel enthusiastic about, although I'd fall in line.)
I think it would be great if Obama rejected the predictable paradigm and ran purely on a reformer/populist platform instead of a bipartisan consensus platform. I think there's ample reason to believe that it would be more successful than trying to out maverick the maverick, and would give the Democrats a mandate for real change instead of a mandate for compromise.
Perhaps I misread the public mood and what they want more than anything is for everyone to get along. But I have to think that part of McCain's popularity with the independents is they perceive that his method of "reaching across party lines" is that they think he'll knock heads together and force people to bend to his will. I don't know if Obama running to the right, as Democrats are wont to do in general elections, will counteract that particular style of leadership. Something different is called for.
Again, I'm not entirely sure of my perceptions about this at this point. I need for the smoke to clear a bit before I can accurately see the lay of the land. Maybe the country really is yearning for bipartisan compromise and will reject the tough guy approach outright. If that's the case, then tacking to the right on issues or putting a Republican on the ticket may actually be the smart move. But I'm not convinced it's necessary and I certainly don't think it's desirable.
Comments still fubared. Sorry.