Ace of Base
In a post last week, I suggested that John McCain might find it difficult to balance his long-standing identity as a maverick politician with his new role as leader of the Republican Party. While his reformist message resonated with many New Hampshire voters in the 2000 and 2008 presidential primaries, McCain now faces a countervailing pressure to rally his party’s conservative base behind his nomination. Viewed from the perspective of national strategy, there may be some logic to the idea of a rightward shift by McCain, especially in light of new data indicating that he still has some work to do with core partisans. Given the reports of McCain’s meeting with prominent social conservatives yesterday, the presumptive nominee appears to be moving to address this concern.
It is true that close elections can come down to a competitive mobilization of core partisan bases, but they can also rest on an ability to attract the support of moderate partisans and independent voters clustered in the center of the ideological spectrum. While it is always difficult to predict which dynamic will dominate a particular election cycle, if 2008 turns out to be about the middle, then John McCain may wish he spent less time demonstrating he is a social conservative and more time showing he is still the straight-talking iconoclast who has won not one, but two New Hampshire Primaries.


Posted On: 06-29-2008 02:03:58 by John Walters
McCain's problem is that, while the votes he needs are in the center, the financial and volunteer support he needs is on the right. He still has to convince the base to not only vote for him, but get out and work for him. So he has to tack both ways at the same time. Tricky.

Posted On: 06-30-2008 10:08:52 by Dean
I agree. McCain is in a difficult position being sandwiched between voters in the center and on the right. I recall writing on several occasions last fall and winter about the danger of him being squeezed in this manner during the primaries. He needs the independent votes, but as you point out, he also needs help with voter mobilization from the right. It'll be a difficult balancing act for him.

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