Now that I’ve spent a day recovering, I want to write a little bit about the 2008 consequences of the 2006 elections. I will cover issues, candidates, and other things. But, I’m starting with issues.
The Washington Times(!) clearly argues that the winner is McCain, and while I agree overall with the assessment, I think that it is more mixed.
Exit polls clearly indicate that the top issues in 2006 were corruption and terrorism:
Asked what issues were “extremely important” in casting their ballots, 42 percent of voters cited corruption while 40 percent said terrorism. The economy was cited by 39 percent, and 37 percent mentioned the war in Iraq, according to the CNN report.
The terrorism people were probably Republicans. The corruption people were independents and Democrats. The economy probably split and Iraq were probably mostly Dems. Who does this help?
If corruption continues to be an important issues, McCain is clearly the winner. To nearly everyone, McCain’s brand is a gold standard in ethics. In a general, he will have a strong message to voters that he will continue to bring ethical reforms to Washington. He also innoculates the party against the stain of this issue. Of course, many GOPers didn’t buy the importance of the corruption issue (I hope that they stand corrected) so this might not be a huge winner in a primary. But for those who did, this will be important. And those people will understand the power of McCain’s brand.
For the terrorism crowd, McCain and Giuliani are the clear winners. Both have strong national security credentials. And Romney has none. Note his statement on the election mentions GOPer’s number one issue last:
We must return to the common sense Reagan Republican ideals of fighting for hard working Americans, lowering taxes, shrinking government, curbing out-of-control spending, promoting the traditional values of faith, family and freedom, and providing a strong national security with all the necessary tools to protect the American people and win the War on Terror.
On the economy, none of the leading Presidential contenders have much of a record on the strength of the economy.Â I am struck that in Romney’s statement the issue isn’t even mentioned.
Now there is already a fight about moving to the center or to the right. In general, moderates are pushing moving to the middle and conservatives are pushing moving to the right. It will be interesting to see where the candidates line up in these fights. It is still too early to tell.