Kavon over at Race 4 2008 got me back to this little project I have of comparing general election matchups for various GOP candidates.
Rasmussen has started to collect general election matchups. I have collected them and presented them in, what I think, is the clearest and most useful format (note that these are not all from the same poll, so methodologically, there is something deeply unsound about this. RCP averages would be great):
|Clinton||Obama||Edwards||Fav – UnFav||% unknown|
Analysis of the digits after the jump.
What Kavon said was:
Longtime readers know of my belief that there are likely only two Republicans who are not DOA upon nomination in the general election: Rudy Giuliani and John McCain.
I think that this is basically right, although there is an argument for a losing, rebranding candidate in the Goldwater spirit, as Matt Lewis has noted. Some might argue, as Kavon’s friend does, that Romney is a good losing, rebranding candidate, but I have my doubts, as do others. Kavon’s friend’s thoughts on Thompson and Romney:
This fellow laughed out loud at my assertion of Thompson’s viability in the general. He told me that he believes that myself and many other Republicans simply do not understand the damage that has been done to “Brand GOP” in the past 2.5 years.
Simply put, the GOP needs a complete rebranding in order to stand a chance in 2008. He is not a Romney fan by any means, but in all seriousness stated that if the GOP is going to concede 2008 by nominating someone with little appeal to Independents and moderate Dems, we might as well nominate Mitt so we can at least look good while going down in flames.
The argument that I want to make is that there is probably a categorical difference in "electability" at the top of the field with Rudy and McCain at the top, a steep drop to Thompson, and another steep drop to Romney. As Kavon points out, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain are undeniably "electable". Kavon’s friend suggests that Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson are not because of the damage to the GOP brand. Furthermore, Thompson is more electable than Romney. Why?
The name-ID and favorable numbers tell us something. As I noted the other day, even though more people know about Mitt Romney than Fred Thompson, Fred Thompson is viewed much more favorably and does better in general-election matchups. Now Romney has been subjected to a lot of scrutiny, which Thompson has not, so that may change. But the numbers already indicate that not-insubstantial numbers of voters know why they dislike Mitt Romney.
Basically, voters know why they like Rudy and McCain. Enough appear to like Thompson, but they don’t yet know enough about him (there is an argument that a similar thing applies to Giuliani, but it is limited. It is harder to change someone’s mind than make it up). And they know why they don’t like Romney.