I think that this is an interesting poll and analysis. Gallup asked people how much confidence they had in various candidates to solve various issues. I just have several quick observations.

First, McCain and Giuliani, with relatively hawkish positions still hold the trust of most of Americans. They have the confidence of over 40% of Democrats on the war, although it would be hard to find much space to the right of McCain, especially, on this issue. While over half of independents trust  them too. It is interesting that while McCain is to the right of Giuliani on this issue, GOPers trust him less. On the flip side, the reason that Obama does so well on this question is that almost 30% of Republicans trust him. Of course, no one trusts Hillary.

Trust in Candidate to Handle the War in Iraq
Results by Party

  Rep Ind Dem
 

%

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

75

52

41

John McCain

67

54

47

Fred Thompson

57

33

27

Mitt Romney

49

31

30


There are very similar dynamics on terrorism, although it is clear that Giuliani’s credibility on that issue is qualitatively different than other candidates.

I have two theories for why the other GOP candidates do not do as well on these questions. The first is that they are unknown. The second is that the overall preference for the Dems on Iraq, but not terrorism, does not adhere to Giuliani and McCain. They are in a class of themselves that is distinct in some meaningful way from the loss of faith in the GOP. It will be interesting to see if Thompson is able to break free of this.

In general, though, my conclusion from the national security numbers is that Giuliani and McCain are the only GOP candidates who will be able to maintain traditional GOP advantages on national security issues. Giuliani because of 9/11, and McCain because he is a war hero.

On domestic issues, it is not so good for the GOP . The healthcare numbers make it clear that Hillary Clinton is in a league of her own. 91% of Dems trust her. 60% of independents trust her. It turns out that she’s probably moved to the right on this issue since the debacle of 1993. I think that this is yet more evidence that talk of "Hillary Care" and "universal healthcare" is unlikely to scare off independent voters. That is something the GOP needs to keep in mind. While I have a lot of problems with Mitt Romney, (perhaps an understatement?) he is absolutely correct that the GOP is going to need a genuine response in this debate. The GOP is almost certainly losing Senate seats, and has a small chance of getting the House back. The Dems are going to be in the driving seat on this debate and will set the framework. We need something to sell.

Trust in Candidate to Handle the Healthcare System
Results by Party Affiliation

  Rep Ind Dem
 

%

%

%

Rudy Giuliani

71

46

43

John McCain

58

41

39

Fred Thompson

52

32

23

Mitt Romney

45

31

32

Barack Obama

42

61

81

John Edwards

36

50

75

Hillary Clinton

33

66

91


It doesn’t get any better on the economy for us. Clinton, Obama, and Giuliani are in the first tier of trust. The second tier is McCain, and too a lesser extent, Edwards. If the wheels come off the economy, as it seems it might, it is going to get even worse for us.

The lessons of these numbers probably are that we need to highlight national security and that McCain and Giuliani are the ones who are capable of that. In addition, it seems that we are just in trouble on almost any domestic issue. Yet another argument for Giuliani or McCain.

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2 Comments

sampo · July 31, 2007 at 10:23 AM

mitt flops on iraq and terror.

as well he should. he wouldn’t go on record in all of 2006 in support or opposition to the surge.. then supports it, then half a year later, he says he’s flexible on it.

i’m however surprised dems haven’t fallen in love with romney’s health care proposal. he probably plans to hype that up in the general election.

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