Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Condi the Tsunami and the realignment of 2004

2004 constitutes in all probability one of the great realignment elections of American history. These sea-changes sweep powerful as the ocean tide and almost as regular: 1788/Washington, 1824-28/Jackson, 1860/Lincoln, 1896/McKinley, 1932/FDR, 1968/Nixon and the Sunbelt coalition...and now 2004/W and the September 11th coalition.

The Democrats, like all losing parties in a realignment, are in denial; and that very denial is part of what makes it impossible for them to make the kind of changes necessary to reverse the realignment. A party that lionizes Michael Moore, sees Kerry go down in bitter defeat--and then hires Howard Dean for DNC is a party that has lost the capacity to tell itself the truth about who it is and who America is.

The person that may put the final nails in the Democratic party's coffin is Condi Rice. W's new secretary of state has been picking up support within the GOP remarkable for anyone--but especially for a black female leader of a party that has not in recent years succeeded in winning majorities of either blacks or women.

Consider the CPAC straw poll.

CPAC straw poll:
(c. 4500 at the convention in DC during 17-19 Feb 2005)
For the GOP:
19% Giuliani
18% Rice
11% Allen, Frist, McCain

Since the convention was held in Washington, Giuliani as a former mayor of New York probably gets some benefit from the eastern demographics of the conference. But the results are still remarkable. The heavily white, well-to-do, disproportionately male conservatives of CPAC--the hard-core conservatives that are the base of the party--it is these people, exactly the wing of the GOP that one might expect to be most suspicious of Condi that are strongly enthusiastic about her as president.

CPAC is consistent with the evidence of the Right Wing News straw poll of 50 key weblogs--including Belgravia Dispatch, Michelle Malkin, LaShawn Barber, etc. The respondents were asked to name the five candidates they most desired to see be the GOP nominee and the five candidate they least desired to see as the GOP nominee. Condi the Tsunami:

Right Wing News

Condoleeza Rice (61.5)
Rudy Giuliani (39.0)
Jeb Bush (31.0)

The list of respondents suggests that these websites are broadly representative of GOP websites in general--in other words, the hearts of conservative websites that will play a major role in shaping the GOP debate over the next four years are beating I-heart-Condi. Or least they are beating more strongly for her than for any other likely GOP nominee. And the charge of Blogs for Condi is now well underway.

It is worth noting too that she does not seem to be a polarizing candidate for the GOP: the nominees mentioned for "least desired" turned a tie between McCain and Gingrich.

It's not really surprise then when Polipundit's Alexander McClure taps Condi for 2008.

Nor should we miss the latest version of Patrick Ruffini's on-line poll. This is a very interesting poll: Ruffini headed W's 2004 internet campaign, so he is closely tied in to the GOP base, both the grass roots activists and the national leaders. The current tally shows:

Patrick Ruffini 8 March 2005 (1776 votes)
Tier I: Rice (41%), Giuliani (12%), Bush (9%)
Tier II: McCain (8%), Romney (6%), Allen (6%)
Tier III: Santorum (5%), Brownback (3%), Sanford (3%)

This is simply astonishing, and it's difficult to think of anything like it. Certainly the black Democratic congresswoman Shirley Chisholm never generated this kind of excitement among the Democratic party's rank and file. To put this in perspective, Condi the Tsunami is getting the same kind of numbers among GOP activists that Hillary is showing with the Democratic party as a whole.

Today we get a new poll from Marist:

The Marist Poll (851 registered voters 14-16 Feb 2005)
(427 Dems/347 GOP of 1009 respondents)

Hilary is the odds-on favorite among the Democrats--they prefer her (39%) to Kerry (21%) or Edwards (15%). So right now, Condi appears to beat any other GOP challenger by a margin comparable HRC's pasting of the Democratic field--at least among GOP activists.

The Marist polls shows that the better known GOP candidates are for now ahead among Republicans generally: Giuliani leads with 25%; McCain 21%; and Condi 15%. The discrepancy between Condi's current ranking with the general public and her ranking with the GOP activist base need not be a major cause for concern for Condi strategists: the general public has only started to pay attention to her; Giuliani and McCain have been front and center much longer.

The Marist poll then moves to looking at GOP vs. Hillary match-ups. It is worth mentioning that the internals of the polls are heavily slanted in a pro-Democratic direction: 42% Dem to 35% GOP--which is ridiculous. The post-November 2004 polling provides excellent evidence of realignment: for the first time since the days of FDR, more Americans identify themselves as Republicans than Democrats.

The results of the poll are further evidence of a pro-GOP realignment: in a poll that begins with 7% or more slant in a Democratic direction, Giuliani beats Hillary 49-47; so we are probably looking at a ten point victory of Giuliani over Hillary if the election were held today.

McCain crushes Hillary 54-42; without adjusting for the bias of the poll. The GOP bloggers who have such deep antipathy to McCain might well reflect on his power to demolish the highly probable 2008 Dem nominee.

What of Condi? She loses to Hillary 51-43. If we adjust for the 7-point Democratic edge of the Marist poll, then Condi and Hillary run a dead-heat. It is amazing that Condi does this well at this point in her career: she is not yet as well known as Giuliani and McCain, and is not yet perceived as having the experience to be president. In 2008, after four years of having led the War on Terror, those perceptions are likely to be sharply reversed, and millions of Americans may well see Condi as W's logical successor for defending America against terrorism. This isn't certain, of course, and I have posted elsewhere on this blog on the potential risks of nominating Condi--and some of these risks are reflected in this poll. But there is plenty of time ahead, and Condi will have excellent opportunities over the next four years to put herself in position to take a commanding lead over Hillary.

In the meantime, Hillary and the Democrats are on track for getting buried in 2008--the biggest question is who gets the honor of being the undertaker...we've already got a pretty good guess as to the name and gender of the corpse.


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