Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yet another useless "early favorites" piece

The Washington Post has published yet another story based on poll results about who might be the favored candidates in the 2008 presidential race. This one says Hillary Clinton would be the favored Democratic candidate, and that Rudy Giuliani would be the favored Republican. Clinton holds a slight lead over Barack Obama. Giuliani holds a slight lead over John McCain.

Giuliani, whose leadership after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, earned widespread praise, enjoys strongly favorable ratings, according to the survey, with two-thirds of Americans giving him positive marks.

Clinton remains the most polarizing politician among those considering a campaign for president in 2008, but her image has improved perceptibly during her six-year tenure in the Senate.
What is the point of stories like this? The election is two years away! That's a political lifetime. In fact, it's two political lifetimes. Everything could change between now and November, 2008.

Does any serious person really think that today's Republican Party, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the religious right, is going to sign off on a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, divorced nominee who appeared on Saturday Night Live in a dress? Does anybody think that a nominee who does not have the backing the American Taliban will do anything other than shatter the GOP coalition into splinters? If, by some miracle or dark magic, Giuliani managed to get the nomination, Sam Brownback or Rick Santorum would run as the Evangelical Christian community's own candidate. Either one of them would siphon off enough votes from Giuliani to make him run a distant last in the three-way race. The party won't let that happen. Giuliani will not get the nomination. Period. All the early, top-of-the-mind polling in the world won't change that.

As far as the Democrats go, does anybody really believe that Hillary's placement in the poll reflects anything more than name recognition at this point? Sure, there are other Democratic hopefuls with high name rec, but Hillary has been mentioned as a likely '08 contender since her first senate run in 2000! There are a lot of people who don't know anything about her other than the fact that her husband was president and she wants to be president, too. To be sure, Sen. Clinton does have a better chance of getting her party's nomination than Giuliani does of getting his, but, heck, I have a better chance of getting the GOP nomination than Giuliani does. This far out, early-favorite status has no relevance on the 2008 presidential race. All it means is that a lot of people can picture your face when they hear your name.

In fact, seven paragraphs into the story, the Post finally gets around to acknowledging this little bit of (un)common sense.

These early poll results largely reflect name identification among the field of candidates that includes several well-known political celebrities and many others who remain generally unknown to people outside their states. As a result, hypothetical match-ups are often poor predictors of what will happen once the primary-caucus season arrives in early 2008 and as voters learn more about where candidates stand on important issues.
Well, gosh! Thanks for wasting everybody's time.