Is John McCain’s Support Collapsing In New Hampshire? (REVISED)

thius.jpgNOTE: We just did this post and a poll comes out that contradicts the news story that mentioned other polls. So we’ve done a rewrite, using the newer poll as well.

Arizona Senator John McCain may wooing the Republican party’s religious right and scoring points with the administration by his strong support of the Bush administration’s surge, escalation, or augmentation — but is or is not his support collapsing in the primary-important state of New Hampshire?

Two reports have come out. One says, McCain’s support is collapsing. The other doesn’t characterize his progress but shows him ahead — slightly — in the state. Are these polls contradictory, or do they both indicate red flag warning signs for McCain’s Presidential aspirations?

For instance the Boston-Herald-American reports:

For seven years, conventional wisdom has said that the state’s pivotal independent voters would line up behind maverick Sen. John McCain, as they did so famously in the 2000 GOP primary. But new polling data, to be released later this week, will suggest that might no longer be the case.

Manchester, N.H.-based American Research Group finds that McCain’s popularity among New Hampshire’s independent voters has collapsed.

“John McCain is tanking,� says ARG president Dick Bennett. “That’s the big thing [we’re finding]. In New Hampshire a year ago he got 49 percent among independent voters. That number’s way down, to 29 percent now.�

American Research Group, which is New Hampshire’s leading polling company and has been operating in the state since 1976, polled 1,200 likely Granite State voters in the survey.

Bennett says ARG is finding a similar trend in other states polled, including early primary battlegrounds like Iowa and Nevada. “We’re finding this everywhere,� he says.

The main reason isn’t hard to find: His hawkish stance on the Iraq war, which is tying him ever more closely to an unpopular president. “Independent support for McCain is evaporating because they view him as tied to Bush,� says Bennett.

On the other hand, Zogby shows McCain ahead — but definitely not by a landslide:

On the Republican side, maverick Sen. John McCain leads with 26% support, six points ahead of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a race where the two with reputations for independence outdistance the field in a state where independence is a valued trait. In a distant third place is former Gov. Mitt Romney, who led neighboring Massachusetts for two terms before leaving office just over two weeks ago.

Even if you put aside apparent contradictions, it’s clear McCain, more than ever, will be walking an extremely shaky political tightrope.

Right now the Bush administration’s Iraq policy has begun to create ugly fissures in the GOP itself. Polls show most independent voters are unhappy with the war. McCain could conceivably still win the GOP nomination without a win in New Hampshire, but it points to a deeper problem for him: on many issues McCain is not TRUSTED by some Republicans as it is. To win this trust, he’ll likely have to take more “non-nuanced” stands that will burn some more bridges with independent voters.

Rightfully or wrongfully, McCain now has locked himself into a position where if he shifts much on the war he’ll be perceived as just another pandering pol. If he keeps his position, he is supporting a President whose popular support — and credibility — continues to decline (the recent about-face by the administration on warrantless wiretaps will not help Bush among some GOPers who went to bat for him). And it’s a long way until the primaries.

Some critics already contend that The Straight Talk Express went out of business when he started wooing Jerry Falwell. The danger for McCain is that by primary season many independent voters — and many Republicans — will conclude that The Straight Talk Express has been replaced by Finger In The Wind Airlines.

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  • http://caffeinesoldier.blogspot.com Gray

    “The Straight Talk Express has been replaced by Finger In The Wind Airlines.”

    That ‘straight talk’ appearance is just a posture. Look at all his changing stances on important topics, especially when it comes to policies the christian rights are interested in. He’s always been ‘wind vane McCain’, it’s just that the press chose to ignore it so far.

  • http://caffeinesoldier.blogspot.com Gray

    He was for it before he was against it:
    “McCain Flip-Flops On Lobbying Reform, Caves To Pressure From Religious Right”
    See what I mean?

  • Mike P.

    It still drives me nuts that both the Herald article and the Zogby quote say “maverick John McCain…” as do, relentlessly, the rest of the “mainstream media.”

    If Johm McCain is a maverick, well, it gives mavericks everywhere a bad name. Equal to “craven politician.”

    Odd, especially now that there is a real maverick in the Senate to compare him to. Jim Webb.

  • Pyst

    J Mc. has blown his chances with the NE Conservatives. They are a much different bunch than the SE and Miswesy crowd on the right. They have a distaste for evangelism and have turned the other way on the Iraq mess. As long as J Mc, is parroting those lines hes already lost probably 50%+ of the national GOP. And I say good, wee need new blood in D.C. and I see McCain as a major problem in that dept.

  • Rudi

    If McCain loses South Carolina that would be a bigger problem. Mitt is like a native son for the ME, McCain is the outsider. Maybe the Dobson lovefest will bump his numbers.

  • Davebo

    John McCain wanted a surge

    On TV he went to urge

    The voters thought it was a bit of a splurge

    And in 2008 they commenced to purge.

  • jjc

    If McCain is out of favor in NH, he’s in trouble. He seems no longer to have any solid constituency.

    It seems the ’08 campaign in both parties will provide much grist for political junkies.

  • Lynx

    McCain is in big trouble, by not learning the lessons of Kerry, he’s trying to have it both ways. He’s married to the Iraq war, which mosts Americans now oppose. He’s been a strong and visible defender of a BIG surge in troops, which Americans REALLY oppose. He used to call people like Jerry Falwell “agents of intolerance” but is now cozying up to them. This is bad in all sorts of ways. The more moderate Republicans and independents may become leery of him if he starts talking too much like a fundamentalist. On the other hand, it seems clear that actual fundamentalists don’t really trust him, rightfully, because his newfound love for them seems a little convenient. I think the religious conservative base is finally understanding that politicians seem to love them around election time, and then forget them afterwards for their sacred cows (step by step criminalization of Gays and abortion). I’m thrilled these initiatives don’t make it but I understand that sector of the base being angry. McCains reputation seems to be sliding from “maverick” to “flip-flopper” mighty fast. It’s still early though, a million things could happen. After all, it’s only us political junkies that know that elections are starting again ALREADY (kind of obscene, when you think about it).

    Disclaimer (mostly for C. Stanley ;)) By “religious conservative base” I do not mean to say that being a Christian Conservative automatically makes you a frothing at the mouth extremist on abortion or gay issues. But there is a prominent sector that is the one being catered to, and those we call “the base”. Maybe the majority of Christian conservatives are much more reasonable, but much like the famed “moderate majority” of Muslims, if they don’t step up and demand that the extremists don’t hijack the issues, those extremists will represent them, for good or (more likely) ill.

  • AustinRoth

    Jeeze, whether we are talking about John McCain, Obama, Hillary, John Edwards or whomever, let’s get some perspective here.

    The general election is 22 months away, the first primary over a year. No poll taken now has any definitive relevance or predictable insight into as to who is or is not a viable candidate or who has the ‘Big Mo’ (OK, except the one showing David Duke trailing badly).

    Other than him, let’s maybe let some time pass and some actual campaigning occur before we try to read the tea leaves.

    Who would have picked Carter, Clinton, or Bush II two years out from their first Presidential election? Or Reagan for that matter?

  • Mr. Moderate

    As a McCain supporter from 2000, I can honestly say that his latest courting of the religious right, his support for the draconian Arizona marriage amendment (which couldn’t get passed in a big red state) and his three years of kissing Bush’s butt makes it nearly impossible to imagine me voting for this guy.

  • http://caffeinesoldier.blogspot.com Gray

    “Who would have picked Carter, Clinton, or Bush II two years out from their first Presidential election? Or Reagan for that matter?”

    That’s a point. However, we can be certain that every questionable action by McCain will come up again when the campaigns really start, and every hypocrissy will be fed to the public ad nauseam. And St. John’s habit of having it both ways won’t make him look to good.

  • Kim Ritter

    He’s already lost his reputation as a maverick in the Senate, which was the key to his appeal to a lot of Democrats and Independents. Chuck Hagel has inherited the mantle of that position, and appears to be much more willing to risk the wrath of the administration. By sticking too closely to Bush, McCain will be tarred with the same brush that has tainted the president and his cohorts.