Floyd and Mary Beth Brown: Can Hillary or Obama win? | TheUnion.com

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown: Can Hillary or Obama win?

Much of the current analysis of the presidential campaign battle is missing the point. All of the media attention is focused on the Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama heavyweight fight as if it will decide the election. But it seems observers in Washington, D.C., haven’t yet sensed the undercurrent running in the country, which for the first time in four years, has turned and is running the Republican’s direction. The election map is changing. And with the changes, it will offer a totally new red/blue-state picture when the dust clears next November.

A brand new poll commissioned by the National Campaign Fund shows that McCain can win California. The findings show, if Barack Obama is the nominee, he is in trouble on two issues in California. For Hillary Clinton, one issue in particular poses a problem for her in that state. First, the poll, which was written by Adam Geller of the respected National Research Inc., shows that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are stuck under the magic 50 percent mark against John McCain in California.

The poll concludes: “When voters learn of Obama’s support of licenses to illegal aliens, they become far less likely to support him. They are also far less likely to support Obama when they learn of his support for more spending, to be funded by higher taxes.” McCain puts California in play for Republicans for the first time since 1988, or 20 years.

Hillary, likewise, has a big problem in California. As a state with a large retired population, “when voters learn the details of Clinton’s failed health care proposal – which she has tried to resurrect – they become far less likely to support her. These messages are especially effective among swing voters,” Gellar’s poll says.

The incessant fighting among Democrats is beginning to take its toll: “Democrats are showing the signs of split due to the contentious primary between Clinton and Obama. McCain is benefiting, receiving a decent number of votes from Obama favorables versus Hillary, and from Hillary favorables versus Obama,” the Gellar poll shows.

Hillary won the Democratic primary in California and in Texas relying heavily on Hispanic voters. These voters are much friendlier to McCain than Obama. McCain has traditionally done well with Hispanic voters in Arizona, his home state. Hillary Clinton’s Texas victory has even been called by one political pundit the “triumph of the red necks and Hispanics over the inner city blacks that have come to dominate Democratic primaries.”

In addition to California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Connecticut look like blue states that could easily shift to the maverick westerner McCain.

Another undercurrent that is running against any Democratic candidate is the electorate’s perception of Iraq. According to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center: “Public views of the military effort in Iraq have become more positive. The results suggest that, barring another reversal, Democrats’ ability to use the war as a political weapon could be somewhat curtailed, particularly when the general election campaign begins.”

McCain is unique in that he criticized President Bush’s strategy when it wasn’t working, and he advocated the surge in troops. When President Bush adopted the McCain strategy of a surge, Iraq news turned more positive. These opinions track more closely with the views of a majority of Americans, and the Democrat contenders’ position of immediate withdrawal is only popular with the hard left in their party.

Finally, Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Obama’s experience and foreign policy expertise are starting to take a toll. Even if Obama wins the nomination as his delegate lead suggests, Hillary Clinton’s attacks will damage Obama for the general election and telegraph a similar strategy that will be adopted by McCain in the fall.

The longer this bloodletting continues in the Democratic Party, the less likely either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama will go onto the White House as president.

Floyd and Mary Beth Brown’s column appears in The Union.

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