The Commander In Chief Test

The Washington Post has a new poll, but they are holding the topline numbers for release tomorrow I assume. Which makes for an interesting experiment. Today, WaPo released other results from the poll. On the commander in chief question (which is faulty imo for the reasons expressed in this dkos diary) produced the following results:

[72%] said McCain would make a good commander in chief. . . . Obama's [at] 48 percent[.]

The problematic question notwithstanding, it will be interesting to compare the topline presidential preference result with the C-i-C question results. If Obama holds a comfortable lead with that sizable a gap, it will be a bad sign for McCain having any chance of winning this election. More . . .

In the same poll, there is a strong indication that even if McCain holds an advantage on the Commander in Chief question, the specific question of Iraq blunts this advantage. 47% trust McCain on Iraq compared to Obama's 45%. No advantage for McCain on the biggest specific issue facing a future Commander in Chief.

Two other interesting findings, only 34% believe we have to "win the war in Iraq in order for the broader war on terrorism to be a success" while 51% believe winning the war in Afghanistan is essential to winning to "broader war on terrorism."

Thus the American People, according to this poll, have absorbed the essence of the Democratic critique of the Iraq Debacle - that it distracted us from the real war on terrorism, especially in Afghanistan. As the war in Afghanistan heats up, this central critique should regain center stage for Obama.

So when WaPo provides the Presidential preference numbers, we will be provided an important snapshot about the Presidential race and will get a real feel for whether McCain really has a chance in November. I am betting he does not.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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    1980 (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:32:01 AM EST
    Jimmy Carter led in the polls (narrowly) until the last weeks of the campaign. During that time, the voting public, notwithstanding Reagan's gaffes and idiotic pronouncements (e.g. trees cause air pollution), decided taking a chance on the unknown was better than taking a chance on the known.

    That is what is playing out known. Its July, a lot can happen between now and November and probably will. Barring a significant screwup by Obama or something really great out of McCain, odds are pretty good the voting public will decide to take a chance on the unknown in 2008, because change from Bush and the GOP is what the majority of voters want.

    Omni Research, 1980, Carter campaign (none / 0) (#13)
    by wurman on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:00:50 AM EST
    I was a pollster for Pres. Carter.  The major factor that dragged down the Carter positives was Paul Volker's utterly nonsensical interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve Board.  Each jump in the prime rate & the interbank rate reduced the Carter numbers.

    Reagan coined his "misery index" to develop a campaign theme around Volker's destruction of the American economy--which led to the worst depression, 1981-83, since the 1930s.  The prime was up in the 15 to 18 percent range by Nov. & went into the 20s by Dec. to continue through mid-1981.

    I have always thought & believed that Volker's actions were intentional & planned to destroy Pres. Carter's re-election campaign.  The supposed purpose was "deflation" of an overheated economy??????

    Similarly, Greenspan handed Bu$hInc a "free ride" on extremely low interest rates to make George xliii's economic voodoo appear to work.  We are now reaping the whirlwind sown by the Federal Reserve.  The 1 percent rates created a false sense of security in the housing market & people overbought.  When the interest had to move back up, Krash, Bang, Boom.

    Oh well, a Democrat will inherit the problem--again.  As in Hoover to F. Roosevelt, Eisenhower to Kennedy + Johnson, Nixon + Ford to Carter, Reagan + Bush to Clinton, so now Bu$h xliii to Obama.  It would seem that the American voters could figure out that GOoPerz can't manage an economy--despite all of their braggadocio about good business sense.  What drivel!

    And Georgie Boy is an MBA.


    Interesting. I always attributed (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:17:42 PM EST
    Carter's loss to his inability to get the Iran hostages released.

    I've always thought it was a combination (none / 0) (#35)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:36:10 PM EST
    of the two. They fed into a narrative that Carter was ineffective.

    Surely the hostage (none / 0) (#37)
    by weltec2 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:29:44 PM EST
    crisis in Iran had a little to do with it as well.

    Yes. The US hostages in Iran did matter. (none / 0) (#39)
    by wurman on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 10:34:29 AM EST
    However . . . in our polling, the #1 negative was the economy, specifically interest rates.

    The wheat embargo against the USSR also counted.

    Not competing in the Olympic Games mattered (the US & several other nations were protesting the invasion of Afghanistan by the USSR!!!!!).

    So, there was much to affect the election.


    This disparity (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Steve M on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:13:37 AM EST
    is entirely due to what Hillary Clinton said during the primary, obviously.

    Of course... (none / 0) (#28)
    by americanincanada on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:35:32 AM EST
    because Obama was a strong and stellar looking CIC before she said anything. /snark

    New Quinnipiac for Obama (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by waldenpond on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:30:30 AM EST
    Obama looks better in this one.  Battle of the polls.

    Also, watching teebee this morning, Obama was quoted as saying we must win in Afghanistan.  Just like Iraq, it would be nice to know exactly what 'win' looks like.

    Perhaps his first face-to-face mtg. (4.50 / 2) (#31)
    by oculus on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:19:45 PM EST
    w/o preconditions should be with Russia?

    ABC participated is this poll (none / 0) (#1)
    by Lahdee on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:14:09 AM EST
    also. The same Disney that produced the heroic bush image in it's portrayal of dubya on 9/11 can't be trusted to give voters an evenhanded anything much less poll questions. Unfortunately fiction sells.
    McCain has some powerful friends here and in Czechoslovakia.

    I like countries next to West Germany ` (none / 0) (#25)
    by MKS on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:25:43 AM EST
    although they indicate trends (none / 0) (#2)
    by ccpup on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:18:17 AM EST
    these polls are basically meaningless because so much -- SO MUCH -- can change with the introduction of 527s or performances at debates and town halls.  Even the inevitable mouth-in-foot and desperate refining that follows.

    But if Obama decides to go toe-to-toe with McCain on the Cic angle, he's cruising for a bruising.  I'd focus away from McCain's perceived strength and onto something else ... quick!

    shouldn't Obama (none / 0) (#3)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:19:01 AM EST
    hold an impressive lead over McCain on Iraq policy since his being "against the war" from the beginning7 was the essence of his campaign?

    What I heard reported on the nes last night about this poll was that 50% prefer Obama's Iraq policy with time tables while 49% prefer McCain's Iraq policy without time tables.

    The Right-Wing hate-osphere (none / 0) (#7)
    by mg7505 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:27:23 AM EST
    will probably latch onto some buzzword like "timetables," even if it's not in their favor right now. The same way the Obama camp slammed Hillary on UHC "mandates."

    The GOP has no chance of winning the substantive Iraq debate. But are public/media debates about Iraq ever substantive? Plus the GOP's job isn't to convince anyone they're right; but just to convince them that Obama is wrong.

    Does anyone have numbers from polls leading up to the 2004 GE? There were other variables in play, but the public seemed pretty fed up with Iraq and this President that summer. And Kerry had decent ratings re: CiC test because he was a vet, right?


    no chance of winning the Iraq debate (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:36:04 AM EST
    when the two are tied right now in public opinion on their policies for ending the war?

    Yes, it's true the majority of people want to "end" the war.  The question become how to end it.

    IEven for people who believe we should have NEVER gone into the war, there has always been a split opinion on how to get out of it in the safest manner without making things worse.


    hence (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by Josey on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:48:16 AM EST
    it seems who do voters TRUST on Iraq? becomes more significant than how or when troops are redeployed.
    With Obama's numerous flip flops on the war - opposing it and railing against war funding while he was a senate candidate, justifying funding it after elected via "supporting the troops", then as a presidential candidate claiming he was "always against the war"  - Obama really has been a fairy tale on Iraq.

    you better get out your Thesaurus (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:56:47 AM EST
    because you know it is against the rules to use the term fairy tale when talking about Obama.

    One problem is a broad misunderstanding (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Valhalla on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:22:46 PM EST
    of what opposition to the war means.  There's an assumption that because there is largely agreement against the war that there is also a large agreement about what to do about it.  There isn't.  We're split, and if the WaPo poll has any validity, the split is reflected there.

    A lot of the public discourse about the war has been driven by the folks that were against the war from the beginning or have been against for a long time.  When polls (finally, finally) started to show a growing number of folks were the war, those folks assumed (and celebrated, prematurely in my opinion) that it meant there had been an ideological shift in the country to match their underlying reasons for being against the war (anti-imperialism, pacificism, antipathy toward GWB, etc).

    But there wasn't a shift in underlying ideology.  People are unhappy with the management of the war, the length of time, and the fact that we're losing.  If the war were demonstrably winnable, the anti-war number would drop like a stone.

    It's the diversion of the national conversation though, that makes it so surprising to people that  McCain can hold nearly 50% of positive opinion on his plan to end it.  But it shouldn't be surprising.

    And it's this inability to break out of the echo chamber and accept that a large number of potential voters do not all think lockstep with the smartmouth opinions of a few bloggers that may bite those same folks in the butt.  Because you can't attract support when you fundamentally fail to understand how others think about big issues.


    Right on! The gleeful squealing (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by hairspray on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:52:14 PM EST
    from the boys at DKos with their prounouncing the LANDSLIDE the Democrats were going to have with Obama (after they got rid of the $%&@) led me to believe that most of them didn't know much about history, group behavior and a whole raft of subjects taught in courses not in the computer science curriculum.  If Karl Rove were not pulling the strings now I might have more hope for the Democrats and if Obama could get his core values (aside from faith based cabinet post, arrrgh)I think we should be leading by 10 points at least. The mess that bush has left us is not being SOLD to the American people. Maybe gas prices are getting to them.

    Quite a few people I know who were adamantly (none / 0) (#36)
    by MO Blue on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:42:55 PM EST
    against the war from day one are still in the "pottery barn" mindset where we broke it and need to stay and fix it.

    As you say, being against the war encompasses so many different things that there is no one size fits all.


    Maybe Obama's camp can send (none / 0) (#4)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:20:23 AM EST
    Gen Clark back out again to try to lower McCain's CIC numbers.  That appears to have worked wonders so far.

    maybe we (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:42:57 AM EST
    can just stop speaking our mind and live in fear of the media misrepresenting what we say.

    Clark said what he said.... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:03:22 AM EST
    and it wasn't very clear to that he meant only to be taken very "literally" that "riding in a plane and being shot down" wasn't a presidential qualification.  It sounded more to me (and the media) like Clark meant that McCain's overall military record and time spent as a POW wasn't one of many qualifications a candidate could present to the voters.

    If you feel people should only be judged by what they say "literally" then I guess the media, Obama supporters and the Obama campaign all owe Hillary and Bill HUGE apologies for all the "coded messages" that were read into any statement they made in public or private.


    then in my opinion (none / 0) (#16)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:13:47 AM EST
    you were more responsive to the media spin on what he said than what he actually said.

    I guess I read the question that Clark (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:18:11 AM EST
    was responding to as including McCain's time as a POW, not just the act of being shot down.  Therefore I took Clark's answer to be referring to McCain's time as a POW as well.  Now, being a POW isn't a necessary qualification for president.  But, it certainly sheds light on McCain's courage, strenght and character.  And, those are all traits that voters consider in their decision.  And, I would guess that many on the left consider them valid traits as well since right after these events lefty bloggers started posting about the "McCain was a traitir as a POW" theme to try to knock him down a few pegs in the eyes of the public.

    did you hear clark saying (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:21:06 AM EST
    that he respected mccain's courage strength and character?

    the media didn't actually focus on that part, actually, i know.


    Except it did not reference it (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:21:52 AM EST
    Your comments on this matter are embarrassing, for you.

    the fact that his comment didn't (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:01:23 AM EST
    "literally" reference it doesnt mean that isn;t the way people took it.

    Not anymore than the things the Clinton's said were "literally" racist or race-cards ar race whatever you want to call.  But, that didn't stop the media and the public from reading the "coded" messages into everything.


    that's a great analogy (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Edgar08 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:26:55 AM EST
    I think.

    Only I think we still differ on the main point.  I would fight against people who misrepresent what I say.  Tell them they are wrong.  I would not accomodate them.


    not a typo (none / 0) (#5)
    by ccpup on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:20:59 AM EST
    by the way.

    When I REALLY misspoke, my Mom would call it a real "mouth-in-foot" moment because foot-in-mouth didn't quite cover what was said.

    Didn't make sense, of course, but it's one of those Momisms that kind of stuck.


    BTD - i am confused (none / 0) (#21)
    by gaf on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:02:11 AM EST
    On the commander in chief question (which is faulty imo for the reasons expressed in this dkos diary) produced the following results:

    I don't understand - why is the question faulty?

    From wikipedia

    The Constitution of the United States gives the title to the President of the United States, who "shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States"

    So what exactly is the problem with the question?

    Does everything have to be a conspiracy? (none / 0) (#22)
    by dianem on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:13:21 AM EST
    I agree that they are presenting this information in a slightly distorted way, given public perceptions. But the term "Commander in Chief" generally applies to the military, and I've heard a lot of Bush bashers gleefully criticizing the right for trying to pretend that Bush is "Commander in Chief" of the nation, a ludicrous idea given our tri-part system of government. That does not mean that there is some conspiracy to make Obama look bad. It just means that they are interpreting CIC as what it should be and (foolishly) assuming that others will do so, as well.

    I agree that this poll is a snapshot. Nonetheless, please keep in mind that a "snapshot" in the middle of a horse race doesn't tell you much. It will tell you who is so far behind that they have very little chance of winning, but if one horse is a few feet in front of the other and they aren't even close to the home stretch, it won't tell you the winner.

    Polls this early are not particularly predictive (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Valhalla on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:28:46 PM EST
    That's true.

    But they do reflect (partly) how each campaign's strategy, in terms of issues being stressed and how issues are talked about (or diverted from) are playing with the public.

    Folks on both sides are wrong to get all excited or down based on polls this early.  But there also many other ways to use the data.


    Too early to conclude CinC test doesn't count ... (none / 0) (#38)
    by FreakyBeaky on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 02:00:37 AM EST
    If the Republican party has discredited itself sufficiently, then the CinC gap won't count.  Don't know if they have, but I know we'll find out in November ...