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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Close Race, Two Paths To Victory

As Democrats prepare to vote on Super Tuesday, there’s a new public opinion survey for NPR conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in conjunction with Public Opinon Strategies that shows (1) the landscape still favors Democrats in the general election; and (2) that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama bring different strengths to the table in running against probable Republican nominee John McCain. Put simply, HRC currently does better among Democrats, while Obama does better among independents and Republicans.
Here’s the GQR summary of the research:

The race between John McCain and either Democratic candidate produces a very close national race for president — although voters want to be voting Democratic and want the Democrats’ direction on issues and leadership qualities.
Democrats can win with either candidate for president, though the races look totally different. Hillary Clinton has already consolidated Democrats who came away from the primaries even more positive about her. That energy can put her in the race, though gains with independents are key. Barack Obama too gained popularity in the primary among Democrats but also with independents — allowing him to split independents evenly with McCain. But with Obama, a fair number of Democrats support McCain, almost balanced by the proportion of Republicans who split off to support the Democrat. Both races are close but they produce totally different politics and strategies for the general election.
Voters want the Democrats to lead the country, however.
49 percent support a generic Democrat for president, 5 points ahead of the Republican candidate. The support for the Democrat has not changed a point in many months. As the actual Republican nominee has emerged, many dislodged Republicans have moved back to their candidate.
Voters have watched the primaries closely and say they much prefer the Democrats’ issue priorities and their qualities of leadership. The post-primary environment is very favorable for Democrats.
When one takes McCain’s position on Iraq and the economy and contrasts that with the Democrats, voters show a strong aversion to McCain’s direction. Voters want to begin troop withdrawals, not create a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq. Voters favor a stimulus with investments, unemployment insurance and middle class tax cuts, not simply making Bush’s tax cuts permanent.

For those Super Tuesday voters who value electability, this survey shows either Democrat should be able to win, but may follow two distinct tracks to a majority.

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