Outlook on 2008 Presidential Contest

From todays WSJ Political Diary by Blake Dvorak:

In fact, the general election could begin as early as next week if Mrs. Clinton loses the big March 4 primaries and drops out, and it could be a sizzler. A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released yesterday shows Mr. McCain holding a slight lead over Mr. Obama (44% to 42%), though the result is well within the survey's margin of error.

That Mr. McCain puts up such a strong showing ought to worry Democrats, especially since the political atmospherics continue to favor their party this year. Even more worrisome, however, are the poll's internal findings, which show that although Mr. McCain is not necessarily conservatives' choice for president, he might be the best choice for Republicans.

Those troubling signs for Democrats include the following: When it comes to independent voters, Mr. McCain more than holds his own with Mr. Obama (41% to 39%); on the question of who could best manage the economy, which a plurality of respondents consider the most important issue, Mr. McCain holds an eight-point lead (42% to 34%); on the question of leadership, Mr. McCain has a six-point lead; on illegal immigration, Mr. McCain has an 11-point lead (40% to 29%); on Iraq, Mr. McCain has a 13-point lead (47% to 34%); on protecting the country from terrorism, Mr. McCain has a 37-point lead (58% to 21%); and on the question of experience, Mr. McCain has a 31-point lead (53% to 22%).

The poll's news isn't all bad for Mr. Obama. He beats his potential rival on health care (44% to 30%) and on the question of which candidate would change the way things are done in Washington (55% to 20%). The two candidates split evenly on the question of integrity and honesty -- not a bad result for Mr. McCain, considering he's a veteran politician who has haunted the corridors of power for more than two decades. . . .



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