Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pres08: National Support For McCain Still Slips

The trend estimate of support for Senator John McCain for the Republican nomination continues to slip downward. This trend has been apparent for a while, but shows signs of accelerating rather than stabilizing. The new Gallup Poll taken 4/2-5/07 has McCain at 16%, and the Gallup release notes this is a decline from previous Gallup data. But the decline is more widespread than just a single poll by a single organization. Since January 1, Sen. McCain's support has been on a downward trajectory. This loss of popular support in national polls has come as Giuliani has moved steadily upward and other potential challengers (Gingrich and Romney) have seen modest, if steady, increases.

The finance performance of the McCain campaign raised questions about his support among significant Republican donors, but the continuing negative trend in popular support may prove more deadly. McCain is set to "re-launch" his campaign with a new round of speeches and appearances. The question is whether he can sell his support for the war (something Republicans should be receptive to) and his conservative record (generally strong) to an audience that despises his campaign finance reform bill and sees him as too much of a loose canon.

Were it not for campaign finance, which many conservatives hold bitterly against McCain, and perhaps his support for restrictions on interrogations, McCain should be able to appeal to Republicans, certainly more so than Giuliani. But so far little if anything seems to be working for McCain. If the relaunch fails, McCain's fall threatens to move Gingrinch into second place among Republicans nationally. (Or perhaps that should be Fred Thompson, at 10% in the new Gallup poll, but with too little polling yet for a trend estimate.)