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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Feingold/Warner or Warner/Feingold? Why Presidential Polls this Far Out Can't Tell Us Much

(Keywords: , , , could find herself behind and in )

When I wrote my earlier article, I noticed another graphic from It tracks the favorability of possible presidential candidates in '08. Rudy Giuliani and Condaleeza Rice lead in favorability, with 70% and 59% respectively. Normally, I don't pay any attention to candidate polls this far out - it's basically meaningless and is done solely to generate news stories. No one pays any attention to them, not even the candidates themselves. If a week is a lifetime in politics, then more than two years is an eternity. A lot could - hell, a lot will - happen between now and then.

What I find so striking here (and worth blogging) is that as the favorability goes down, the unfamiliarity increases. They aren't polling well because no one knows who the hell they are.

This is the position that Bill Clinton would've found himself in in 1990. Polling would've shown low favorables because no one would've known who the hell he was. In fact, Taegan Goddard's Political Wire reports that two of the lowest rated, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, are poised to become democratic frontrunners in '08.

Putting aside Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) simmering campaign for the moment, "the two Democrats who have had the best run of it in 2006 are unquestionably Feingold and Warner, representing the purist and pragmatic wings of the party. Feingold has made other Democrats look timorous by championing withdrawal from Iraq and a Senate resolution censuring the president. Warner has emerged as the party's latest Southern white knight, the red-state dragon slayer who combines a sterling record as governor with an appealing business background as a mega-rich cellphone entrepreneur who helped found Nextel."

"Feingold and Warner have, in effect, become the book ends surrounding a hefty, but potentially unreadable, tome called, It Takes a Village of Consultants: The Cautious Political Career of Hillary Clinton. "

Goddard points us to Concord Monitor, which reports that Feingold killed before a crowd in New Hampshire. "Going by audience claps, whistles and screams, Feingold won yesterday's match-up," they tell us, "Applause punctuated his half-hour speech about 20 times; thunderous claps met his mention of his attempt to censure President Bush."

Every eye is on Clinton, because everyone knows who she is. But she could find herself in the same position as Ted Kennedy was when he lost the nomination to Jimmy Carter, a democrat no one had ever heard of.