Endorsed by Lieberman, McCain shows signs of life in New Hampshire - does that pose a threat to Obama?

John McCain is on an endorsement roll. A day after receiving the nod of the Des Moines Register and the Boston Globe, he is now set to receive the endorsement of ex-Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of CT. This is not particularly shocking given how far to the Right Lieberman has drifted since the Iraq War began -- and he was not particularly progressive to begin with. And given Lieberman and McCain's already cozy relationship, this will add fodder to talk of a ticket between the two.

I am somewhat puzzled by this news, however. McCain is running in the Republican primary, and the biggest criticism that he has faced has been his lack of conservative credentials; his supposed moderation and bipartisanship have angered many in the GOP base who do not view McCain as a true Republican. In this regard, a Lieberman endorsement could help McCain with moderates, but it also associates the candidate with the Democratic VP nominee from 2000. Even if Lieberman has since gone independent, he still calls himself a Democrat and caucuses with his old party in the Senate.

The benefits of the endorsements are obvious -- and if the campaign chose to take on these drawbacks, it must be because they realize how important it is for McCain to win New Hampshire and its independent voters. That has always been McCain's strongest base -- and his hope for a comeback. He trashed George Bush in the state in 2000 based on his strength among non-Republican voters in the primary who chose his more moderate and anti-establishment message; and polls show today he is still in the running to win New Hampshire a second time, particularly if Mitt Romney stumbles.

The Boston Globe's support of McCain yesterday could definitely have the same effect as the Lieberman one: Show New Hampshire independents that McCain is still one of them -- and make them choose to vote for him on January 8th.

And why is McCain showing signs of life dangerous for Barack Obama? Independent voters can choose to vote in the Democratic or the Republican primary -- and they cannot do both. Polls have shown that Obama's main source of strength in the state are also independent voters, among which he typically crushes Hillary Clinton. For him to be competitive in January 8th, he needs the largest possible number of independents to choose to vote in the Demofrcratic primary rather than the Republican primary.

This hardly seemed to be a problem until recently. With McCain left for dead in July and the Republican field leaving voters uninspired, the CW was that the huge majority of independents would go vote in the Democratic primary -- for Obama. But if McCain continues showing signs of life and directly appeal to independent voters, that's votes directly taken from Obama's.

And here's a poll from NH that was released Friday but that I forgot to report: It has Clinton at 34% ahead of Obama's 25% and Edwards 's 15%. Obama is stronger than he was earlier in the fall -- but the survey underscores he has not completed his take-over yet.

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  • This is a non-story at its best. John McCain will not get the nomination. Joe Lieberman is not what you call an influential person except for a few token voters. I think this endorsement will not go to well with the Republican Establishment.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 16 December, 2007 21:11  

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