So CNN released a poll that matched up our top three with the GOP's top four (sans Thompson), and the numbers could not be more stark. John Edwards DESTROYS all the GOP candidates by the widest margins of our top three. So here, I do what I've done before in making a pretty graph to look at the numbers. For each GOP candidate, in the margin column I've bolded the race that would give us the best margin of victory.
CNN poll results (.pdf)
|Clinton 51%||Giuliani 45%||Win by 6%|
|Obama 52%||Giuliani 45%||Win by 7%|
|Edwards 53%||Giuliani 44%||Win by 9%|
|Clinton 54%||Romney 43%||Win by 11%|
|Obama 54%||Romney 41%||Win by 13%|
|Edwards 59%||Romney 37%||Win by 22%|
|Clinton 48%||McCain 50%||Lose by 2%|
|Obama 48%||McCain 48%||Tie|
|Edwards 52%||McCain 44%||Win by 8%|
|Clinton 54%||Huckabee 44%||Win by 10%|
|Obama 55%||Huckabee 40%||Win by 15%|
|Edwards 60%||Huckabee 35%||Win by 25%|
Notice a pattern? :-)
So, what does that translate to in graphical form? Visually, it becomes quite obvious.
Unfortunately, the CNN poll didn't provide demographic breakdowns like SurveyUSA always provides, so I can't do additional armchair analysis of what percent of Republicans cross over to vote for our candidates, or Democrats that choose to vote GOP. But I think here, the numbers speak for themselves.
The Edwards-Huckabee numbers are especially surprising, given that many of us were worried about Huckabee's economic populist stances taking away from Edwards. But if I may armchair pundit, perhaps we're seeing the reverse of the situation where you have a Republican versus a Democrat running as Republican-lite, and the voters choose the real thing. Here, you have a real economic populist, against a guy who talks a good game, but his Fair Tax bullshit sort of throws that out the window. Looks like voters go for the real economic populist.
It should be noted that some of these matchups differ wildly in other polls. For example, Rasmussen has Hillary doing better against Rudy than Edwards does. And that poll shows Edwards leading Huckabee by only a 44%-40% margin, quite a bit different from CNN's 25-point blowout.
So this CNN poll is just one poll. It may be a good or bad poll, we'll see. I'd like to see other non-partisan polling firms come out with these matchups to more accurately gauge what the national mood is.
But still, these CNN poll questions were asked of the same 912 registered voters, so to go from a 50%-48% McCain win over Hillary to a 60%-35% blowout of Huckabee by Edwards means there was a pretty significant chunk of that group that would prefer McCain to Hillary, but would rather back Edwards over Huckabee. That's a 27-point swing we're talking about. Over one quarter of the entire electorate! That's the difference between a nailbiter that comes down to one state, and the Democrat winning over 450 electoral votes in a landslide.
And assuming they produced about as close to a random sample as you're gonna get with telephone polls, that would indicate that in other samples, we should see similar movement towards Edwards. The problem with the Rasmussen polls I linked to is that those were asked of different samples of people, so the cross-comparison doesn't hold as much meaning. So while their Hillary-Rudy poll showed Hillary up by 3 points, perhaps if they had asked those same people about Edwards-Rudy, Edwards could have had a bigger lead. Who knows? It's just that in a separate poll, they show Edwards tied with Rudy.
So what causes this huge shift in Edwards' favor? Average Republicans. They're willing to vote for Edwards over their party's candidate by at least a 20% clip in quite a few key swing states, including Ohio. (Even 30% or more if the candidate is Romney.) Average Republicans like this woman:
And as mentioned before, the margin of victory is also crucial in that it needs to be greater than the GOP's margin for theft, chicanery, and voter suppression. Did you guys really think the GOP is gonna suddenly stop intimidating black voters or shredding registration forms? I don't think so. A 3-point lead can be stolen, and nobody bats an eyelash, because it was all within the margin of error. But if the polls show our candidate up by double digits, and they lose, most Americans WOULD bat an eyelash over those results.