I wrote yesterday about how a Chuck Hagel presidential bid would directly question whether or not there is room in the Republican Party for an anti-war candidate. (On this issue, Hagel announced yesterday that he had nothing to announce.) According to a new New York Times/CBS News poll, the answer is a resounding yes.
Let's start with some of the other interesting numbers from the poll. Republicans are dreary, depressed, and despondent: while only 12% of Democrats think the opposition party will win the White House this year, a whopping 40% of Republicans do. And it's justified: if the election were held today, an unnamed Democrat would beat an unnamed Republican by 20 percentage points, according to the poll. Further, Republicans acknowledge that backing Bush's war policies will be a huge disadvantage in 2008 and suggest they are open to supporting a candidate who breaks with the president on Iraq. From the Times:
Asked what was more important to them in a nominee, a commitment to stay in Iraq until the United States succeeds or flexibility about when to withdraw, 58 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters said flexibility versus 39 percent who said a commitment to stay.
That's got Chuck Hagel's name written all over it: he's easily the loudest and most prominent GOP critic of the war. Also, consider the fact that in the same poll 60 percent of Republican respondents said they wanted more choices in the race for their party's nomination. So the frontrunners -- Giuliani, McCain, and Romney -- aren't satisfying the base and Republicans would prefer someone who isn't an ardent supporter of the Iraq War. Are you listening, Chuck?
Oh, and about Giuliani's supposedly massive lead in the polls? About 50 percent of respondents say they don't know enough about the candidates -- even the frontrunners -- to form an opinion. When they do learn more, I think Giuliani's in trouble (see "How to Swiftboat Rudy Giuliani" below). It's time for Hagel-Huckabee, people. How many times do I need to say it?