Will Moderation Win in 2008?

The Atlantic recently asked a group of political insiders—selected for their campaign experience, political knowledge, and ties to key voting blocs—about the strength of the religious right and the antiwar left.

Can someone who is opposed by the religious right win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008?
53% Yes

“Yes … The religious right is not monolithic. The various leaders—public figures and behind-the-scenes fund-raisers—will splinter [in 2008], which will lessen their impact on the primaries.”

“Given the serious issues confronting our nation and world, and the emerging splits in the primary electorate, ideological purity will become secondary to leadership attributes.”

“A candidate who is a positive populist can lead you to independents and evangelicals without having to sell [his] soul to kooks like [James] Dobson and [Pat] Robertson, as [Karl] Rove and [George W.] Bush did. [Ronald] Reagan expanded his base without doing the Rove kowtow.”

“Yes. If the Democratic nominee is Senator [Hillary] Clinton, the religious right will vote for any decent Republican.”

“Definitely, but unless that person can then get evangelicals  to the polls, he loses the general [election].”

41% No

“The religious right is the least stable part of the GOP coalition, and the coalition is not so big that any element can be jettisoned.”

“No, but the GOP nominee cannot win in November if he or she abandons the economic base of the party to court the social wing, as the GOP congressional majority has done for the past two-plus years.”

“This will be John McCain’s biggest problem. His positions on such issues as immigration and the national marriage amendment are counter to the views of the right and will make it an uphill battle for him.”

“No, but [Rudolph] Giuliani will present the toughest test of this proposition.”

6% Depends/Don't know (volunteered)
Can someone who is not clearly identified as an antiwar candidate win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008?
71% Yes

“The ’08 nominee will be selected on their plan for the future—dealing with the mess in Iraq—not on how or why we got there.”

“Yes. In the end it is a question of trust. Bush’s problem is he never admits a mistake. That itself is a mistake.”

“Absolutely yes. Someone who favored the war, as did a majority of Americans, can bring us back together in the wake of this tragic mistake.”

“Yes, but it will be difficult. In the last election, Howard Dean’s early appeal was his opposition to the war, and while that wasn’t enough to win him the nomination, it was the only thing that made him a viable candidate. Things have not gotten any better, so opposition to the war—or a thoughtful approach that is very different from the current situation—will be popular.”

“Yes. Hillary [Clinton] can and probably will win.”

“For the sake of the national aspirations of the Democratic Party, I hope so. The Connecticut Senate race is a highly instructive and cautionary tale in that regard.”

26% No

“I think a good deal of what we are seeing in the national dissatisfaction with the Republicans is their positioning on Iraq. There are other issues, but [America’s] international blunders create an amazing dilemma for them. I can’t imagine a rationale for a Democratic candidate that doesn’t begin and end with the war.”

“Every serious Democratic candidate will position themselves as strongly antiwar, including Senator Clinton. Some candidates will have more credibility as an antiwar candidate than others, but they will all be antiwar.”

3% Depends/Don't know (volunteered)

This poll was sent out to the following individuals, who are regularly surveyed on political matters by National Journal, as sister publication of the Atlantic:

GOP Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius “Saul” Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Wayne Berman, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Jim Cicconi, Jake Corman, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Rick Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Alex Gage, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Steve Hart, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bruce Keough, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris Lacivita, Jim Lake, Chuck Larson, Steve Lombardo, Joel Maiola, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Bill McInturff, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Jim Merrill, Mike Murphy, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Tony Perkins, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Steve Roberts, David Roederer, Ed Rogers, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Rick Shelby, Don Sipple, Javier Soto, Fred Steeper, Eric Tanenblatt, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Dave Winston, and Ginny Wolfe.

Democratic Insiders Karen Ackerman, David Axelrod, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Tony Coelho, Jim Craig, Jerry Crawford, Jeff Danielson, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, Monica Dixon, Tom Donilon, Anita Dunn, Steve Elmendorf, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Scott Ferson, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Don Fowler, Gina Glantz, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Michael Gronstal, Marcia Hale, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, Steve Jarding, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Shar Knutson, Kam Kuwata, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Sylvia Larsen, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Terry McAuliffe, Caroline McCarley, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, John Podesta, Tony Podesta, Bruce Reed, Steve Ricchetti, Susan Rice, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, John Ryan, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Darry Sragow, Karl Struble, Katrina Swett, Sarah Swisher, Eric Tabor, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Mike Veon, Rick Wiener, Bridgette Williams, and JoDee Winterhof.

Photo by Brooks Kraft/Corbis