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Political Insiders Poll

*Methodology: National Journal's Political Insiders were selected because of their campaign experience, insider knowledge, or ties to key voting blocs. In tallying the rankings, a first-place vote was worth 3 points, a second-place vote 2 points, and a third-place vote 1 point. For example, Michigan received 69 percent of the maximum 231 points, the number of points it would have received if all 77 Republican participants had ranked it as McCain's top pickup opportunity.

Q: Rank John McCain's top three pickup opportunities in states that John Kerry won in 2004.

Republicans (77 votes)

Michigan       69 percent
New Hampshire  68 percent
Pennsylvania   32 percent
Minnesota      13 percent
Wisconsin       8 percent
Maine           4 percent


Also receiving votes: Oregon, 1 percent; Massachusetts and New Jersey, less than 1 percent each.



"It's the one state where the Democrat brand is worse than the Republican brand."

"Michigan voters are tired of bleeding jobs and money under Gov. Jennifer Granholm [and] will be inclined to vote Republican."

"Reagan Democrats. Independents. And Granholm's largest tax increase in Michigan history has voters mad."

"The economy has tanked, and state Democrats are in disarray."


"Democratic policies have been and will be an economic disaster here."

"Worst unemployment in America, and Democrats in solid control. The national dynamic that favors Democrats works the opposite in Michigan."

"[Indicted Detroit Mayor] Kwame Kilpatrick, Jennifer Granholm, and offshore oil drilling combine to kill Obama."

"Reagan Democrats are still up for grabs, and the state is a mess."

"McCain has an opportunity to take a big state away from Obamathat would negate the potential loss of a couple of smaller states, like New Mexico or Nevada."

New Hampshire

"Traditionally conservative state that could come home."

"Despite trending purple in recent years, one can never count out New Hampshire favorite son McCain to put the state in his winner's column."

"Having revived McCain from the dead, New Hampshire will feel a stake in his victory."

" 'Don't tread on me' sentiments run deep against Obama's liberal ways."

"McCain's well organized. It's his second home."

"McCain's strong showing in New Hampshire in both his presidential primaries makes this a great opportunity."

"McCain is known as 'the president of New Hampshire' for good reason."

"McCain has a historic and personal relationship with New Hampshire voters. They'll reward him in November."

"New Hampshire loves McCain--and drilling."


"Reagan Democrats and blue-collar workers are not comfortable with Obama."

"Rural Democrats are not buying Obama."

"Volatile economy, mixed in with Obama's Big Government solutions with no drilling to explore for energy could really hurt him down the stretch--to say nothing of his clinging-to-guns-and-religion comments from earlier in the year."

"The upset of the election. And there's nothing [Gov. Ed] Rendell can do about it."

"Working-class whites have a real problem with Obama, and it's not because he's black: It's because he's allowed himself to be cast--which he is--as an elitist."

"A state that is drawn to center-right mavericks: Oh, and it won't hurt to remind voters there that the other guy thinks they're just 'bitter.' "

"There is a reason Hillary [Rodham Clinton] won this state."

"McCain has strong appeal to voters in Pennsylvania who think Obama is elitist."

"Latent racism in parts of the state will drive voters to McCain, but probably not enough to offset Republican fatigue."


"The state has been trending more independent. And that group is breaking for McCain so far."

"Perfect place for McCain's reformist message."

"[Democratic Senate candidate Al] Franken drags down Obama, and drilling lifts McCain."


"Bush lost Wisconsin by only 10,000 votes in 2004."

"Mavericky, quirky states are the most fertile growth opportunities for McCain. McCain-Feingold [campaign finance law] must be good for some goodwill in Russ [Feingold's] backyard."_

Q: Rank John McCain's top three pickup opportunities in states that John Kerry won in 2004.

Democrats (70 votes)

New Hampshire   58 percent
Michigan        50 percent
Pennsylvania    26 percent
Minnesota       20 percent
Maine           18 percent
Wisconsin        7 percent


Also receiving votes: Oregon, 2 percent; Connecticut, less than 1 percent.

New Hampshire

"McCain's primary strength--coupled with the close 2004 result--keeps this state in play."

"It is an opportunity that is not going to happen. On Obama's last visit to New Hampshire, he drew thousands. Recently McCain drew 600 and a half-empty hall."

"Bush won in 2000; Obama lost the primary in part because independent women voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton and independent men voted for McCain; very white state; McCain has a good history in this state in terms of his appeal."

"At this point, New Hampshire is the only [John] Kerry state that McCain possibly can pick up, meaning he must hold Ohio."

"He built his city on the Granite State. And, by the way, if I was [Democratic Senate nominee Jeanne] Shaheen, I wouldn't count my chickens."

"McCain's long-standing love affair with New Hampshire could move the state to his column."


"Michigan is a slightly better opportunity than Pennsylvania, aided by the continuing chaos surrounding [indicted Detroit Mayor] Kwame Kilpatrick."

"Much harder to see how McCain expands the Bush states from 2004 [than how Obama expands beyond Kerry's states], but to the extent we are listing them, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Michigan for the following reasons: heavy white Catholic working-class and middle-class swing voter groups and working women."

"No black ever elected [to major office] statewide."

"The state's economy and Democratic leadership provide McCain his best opportunity."

"Doesn't have one urban center strong enough to nearly carry the state on its own like Philly in Pennsylvania, and has lots of disaffected white voters."

"The unpopularity of the [Detroit] mayor and governor are turning off some voters to the Democratic Party."


"Obama's Achilles' heel as been white working-class voters, a key swing voting group in Pennsylvania."

"If McCain has a prayer of winning, he needs to win Ohio and Pennsylvania. If those states aren't competitive heading into the closing weeks, he's toast."

"Along with Ohio, Pennsylvania is the epicenter of white, working-class voters. Obama has to generate significant turnout among African-American voters and Democrats in urban areas--if he indeed has problems with [working-class whites]--to win. [Obama's] significant loss in primary may lead to a hangover effect."


"Even though Obama leads now, a strong [Sen. Norm] Coleman [re-election] campaign could move the state to McCain."

National Journal Insiders

Democratic Political Insiders Karen Ackerman, Jill Alper, David Axelrod, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Deb Callahan, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Jim Craig, Jerry Crawford, Stephanie Cutter, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Michael Donilon, Tom Donilon, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Eric Eve, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Gordon Fischer, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Don Fowler, Gina Glantz, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Michael Gronstal, Marcia Hale, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Mike Henry, Leo Hindery, Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Shar Knutson, Kam Kuwata, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Sylvia Larsen, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bill Lynch, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Terry McAuliffe, Caroline McCarley, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O'Donnell, Scott Parven, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, John Podesta, Tony Podesta, Bruce Reed, Mame Reiley, Steve Ricchetti, Susan Rice, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, John Ryan, Wendy Sherman, Terry Shumaker, Phil Singer, Bob Slagle, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Darry Sragow, Karl Struble, Katrina Swett, Sarah Swisher, Eric Tabor, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Mike Veon, Rick Wiener, Bridgette Williams, JoDee Winterhof, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Wayne Berman, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Danny Carroll, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Charlie Crist, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Rick Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Steve Duprey, Debi Durham, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Sam Geduldig, Benjamin Ginsberg, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bruce Keough, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris Lacivita, Jim Lake, Chuck Larson, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Bill McInturff, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Ed Rogers, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Don Sipple, Robin Smith, Javier Soto, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Eric Tanenblatt, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Tom Wilson, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, and Fred Wszolek.

This article appears in the August 30, 2008 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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