June 10, 2005--Election 2008 will be a toss-up if Democrats nominate a liberal candidate and Republicans nominate a conservative. A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 40% of Americans say they would vote for a liberal Democrat and 39% for a Conservative Republican.
The survey also found that if both parties nominate a moderate candidate, the Democrats have a 42% to 38% advantage. Obviously, events over the next three years could change these figures in either direction, but the survey generally shows an electorate that remains evenly split between the two parties.
The survey documents the conventional wisdom concerning the political center. If Democrats nominate a moderate candidate and the GOP selects a conservative, the survey shows that Democrats would have a nine-point advantage. On the other hand, if Democrats nominate a liberal candidate and Republicans pick a moderate, the GOP gains an 8-point advantage.
Some might question this by arguing that in 2004 the Democrats did run a moderate liberal against an extremist conservative and lost by two points. That was clearly caused by a combination of the Republican's advantage in incumbency and their ability to falsely claim Kerry was on the far left with the number one most liberal voting record in the Senate (when actually his lifetime rating was number 11 among Democrats). George Bush initially ran claiming to be a compassionate conservative, knowing that it would have been a huge disadvantage running from the extremes. In this rare case, George Bush was wiser than many Democrats.