McCain's strategy: run on the occupation of Iraq
So you can see how embrace of the Iraq occupation, and even Bush's handling of it, would be a good strategy for someone seeking the Republican nomination. Remember, primary voters tend to be more partisan than party members in general. So I suspect Republican primary voters and caucus goers would support Bush in greater numbers than the ones I quote above.
In a New York Times/CBS poll of sentiment on Iraq in late July, 73 percent of Republican voters agreed that the United States "did the right thing" by going into Iraq, while just 24 percent of Democrats agreed.
"This is more than a policy difference," Binder [a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution] said. "It's fundamentally different perceptions" of reality.
In the same vein, the poll found 57 percent of GOP voters approved of Bush's handling of the war - to 5 percent of Democrats. Twenty-five percent approved overall.
How lashing himself to the Iraq anvil won't sink McCain (or any other Republican candidate) in the general election I don't know. I suppose they'll try their usual tricks, but I think enough people are on to them that it won't work the way it did in 2000-2004. The usual tricks certainly didn't work for the Republicans in 2006. They got shellacked, and I don't think the fundamental dynamics have shifted at all since then. Still, Nov 2008 is a long ways away.
Maybe the one thing that could save the Republicans is if the Democratic nominee isn't clear enough about ending the occupation. Then the Republican nominee could muddy the waters and tack leftward, perhaps seizing on some event in Iraq as an excuse to change the version of reality to which they subscribe. Fortunately, Democratic bloggers will have plenty of YouTube footage of the Republican nominee's pro-occupation lunacy with which to fight back against such revisionism.