The most popular man in America

This morning, Swedish television (SVT1) covered the RNC, and when senator McCain took to the stage, the commentator explained that mr McCain was “probably the most popular politician in America”.

Now I know that he ran for president last year, and was even rumored to be considered for the position of Kerry’s veep. But still - I would have thought that Kerry was the most popular politician for the democrats, and Bush for the republicans.

So I’d like to pose the question to all you Americans out there - is McCain really the most popular politician out there?

If so, why? If not, who is? And how could you tell - are there polls for this kind of thing?

This public opinion poll from December of 2003 indicates that John McCain doesn’t even rank all that high

Of course he didn’t “run for president last year”, he ran for the position of presidential candidate in the last election… I’m sorry, my brain hasn’t quite woken up yet this morning. :slight_smile:

McCain is a very moderate Republican and is liked by a lot of Democrats, but I hardly think that qualified him as the “most popular” of anything.

So probably an instance of the reporter pulling facts out of, well, a place out of which facts should not be pulled. Sadly, coverage of American politics is pretty poor at the local networks here, mostly just a case of repeating what’s written in the Times and the Post.
But maybe you could make a case for McCain being the least unpopular man in America, as nobody seems to mind him that much, unlike almost any other politician.

A lot depends on how you define “popular.”

If you asked 1500 people “Name the politician you admire most,” I’d guess the President (no matter WHO the President is at any given moment; today it’s Bush, but Bill Clinton would have have gotten similar numbers 5 years ago) will always get 25-30% of the vote or so. After that, there’d be dozens of people getting 2, 3, 4 or 5% of the votes. And John McCain would be one of those.

On the other hand, if you gave 1500 people a list of prominent politicians and asked them to rate each one, McCain would do very well. There are a lot of Democrats AND Republicans who admire or at least respect him, and very few people who hate him. His overall ranking would be pretty high, though probably STILL not at the very top.

If people overseas haver an erroneous sense of how popular McCain is, that’s probably because he pandered to the news media during his Presidential campaign 4 years ago, and has always been VERY accommodating to the press. He’s probably far more popular among TV and newspaper journalists than among Americans at large.

This last bit is the confounder: while lots of people like both the President and Hillary Clinton, each of them has enemies that loathe them down to their bones. McCain, on the other hand, seems like a pretty decent person all around, and everyone likes him, even if he’s not necessarily beloved. I would think that “popular” also implies that you’re not widely hated; controversial figures like Dubya and Hillary just don’t satisfy the meaning of the term “popular” for me.

At least you have the excuse of being in Sweden.

I live an hour from Washington, D.C., and local network coverage of American politics is shamefully bad.

I have to agree that Sen. McCain is probably the least hated politician in the country.
Which, listening to bits of his speech this morning on the drive to work, brought to mind this scenario:

President Bush wins re-election this year.
Vice President Cheney steps down for “health reasons” after two years.
Sen. McCain is named the new Vice President.
Vice President McCain is the Republican nomination for President in 2008.
Republicans continue to hold the White House until the 2016 election.

A plausible scenario, and if it indeed comes to pass, I hope somebody will repeat the story of McCain’s role in the Savings and Loan scandal.

Briefly: Entrepreneuers took advantage of a Depression-era mortgage law loophole designed to enable working-class families to own their own homes, to amass a house-of-cards banking empire while skirting actual banking regulations. Federal banking regulators took note of this breeze passing their skirts and started investigating.

This was the '80s, the era of “Get the Government off the backs of the People,” Well, entrepreneuers are people too, just richer than you and I, so they could afford to enlist the aid of attack-dogs in the US Senate to bully regulators away from the S&L, buying time to collapse as massively as possible. The Federal Government was forced to bail out the S&L’s so hundreds of thousands of small investors wouldn’t be ruined, meaning every American and his children will be paying a little extra each April 15 to cover the tab.

Chief among the bought & paid-for big-name attack dogs was Senator John McCain.

Let’s see, in this election people are screaming at the top of their lungs about where Kerry spent Christmas 36 years ago. I’m confident that the S&L business will be back.
It’s not like presidential campaigns are going to get more polite.

I agree with that. I think that it would be fairly safe to say that nobody hates him, most people (most importantly politicians from both parties) respect him, and a lot of people like him.

2 years ago it was Powell

My guess is it might still be – this country is politically VERY divided and finding THE MOST guy will have to have support on both sides - but it will be wide and not the deep support that Bush, Kerrey Nader, et al. will generate. Another possibility is Arnold (until he “starts in” at the convention)

I don’t think McCain really pandered to the press that much. To me it seemed just the opposite. As just about everyone knows, his father being an Admiral in the late 1960’s, McCain was given the option of leaving a North Vietnam POW camp. He chose not to leave and to stay with his crewmates. I would say that McCain’s being a Vietnam POW by choice, the press never really wanted to push him that hard. He’s an agreeable guy and as others have said, is never the object of anyone’s hatred. Heck, I’m a Yankee liberal and I think he’s a nice guy.

(I still wonder how Bush beat out McCain for the Republican nomination four years ago.)

I’m a conservative Repoublican, and I don’t have to wonder at all. It comes down to the aforementioned pandering.

Now, believe it or not, I’ve liked McCain for a long time. Back in 1998, I was hoping he’d run for President. And when he first announced, I intended to vote for him. But he did everything possible to alienate people like me.

To put it simply, McCain ran a dumb campaign. An unforgivably stupid campaign. He forgot the oldest truism of Presidential campaigning: appeal to the extremes during the primary season, and THEN shift to the center AFTER you’ve got the nomination sewn up. That’s true whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican.

If you’re a Democrat, you NEED the black vote and the support of organized labor. If you get their support, and win the nomination, THEN it’s a good idea to distance yourself from those blocs. Remember, Bill Clinton didn’t castigate Sister Souljah until AFTER he’d won the Democratic nomination. Before he got the nomination, he sought the support of the liberal groups who make up most of the electorate in the primaries.

If John McCain wanted to run as a moderate, the time to do that was AFTER he’d won the nomination. Instead, he STARTED by pandering to the press, and by mocking the religious conservatives whose votes he desperately needed. He STARTED by backpedalling on all the social issues that conservative Repuiblicans care about. And while this played VERY well with the reporters on his bus, a politician with half a brain should have KNOWN it would be disastrous once the campaign headed South.

Sadly, McCain doesn’t seem to have learned a thing. To this day, he thinks he lost the nomination because of dirty tricks by Karl Rove. But if he really wants to know why he lost, all he has to do is look at the campaign he ran.

I will eat my hat if that happens. Despite the current kissy-face for the cameras, Bush and McCain are no star-crossed lovers.

Ron Suskind, who was a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal until 2000, has written that Bush’s campaign tactics against McCain included dirty tricks like this:

“Bush loyalists, maybe working for the campaign, maybe just representing its interests, claimed in parking-lot handouts and telephone “push polls” and whisper campaigns that McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, that McCain might be mentally unstable from his captivity in Vietnam, and that the senator had fathered a black child with a prostitute. Callers push-polled members of a South Carolina right-to-life organization and other groups, asking if the black baby might influence their vote. Now here’s the twist, the part that drives McCain admirers insane to this very day: That last rumor took seed because the McCains had done an especially admirable thing. Years back they’d adopted a baby from a Mother Teresa orphanage in Bangladesh. Bridget, now eleven years old, waved along with the rest of the McCain brood from stages across the state, a dark-skinned child inadvertently providing a photo op for slander. The attacks were of a level and vitriol that even McCain, who was regularly beaten in captivity, could not ignore.”

A-ha. Simulpost with astorian. I’m sure everyone can make up their own minds about the 2000 primaries.

Curse the man for running a principled campaign! Let there be no more of it, i say!

And if you really think that Bush/Rove dirty tactics had nothing to do with McCain’s loss in the primaries, i suggest you are deluded.

Not as deluded as folks who think McCain ran a principled campaign.

Principled? Hardly. He made a calculated decision to walk away from his admirably conservative record (90+ rating on every issue from the American Conservative Union, over the course of his Senate service), and to curry favor with media liberals, rather than with the Republicans who actually vote in the GOP primaries! IF he’d managed to win the nomination, his popularity in the media would have been a great asset. But to get the nomination, he had to be trusted by conservatives. And he did everything possible to show conservatives that he couldn’t be trusted.

When Bill Clinton made his smart, calculated, shrewd attack on Sister Souljah, black voters already liked and trusted him, so the attack didn’t cost him any black voters. They understood the game he was playing, they knew it had to be done, and most of them approved.

If a Ronald Reagan had made a similar move to the center, conservatives would have understood. He’d have given his fervent followers a wink that said, “I’m still one of you,” and they’d have stayed loyal.

But John McCain didn’t have the loyalty of conservatives, and he’d given them no reason to think his leftward shift was anything more than an abandonment of his principles. At a time when he SHOULD have been reassuring GOP voters that he was still their kind of guy, he did the opposie. According to liberal journalist Richard Cohen, on the rare occasions McCain sounded conservative, he made sure that reporters were reassured privately, “He didn’t really mean any of that, of course.”

When Christian conservative leader Gary Bauer tried to warn McCain what a huge mistake he was making, McCain sneered, “What are Christians going to do- vote for Gore?” McCain made a STUPID assumption: that his open scorn for the religious right would have no consequences, that once he was the frontrunner they’d have no choice but to get behind him.

As I said, DUMB. McCain blew the nomination all by himself. All Karl Rove had to do was sit back and laugh.

I’d say the most popular politician is probably Arnold.