Voters (Heart) Obama, But Think Like McCain

This election is starting to look like a tragic play, one where the heart fights the brain.

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ILLUSTRATION BY JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRThis election is starting to look like a tragic play, one where the heart fights the brain. Polls show that voters are passionate about Sen. Barack Obama. Even 23-year-old Meghan McCain thinks he's "cute." But when they consider where the candidates stand on the political spectrum, voters find themselves closer to Sen. John McCain. The latest evidence comes to us from the Winston Group, which just asked voters where they stand ideologically compared with Obama, the Democrat, and Republican McCain.

Winston Group Senior Vice President Myra Miller says most voters see themselves as center-right. On a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 being very liberal, 5 moderate, and 9 very conservative, the average voter is at 5.85. Miller says voters put McCain just to their right, at 5.94. And Obama is off to the left at 4.1.

So is it a lock for McCain? Well, yes, no—and maybe. "Because they are ideologically closer to McCain, voters will be more inclined to hear what he has to say and be open to his ideas, presenting McCain with a structural advantage toward building a center-right majority coalition," says Miller. However, she adds, "it is not a given that voters will vote for a candidate that they are closer to ideologically. Voters still want to hear ideas and what a candidate is going to do, especially in this environment." So keep on talking, guys.