John McCain the Comeback Codger?

John McCain the Comeback Codger Photo Des Moines Register columnist Marc Hanson dubs John McCain the “Comeback Codger.”

Every four years, it seems, one of the presidential candidates left for dead rises from the tomb and surprises everyone on caucus night. Around this time in 2004, John Kerry and John Edwards came alive, finishing first and second.

Who will it be this time? Rather than waiting until Thursday night to find out, we in the media believe in the public’s right to know the future. So we do our best to sniff it out beforehand. Just a few days before the big night, more than a few political bloodhounds are saying, “What about John McCain?”

While you wouldn’t call McCain a comeback kid, could the 71-year-old senator from Arizona turn out to be the comeback codger?

McCain is close behind Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. He’s spent the past two or three weeks collecting endorsements and picking up speed. If he finishes in the top three here, he sails onto New Hampshire with a tail wind.

Indeed, McCain has moved into third place in the national polls and within the margin of error of second place Mike Huckabee. Indeed, he’s in a virtual tie for first in the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics survey, the most recent national poll, with 19 percent to Rudy Giuliani’s 20 and Huckabee’s 19.

Iowa continues to be a two-way race between Huckabee and Romney. Bob Novak, though, reports on a “new survey of an oversized sample” wherein a “private corporate interest commissioned a phone bank survey of 15,000 Iowans who say they will attend Republican presidential caucuses” which “shows Huckabee slipping and no longer ahead of Romney.” For what it’s worth, “McCain was the leading second-choice candidate for both Huckabee and Romney voters.”

New Hampshire appears to be a two-way contest between McCain and Romney — and McCain is trending sharply up.

What’s truly amazing, though, is that we’re less than a week away from the actual voting and the race seems much more up in the air than it was a month, let alone three, ago.

Photo source: The Plethora.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.

    Those wishing to buy candidate advertising should send inquiries to ot*@bl*****.com

  2. Triumph says:

    “new survey of an oversized sample”

    Further proving what an idiot Bob Novak is–an “oversized” sample of 15,000 doesn’t necessarily make a poll any more valid than the “normal” size.

    The fact that Novak doesn’t even identify the “private corporate interest” which commissioned the poll nor that he doesn’t provide relevant information like the margin of error makes any interpretation of the numbers meaningless.

  3. Nunzia says:

    I have to say, the events in Pakistan – a blaring reminder of what is going on in the world and the challenges America will be facing in years to come – have certainly made John McCain seem more attractive than he’s ever been…

  4. legion says:

    As I’ve said before, it’s not that McCain is having a ‘comeback’ moment – he’s just got enough experience in political competition at this level to know when to keep his head down & his mouth shut, letting his competition self-destruct.

  5. DL says:

    McCain comeback huh? I saw the movie – “the Return of the Monster”

    Some sequels just don’t cut it. What we are witnessing is an absolute circus as a result of a party in meltdown mode. The base is bouncing around looking for true conservative leadership in the form of a principled man who exudes honesty and character and they can’t find it in this – big tent – liberal lite – don’t know what they stand for – media driven -party.

    300 million people in this country and this is all we have to choose from – because Lieberman (90% liberal) likes him?

  6. Grampagravy says:

    A “principled man who exudes honesty and character” in American politics? How about a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?

  7. McGehee says:

    Heh. A few days ago somebody referred to him as a “comeback kid.” I took note of McCain’s age and suggested calling him a kid of any kind was probably not appropriate.

  8. McGehee says:

    we’re less than a week away from the actual voting and the race seems much more up in the air than it was a month, let alone three, ago.

    I seem to recall that happened four years ago too.