GOP pollster predicts 'unstable' '08 primary

Republican pollster Bill McInturff is predicting an “unstable” run-up to the 2008 GOP presidential primary, as long-dormant Republican fault lines emerge and a host of unknown candidates scramble for the nomination.

Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast meeting yesterday with reporters, McInturff, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, said the two current front-runners for the Republican nomination — Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — “do not look like” obvious nominees.

In previous cycles, McInturff added, Republicans nominated candidates who, he said, had been waiting in line to run for the White House: Vice President George H.W. Bush, Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), even Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who was the clear choice of many leading Republicans early on in the primaries.

In 2007-2008, he said, “the divisions in the party are going to be much more slugged out in public.”

McInturff added that McCain could be the best-financed candidate in the GOP primary, in sharp contrast to his 2000 presidential campaign. He also predicted that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) would enter the presidential contest with a 43 percent unfavorable rating.