And Chris Bowers, over at Open Left, has an interesting piece on the the "flip-flop" charge; here's a bit, but the whole thing is worth reading:
Four years later, I have grave doubts that a "flip-flop" charge is actually effective in a political campaign, especially in an Obama vs. McCain campaign. Consider the following:
- If Obama is Kerry, then McCain is Bush. Bush argued that John Kerry was a flip-flopper, and everyone remembers that charge quite well. As such, for the McCain campaign to argue that Obama is a flip-flopper should actually cause voters to compare McCain to Bush just as much as they might compare Obama to Kerry. Right now, being tied to Bush is a lot worse than being tied to Kerry.
- Doesn't contradict Obama's image. Obama, unlike Kerry, has been running on his willingness to engage in bi-partisan compromise for over a year. So, it isn't clear how the "flip-flop" charge even goes against Obama's longstanding campaign promises. He has told everyone repeatedly that he will compromise, so it is unclear how attacking him for doing so will hurt him. (That isn't to imply that I think things like FISA are actually compromises, but it is how they are being portrayed in the media).
- Do people even dislike flip-floppers? A January 2007 poll from Pew showed that 75% of voters like candidates who "are willing to compromise." That was slightly higher than the 67% of voters who like politicians who stick to their principles.
- Has anyone flip-flopped more than McCain?: There are few politicians in the last twenty years who have flip-flopped more than McCain. E. J. Dionne covers some in his column today--taxes, offshore drilling--and a classic video by Brave New Films covers several more.