Daniel Casse argues that McCain’s victory shows that Republican voters know that Iraq needs to be their top priority. “John McCain won because he stuck to the war in Iraq,” he writes.
It’s a plausible view, but the exit polling suggests otherwise. Asked “how do you feel about the U.S. war in Iraq?” 63 percent of Republican voters said they approve of it, and 35 percent disapprove. Of those who approve of the war, Romney got 37 percent support and McCain 33 percent. Of those who disapprove, McCain got 44 percent of the vote and Romney 19 percent. In other words, Romney narrowly won among hawks, and McCain among doves.
That doesn’t mean voters are confused about McCain’s views on the war. It seems to mean the war just wasn’t a crucial criterion in deciding who to vote for.