“BLINK”ING THE CANDIDATES….This is quite a fascinating little chart from the Pew Research Center. I feel like I ought to have something deep and meaningful to say about it, but I really don’t. I do, however, have a few garden variety observations.

First: Hillary Clinton is viewed as more liberal than Barack Obama? Both Republicans and Democrats agree about this, and, needless to say, both Republicans and Democrats are very, very wrong on this score. Apparently the power of perception is hard to break down.

Second: For fans of the Downs Median Voter Theorem, it’s worth noting that all of the major Republican candidates are viewed as closer to the middle than any of the major Democratic candidates. (This depends only slightly on how you define “middle.” Pew uses a scale of 1 to 6, so the mathematical middle is 3.5. However, the self-identified middle is 3.4, as is the self-identified position of independents.) This is potentially bad news for Democrats.

Third: Over at Ezra’s place, Neil points out that John Edwards, who is arguably the most progressive candidate, is viewed as the most centrist. This is potentially good news for both progressives and for John Edwards, since it means the candidate most likely to pursue a progressive agenda once he’s in office is also the candidate who’s most electable.

Other stuff: Democrats and Republicans rate the Republican candidates almost identically, but they differ quite strongly in their ratings of the Democratic candidates. I’m not quite sure what this means.

Finally, the average Republican rates herself farther from the middle than the average Democrat. The average Democrat, therefore, is ideologically fairly close to all the major Dem candidates, while the average Republican is quite distant from theirs. Again, I’m not quite sure how this will play out.

At any rate, it’s good stuff for political junky types, and the full poll has some other, equally interesting findings. Judging from the questions about who’s the strongest leader, who’s the most inspiring, who’s the most electable, etc., for example, the primaries shouldn’t even be close. It’ll be Clinton vs. Giuliani in a walk. We’ll see.