Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Indecision 2008

I need to think of a name for these regular/semi-regular election updates, but for now, I’ll borrow The Daily Show’s very apt title. We’re less than a year away from the first primaries, candidates are campaigning, money is being raised, and pundits are punditing, so it’s time for me to jump in.


Tier One – Hillary Clinton
Tier Two – Barack Obama, John Edwards
Tier Three – everyone else except...
An Inconvenient Tier – Al Gore

Tier One – Hillary is way out in front in national polling. Much if this is name recognition, but it’s notable that in head-to-head matchups with the others, she is over 50%, which means the others will have to take votes away from her, along with picking up all the undecideds. This will require some negative campaigning which Obama and Edwards will be loath to do. Hillary is also going to win the first primary – money – maybe by a large amount. This could prove determinative when it comes to what looks like early primaries in CA, NJ, and FL, where money will be a huge influence. Many are still uncomfortable with her, her current Iraq position is somewhere between silly and way over-calculated, and many Dems are fearful about her electability, but she is the 800-lb gorilla in this field.

Tier Two – On the good side, Obama has no negatives. On the bad side, he has little experience and could get seriously outspent by Hillary. He’s never run a real campaign and this is a tough place to start.
Edwards is only in this tier because he is polling very well in the early primary/caucus states. Mostly this is due to his having spent a ton of time in IA, NH, and NV, but his message resonates well among liberals and labor. If history is against a woman or a black man being nominated, it does him no favors, since no losing VP candidate has come back to win the Presidency the next election. In fact, Walter Mondale is the only losing VP candidate to get the nomination the next time and he was the sitting VP when he lost, which is a whole different thing. He still owes money from four years ago and it's hard to believe he can raise enough to really fight the Super-duper Tuesday war.

Tier Three – Biden is running because he thinks he’s the most qualified, Vilsack and Richardson are running for VP, Kucinich is running for president of the Lollipop Guild, and God only knows why Dodd is running. Until any of them is more than a blip in the polls, I will ignore them.

Al Gore doesn’t appear to be running. Until he’s spotted signing up for Nutri-system or Slimfast, I’ll assume he’s not interested. Some have said he will only run if Hillary’s campaign flounders – by the time that would happen, it would be too late. If he isn’t running by the end of March, he isn’t running at all.


Tier One – Rudy Giuliani, John McCain (in that order)
Tier Two – Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich
Jesus Tier – Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee
Anti-Immigrant Tier – Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo
Unfaithful Servant Tier -- Chuck Hagel
And I am telling you, I am not running Tier – Condi Rice

Tier One – In the modern history of the Republican Party, the obvious candidate always gets the nomination, often with a fight, but he survives. This time around, that candidate was John McCain. Yet here we are, a year out, and McCain’s campaign looks worse by the day. I cannot find one good sign anywhere. He is trailing Giuliani nationally and in most states; he has lost his lead to him in NH, where he actually beat Bush in 2000. McCain is saddled with the unpopular troop increase and if you think his “it should have been bigger” stance will inoculate him, think again. The religious right doesn’t trust him at all and all his sucking up to Jerry Falwell hasn’t changed that. This has enabled Giulani to become the clear front-runner, yet it’s hard to believe a man with a history of three marriages, a mistress while married, support for gay rights (including marching in Gay Pride parades), and a pro-choice stance can get the GOP nomination.

Tier Two – Romney has the advantage of being a Governor, historically where the GOP finds its winners (not to be confused with the Senate, where it finds its losers). His polling numbers are unexciting, but it’s early. He’s raising money well and the opening is there, but he’s already flip-flopped on social issues and that could be a problem.
Newt is in this tier because he shows up well in polls, but his negatives are immense. Still, if he can emerge as the religious right’s candidate head-to-head against one of the top two, he can imagine winning.
“The only one of these guys who hasn’t had multiple wives is the Mormon” – Dick Morris

Jesus Tier – Brownback and Huckabee are darlings of the religious right. Brownback is their poster boy, now that Rick Santorum is gone. They haven’t gotten any traction in the polls, but that could change once debates start. Can they raise the money? Will Brownback’s anti-war Christian conservative position play well in the GOP? Stay tuned for this fight.

Anti Immigrant Tier – Hunter and Tancredo have no chance but will cause all sorts of trouble for the tier one guys by bringing up stuff they’d rather not talk about. Hunter is also seriously pro-war and pro-military -- I mean seriously pro-military.

Unfaithful Servant – If Brownback has a chance, you’d have to think Hagel, a war hero with similar positions and a more reasonable demeanor would. But the GOP hates turncoats and Hagel has not just been anti-war, but has given aid and comfort to the enemy (that would be the Democrats) – this doesn’t fly with the rank-and-file. The antipathy to rebellion is what differentiates the rank-and-file among the parties as much as anything and it is one of McCain’s problems, since he’s perceived as less-than-loyal to the party’s leaders.

And I am telling you – Condi’s here because she gets decent polling numbers, but I believe her when she says she isn’t interested. Might be in the VP derby, although Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Huckabee could have something to say about that.

The media may spend more time talking about the Democrats, because they’re obsessed with Hillary and Obamamania, but the Republicans are where the real action will be.


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