Thursday, April 12, 2007

Notes and Numbers -- New Polls and Gore's Decision

Evans and Novak say Fred Thompson is going to run. Make no mistake, this will turn the race on its head. The first couple of weeks after his entry could well be disastrous for any number of opponents, with his solid conservative credentials possibly dealing fatal blows to Gingrich, Huckabee, and all the little guys. Romney has enough money to weather the storm, but could have a lot of trouble getting enough air. It may also put McCain’s campaign into complete confusion – do they tack back to the middle and try and outlast Giuliani and then go head-to-head with Thompson? Or do they try and hang tough on the right, hammering experience as the theme? I suspect it wouldn’t matter, that Rudy would have him outflanked in the middle while Thompson will get the conservatives.

Time magazine has the Democrats tightening, with Hillary leading Obama 33-26 with Edwards right behind at 25. The LA Times/Bloomberg poll has Hillary up 33-23 with Edwards and Gore at 14 and 13. There are now a lot of numbers out there, with Hillary still probably up by double digits and everyone looking for an opening to really catch up.

If Thompson decides to enter, is that a sign for Gore that it’s time for him? What is the right time for Gore to jump in, assuming he ever does?
Many pundits have proclaimed that Gore is the one person who could enter late, as late as the Fall, and still be a real factor. Frankly, I think that’s nonsense. As I’ve said before, people, workers, and money, will have made their choices and he will be trying to change their minds, a far harder thing to do. The latest Gallup Poll isn’t all that encouraging – by 57% to 38%, Americans say they don’t want Gore to run. Now the more important number is Democrats, where 54% do want him in the race while 41% don’t. Independents oppose a Gore candidacy 57-37. The problem with those numbers is we have nothing to contrast them with – no one else is in this situation and very few ever have been. I would posit that if a person is truly enamored of another candidate, he would not want Al Gore to enter, therefore the 54-41 edge is a significant and positive one.
He will still have to answer the big questions: why are you running and why now, rather than six months ago? The second could get tricky. If he enters after Edwards campaign dies, then it looks like he’s upholding the white guy banner – not a good position to be in. If he waits until it looks like Hillary is in charge, then he becomes the anti-Hillary, but taking on Bill and Hillary isn’t an easy position for the man who was Clinton’s VP. He could run against her as the anti-war candidate, but by that point, she will have overcome that against two others. Head-to-head with Obama could really be tricky, for obvious reasons. No, he has to get in soon, I’d say by June 1st. And the reason will have to be that he is just a bigger international personality – that he has the respect of the world in a way that the others do not, which, combined with his experience, makes him the best person for these troubled times. If he combines it with a bold campaign, unafraid to tell people things they might not want to hear, he could finally realize his dream.


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