Thursday, September 13, 2007

Numbers and Notes -- When Do Things Really Start?

We’re less than five months from SuperDuper Tuesday, when, to all intents and purposes, the Democratic nominee will be decided. The big question is who it will be. The key question which may determine the answer to the big question is: when will people start to focus on the race? Most polls show that most of the voters are not paying much attention to the race and therefore are not ready to decide on who they’ll vote for. The problem is finding the moment when they will engage. Historically, voters have waited until Iowa and New Hampshire do their thing, vetting the candidates in a personal way, narrowing the field to a manageable size. Then with their own primaries weeks or even months away, they can get down to business. Even leaving out the MI and FL silliness, there won’t be much time between NH and the big ones. Add to that the nature of voting in CA, where nearly 30% of the votes will likely be cast before the NH primary and confusion must be rampant within the campaigns. Where and when to spend advertising dollars is key. Do you start your spending in December, hoping to get the momentum rolling early? Or do you wait until after the holidays, when people’s minds are ready and compete among what will surely be an avalanche of ads from both parties. Here in CA, there will be several key initiatives on that February 5th ballot, adding even more political advertising to the clutter. Will anyone be able to get traction amid the noise?
On the Democratic side, the numbers indicate that Hillary has a substantial lead, with her numbers generally in the forties, while Obama has settled in the mid-twenties, and Edwards in the low teens. The only thing that has changed over the last couple of months is that Hillary has added somewhere near ten percent. That addition is a dangerous omen for the others, since it would seem to indicate that people have made a choice. It’s the reason for the escalation in attacks on Clinton from both Edwards and Obama. They understand that there is a danger in letting it look like Hillary is going to win. People start jumping on the bandwagon, start to feel that they need to sign up.
I think there is one person with the ability to start the campaign on his own – Al Gore. Gore has said that he intends to endorse a candidate before the primaries. His endorsement would be the lead story on every news report, his reasons would focus the campaign light on something, either positive or negative, and begin the national conversation. There is one thing we can be confident of, he’s not going to endorse Hillary. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Edwards might be more in tune with his current thinking, but would his endorsement of the white Southern guy look like a circling of the wagons? Other than electability, it is hard to find the easily stated reason for an Edwards endorsement, without getting into a policy-wonkish discussion (not that Al has ever been averse to those). On the other hand, an endorsement of Obama as “the future” rather than the Clinton-Edwards revivals would be very effective coming from Gore. Speak up, Al, you’re holding the green flag on this race.

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Blogger sam.gurka5 said...

Absent a major gaffe, I actually think this contest is over, much to my regret. Hillary has run a superb campaign so far and has proven herself to be better on her feet than the others. She may just be smarter than the guys.

What are the odds on 3 New Yorkers running for Pres next year?

1:01 PM  

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