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Monday, December 31, 2007

Updated Presidential Odds

Iowa Caucus Analysis, Monday, December 31st
We don't need an MSNBC headline to tell us it's too close too call. We know that. We're going to see dozens of polls between now and Thursday, each varying in percentage points and leaders. They'll all say the Democrats are in a three way dog-fight for first in Iowa and that Romney and Huckabee are going back and forth for the GOP, with McCain and Thompson fighting for third. They'll all say the same thing, just in different orders. So, this week, you're not getting any polls on this blog because they're all pointless. The next poll I'll report on is the Iowa Caucus itself.

For now, just analysis and predictions. Who's in the driver's seat in each party for Thursday's caucus? For the nomination? Let's break it down. Democrats today. Republicans tomorrow.

Democratic Primary ScheduleThursday, January 3 - Iowa caucus
Tuesday, January 8 - New Hampshire primary
Tuesday, January 15 - Michigan primary*
Saturday, January 19 - Nevada caucus
Saturday, January 26 - South Carolina primary
Tuesday, January 29 - Florida primary*
Tuesday, February 5 - "Super Tuesday." 20 states, including California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts

*Will not technically count, but the momentum factor is impossible to be gauged as it is an unprecedented situation, and will, for the sake of this blogger's sanity, be ignored.

Democratic Contenders
3. John Edwards (Odds on nomination - 5:1)
Rank among Democratic Top Three to win Iowa: 1
Rank among DTT to win New Hampshire: 3
Rank among DTT to be ahead by Super Tuesday: 3
Rank among DTT to be leading after Super Tuesday: 3
Reasoning: John Edwards has the best chance to win Iowa, for the following reasons:

1. He has the best change to earn the second-choice votes that are so crucial in the Iowa Democratic Caucus.
2. He has the best chance to make a late surge in this final week, similar to 2004.
3. He is most likely to get votes from those who have not been motivated enough to make themselves heard so far in the Obama-Clinton battle, not to mention those who have been turned off by the constant Obama-Clinton bickering.

But Edwards can't just win Iowa. He has to win convincingly in Iowa. He has to win by at LEAST five points in order to turn the victory into momentum. It's looking like the results will be too close for an Iowa win to be any more than a few thousand votes.

If, however, he can win by 5+ percentage points, he'll have the entire weekend to spin the big win, meaning major headlines for the Sunday papers and morning political shows, both free coverage for the campaign, hugely important because of the bank rolls of the Clinton and Obama campaigns. This then leads into Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, where Edwards only has to show a strong third, though if Obama finished third in Iowa, Edwards might take second from him.

A second or strong third in New Hampshire means he can compete in Nevada (labor ties) and South Carolina (geographical ties). Once Democratic voters are convinced this is a legitimate three-way race, you will see a LOT of undecideds run to Edwards. After all, they were probably undecided because they didn't like Clinton or Obama.

But this all must start with a convincing Edwards win on Thursday. A narrow win isn't nearly as helpful, and a second or third place finish eliminates him from viability.

2. Barack Obama (Odds on nomination - 3:1)
Rank among Democratic Big Three to win Iowa: 2
Rank among DBT to win New Hampshire: 2
Rank among DBT to be ahead by Super Tuesday: 1
Rank among DBT to be leading after Super Tuesday: 2
Reasoning: Barack Obama has the second best chance to win Iowa, for the following reasons:

1. He should get more second choice votes than Clinton, as her unfavorability among voters who are not intending to vote for her are high.
2. He has a very passionate voting base ready to support and recruit on Thursday as caucus goers step out of their cars.
3. Never forget that there are Iowans who do their part simply by voting on voting day and nothing else. Those aren't Obama voters. Obama voters are passionate, outspoken, and have made themselves known in all these polls already. He won't get the voting day pop in numbers that Edwards will get.

If Obama were to win Iowa, a few wins should follow, including a New Hampshire victory the following Tuesday, and a South Carolina later in the month. And if Obama wins all of the early primary states, the country will follow on Super Tuesday. In fact, come Super Tuesday, Obama must be leading the delegate count in order to defeat Clinton's massive national lead.

If, however, Obama were to finish third in Iowa, and Clinton were to win it, the reverse would happen, and Clinton would do the early sweeping and Super Tuesday winning. Clearly, Iowa is overwhelmingly important. It seems as if the only way Clinton and Obama are both alive after Iowa is if Edwards does not finish between them.

1. Hillary Clinton (Odds on nomination - 5:2)
Rank among Democratic Big Three to win Iowa: 3
Rank among DBT to win New Hampshire: 1
Rank among DBT to be ahead by Super Tuesday: 2
Rank among DBT to be leading after Super Tuesday: 1
Reasoning: Of the three viable Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton is least likely to win the Iowa Caucus for the following reasons:

1. There is no reason to think her numbers will get any higher than the recent Iowa polls. Her polling average's standard deviation has been in a gradual declination for months.
2. Obama and especially Edwards are expected to earn all second choice votes from voters who reluctantly but inevitably leave Biden, Richardson, Kucinich, and Dodd on caucus night.
3. No undecideds will decide on Hillary Clinton.

Clinton will have a top two finish in New Hampshire regardless of her Iowa finish. However, if a second place finish in New Hampshire is coming on the heals of finishing below Obama in Iowa, then she has problems, as that's all South Carolina needs to run to Obama, meaning Clinton finished behind Obama in three states, if not Nevada as well, heading into Super Tuesday.

Of course, though realistic, that path is not a sure thing at all. If Clinton finishes ahead of Obama in any primary, she's more than healthy enough for Super Tuesday. Her national lead is still formidable, with double digit leads in all of them, and some over twenty points. Super Tuesday state like California has her with double digit leads, while New York and New Jersey have her up by over 30.

So it seems that as long as she stays in one piece, that is to say, as long as Obama or Edwards don't finish ahead of her in every early primary state, she has a firewall on February 5th to take a lead in the delegate count. If it's still close between her and one of the gentlemen after Super Tuesday, that will be the first time in recent memory that a primary has been significant beyond that event. (Among others, Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina would still be remaining, where Clinton would not be expected to do well against Edwards, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.)

Three days.

Check back tomorrow for the Republican candidates.


The Dude said...


I still don't know how you have managed to miss the Chris Dodd push. He is like a throughbread,.....a tired, lame, steroid enraged throughbread looking to shock the world.

Feel the anticipation...its electric!

IC said...

Electric is right.

Can you imagine if we get a Republican brokered convention?

Poor Dodd. He enrolled a daughter in an Iowa school and they could care less about his campaign.

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