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Monday, September 08, 2008

PPFA Update

Well, the blog is still blocked at work, so I can't write and post in the morning. Moreover, I'm extremely busy with teaching a new course and taking classes. Not to worry, I have a plan.

I hope to return to blogging by Monday the 15th, though only with weekly or bi-weekly posts until the end of October, when I'll return to daily as we count down the last few days until the election.

See you then.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Helpful to the RNC

To ensure that the title of this post does not offend anyone, let me be clear: No one in their right mind, Democrat, Republican, or other, wants Hurricane Gustav to take lives, cause damage, or hurt the economy. No one is cheering for Hurricane Gustav. No one is thankful for the timing. We all hope for the safety and stability of New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. They've been through enough.

However, objectively and unemotionally, the timing of Hurricane Gustav is helpful to the Republican Party for three reasons.

1. The Republican National Convention can now serve a purpose other than pageantry. The Republican Convention should turn their four day appeal to the American people into a bi-partisan telethon. Have Republican after Republican get on stage and appeal to their local and national constituents to donate money and goods to the afflicted areas of the Gulf Coast and surrounding regions. In addition, they should publicly invite Democrats to show up to the Convention and pitch in with the effort. If the Democrats show up, it'll give unprecedented legitimacy to a convention and it'll portray the Republicans as leaders and the Democrats as followers. If the Democrats decline the invitation, you can imagine how that might be spun by Republican strategists.

This can also be spun by some (read: scum) that the Democrats, at their convention, only cared for canned speeches, glitz, and idolatry while the Republicans cared for the American people. One can only hope that the average voter is aware that either party would do this. Democrats would have been just as shrewdly political, but they'd also be just as willing to help the afflicted region. It just so happens that Gustav occurs during the Republican Convention.

2. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will not be present at the Convention and it won't seem conspicuous. Their individual and joint unpopularity is a huge albatross for McCain/Palin '08. Under normal circumstances, however, their presence, especially President Bush's, is expected, as all outgoing incumbents attend their party's convention during their final year. It was a tough spot for the RNC.

Not anymore. They have government business to take care of. The American people need them and they will answer the call. Yes, it's a convenient reason to be absent, but it's also legitimate.

3. Here's the Bush Administration's chance to almost make up for 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which is an indelible black eye on the President's legacy and, considering the Democrats' "McBush" strategy, unfairly ties McCain to the irrefutable failure. If the federal government does an admirable job taking care of the evacuees and the post-hurricane clean up, it could go a long way to helping McCain and the Republican Party regain a point or two in the approval polls.

So, there are the implications in presidential politics. Now, let us all hope for the safety of those in the path of the storm.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Breaking Down the Sarah Palin Pick

Last May, I assessed Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as one of John McCain's top ten VP possibilities. Here's what I had to say about her potential to round out the Republican ticket:

Working under the assumption that Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee, there is undoubtedly going to be a lot of disappointed female voters who are up for grabs across the country. Sarah Palin would be an excellent olive branch to a gender that consistently leans Democratic. She not only brings executive experience to balance McCain's legislative work, but she might be the most popular executive in the country. Indeed, in a poll taken in 2007, she had an astounding approval rating of 84% with only 5% disapproval. Other strengths include her strong pro-life stance and she's voiced an opinion against gay marriage, two core conservative tenants that will be welcome to Republicans who are skeptical of a McCain nomination.

Of course, there are nine people ranked higher on this list for a reason. First, the 44-year-old was elected governor in 2006, and with less than a year-and-a-half of statewide experience, she could be considered too green for the ticket (even if the average age of her and McCain is a perfect 58). Second, she has very little name recognition across the country, and even though that isn't her fault, it is something McCain and the Republican brain trust could be concerned with when selecting the #2. Finally, she brings nothing to the table geographically, as Alaska's three electoral votes consistently go red, and the state will not attract any region of the country, unless the Yukon Territory is somehow annexed and incorporated by November.


Three months later, most of that analysis holds and has become relevant. Yesterday, John McCain and the GOP selected Sarah Palin to be the Republican nominee for Vice-President of the United States.


Re-read the first paragraph from my May posting to understand some reasons why Palin could be considered a strong choice. She's a social conservative (better than Lieberman), she's a fiscal conservative (better than Huckabee), she's pro-life (better than Ridge), and she's Presbyterian (better than Romney). She is the perfect Republican. Moreover, she's a woman, while McCain's rival is coming off a primary where many thought the Obama campaign and/or the media was unfair to a woman because of her gender. Potentially, there are a lot of disenfranchised Hillary Clinton supporters out there to be won. Unlikely, as I'll discuss in the near future, but potentially.

The biggest mark against her, obviously, is her lack of experience. Many say that, since McCain is 72-years-old, he has an above average likelihood to die in office. Therefore, the person who is one heartbeat away from the presidency has rarely been more paramount. This is not an inaccurate assessment. However, that is of little concern to McCain and the Republicans. Not only does McCain have loads of experience, but the Democrats would not be wise to attack Palin's lack of it.

Never forget that the primary objective of both parties is not to put the country first, but rather to either gain or hold onto power first, then push through an agenda second, after the candidate(s) has been elected. The choice of Palin is no different, like numerous vice-presidential choices of both parties over the years. McCain and the GOP want to win the election. If the Democrats try to attack the Palin selection on the basis of her youth and inexperience, the McCain campaign can easily remind the electorate that Obama is nearly as youthful and inexperienced as Palin.

Simply, despite the Palin pick, the Democrats cannot make this a campaign about experience. McCain has over two decades on Obama and it goes without saying that the top of the ticket is a lot more important than the bottom. If the Democrats criticize Palin because, if McCain wins, she could possibly have to take over, the Republicans can hit back by saying that, if the Democrats win, Obama is definitely taking over.

Therefore, both parties will wait on the inexperience issue. If McCain brings up Obama's inexperience, Obama will cite Palin as being one heartbeat away and therefore a terrible choice for VP, while his own VP is as well equipped as any politician to run the country. If Obama brings up Palin's experience, McCain will blow him out of the water.

Ultimately, since it appears Palin will be attack-proof in this regard, she's actually a strong choice. A down-the-line conservative with executive experience who might siphon female votes away from the Democratic Party.


Addendum: To my loyal readers: my work has blocked blogspot. That is why you didn't see of my usual morning posts this past week. I'm looking into circumventing the system, but if no solution is found, I might be going to weekly posts.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Previewing a Busy Week in Presidential Politics

Ten weeks out.
Democrats fresh off a VP pick.
Republicans less than a week from theirs.
Democratic Convention for four days.
GOP Convention build up.

It's starting to get pretty real.

Dems' VP Update: It's Joe Biden. Early stories about the Biden selection will revolve around two factors, both of which I addressed on Saturday, and both negative for the party. The first, which has already occurred, is the reminder that Biden had some now infamous choice words about an Obama Administration being inexperienced and unready. These comments will eventually disappear into the static noise of Campaign '08.

Secondly, and this will happen soon, the choice will be spun by Republicans as an example of Obama not feeling ready for the task and running away from his "outsider" approach to his primary campaign. "See? He's not ready. He needs Biden. And whatever happened to 'change', anyway?"

This, too, will dissipate. What the Democrats are, and should be, most concerned about is not the short- and intermediate-term effect, but the long-term effect. How will people feel about Biden on November 4? Literally. November 4th. Not the week before, not the day before. What will the undecided voter, the one who likes what Barack Obama has to say but thinks we might just be a bit safer with McCain in office, think about when they're in line to vote?

The undecided voter will be comforted that the experience of Joe Biden is on the Democratic ticket. That's why Obama & Co. took Biden and that will be the ultimate story on the Dems' VP pick in 2008.

GOP VP Update: It's Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney, which, remarkably, I've consistently said since February. More on the GOP VP race as the week progresses.

Democratic Convention update: Today's Democratic Convention schedule (from Demconvention.com):

Barack Obama’s story is an American story that reflects a life of struggle, opportunity and responsibility like those faced by Americans everyday. The opening night of the Convention will highlight Barack’s life story, his commitment to change, and the voices of Americans who are calling for a new direction for this country.

Monday’s headline prime-time speaker will be Michelle Obama.
Other Monday night speakers include: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri; Barack Obama’s sister Maya Soetero-Ng and Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s older brother; Jerry Kellman, mentor and long-time friend of Barack Obama; Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr.; former Indiana Representative Lee Hamilton; Tom Balanoff, President of Illinois SEIU; Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America; NEA President Reg Weaver; AFT President Randi Weingarten; Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; State Comptroller Dan Hynes; Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis; Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle; and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
Monday night will also feature a tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Republican Convention update: Too soon to say too much, but a recent interesting story about the GOP Convention is that former Democrat Joe Lieberman will be speaking at the Republican Convention on its opening night (a week from today). Does this mean Lieberman is being considered, as many speculate, for McCain's #2 position? Don't count on it. Imagine Lieberman in the VP debate, going against the Republicans (and agreeing with Biden!) on nearly every social, financial, and domestic issue?

McCain has worked too hard to win conservatives over the last few months. He finally caught Obama with near virtual ties in most polls. Is he really going to roll the dice and pick a social liberal as his VP? Not a chance. Both parties can relax. Joe Lieberman will never be on a national ballot ever again.

Now if only, Connecticut Democrats wish, he would stay off the Connecticut ballot...

Check back for updates on these four developments tomorrow and throughout the week!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama Picks Biden

It turns out Joe Biden threw the final VP curveball, telling reporters on Tuesday that he wasn't "the guy," when it turns out he is. Today, the Obama campaign announced the Obama/Biden '08 ticket. As any choice, there are strengths and weaknesses.

The strengths are obvious: Experience. Biden, with Republican senator John Warner, is the Senate's foremost expert on national security, foreign policy, and military matters. Biden has the capability to go on the offense in a campaign. Biden is guaranteed to know more about foreign and domestic policy than his VP counterpart. Biden is great on TV. Biden is a consistent liberal, someone Obama can hand the baton to in 8 years (when Biden is a ripe 74 years of age), if all goes well for the Democrats.

The weaknesses, however, are nearly as pronounced. Barack Obama, after running the "politics of change" and the Washington outsider platform, has chosen the ultimate insider. Biden has been in the Senate for over 35 years. He's the sixth longest tenured Senator in the chamber. Moreover, Biden, while running in the Democratic Primary, publicly questioned Obama's readiness for the presidency, and in separate comments, Biden hailed John McCain as a strong choice for the office.
Another problem with this selection has been highlighted by this blog on numerous occasions when the idea of Biden or Wesley Clark was put forth. This selection, while at face value seemingly shores up the lack of a foreign policy heavyweight, also implies that Obama himself is not quite ready for the job on his own. Biden looks like the chaperone on the ticket. His selection might not compliment Obama's weakness, it might underscore it. This is crucial and it shows Obama's mindset. Rather than moving forward with someone who accentuates his strengths of the candidate of change, Obama hedged his bets and brought along the establishment. We'll see how it plays out.

Overall, I think, it's a solid selection for the Democrats. Biden should make a lot of people more comfortable with the inexperienced Democrat on top of the ticket. Obama will get some undecided voters over the next few days, and combined with the Democratic Convention, Obama will get get a 5-7 point bump by the end of the week.

Of course, shortly after, the GOP will counter with their own VP selection and convention, which will bring the two campaigns close to even again, though Obama should see himself regain about a 3 point lead rather than the virtual ties seen in most polls. Simply, the Republicans don't have a pick that can excite their base like Biden can excite the Democratic base. It still comes down to Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney, both unsexy picks.

While the GOP has the advantage of going second in selecting a VP and having their convention, they have the disadvantage of no one talking about their VP process in the upcoming week while the Democratic Convention is held from Monday to Thursday this week. I'll be sure to look at both.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Parsing Obama's VP Statement

Yesterday, Barack Obama announced that he had decided on his VP nominee, but he wasn't quite ready to reveal who he had chosen. Last night, he called the runners up on the short list to break the news, but did not tell us who he called. One such runner up, apparently, was the recent dark horse pick Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, who is said to be a finalist, though I can't imagine Obama will so blatantly ignore the lack of a foreign policy heavyweight on his ticket.

Obama gave some vague clues about who he had chosen. Here are his words:

"Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person ready to be president?" Obama told "The Early Show" on CBS. Second, he said, was: "Can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally?"
And, he added: "I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a 'yes person' when it comes to policymaking.

So, does these criteria reveal who the selection is? Yes.

Tim Kaine is not ready to be president. He's in his first term as Virginia Governor. A Kaine selection would reek of politics and electoral math, rather than the well-being of the country. If it was Kaine, Obama would not have made this statement. Same with the Chet Edwards selection.

Joe Biden has never been vocal about disagreeing with Obama. Biden has been as vehement as anyone for Iraqi withdrawal, and he endorsed Obama shortly after his dropout after the Iowa Caucus. Same with Richardson, though he waited a bit longer on his Obama endorsement.

That leaves three contenders: Evan Bayh, Wesley Clark, and Hillary Clinton.

Of the three, Clark and Clinton are probably most ready to lead the country.
Of the three, Bayh and Clinton have the most experience handling domestic issues and could help Obama govern.
Of the three, all three were supportive of Clinton in the Democratic Primary until the bitter end.

These clues, believe it or not, point to Hillary Clinton as the most likely VP nominee. However, based one everything else we know, it seems unlikely that he'll turn to her.

Which leaves Bayh and Clark, which was exactly where we were two days ago. And considering there has been minimal contact between Obama and Clark, and no one in the media has been perceptive of any leak that Clark could be the guy, all signs still point to Evan Bayh, as stated earlier this week on PPFA.

We're in the last hours of not knowing... Check back after the announcement.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why Wesley Clark Would Win It

It's been Democratic VP week here at Presidential Politics for America. Monday was used to narrow down the field to four. Tuesday was used to examine the four. Wednesday was used to narrow down the four to two. Wednesday was also used to predict the eventual Democratic VP nominee: Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.

The general media's consensus is that the VP choice will be Bayh, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, or New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. However, though Bayh is a safe choice, I think there's still a realistic Democrat out there that no one in the mainstream media seems to consider a finalist, despite being perfect for the job: former General Wesley Clark.

Where do we begin with the strengths Clark brings to a campaign? Considering that Obama's biggest weakness is a lack of experience dealing with foreign and military matters, here is a list of credentials that Clark brings to the table to offset those perceived weaknesses:

He was a four-star general.
He was the Supreme Commander of the NATO Allied Forces from 1997-2000.
That rank is the highest ranking of any living, retired military officer in the country.
That position required that he used not only military skills, but diplomatic skills, both of which he exercised successfully.

These types of experiences are even more crucial after the recent events in Georgia propelled McCain's recent pop in the polls. Recent polled voters have favored McCain at about 2 to 1 over Obama when asked which candidate was better suited to deal with Russia's aggression. Such a supermajority of voters is one of the scariest statistics the Obama campaign can see right now. If this election becomes about national security and foreign policy, Obama will lose. The Iraq War won't matter. Afghanistan won't matter. Iran won't matter. Republicans win national security elections, especially when the Republican is a John McCain. It's that simple.

That is, unless, Obama has someone with the military bonafides of a Wesley Clark. This guy makes John Kerry look like a Private First Class. With these experiences, Clark would be the perfect attack dog on Senator McCain. Obama cannot come with a "been there, done that" attitude when it comes to the military. On many points, he must defer to McCain.

Clark will do no such deferring.

What else does Clark bring to the table? Clinton supporters love him, so he strengthens the unity of the party after the acrimonious primary. He is well respected by both parties, though the GOP will undoubtedly find reasons to dislike and discredit him if he does become the VP nominee. His ideology has fit neatly into the Democratic Party after he joined it, albeit recently (2003). His academic experience has been nothing less than stellar. He graduated first in his class from West Point. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship from Oxford University, and graduated with a Masters in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.

So I'd say the resume is there, as is the desire. Unlike Bayh, who has hemmed and hawed at the possibility of running for president, Clark made a late bid for the 2004 presidential nomination, too late to make a real run. Many believe he could have won the nomination had he announced a few months earlier.

If you're a Democrat, Wesley Clark should be a guy you want on the top of a ticket. Since this is clearly Barack Obama's turn, Democrats should be happy to have Clark on the ticket at all, and could look forward for a run from him as an incumbent vice-president in 8 years (when he'll be 72... the exact age McCain is now).

Tomorrow, I believe, is the day we find out who the Democratic Party has chosen. I'll be sure to make a short post when I can with my thoughts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Final Democratic VP Speculations

Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are 48-72 hours away from finally revealing their choice for the bottom half of their 2008 ticket. Yesterday it was announced that Obama and the VP nominee will appear together in Springfield, Illinois, this Saturday.

Yesterday's developments also included one of my Veepstakes Finalists stating that he was not chosen as VP nominee. Delaware Senator Joe Biden curtly told a group of reporters that, "I'm not the guy."

This is similar to Tim Kaine's comments last week that he was awarded the silver medal of the Veepstakes, though the Washington Post's claim that Kaine was scheduled to speak on Tuesday was incorrect. It appears that Kaine does not have a speaking slot yet, which means he still might be the guy. Still, after it was revealed that Mark Warner was awarded the keynote address for Tuesday, it seemed quite unlikely that Wednesday's vice-presidential nomination speech come from a fellow Virginian. Moreover, seeing as Wednesday's theme will be foreign policy, Governor Kaine is an unlikely selection to top off the night, though he deserved to be a Finalist yesterday.

Which left my Final Four, until Biden's revelation that it's not him, which leaves three.

Two of them, with Kaine and Biden, have been speculated to be the final four accorinding to the media. They are Senator Evan Bayh (Indiana) and Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico), each of whom are slated to speak on Wednesday, fueling speculation that one of them is probably the nominee. Fair enough.

But it's not who I would choose.

Barack Obama, with all his rhetoric and speeches, has had a campaign that is, at its core, about two issues. There are two reasons he won the primary. He was vociferously against the Iraq War from the beginning and he's attacked the insider politics of the last few decades (change).

Furthermore, moving forward in the election, his major weakness is lack of foreign policy and military experience. So, the question for VP comes down to who fits the strengths while complimenting the weakness?

Let's take a look:

The last two to be eliminated after hearing their comments, Tim Kaine and Joe Biden, did not fit the mold. Tim Kaine has no foreign policy experience while Joe Biden has been in Washington for 30 years.

Evan Bayh has foreign policy experience, serving on the Armed Services Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence. However, he originally supported President Bush in the Iraq invasion, and was slower than most Democratic Senators to become critical. Moreover, he was a huge supporter of another politician many Democrats think was too slow to recognize the 2003 mistake, Hillary Clinton, in her quest against Obama's campaign of "change." Furthermore, Bayh, in his 9th year in the Senate, cannot be considered a Washington outsider.

Bill Richardson fits. He's a Washington outsider with foreign policy experience and whose primary platform included an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Yet, does anyone realistically think the Democrats will run two minorities on the same ticket? It just won't happen, right?

And that's the Big Four that the media dubs as finalists. Kaine, Biden, Bayh, and Richardson, each with an Achilles Heal. Holistically, evidence points to Evan Bayh as having the least undesirable characteristics of the four candidates, so Evan Bayh will probably be the vice-presidential nominee.

Yet there's one other name which, though it's not getting any media attention, makes a lot of sense.

Short blog on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Democrats' VP Possibilities: The Final Four

On Monday, I used the Democratic Convention speaker schedule to eliminate all but three scheduled speakers (Evan Bayh, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson) from VP contention. I then added one unscheduled speaker (Wesley Clark) to the list to come up with the final four VP candidates for the Democratic ticket.

So which of the Final Four will it be? As the speculation continues with the convention a week away, here's a quick look at the pros and cons of each:

Senator Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Pros: Centrist enough for moderate Republicans; Is popular among remaining disenfranchised Clinton supporters; Is a Democrat in a largely Republican state; Serves on Armed Services Committee;
Cons: Too centrist for Democrats?; The least gravitas of the Final Four; Would be spun as a great pick by the pundits, but otherwise won't cause a buzz among the average voter like the others.

Senator Joe Biden (Delaware)
Pros: The expert of the party on foreign policy and international; One of the biggest critics of an unpopular President; Compliments Obama's inexperience; Would perform very well in the VP debate; Has proven presidential aspirations.
Cons: Is vocal enough to turn off a lot of voters; Useless geographically; His selection could be perceived as Obama being too inexperienced, making Biden look like the chaperone of the ticket.

Former General Wesley Clark
Pros: Supreme Commander NATO Allied Forces from 1997-2000; Gravitas like Biden, but much more respected amongst Republicans; Highly decorated officer; Perfect attack dog on McCain for all things military; Assuages fears that Obama is too green.
Cons: No political experience; A beginning Democrat; Like Biden, his VP nomination might imply that Obama is inexperienced.

Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico)
Pros: Wins over Latino's, crucial in New Mexico and Florida; Executive experience as governor; Helpful knowledge as former Secretary of Energy; Foreign policy experience as U.S. ambassador to the U.N; Congressional experience as former House member.
Cons: Had a stagnant presidential campaign; Lacks a presence in public forums; Unexpected support of Obama over former ally Clinton would look fishy if Richardson is appointed #2; Two minorities on the ticket is playing with fire.

Tomorrow I will reveal who I would pick and who I think it will be. Until then...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Clues to the Democratic VP Nominee

As the Democratic National Convention (August 25-28) draws near, now only one week out, we must finally admit that the Democrats know exactly who their Vice-Presidential nominee will be, they just haven't told us yet. Simply put, two months of vetting will not be coming down to a last minute decision. Barack Obama and campaign insiders know who will be raising Obama's hand in Denver on the fourth and final night of the convention.

Who will it be? Admittedly, my prognostication skills in this matter have been lacking. Dating back to December, my leading predictions for Obama's VP partner has rotated from Wesley Clark and Joe Biden (December 20), to Sherrod Brown and Jim Webb (June 12), and most recently to John Edwards and Tim Kaine (July 29).

Well, the final clues are rolling in and I'm about to go full circle on the predictions. With the steady crystallization of the convention speaker schedule, not only can we eliminate many VP candidates, we can synthesize the new information with previous knowledge to make an informed prediction.

First, let's eliminate some names. The Vice-Presidential nominee will give his or her speech on Wednesday night. Therefore, everyone scheduled to give speeches on Monday or Tuesday will not be speaking Wednesday. This is a standard conclusion, consistent with every national convention in modern history. These Monday and Tuesday speakers are:

Monday - Michelle Obama (probably not a VP candidate) and her older brother Craig Robinson (ditto) will speak, as the theme of the night will be to discuss Senator Obama's life story. Also speaking will be Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, what with it being his city and all. The heavyweight politicians of the night are Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. While Pelosi was never a contender for the #2 spot, she has been the leader of the party since the Democrats took back the House in the 2006 midterm elections. Senator McCaskill, as a charismatic fresh face who could hold onto women voters, was considered by many to be on Obama's long list for the VP nod, but her appearance on Monday excludes her from consideration.

Tuesday - This is the day that eliminates nearly the entire speculated list. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey will all speak on Tuesday. Tuesday night's theme will be the economy and the environment.

The two most notable speakers of the night are enormous heavyweights, one modern and one future. Former Virginia Governor and current Senate hopeful Mark Warner has been given the honor of the Democratic Convention keynote address, which, in long-term presidential politics, means we have our first contender for the 2016 Democratic nomination (don't forget Obama making his leap at the 2004 convention). The other speaker Tuesday evening will be someone who needs no introduction - Hillary Clinton. Lately, she has drawn some attention away from her party's nominee, but her insistence and Obama's acceptance on a convention roll-call doesn't signal anything other than Obama placating his vanquished foe in return for the support of her and her primary voters. Translation: She has not been offered the VP spot.

Wednesday - Here's where it gets interesting. The night's theme will be foreign policy and international affairs. Among the speakers are many who are not being considered for the Veep spot (West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Pennsylvania Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy, and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth).

Four other names remain on the queue, possibly five. Also speaking Wednesday night is former President Bill Clinton, but he's constitutionally ineligible (22nd Amendment) to be on the ticket. The remaining three (possibly four) are:

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh
Delaware Senator Joe Biden
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson
(no one else scheduled except for "VP nominee").

If the Obama campaign is thinking clearly, meaning it has no plans on bringing back a Monday/Tuesday speaker, then the VP candidate is one of those three men, OR it's someone whose name isn't even on the convention docket, and since the theme of Wednesday night will be foreign policy, Wesley Clark definitely fits into the possible myster slot.

So, Bayh, Biden, Clark, Richardson. Who will the VP nominee be? I'll address this with my next post this week.

Thursday - Barack Obama will speak to the largest crowd in convention history. It is not as impressive as it sounds, and it might not even be sound strategy. More on this at the end of the week! See you soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

One Day

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Return of PPFA

Okay, I'm going to give this another shot. I'll be back Monday for multiple posts a week for as long as I can balance the blog, the job, grad school, and teaching a new course.

Three days until the return! Thanks for your encouraging emails.

IC

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who's Left?

I haven't been in the mood to write in quite a while, so let's ease back into this slowly, if at all.

Despite my evaporating desire to have my voice lost in a growing sea of echoes (I began writing in December 2006 when the Iowa Caucus was still 13 months away and relatively few websites were dedicated to the subject of presidential politics), I still have interest in the content about which I have written hundreds of thousands of words. I still do daily research and reading on the presidential campaign. Vice-presidential speculation has grown in recent days, and I suspect that one VP selection (Democrats) will be made by the 2nd week of August, and the GOP will subsequently counter with their own vice-presidential announcement several days after.

Through recent articles and quotes, and while weighing all the appropriate factors, I am confident that one of these four men will be the next Vice-President of the United States. The accompanying links are previous predictions of the chances for these VP hopefuls.

Republicans:
Mitt Romney (#1 prediction in February, #3 prediction in May)
Tim Pawlenty (#2 prediction in February, #1 prediction in May)

Democrats:
John Edwards (considered but dismissed in May)
Tim Kaine (considered but dismissed in May)

Dark horse for John McCain: Joe Lieberman
Dark horse for Obama: Sherrod Brown.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vacation

There will be no posts next week as today I am leaving to go on another "fact-finding mission," this time to Spain and the Canary Islands (you may recall my "fact-finding mission" to the U.K. last April).

I'll be back on the week of July 7th, when I'll evaluate the young general election, and I'll return to the Presidential Campaign History series, which reached the election of 1800 yesterday.

Part 1: Election of 1789, Election of 1792
Part 2: Election of 1796
Part 3: Election of 1800

I hope you're all enjoying your summer.

IC

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vice-President Sherrod Brown

Yesterday, I completed my Barack Obama Veepstakes. Here's a list:

Part 1
10. Wesley Clark
9. Russ Feinfold
8. Joe Biden
7. Kathleen Sebelius
6. Michael Easley

Part 2
5. Bill Richardson
4. Brian Schweitzer

Part 3
3. Hillary Clinton
2. Jim Webb

Part 4
1. Sherrod Brown

Perhaps, for some of you, including the first commenter from yesterday's blog, the revelation of Brown was met with a, "Who?!" Allow me to explain my reasoning. It'd help if you read the entirety of yesterday's blog.

1. Sherrod Brown (Senator, Ohio)
With Governor Ted Strickland's recent emphatic reassertion that he had no interest in the vice-presidential nomination, one state-wide elected Democrat in the most important state in the general election remains.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio would be Barack Obama's best pick for his vice-presidential nominee for the following reasons, in reasons of increasing importance.

1. Brown is an unquestioned progressive politically, socially, and fiscally. This fits in with the Obama message.
2. Brown, as an economic populist, could attract a lot of votes in an election where economy will play a huge role.
3. Brown's popularity with Ohio voters (only a 15% disapproval in Ohio), specifically the white, working middle class, can extend to other Clintonian states.
4. Brown was against the War in Iraq from the beginning. Obama and Brown could ride that message all the way home.
5. Detailed in the conclusion:

It's important for the Democrats to not get too close to the trees and lose sight of the forest. This is their election to lose. John McCain is embracing many issues of an unpopular President, inheriting the failed economic message in the process, and has been a proponent of one of the most unpopular issues in the country - the war in Iraq. Once the Democratic Party heals, Obama's numbers will climb as McCain's numbers will plateau. The Democrats are in the driver's seat.

There is simply no chance that, without a major blunder, any blue state from the 2004 election map will flip to the GOP side. No blue state has been convinced red is the way to go. Obama only needs to hold those states (a mortal lock) and pick up 18 electoral votes. Ohio is 20.

So Obama shouldn't mess with Webb and his potential to upset women. He shouldn't mess with Clinton and her ability to make Republicans go nuts. He shouldn't try the first Black/Latino ticket with Richardson. He shouldn't go with Schweitzer and Montana's three electoral votes.

Barack Obama should go with Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, take the state, and become the next President.


I'm off until next week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Barack Obama Veepstakes (Conclusion)

Finally, we get to the conclusion of the Barack Obama Veepstakes.

Part 1
10. Wesley Clark
9. Russ Feingold
8. Joe Biden
7. Kathleen Sebelius
6. Mike Easley

Part 2
5. Bill Richardson
4. Brian Schweitzer

Part 3
3. Hillary Clinton
2. Jim Webb

And now, onto Barack Obama's best choice for Vice-President.

Ultimately, this was not a complicated decision. Throughout the entire Barack Obama Veepstakes series, I identified candidates' qualities and analyzed which candidates add complimentary assets to Obama's campaign. For example, Joe Biden and Wesley Clark offset Obama's lack of foreign policy experience and Brian Schweitzer and Mike Easley compliment Obama's northern geography. Other candidates offer Obama a chance to target demographics. Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton attract Latinos, while Claire McCaskill and Kathleen Sebelius are appealing to women. With Jim Webb, I made a case that his appeal can stretch across a wide swath of voter demographics.

However, as the list has clearly shown, there is no perfect candidate for Obama. As my buddy Dave (a Clinton supporter) recently wrote to me:

"Obama has now alienated so many demographic groups that he needs to pick some sort of three-headed monster. Hispanics have never supported him. White men turned against him after Jeremiah Wright. White women have now emerged as the most bitterly anti-Obama group of all: only 43% of white women view him favorably now, and it is white women who elect democrats. You can’t win with negatives that high. Also, Jews hate him. In other words, he needs to pick a half-breed, half-white, half-hispanic, hermaphrodite Jew, just to mend fences with all the people that despise him."

Needless to say, this perfect vice-presidential nominee doesn't exist, or at least doesn't have any foreign policy experience.

Therefore, since there is no candidate who meets all the qualities of an endless list, it's time to simplify the situation. What are the 3-4 most important traits that are desirable for Obama's running mate? After much thought, I've settled on the following (you may disagree, of course, which could explain why your VP nominee list looks different):

1. Against the Iraq War from the beginning - It's the issue that kick-started Obama's candidacy and it's the issue that will carry him across the finish line. Yes, the economy is important, as are energy and health care. However, being one of the only politicians in the country with the guts to publicly come out against the war before the vote, and to outline why the war was a bad idea - and to do so presciently - is the main reason Obama was able to become a national phenomenon. He cannot ignore this fact by picking a politician who supported the war at any time.

2. Is not an established Washington Senator - The other theme of the Obama campaign has been change, and that theme does not stick if he takes a long-time Senator as on his ticket. Besides, the last thing he needs is a running mate that looks more like a chaperone than a second-in-command (think Santos/McGarry).

3. Geographically, there's potential to have a direct impact on the Electoral College - Recently, there has been a growing contrarian opinion that discounts the geographical importance of a vice-presidential nominee. They cite the failed attempts of Al Gore and John Edwards to carry their own states in 2000 and 2004, respectively. Of course, they dismiss John Kerry and Joe Lieberman carrying their respective states of Massachusetts and Connecticut because those two states stay Democratic regardless.

However, these contrarians have forgotten that locked up states also work against candidates. Can anyone really expect John Edwards, on the bottom of a ticket, to carry North Carolina when it hasn't gone Democratic since Jimmy Carter - the southern Governor - carried it in 1976, eight elections ago? Of course not. Edwards was taken for reasons other than geography, just like Lieberman (wait, what was the reason for him?) and Dick Cheney.

Make no mistake, though a VP nominee might not be able to affect an entire region, a popular VP nominee can affect his own state if it's winnable. For anyone who's been part of a Congressional or statewide election, you know what a strong infrustructure can do for a candidate. If Obama takes someone from a winnable state, there would already be that infrustructure in place, and that infrastructure would work for Obama/??? for months leading up to the election. That would win the state. Again, this isn't Edwards in a red state. It's a state that can go either way. To take a state-wide official should be enough to push a swing state in that direction.

An undoubtedly geographic situation occurred in 1960, when VP nominee Lyndon Johnson carried the swing-state of Texas for John Kennedy, which was the difference in Kennedy's narrow victory over Vice-President Richard Nixon. Is there a similar scenario coming up in November?

This finally gets us to Obama's number one choice for his running mate.
Who was against the war from the beginning?
Who is a rather fresh face on the national political scene?
And who has a chance to win a sizeable state to swing the election?

With Governor Ted Strickland's recent emphatic reassertion that he had no interest in the vice-presidential nomination, one state-wide elected Democrat in the most important state in the general election remains.

The winner of the Barack Obama Veepstakes is...


1. Sherrod Brown (Senator, Ohio)
A quick defense of Brown coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Barack Obama Veepstakes (Part 3)

Time for Part 3 of the Barack Obama Veepstakes.

Part 1, which ranked the candidates 10-6, can be found here.
10. Wesley Clark
9. Russ Feingold
8. Joe Biden
7. Kathleen Sebelius
6. Michael Easley

Part 2, which ranked the candidates 5-4, can be found here.
5. Bill Richardson
4. Brian Schweitzer

And now, onto the Final Three. Have your predictions ready?

Here we go...

3. Hillary Clinton (Senator, New York/Democratic rival)
Clinton's chances of being the Vice-Presidential nominee to Obama nomination has gone from 1 in 50 in February to about 1 in 4 now. Obviously, no one gives Obama a better chance to win back Clinton supporters than Hillary Clinton. Moreover, if the top qualification for Vice-President is the ability to assume the office of President upon the drop of a hat, Hillary Clinton has shown that she is the Democrat that most Democrats want in that seat.

However, despite the conclusion that Clinton gives him the best chance to win back Clinton supports, that is not saying he cannot win back those Clinton supporters without her. It's likely that, in time, the bitter divisiveness from the Democratic Primary will be healed, especially when Obama's platform is compared with John McCain's. Wounded Clinton supporters, if they consider themselves good Democrats, cannot possibly prefer a McCain presidency to Obama's. They can wine and cry and talk about Michigan, but the fact remains that the final decision to pick a President still remains and there are sides to choose.

There's also the classic VP nominee issues. Northeast liberals have never been helpful on a ticket. Her region is not in danger of flipping. Most importantly, even only as a VP nominee, she still attracts otherwise apathetic Republicans out to the polls to grit their teeth as they pull the McCain lever.

Onto number 2 in the Barack Obama Veepstakes...


2. Jim Webb (Senator, Virginia)
Senator Webb is close to tailor-made as Obama's running mate.

Webb's geography: Webb, the junior-soon-to-be-senior Senator from Virginia gives the Democrats a great chance to swing the state. Moreover, as a borderline southern state, attempting to win Virginia could double as making a run at the entire South. While some states might be untouchable, a successful Virginian Senator could do a lot to either turn out Democratic votes down south or at least temper the already tepid excitement for John McCain.

Webb's military background: With John McCain's Vietnam experience serving as a stark contrast to Obama's life of civility, the issue of serving ones country could be a major one in the general election, as it was recently with the GI Bill. It will be more difficult, however, to take swipes at Obama's lack of military service if Jim Webb is stumping for Obama across the country. Webb graduated from the Naval Academy, became a decorated combat veteran during Vietnam, served in a sub-cabinet defense position in the Reagan Administration before serving President Reagan as Secretary of the Navy. Simply, Jim Webb knows the military, and gives credibility to Obama.

Webb's ideology: Webb is sees eye to eye on Obama with his most important issues - a responsible withdrawal from Iraq and repealing the tax cuts of the Bush Administration - but Webb finds common ground with the Deep South and Midwest on one of the most important issues to those regions: Gun control.

Webb's appeal: In 2006, Jim Webb defeated incumbent George Allen for his senate seat in a huge upset. Allen was the future of the GOP and Webb took him down.

It is perhaps Webb's broad based appeal that makes him the ideal vice-presidential candidate for Obama. Much has been made of Obama's impending difficulty to win back Clinton's core supporters, like women and the elderly. However, rather than pigeon-holing these demographics, rather than narrowing the scope on specific targets, Obama would do well to widen and blend those target demos.

Webb is very popular among the white, middle class mainstream voter that Clinton seemed to be dominating down the stretch of the Democratic Primary, especially in states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and South Dakota. An Obama/Webb ticket has the potential to attract the working middle class and every demographic into which it splits.

There are only two strikes against Webb's probability, the former of which is nearly negligible and the latter of which is significant. First, Webb has even less experience in the Senate than Obama with 1.5 years to Obama's 3.5. As a team, they have about one-fifth of the federal lawmaking experience of John McCain. Moreover, both Democratic Senators, if their ticket was victorious in November, would leave their seat vacant for a chunk of their first 100 days in the executive office, which could hurt when it comes time to whip some votes to pass early legislation.

Second, with potentially disastrous results, is Webb's disposition, which is often said to be tempestuous and, at times, misogynistic. With winning back Clinton's female and elderly supporters a priority, a short-tempered sexist might not be the way to go. The thing is, it's likely that most of the rumors concerning Jim Webb are untrue, or, at the very least, archaic, but rumors could be enough to sink the Democratic chances in the fall.



Which brings us to the #1 Vice-Presidential nominee for Barack Obama...



And for that, you'll have to check back in tomorrow.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Barack Obama Veepstakes (Part 2)

With Barack Obama now officially the presumptive Democratic nominee, it's time to continue the Barack Obama Veepstakes, despite Obama's specific request for no one to ask him about it. Part 1 from a few weeks ago can be found here.

5. Bill Richardson (Governor, New Mexico)
In any typical year (read: white, male nominee from the northeast), Bill Richardson would have been the perfect running mate.

Obviously, with New Mexico and Florida as key swing states, a Latino VP nominee probably gives the Democrats their best chance to bring those states to the blue column. He also makes the Dems competitive in the Southwest, where Colorado and Nevada then become poachable. Richardson, however, was on every Democrat's short list for many more reasons than geography.

Richardson brings diverse experience and a myriad of political and governing skills. Richardson is a second term governor. He has been ambassador to the U.N., Energy Secretary (how important is that, these days?), and served in Congress. Perhaps most importantly, Richardson's wealth of experience and skills, but relatively lackluster personality in public, is perfect for a vice-presidential nominee who should make people at ease about voting for the pair, but will not steal the spotlight from the top of the ticket. This also gives Richardson time to grow a personality before he takes another stab at the presidency in eight years.

However, the elephant in the room is a killer. There will undoubtedly be a lot of Americans who will come out to vote against a Black/Latino ticket. Polls that say 5% of the country isn't ready for an African-American President and 12% isn't ready for a Latino President are representatives of the bare minimum number. I can't imagine the gall it takes for someone to tell a stranger on the phone or with a clipboard that they are allowing race to negatively play a role in their vote. Those numbers - that 5 and 12 percent - is higher. The argument that "these are people who wouldn't vote for Democrats anyway," falls apart when one considers the amount of people who wouldn't have bothered to vote until this ticket was nominated. Five percent of a presidential election is six million voters. How many of those would be voting anyway, and how many are coming to the polls because an African-American and Latino are running for positions that whites have cornered in the last 54 elections?

The unfortunate truth is that it would be too much change for too many Americans, despite change being the theme of Campaign 2008. The Democrats feel they are in the driver's seat and will not play with fire.

4. Brian Schweitzer (Governor, Montana)
Obama has publicly stated that he is looking to be competitive in many states usually punted by Democrats. It's these low-electoral "fly-over" states (Midwest, Mountain West) that campaigns often ignore in favor of coast-hopping and big-city-stumping. Obama specifically asserts that he will target those states.

The reason? Obama will have a lot more cash than McCain. Obama has smashed all fund-raising records in political history, having more cash on hand than any political figure who isn't a part of a monarchy. Meanwhile, McCain is still having trouble uniting the Republican base, which means there are some typical GOP donors that might not be contributing. If Obama, who has shown crossover appeal throughout the primary cycle, forces John McCain to spend money in places McCain would otherwise not have to, that increases Obama's chances in swinging some 2004 red states, most notably Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Governor Schweitzer would go a long way in competing in these fly-over states. He brings many positive factors that Obama will be looking for in a vice-presidential nominee. He's a popular governor, meaning he has executive experience and has the qualities to siphon off McCain votes in the Mountain West and Midwest. Schweitzer, a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, would give Republicans who like Obama but are looking for a tangible reason to vote for a pair that could potentially be in power for sixteen years. Another quality held by Schweitzer is that he has the classic plain spoken, folksy, down to Earth charm, which contrasts strongly with Obama's elitist, fill the stadium, blow off the doors charm.

Indeed, many of these qualities make him an excellent compliment to Obama. While they agree on the huge issues facing this country - withdrawal from Iraq and energy independence - Schweitzer offers enough geographical, ethnic, and political differences that an Obama-Schweitzer ticket could be appealing to the entire country.


That leaves three to go. Check in this weekend for the Final Three and the conclusion of the Barack Obama Veepstakes!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Clinton to Suspend Campaign

Hardly breaking news, Hillary Clinton has announced she will suspend her campaign for the Democratic nomination and support Barack Obama in the general election. The difference between suspension and concession? With suspension, you do not formally withdraw from the race. You keep all your delegates, and you can pick up where you left off at any time. No one ever does, mind you, but they could.

Scour the political websites and blogs if you want analysis on her decision. Click here if you want to see my post from yesterday, where I saw the Democratic Odyssey as a 16-month historical journey.

With the nomination sewn up for Obama, tomorrow will be a good time to continue the Barack Obama Veepstakes. I can then address the Clinton as VP situation. Here was part 1, where I counted down #10 to #6.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's Over

No, she hasn't conceded yet. Nor has she suspended. She hasn't dropped out and she hasn't given up.

But it is over. History has been made. Barack Obama is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.

Yet, with all of the stories that slowly trickled in during the last couple days - the seventeen senate superdelegates, Clyburn, Carter, Clinton ready to concede, Clinton letting go staff, Clinton not conceding, Clinton wanting to meet face to face with Obama, Clinton interested in VP, Obama only interested in offering the VP if Clinton declines - it was easy to forget the big picture.

This was an historic event on several levels.

First, the magnitude of this upset is unparalleled in modern primary politics. Hillary Clinton, a lion in the Senate, with a 25-point lead in 2007 for the Democratic nomination, and with her spouse as the most popular member of the party and perhaps the most popular politician in the country, was beaten by a dark-skinned, mixed-race, first-term U.S. Senator with a Muslim sounding name who was just over two years removed from state politics when he declared for the United States presidency. Read that sentence again.

Second, the story everyone is talking about. For the first time in this country's history, a non-white has been nominated for President by a major political party. As an extension, if Obama wins on November 4th, he will be the first person with at least 50% African heritage to be the President of any country in western civilization.

Third, finally, and most important to me, I have to turn to a Hillary Clinton line from last night. Who would have thought that it would be Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, who could put forth the quote of the contest? Nothing sums up the ground breaking experience of the 2008 Democratic Primary better than a snippet of her simple prose. I know it's not Shakespeare, Jefferson, Glenn Cheney, or Dylan. I know it's clich├ęd. I know it seems obvious looking back on it. But she said it, and she's absolutely right.

"...we saw millions of Americans registering to vote for the first time, raising money for the first time, knocking on doors, making calls, talking to their friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers lifting their little girls and their little boys on to their shoulders and whispering,

"'See, you can be anything you want to be.'"


The crowd erupted, as it should have. Young minorities and young girls who saw the Democratic Primary come down to a woman and a black man must have been inspired. Our society isn't perfect. We haven't torn down all the barriers. We haven't convinced all the racists and misogynists of their archaic and misguided thoughts, and through aesthetic affirmative action, we've even gone too far in the opposite direction at times...

But those young girls and minorities haven't experienced any of that yet. They're new and innocent and untouched by the evils of prejudice and thoughtless malevolence. The most publicized and talked about news event of their young lives had a black man and white woman vying for the nomination of the Democratic Party. I don't think we can yet accurately predict the far-reaching effect this one political event will have on the next generation, but we can hope that the very best was taken from it.

And as we wave good-bye to the last few pre-19th Amendment seniors, as the generation that grew up in pre-Civil Rights slowly fades away, as the memory of the George Wallace south diminishes, and as my generation of Rodney King, OJ Simpson, and affirmative action begins its exit in a few decades, the generation who watched Clinton-Obama with wide eyes and big dreams will take our place. It was Dr. King's dream and it's becoming a reality.

So yes, the Democratic Primary is over, but it might not be the only thing that is. Over is the time where we walk into an election cycle with full confidence that we will see a white man vying against a white man to lead a country that is half female and steadily growing less white. Over is the time where we discount a candidate's viability because of the way they look. Over is the time where a girl or a black child gives up on their dream to hold the highest office in the land because of what they see when they look in the mirror.

It's over.

So I apologize if you checked into Presidential Politics for America this morning and wanted to see me break down numbers (unnecessary) or finish off my Barack Obama Veepstakes (Friday) or preview Obama-McCain (all summer). I just had to take a minute with a wide-angle lens and appreciate what we've experienced. I urge you to do the same.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Montana and South Dakota Polls

Although there are signs that Hillary Clinton might be suspending her campaign any day now, why not take a look at polling data for the last two primaries, just for old time's sake? The polling data, like the respective state populations, are sparse.

South Dakota (15 pledged delegates)
American Research Group (5/31-6/1)
Clinton: 60
Obama: 34
Difference: Obama +26

Dakota Wesleyan University (4/3)
Obama: 46
Clinton: 34
Difference: Obama +12

Montana (16 pledged delegates)American Research Group (5/31-6/1)
Obama: 48
Clinton: 44
Difference: Obama +4

Mason-Dixon (5/19-5/21)
Obama: 52
Clinton: 35
Difference: Obama +17

PPFA Analysis: Obama, who is 45 delegates short of the 2,118 majority, is on the doorstep of the nomination. As evidenced by the polls, Obama is expected to win both states today. Assuming a modest 17-14 split in his favor, that leaves Obama 28 short of the majority. When the seventeen remaining undecided superdelegates in the United States Senate, and now the Democratic House whip, declare their support for him, that will leave him only 10 short. It's almost over. With still undecided superdelegates expected to make a decision after these final two primaries, Obama could be pushed over the top by the beginning of next week, if not the end of this one.

This inevitability explains why there are stories floating around that we could be days or hours away from a Hillary Clinton concession. Stay tuned.


I'll be back by tomorrow morning, concession or not.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hillary Clinton Conceding?

Will Hillary Clinton's speech following tomorrow's Montana and South Dakota primaries be a concession (slash suspension) speech?

There are signs, writes Thomas Edsall of the Huffington Post, that she is indeed winding down that campaign. Edsall cites the following:

-She has asked top donors and backers to attend her speech.

-She will be making the speech from New York.

-Clinton and Barack Obama spoke yesterday concerning "post primary activities," according to what Edsall dubs "a reliable source."

-Marc Ambinder from The Atlantic explains that the Clinton campaign is getting their financial affairs in order.

-Clinton staffers are being told that their roles on the campaign are ending Tuesday night. In addition, Bill Clinton may have dropped a hint earlier today, when he said that tomorrow's primary day is probably "the last time I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind."

These hints come on the same day that rumors swirled about 17 U.S. Senators, who were previously undecided on their superdelegate vote, would come out together for Obama following tomorrow's primaries. Depending on his success in Montana and South Dakota, it might be enough to put him over the top of the majority, and probably within a handful.

This might be over soon. If she does concede on Tuesday/Wednesday, as I have predicted she would numerous times over the last month, be sure that she'll stress that she simply wanted all the states to vote before conceding.

However, it is Hillary Clinton. She might have one more curveball for us. A Clinton concession? We'll believe it when we see it.

Seventeen Senate Supers to Announce for Obama

There is a significant development today regarding undecided superdelegates. The seventeen remaining undecided superdelegates in the United States Senate are rumored to be ready to endorse Barack Obama en masse after the last two primaries, which are being held tomorrow.

Obama, who is 45 delegates short of the 2,118 majority, is on the doorstep of the nomination. With Montana and South Dakota scheduled to award 31 pledged delegates to Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, Obama will have his hand on the door handle. Obama is expected to narrowly win both states. Assuming a 19-12 split in his favor tomorrow, that leaves Obama 26 short of the majority. With the seventeen Senators, that leaves him only 9 short. With still undecided superdelegates expected to make a decision after these final two primaries, Obama could be pushed over the top by the beginning of next week.

Stay tuned.

Puerto Rico; Updated Primary Standings

Hillary Clinton's victory in Puerto Rico yesterday was convincing and it was expected.

But was it negligible?

One could make an argument both ways. On the one hand, you if you average the delegate count estimates of CNN, Goobergunch, FoxNews, ABCNews, Real Clear Politics, and Wikipedia, Barack Obama still has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and a clear lead in overall delegates.

Average pledged delegate spread:
1740-1625 (Obama +115)
Remaining pledged delegates: 31

Average overall delegate spread:
2070-1915 (Obama +155)
Remaining overall delegates: 234

Assuming no Obama superdelegates change their minds:
Total of 234 remaining overall delegates that Hillary Clinton must win to win by one delegate: 195
Percentage of remaining overall delegates Clinton needs to win by one delegate: 84.

Since, ultimately, the Democratic nominee will be determined by overall delegates, one can see how unlikely it is that Hillary Clinton can come back to win.

Yet Clinton has been hammering away at two arguments for months now, ever since the writing was on the wall after Pennsylvania. She claims that she is the better candidate to face McCain(subjective, debatable) and she claims that she is the true popular vote winner.

The popular vote argument is starting to hold water.

First, one should keep in mind that the remaining publicly undecided superdelegates that have yet to endorse Obama have probably been leaning towards Clinton. Why else would they reserve their vote?

Therefore, one can assume that the publicly undecided superdelegate has simply been waiting for a legitimate reason to support her, one that is not grounded in an argument both sides can easily make (eg. the better general election candidate).

Furthermore, remember that a potentially huge outcry that would come from a superdelegate veto and overturn of pledged delegates would stem from the will of the people being ignored. But if the unannounced Clintonian superdelegates can make the case that, if Clinton wins the popular vote, they actually are following the will of the people, than the outcry would be at least partially deflected.

So where does that popular vote stand? Well, it depends on who you ask. I will take a close look at those numbers later in the week, after Tuesday's Montana and South Dakota primaries finish off the voting process.

I'll be back tomorrow with Montana and South Dakota polls (if they even exist out there) and predictions. See you then.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Florida & Michigan Decision; Puerto Rico Polls

Hillary Clinton can win Puerto Rico. She can win Montana. She can win South Dakota.

And by Tuesday night, she will still have lost the Democratic Primary.

Yesterday's decision from the Democratic National Committee rules and bylaws committee reinstated all of the delegates from Michigan and Florida, but awarded them only half their weight at the convention. This decision yielded 87 extra delegate votes for Senator Clinton and 63 extra delegate votes for Senator Obama. Significantly, both Michigan and Florida now get to send their entire delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August.

The compromise seemed reasonable, though, predictably, Clinton backers seemed to want nothing less than 100% of Michigan delegates fully awarded to their candidate, despite Michigan ignoring the rules laid down by the national committee and despite all major Democratic candidates withdrawing their names from the Michigan ballot except Hillary Clinton.

Rather than analyzing the merit of the decision made by the rules and bylaws committee (a decision which I predicted with nearly perfect accuracy yesterday), I'd like to look at the ruling's impact on the Democratic Primary.

Which is nothing.

Time for some numbers:

Clinton's 24 delegate dent in Obama's lead is negligible. His 161 pledged delegate lead was cut to 137, with 86 pledged delegates remaining. His overall delegate lead was cut from about 200 to approximately 175. With 291 remaining pledged and superdelegates, she would need to win about 80% of them. If she wins each of the remaining states with 60% of their delegates, she would need to convince 88% of the remaining undecided superdelegates (181 out of 205) to overturn the pledged delegate results in order to win the nomination by one delegate.

A tall order. Some would say impossible. Include me in that some.

Simply, Clinton cannot come back. I still fully expect her to withdraw from the race on June 4th, with some version of, "I just wanted all of the states to have a chance to vote" as the crux of her argument concerning her late withdrawal.

------------------
Here are some polls for today's El Primario de Puerto Rico. There is not much polling data coming out of the principality island, but here it is. (Note that the third one was taken back in the first week of April.)

Vocero/Univision Puerto Rico (5/8-5/20)
Clinton 59
Obama 40
Clinton +19

El Vocero/Univision/Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner (5/8-5/20)
Clinton 51
Obama 38
Clinton + 13
Research & Research (3/31-4/5)
Clinton 50
Obama 37
Clinton +13

Look for Clinton to still win big (58-42ish) and put an 8-10 delegate dent in Obama's insurmountable lead. However, do not expect the Clinton camp to care about the delegate spread. She will hammer home the idea that the Puerto Rican votes should count in the overall popular vote (they do not, only votes from the states do), and should thusly strengthen her popular vote case. She can then continue to declare that more people have voted for her in this primary than have voted for any candidate in any primary in our country's history (when one counts Florida, Michigan, and Puerto Rico). In this regard, she would be correct.

It will be a great line during her concession speech.

I'll take a look at the Puerto Rico results tomorrow as we amp up for (finally) the South Dakota and Montana primaries on Tuesday. At the end of the week, I'll finish the Barack Obama VP nomination countdown.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fixing Florida and Michigan

(Editor's note: With the much anticipated Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting tomorrow afternoon, this would be a good time to re-run part of my March 7 article on the Florida and Michigan dilemma. In the last three months, no arguments have changed, despite the networks still claiming that Hillary Clinton's change of the metrics is news. Look for Clinton to get about a 60-40 split of halved delegates from the two felonious states, which will actually make a Clinton comeback less likely, as the percentage of pledged delegates and superdelegates that she'll need to win for the balance of the process will increase. Also, prepare for the famous 2,025 delegates majority mark to be pushed back to close to 2,200, though Obama will still be in position to clear that majority with the conclusion of the primary process. Long story short: Obama is the nominee within a few days of the June 3rd primaries.)

So Florida and Michigan want their votes counted. What a shock. They are upset that their influence has been stripped, but they seem confused as to whom they should focus their ire. It is not Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee's fault. Florida and Michigan have only one place to point their finger, and that is at their own state parties.

Both parties of both states were forbidden to push their primary in front of February 5th. If they proceeded, sanctions would be imposed. The motivations behind the national committees imposing such strict laws were clear and simple. If any state was allowed to push up their primary in order to gain more influence in the primary process, then eventually all states would leapfrog each other until the primary season began months earlier than usual. Order and civility were necessary and penalizing rule-breakers was the only way to maintain them.

So, Florida and Michigan were warned, but their state parties insisted on pushing up their primaries to January. The Republican National Committee penalized the two states half of their delegates to the Republican Convention. The DNC stripped all of the Florida and Michigan delegates from the Democratic Convention.

The Republican candidates continued to campaign in the states, as even half of Michigan and Florida's delegates were still greater than smaller states at full value. The Democratic candidates, however, were instructed not to campaign in the penalized states. Some even went as far as to take their names off the ballot in Michigan (though Hillary Clinton did not do so). Mike Gravel was the only candidate to campaign in Florida, while Dennis Kucinich was the only one to campaign on Michigan.

Thus Michigan and Florida were ignored by Democrats, a long-term implication addressed in yesterday's post. As promised, their delegates were stripped. And now the governors of the two states, Republican Charlie Crist of Florida and Democrat Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, are predictably demanding that their delegates be seated. It is important to note that they did not fight the move into January. In fact, they championed the idea. The two governors are partly responsible for their states' predicaments.

Yet, once the promised consequences were delivered, they complained about the consequences. Simply, they called a bluff and lost and then complained about it.

But did they lose? Now, it seems, it behooves the Democratic National Committee to somehow count votes from the two states, so as to not alienate the Michigan and Florida voters. Since counting the unsanctioned January primaries is out of the question, despite Hillary Clinton's pleas, there is a chance that the states will revote either in primary or caucus form. If they do this, they would have more influence on the election than they possibly could have dreamed of when they moved up. Ironically, in this election, it is now the later primaries that are holding the most influence of all, and Florida and Michigan are going to get the best of both worlds.

All for breaking the rules.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The General Election Looms

Work is too busy and I have no time to write, but a cnn.com article today, written on a singular issue, exemplified how the entire general election will be framed. Who will you choose? Barack Obama vs. John McCain. John McCain vs. Barack Obama.

A) Will you choose the inexperienced first-term Senator with zero military experience, who has made his money from a fawning media and a passionate but youthfully naive, activist base and has drawn support from 90% of a racial demographic that makes 20% of the rest of the country nervous?

B) Or will you choose the aging, feeble Senator with no executive experience, who supports an unpopular war, and has steadily changed his economic policies to fall in line behind an unpopular and financially unsuccessful President?

Of course, you could also choose from either:

A) The fresh face on the political scene who inspires the future of America, who would make the world much more at ease when dealing with the United States, especially Europe and moderate-but-potentially-radical Muslims, and who could, along with an undoubtedly Democratic Congress, categorically reject, and often times reverse, the policies of the unpopular and unsuccessful President.

or

B) The military hero who has earned the right to talk about issues like veteran's benefits and foreign policy, who 35 years ago returned from an unpopular war and has since served his country in the House and Senate, knows how unpopular wars work, and can do what's best for the country regarding the unpopular war, even if it's unpopular.

It's completely up to you.

Enjoy the long weekend. I'll be taking a break next week as I try to manage my life. Send money, food, and extra red pens.

See you for Puerto Rico (June 1),

IC

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oregon and Kentucky Key Numbers

Last night, as expected, Hillary Clinton won the Kentucky Primary and Barack Obama won the Oregon primary. Get ready, because you are about to get a lot of numbers thrown at you.
---------------
100
Percentage chance that Clinton won Kentucky convincingly.

60
Percentage of Kentucky exit pollers who said the (fill in your own adjective) Gas Tax Holiday was a "Good idea."

100
Percentage chance that Obama won Oregon convincingly.

26
Percentage of Oregon exit pollers who said the (fill in your own adjective) Gas Tax Holiday was a "Good idea."
---------------
85
Percentage of white voters in Oregon.

57
Percentage of white voters who voted for Obama.
---------------
58-45
The expected delegated split from last night, in favor of Clinton.

150
Approximate lead for Obama in pledged delegates in the Democratic Primary, when all estimations are averaged.

86
Number of pledged delegates remaining in the Democratic Primary.

-.08
Percentage change in Obama's pledged delegate lead after last night. (Note: That's not 8%... that's .08%.)
---------------
182
Overall delegate lead for Obama, according to Real Clear Politics.

297
Overall remaining delegates (86 pledged, 211 supers) in Democratic Primary.

80.8
Percentage of overall remaining delegates Hillary Clinton needs to tie Barack Obama in delegate race.

89.1
Percentage of 211 remaining superdelegates that Clinton would need to win, assuming she wins sixty percent of delegates in the final three primaries (Puerto Rico, Montana, South Dakota).

100
Percentage chance that, by the rules of the Democratic Party, the nominee is decided by the total delegate count.
---------------
440,000; 1.3
Official popular vote lead and percentage lead of Barack Obama in Democratic Primary. (Excludes Florida, Michigan, Iowa, Nevada, Maine, and Washington.)

146,000; .4
Numbers above if Florida is no longer excluded.

255,000; .7
Numbers above if all states are counted except Michigan, where Obama was not on the ballot.

72,000; .2
Numbers above if Michigan is counted as well. (Note, now it is Clinton's lead.)
---------------
2.2
Average percentage national lead of Clinton over McCain, according to Real Clear Politics.

3.8
Average percentage national lead of Obama over McCain, according to Real Clear Politics.
---------------

Draw your own conclusions.


I'll be back on Friday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Oregon and Kentucky Polls and Predictions

"This is nowhere near over." - Hillary Clinton.

Analysis to come. First, some Oregon and Kentucky polls. Thanks to Real Clear Politics for the numbers.

Oregon (52 electoral votes)
Suffolk 5/17 - 5/18
BO: 45
HC: 41
Obama +4

PPP (D) 5/17 - 5/18
BO: 56
HC: 38
Obama +18

SurveyUSA 5/16 - 5/18
BO: 55
HC: 42
Obama +13

American Res. Group 5/14 - 5/16
BO: 50
HC: 45
Obama +5

Portland Tribune 5/8 - 5/10
BO: 55
HC: 35
Obama +20

Oregon Average (5/18-5/18)
Barack Obama - 52
Hillary Clinton - 40
Difference: Obama +12
----------------------------------
Kentucky (51 electoral votes)
Suffolk 5/17 - 5/18
HC: 51
BO: 25
Clinton +26

American Res. Group 5/14 - 5/15
HC: 65
BO: 29
Clinton +36

SurveyUSA 5/9 - 5/11
HC: 62
BO: 30
Clinton +32

Research 2000 5/7 - 5/9
HC: 58
BO: 31
Clinton +27

Rasmussen 5/5 - 5/5
HC: 56
BO: 31
Clinton +25

Kentucky Average (5/5 - 5/18)
Hillary Clinton - 58
Barack Obama - 29
Difference: Clinton +29

PPFA Analysis: "This is nowhere near over." - Hillary Clinton.

Come on! Why drag this on? It was one thing to let the remaining states vote, but it's quite another to steal money from donors by convincing them this is still a contest with potentially damaging statements like, "Think of this as a hiring decision."

I don't get it anymore. Yes, it's her right to continue. Yes, she's still wildly more popular than Obama in West Virginia in Kentucky. But we've had the process. The Democrats have spoken. It was close, but Obama has won more delegates, he's won the popular vote, he long ago clinched states/contests won, and he's now winning superdelegates, who have appropriately followed the will of voting Democrats.

This is objective. He has won every category. They don't have an entire primary process across the country only to count the big states. The big states weigh more already. That's factored in! You don't arbitrarily make the decision to count those and not the smaller states or the caucus states, just to make the delegate math work for a particular candidate. That's called alienation. A process was in place. Obama won it. They're just playing out the string.

Tonight, he'll clinch the pledged delegate lead. He's up by 170, and after tonight, where Clinton isn't expected to trim more than 5-10 delegates, there will be only 111 pledged delegates left, while he's still leading by no fewer than 160. Therefore, there is no way that Clinton could come back in the pledged delegate category in the last three remaining primaries (Puerto Rico, Montana, South Dakota), nor will she even bring the deficit within 150.

The significance: Either two things happen.
A) 95% probability - She eventually concedes, after dragging out the Democratic Primary too long, hurting her party's chances in the fall.
B) The only way she wins the nomination is if the superdelegates go against their recent trend and overturn the decision made by the people. And if the superdelegates overturn the will of the people, the Democratic Party is toast in the November elections. Once again, the party's chances will be hurt in the fall. And they'll have Hillary Clinton to thank, because she stuck it out far too long. This is not resilience. It is stubbornness and it is selfishness.

Back tomorrow with results and anaylsis.
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