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Saturday, January 12, 2008

John McCain Up Big

The latest national CNN Republican poll:

McCain 34 (+21 vs. last poll Dec 6-9)
Huckabee 21 (-1)
Giuliani 18 (-6)
Romney 14 (-2)
Thompson 6 (-4)
Paul 5 (-1)

John McCain is going to win the nomination. It reminds me of my blog from early 2007 when I guaranteed his victory. I'll run it tomorrow.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Guest blog

For today's presidential politics update, I had a guest post over at the 1% More Conscious blog. I ranked the candidates in likelihood to win the November election. That will suffice as today's post. Check back after the weekend for more developments heading into Michigan and Nevada.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Richardson Out; Future VP Nominee?

And then there were three. And Kucinich. And Gravel.

Bill Richardson has dropped out of the race for the Presidency, leaving what was once a crowded 8 person field down to five, with only three of those polling above two percent nationally.

What's most interesting about this decision is the timing. He never had a realistic shot at Iowa and New Hampshire. His first great hope for a kickstart was next Saturday's Nevada Caucus, which is the next legitimate Democratic primary. If he ever had a shot at a top 3 finish, it was in the Southwest, nearby his native New Mexico, where some polls had him a close fourth to John Edwards. His numbers would have been undoubtedly higher if he was seen as a viable candidate, but with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sucking nearly all the oxygen out of every region in the country, he could never get rolling.

Regardless, he's out now, but his impact has yet to be decided, both short and long term.

For the short term, with Nevada serving as the next match up in the air tight Clinton-Obama race, Richardon's 5-10 point influence could greatly shape the results. If he were to throw his support behind one of the two, it'd be a huge help in Nevada on the 19th, as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma, who all hold primaries on February 5th. He could also have some influence on the second biggest delegate state of the race - Texas on March 4th.

The possibility remains he doesn't endorse anyone until the nominee is evident. These middle-term impacts are difficult to gauge. If he does not publically endorse any other candidate, who benefits the most from him sitting out? A case can be made for each:

Richardson supporters go to Hillary Clinton because both are candidates with years of national public service and they see the importance of experience in the oval office.

Richardson supporters go to Barack Obama as Richardson's plan to be out of Iraq within a year is most likely to be carried out by the only viable candidate in the race to be against the war from the beginning.

Richardson supporters go to John Edwards because they never liked their choices with Clinton and Obama, and Edwards has run a campaign similar to that of an outsider governor.

My gut feeling is that he's ready to endorse Obama as the candidate of change, but there might be one thing standing in the way...

Bill Richardson is a great candidate for Vice-President, but an Obama-Richardson ticket if unlikely. They'll never admit it, but the Democratic Powers That Be see the 2008 election as theirs to win, and they won't risk that by pairing the first African-American and first Latino to ever make a presidential ticket.

Richardson would make a perfect Vice-Presidential candidate for Clinton or Edwards. (Yes, Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party, but it wouldn't be a ticket with two racial minorities. For comparison, surely you know that Hillary Clinton wouldn't go to Barbara Boxer or Dianne Feinstein for the VP nod.)

Richardson brings levels of experience at all levels, including congressional, cabinet, gubernatorial, and foreign affairs. He also would be popular with the Latino community, single-handedly flipping New Mexico and Florida from red to blue.

So might there be backroom dialogue between Clinton and Richardson? Is that why he dropped out before Nevada - so he can throw support behind Clinton sometime before next Saturday, in a power-brokering deal for the Vice-Presidency?

Only time will tell.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire Results Analyzed

Barack Obama's leads in the New Hampshire polls brought him down in the New Hampshire Primary. The Independents supported John McCain's tight fight with Mitt Romney over Obama's blowout rout over Hillary Clinton.

And without Independents, Barack Obama was back where he was before Iowa... trailing Hillary Clinton.

For the Democrats, it's a new race, and it's the second time we've said that in four days. As the race heads west to Nevada and south to South Carolina, we'll be privileged to bear witness to the closest primary season for the Democrats since 1992, when Hillary's husband Bill tied up the race in New Hampshire, kicking off his comeback run to the Democratic nomination and presidency.

Heading into the next couple primaries, pay attention to the Democrats' national polls, because this race will be close heading into February 5th (Super Tuesday), when 20 states vote and nearly half the delegation is appropriated. Both Obama and Clinton's numbers should rise while more and more voters will jump ship from the remaining no-shot candidates in order to have a more meaningful vote. Therefore, I expect Clinton to get back into the low 40's, with Obama nipping at her heals in the mid 30's.

If either of the candidates can take both Nevada and South Carolina, they're the favorites for Super Tuesday. If they split those two states (most likely scenario: Clinton in Nevada, Obama in South Carolina), then it's a dead heat heading into February 5th.

As for the Republicans...

High Noon will be South Carolina. McCain's win has put him and Huckabee on a collision course for the first southern primary. The winner of the McCain-Huckabee showdown in South Carolina will be the favorite on Super Tuesday. McCain will be alive regardless, but he'll sew up the Republican nomination with a South Carolina win. Huckabee needs a South Carolina win to stay in contention, but if he does get that win, and he's up in all the polls, he becomes the favorite to win the nomination.

Rudy Giuliani's New Hampshire Primary performance, meanwhile, placed one point ahead of Ron Paul for fourth. His numbers continue to decline in early primary states and Super Tuesday states. By the time Florida's primary comes around on the 29th, he'll be clinging to his lead there and his relevancy in the race for the nomination.

Luckily for Giuliani, no one candidate is seizing too much momentum thus far, keeping him alive as long as there is chaos from the other three candidates. Not counting the nearly insignificant Wyoming vote this past weekend, here are the placings of the three candidates in the early primaries:

Huckabee: 1, 3
Romney: 2, 2
McCain: 4, 1

McCain has the momentum, Romney has the consistency and delegates (though those are disappointing "silver medals" considering how much he spent in those states), and Huckabee has the edge in South Carolina. None have the inside track or a majority of delegates.

Thus, Giuliani stays alive and with three states down, it's still a four-candidate race. No primary of either party has ever been that close after three states have voted.

Enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Republicans and New Hampshire

(Quick addendum to yesterday's Democrat post: A new South Carolina poll from USASurvey has Barack Obama up TWENTY on Hillary Clinton, 50-30, after a 20 point bump. Meanwhile, a USA Today/Gallup national poll has Obama even with Clinton at 33, after rising 6 points while Clinton dropping twelve. Translation: Friday's prediction continues. Obama is the Democratic nominee.)

While the Democrats begin to coalesce around Barack Obama, the Republican race is as open and exciting as ever. Despite Romney's hit, even he can claim a reasonable path to the Republican nomination, though he's the least likely of the four viable candidates to succeed in this task. Let's take a look, one by one.

Rudy Giuliani is no longer waiting for a challenger on February 5th. Rudy Giuliani is hoping to be the challenger.

The three major polls taken since the Iowa Caucus show that Rudy Giuliani's national lead is gone. Who's the average national poll leader for the GOP now?

It's Mike Huckabee, who edges out McCain and Giuliani. Is the importance of Iowa finally clear to everyone? True, his national lead isn't massive. In fact, some recent national polls have John McCain still ahead, and undoubtedly there are some minor polls showing Giuliani clinging onto his lead. Still, Mike Huckabee, running in fifth place nationally two months ago, is now leading the race.

But so was Giuliani and so was Hillary Clinton for the Democrats, so what can we expect from this new poll leader?

Answers wait in New Hampshire (today) and South Carolina (January 26). Huckabee will definitely survive until South Carolina, but the same can't be said for all of his rivals. The two guys expected to beat him in the Granite State desperately need a victory today.

Ultimately, New Hampshire is an elimination match for Mitt Romney, who even with a New Hampshire win, now has to bank on the unprecedented and unpredictable early Michigan primary to make a comeback. (More on that later in the week.) He's grasping at air, though. If John McCain wins New Hampshire, it is expected by many, including this blogger, that McCain will go on to finish in the top two in South Carolina and win the Republican nomination.

Mike Huckabee, though, will still compete well in South Carolina, regardless of the New Hampshire primary, and the same cannot be said for McCain nor Romney. If Huckabee wins in South Carolina, he'll be the healthiest candidate to move on to Super Tuesday.

It's then Mike Huckabee vs. Rudy Giuliani on Super Tuesday and beyond, which would pit a smooth talking, southern Baptist, social conservative against a tough talking, aggressive, New York social moderate. The Republican Party would then make the decision that could define the party for years to come. Are their priorities with social conservatism (Huckabee) or foreign policy aggression (Giuliani)? With President Bush, Republicans never had to make that choice. If Huckabee squeezes into the final two against McCain or Giuliani, they will.

As for other GOP candidates:
Fred Thompson - What a bust of a campaign. If a fifth (sixth?) place New Hampshire finish (Behind McCain, Romney, Huckabee, and a combination of Giuliani and/or Paul) doesn't get him out of the race, a subsequent fourth place South Carolina finish (Behind Huckabee, McCain, and Romney) will. He's waiting for Southern primaries to get his momentum going, but there are two problems with that. 1) South Carolina comes after Iowa, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Nevada, and maybe even Michigan, so it'll be too late to make a move; and 2) Huckabee unexpectedly cornered the southern market.

Ron Paul - Uh oh, I didn't include Ron Paul as a viable candidate. I must not be paying attention. I must be a conservative trying to stop Paul's minority ideas from spreading. No comment spam, please. Paul supporters: Your guy did not do as well as you said he was in Iowa, nor will he in the rest of the country.

Duncan Hunter - The audacity of this guy to tell the media that he was having a "major news conference" yesterday, only to announce he was pushing forth in the race. Just for that, I hope he doesn't win any states and polls at one percent nationally.

I'll see you back here tomorrow when I break down the New Hampshire results. Finally, Democrat and Republican Predictions for New Hampshire:

1. Obama - 42
2. Clinton - 29
3. Edwards - 19
4. Richardson - 5
5. Kucinich - 4
6. Gravel - <1>

1. McCain - 35
2. Romney - 29
3. Huckabee - 14
4. Paul - 10
5. Giuliani - 8
6. Thompson - 3
7. Hunter - 1

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Democrats and New Hampshire

If we were to just take a look at the numbers, we'd see that to call Iowa's Democratic delegates a drop in the bucket would be doing an injustice to buckets everywhere. Take a look:

Delegates won, thus far, by Barack Obama: 16
Delegates won, thus far, by Hillary Clinton: 15
Delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination: 2,209

(The Republican race is similar, though the delegates needed for victory are nearly cut in half and Mike Huckabee won by a larger margin. That primary will be addressed tomorrow.)

So, with Iowa fading from the rearview mirror and New Hampshire growing larger through the windshield, what is the status of the Democratic Primary and its six remaining candidates?

It simply boils down to this: Barack Obama overwhelmingly wins the "Change Vote," and most of the voters are for change. It's mathematics. I'm not saying Hillary Clinton didn't do a good job marketing herself as the "Ready" candidate who's prepared to take over on "Day One." I am saying that 70% of the Democratic and Independent electorate doesn't seem to care, which means she's not winning the primary election, and she's certainly not winning one against the Republican survivor.

However, if Clinton did win New Hampshire, she'd be right back in it. Primaries are all about momentum. The problem for Clinton is that she won't win the New Hampshire primary because the momentum belongs to Barack Obama. Both Rasmussen and CNN have Obama shooting out to double-digit leads in the state, to say nothing of USAToday/Gallup giving him a 13 point lead.

And it doesn't end there. Franklin Pierce University, Strategic Vision, the Concord Monitor, each have him up. The American Research Group has him up by a dozen.

Translation: Between the Iowa momentum, the Independent vote (addressed Friday), and these new polls, only one conclusion can be drawn: Barack Obama is winning the New Hampshire primary.

Then, since a major poll hasn't been taken in Nevada since Clinton was up there in very early December, it's reasonable to think Obama can use tomorrow's New Hampshire primary to make an eleven day spin into January 19th's Nevada Caucus. Even if he only finishes a strong second to Clinton there, South Carolina is a week after that, and it's safe to say that African-American voters, whom in 2004 made up half of the vote in the Democratic Primary, will run to Obama now that they see he can actually win the thing. With 75% or all early primary states under his belt, he should be able to dethrone Clinton as the favorite in states across the country for Super Tuesday.

A potential and unlikely wildcard in both states is John Edwards, who has influential labor ties in Nevada and geographical ties in South Carolina, to say nothing of his strong popularity among black voters. Edwards, however, has been effectively eliminated with a distant second place finish in Iowa. He needed all the attention and money that goes with an Iowa victory, and instead of being lauded for finishing ahead of the Clinton Machine, all headlines went to Obama's win and Clinton's stumble.

At the debates this weekend, it seemed Edwards decided to continue to attack Clinton. This was because her vulnerability is obvious, while Obama seems invincible. Edwards, a candidate of change like Obama, will try to take down Clinton and make it a two-man race with Obama. Easier said then done. Edwards does not have the ammunition or the funds to cut into the top two Democrats, but he'll hang in there until Super Tuesday.

Bill Richardson, while having no discernable strategy or potential for success, will also stay in it until February. While he must feel good about being the fourth and final candidate included in the New Hampshire debates, surely he realizes that stealing a couple of Southwest primaries on February 5th does little more then to add up to maybe a hundred delegates.

But if he wants to show Latinos across the country that a Latino is running for President with the big boys, then that's his right.

Similarly, Dennis Kucinich is inspiring quixotic liberals everywhere, but there's nothing unique about that sort of candidacy. When he'll bow out is irrelevant, but he might go deep into February himself before dropping out and endorsing Obama, as he did in 2004 before endorsing Kerry.

And I refuse to spend more than twelve words on Mike Gravel.

Check back tomorrow for the Republican race.
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