Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thoughts on the 2008 presidential race

Earlier today, a former newspaper co-worker of mine emailed me about the Tsunami Tuesday results and possibly getting together for lunch. Since we used to talk politics, I wasn't surprised to hear from her, especially after a major campaign even like last night.
So, she asks me to look into my crystal ball and predict the future: What is going to happen? Who is going to be the next president? As regular readers to Politizine know, I suck at predicting the future. But, after reading what I sent to her, I thought it would make a good post. Here are some of the thoughts:

Ah, predictions. I don't know to be honest. It is too early to say and too many "What IFs" ... Here are some of them, off the top of my head, since I have a spot to breath:

IF the Republican nominee can hold all the Bush states from 2004, that candidate wins easily.

IF McCain is the nominee, and can hold together his support, pick up much of the Republican base who have nowhere else to go, and can pull in some indies and conservative Democrats, I think there is a really good chance he will win. There is no guarantee that McCain will be the nominee but it is a safe bet. He has about 40 percent of the delegates he needs to win.

IF Romney decided to really dip into his portfolio even more and dump another $40 million into the remaining states and IF by some miracle Huckabee dropped out suddenly, Romney could still pull out a win. It is a long shot, but you never know. Right now, Huckabee and Romney are splitting the anti-McCain vote, so the bigger key to the puzzle is Huckabee dropping out, which is doubtful. He is having too much fun and is able to run his campaign on fumes. He will hang in for the rest of the election I think.

At the same time, McCain is being hammered from all sides of the Republican spectrum. From financial conservatives, religious conservatives, virtually every syndicated talk radio host who spout off the Republican Party talking points to tens of millions of people each day, and shockingly, McCain is still standing.

If you look at the talk radio hosts alone - Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Michael Reagan, just to name a few - that has to be at least 40 million listeners right there. The fact that they can all endorse Mitt Romney and then basically use their programs for multiple daily hours of negative campaign advertising against McCain is an abomination. This, combined with the virtual blackout of media coverage of John Edwards' presidential campaign, and other lower tier Dems and Republicans, and you have the clearest evidence that the Fairness Doctrine needs to be brought back for radio and television broadcasters.

On the Dem side, it is more difficult to predict.

IF the Democrats can pick up a major state or minor states which Bush won in 2004, they will win. Bush won 286 to 252, or 32 an EC vote difference. As everyone has said, if Ohio, or Florida, or Virginia and West Virginia, or some combination of states in the Midwest flip from one side to the other, the nominee will win.

IF Obama is the nominee, I think he would be able to pull enough votes from the Republican nominee to make a lot of red states more competitive for Democrats. I also think that there is growth in the "black vote" sector to bump his numbers up. Historically, while blacks have supported Dems, they have stayed home in a lot of races, which has allowed the Republicans to dominate in the South. Obama actively campaigning in those states could raise his numbers.

IF he picked a strong VP nominee who will really get out there and hustle, maybe even a woman, like Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas or even Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Obama would be really hard to beat. Having a woman on the ticket would be a huge benefit since many of the women campaigning for Clinton may be a little ticky that their candidate lost and he is going to need them.

The only snag in this argument is where Huckabee ends up. He was able to get 47 percent of the black vote in Arkansas during his last gubernatorial race. IF he gets the VP nod with McCain and is allowed to campaign in a populist way, going to blue collar Reagan Dems, talking about trade issues, and campaigning at black churches, look out.

IF Clinton is the nominee, I sense doom for the Dems for a couple of reasons. First, much of the support Obama is galvanizing will not be around to carry her into the general election. He is getting young people, indies and even Republicans to support him, folks I don't think will completely join Hillary. Many of them, like in previous election cycles when populist, inspirational candidates have lost, will become cynical and angry that their candidate wasn't given the nod. Plus, she is just such a divisive political figure that she will probably invigorate the Republican base who would elect just about anyone to keep the Clintons out of there.

But, IF she was able to persuade Obama to join her ticket, which I doubt he would do, they might be able to hold all their support and win. IF she picks a populist VP and is able to compete and win in those red states, she is the next president.

A couple of things to look at in the post Tsunami Tuesday contests:

Hillary was able to win Arkansas with more than 195,000-plus votes, a place where she is supposedly despised and a state where she supposedly couldn't win a Senate seat in the wake of Bubba's reign in the White House, so they had to plant her in a safe seat in New York. Huckabee, a very popular governor in the state who was just governor there, only received 123,000-plus votes. In fact, the combined Democratic primary vote was about 100,000 more votes than the combined Republican primary vote. In 2004, Bush beat Kerry 523,000 to 470,000, with Ralph Nader getting a little more than 6,000. Maybe there is growth there for a Hillary led Dem ticket. While it is only 6 EC votes, it would chip away at the lead Bush had.

Iowa was a similar situation last month: Turnout on the Dem side broke records while Republicans only mustered about 100,000 participants. Bush won Iowa by 10,000 votes, with Nader getting more than 5,900. I sense this will be in the Dem column in 2008.

If both Iowa and Arkansas go for the Dems in 2008, they would only need 4 EC votes to win. A West Virginia or a Kansas would be enough for the Democratic nominee, whether Hillary or someone else.

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