Saturday, January 05, 2008

Handicapping Politics: The Presidential Election Mapped Out

Today, I'm going to take some time to write out my predictions for the presidential race. (so that on the rare chance I'm right I can have proof.)

We're going into the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. On the Republican side, either McCain or Romney are out after it. McCain is definitely out if he loses, Romney might keep throwing money at his dying campaign though if he loses, but is still ultimately done. My guess is McCain, he won the state in 2000 and there are a lot of independents (assuming enough vote in the Republican primary.)

On the Democratic side, Clinton will be out if she doesn't pull of a win. Edwards is out if he can't pull of second place. All in all, I'm betting on Obama again because of the independents and his momentum from Iowa. Huckabee needs McCain to win to get rid of Romney. (politics makes strange bedfellows) If Obama does lose New Hampshire, a state he should get, to Clinton, he might be done with. Clinton will be able to claim she's the "comeback kid." He won't drop out yet though. I think Edwards will come in third and be eliminated since he has an anti-corporation message that won't carry in New Hampshire, a state that is more adapted to globalization than Iowa and thus depended upon globalization.

So on the Republican side it will be Huckabee versus McCain as we go into Michigan and South Carolina. (or Romney if he wins NH) Giuliani is holding off until Florida. I personally don't feel his strategy of ignoring the first few states and waiting until the big states and Super Tuesday is going to work. (If it did and he won the nomination, Iowa and New Hampshire wouldn't forgive him for ignoring them.) Giuliani right now needs Huckabee to do well, so he'll take votes away from McCain in Michigan and South Carolina. McCain is screwed in South Carolina, he lost there in 2000, the large evangelical population will deliver Huckabee a win there. That will probably eliminate McCain, although if he wins Michigan he might be able to keep going. (Michigan a must win for McCain. If Huckabee were to lose South Carolina he's out, that's a must win for him.) That means Huckabee (possibly McCain as well but probably not) versus Giuliani (which Giuliani wants) in Florida and on Super Tuesday. (It would probably aid Huckabee more if McCain did campaign in Florida before he gives up.) After Super Tuesday we have a nominee. I'm betting and hoping on Huckabee. It should be pointed out the traditional Republican establishment is against Huckabee, so he is fighting that.

On the Democratic side, Clinton will have been knocked out effectively in New Hampshire, although she probably won't drop out, she's got the Clinton legacy riding on her. Edwards needs Clinton gone to have a shot. I think Obama though wins against Edwards or even Clinton is she stays in. The black vote will go for Obama in South Carolina. Definitely by Super Tuesday, although my guess is before that Obama has the nomination effectively sealed.

This brings us to the general election, Obama versus Huckabee. (I'm more willing to bet on Obama getting the Democratic nomination than Huckabee the Republican, for the record.) To be honest, the Republicans have an uphill battle no matter the nominees. I think Obama wins against any one the Republicans throw at him. On the other hand, if I'm wrong and Clinton won, its more up in the air, she's a polarizing figure. As a Republican I hope she gets the Democratic nomination. I don't think Edwards wins the Democratic nomination, but it would be easier for the Republicans if he won over Obama as well. McCain might have a better shot at the general than Huckabee, if he could get the nomination. He would certainly stress his foreign policy credentials, obviously not important in a time of war. However, a Republican president got us into it, and so the electorate might not trust any Republican to get us out.

The last time a sitting senator was elected president was 1960, JFK. Its immensely hard for a senator to win because they have a voting record. I think the clamor for change could probably outweigh that factor. Whatever Republican wins the nomination is going to have the make the case that they are a candidate of change. I think Huckabee could make that case. What worries me about Huckabee, even though I support him, is that he could be perceived as the evangelical candidate. He won 46% of the evangelical vote, but only 14% of the non-evangelical vote in Iowa. Obviously a large part of the Republican party is evangelical, which helps him get the nomination, but could hurt him in the general. He will have to overcome that perception, allowing him to keep the evangelical vote and motivate them to come to the polls, but not let that define his candidacy so he can grab moderates. He is not the typical Republican, so he'll have to work to grab the economic conservatives. He is very articulate, so I think he a good shot of doing that. As David Gregory of NBC News said on a panel, he hears Huckabee talking about his faith in a way that is not exclusive and is how many people see their faith and is thus appealing. That's a good thing if he's going to win.

So if I were betting, Obama wins, but I want and hope Huckabee wins.


Blogger Benjamin said...

Interesting analysis! I might disagree with you on a couple points. For one, Clinton is a juggernaught right now, I don't think NH is a must-win for her, especially since it always has such weird voting tendencies. Also, in general she is much MORE popular in African-American circles than Obama. His main strength comes from young people. So, I tend to think Obama might just squeak it out, but it will be very close.

On the Republican side, I think Huckabee is going to experience a "fall from grace" just like Dean did last time around. He has too much of a tendency to say controversial things, and Guliani hasn't really fired up the engines yet. I think Guliani is the favorite to win at this point. Never underestimate the power of strong organization and lots of money! McCain-Feingold has only made cash MORE important in a campaign than it used to be.

So, I'm guessing we're looking at an extremely close Democratic primary battle, and Guliani winning the Rep. nomination. However, maybe (hopefully?) to placate conservatives he'll take on Huckabee as VP. I think that would be the Rep. tickets' best chance.

Sat Jan 05, 02:40:00 PM EST  

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