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Next week I leave for three weeks in Asia so that my newly conditional-green-carded wife can see her kids and I can finally meet them in person.  (Don't worry, the campaign will be in good hands, but more on that another day.)  I've occasionally commented, but I think have never diaried, on the Presidential nomination race.  I will not be posting, or probably even lurking, while in Asia, so I've realized that I'm nearing my last chance to weigh in on the Democratic races that have so roiled this site.  Many other diarists have taken a whack at giving their takes on the race, so here's mine, written largely for my own amusement and to leave a lasting record of what I thought a month before the Iowa Caucus.

This diary reflects my thoughts only; it is not associated with any candidate or campaign.

Tomorrow, I'm going to give personal feelings on the race and the prospects of various Democratic Presidents; today -- emphasizing that making a prediction does not mean endorsing the outcome -- I make my predictions as to next year's results.

I say: ignore most of the current daily fluctuations in the news, with the exception of Sex on the City.  Hillary will beat Romney in the general election.  Here's why.

(more below)

1. But first, the Republicans

The key to predicting Iowa's Republican caucus, in my opinion, is the arcane caucus rules that allow people to switch to their second-place candidate.  The leaders in Iowa are Romney -- Thomas Dewey's successor as the man on the wedding cake -- and Huckabee.  Romney has something like a trillion dollars to spend on the race; Huckabee, while finally getting traction, has less than several of his rivals.  It's not clear how Romney loses if he takes the early contests; it's not clear that Huckabee can withstand the slamming he's going to take from the fiscal conservative and socially intolerant and scientifically literate wings of his party, let alone those who really don't want to have to explain the so-called "Fair Tax" to voters.

Now, of which of these men do you think the other candidates will be more afraid?

I expect that you will see a tacit agreement between all of the other candidates to try to knock Romney out of the race.  I think that Republican insiders rightly see Romney as the most formidable candidate both in the primary and the general elections: he's got soap opera doctor good looks, incredible cash reserves, excellent corporate ties, and a complete lack of principles beyond doing whatever it takes to win.  (Consider the difference in the YouTube debate between his muddled and confused reaction to the Bible question -- where he left no evidence of his Mormonism -- and his horrified reaction to being confronted with the Stars and Bars.  In both cases, and in the case of playing idiot when it came to waterboarding, he's following his strategy to a T: play down Mormonism, eschew overt racism, fuzz over torture.)  With Giuliani wounded and Thompson and McCain trying to light wet tinder, they know that they have to stop Romney now.  Remember, they all still think they can win.  Huckabee is their vehicle to stop Romney.

Unfortunately for them, and Huckabee, New Hampshire doesn't have a preference voting system.  When the Iowa results come out with Huckabee trouncing Romney, buy "nomination" shares in Romney low, because it will be your last chance; he'll come back in New Hampshire, where his opponents will clonk heads like Larry, Curly, and Moe rushing towards the vacuum they think he's left.  They think he won't have enough time to recover, but they're wrong: he'll give the explanation I just gave above to explain his Iowa defeat (whether or not it's true), and will use his money to stomp them, while they concentrate too much on keeping Huckabee from winning again.

Romney wins New Hampshire, wins Michigan even after McCain or Thompson drop out, loses South Carolina to Huckabee or one of the others while winning Nevada, and then, with a huge media effort, takes the lion's share of the votes on Super Tuesday.  Giuliani will have been neutralized by then; it's in everyone else's interest to play up the Sex on the City scandal, and he'll have melted down before Michigan.  Ron Paul will continue to get his Jesse Jacksonish percentage of the vote for a while, and if he plays nice may get his own day at the Minneapolis Convention, like Jesse did.  But it will be over by February 6, at which time we'll look at the polls and rewrite history saying that everyone knew that Romney was the real frontrunner all along.

One reason this is so often gets overlooked by the media.  Look at the recent history of Iowa and New Hampshire among Republicans.  Iowa has failed to pick the Presidential nominess only in 1980, when George H. W. Bush (32%) narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan (30%), and 1988, when Bob Dole (37%) defeated Pat Robertson (25%) and George H. W. Bush (19%).  But four of the Republican races (1976, 1984, 1992, 2004) have involved incumbents and the other two, 1996 and 2000, were close.  Now look at New Hampshire: it has always predicted the winner, except in 1996 (when Pat Buchanan beat Bob Dole) and 2000, when John McCain beat George W. Bush.

Did you see the key statistic?  In every Republican race since 1976 without an incumbent, a different person has won Iowa and New Hampshire.  So the idea that what currently seems like a Huckabee victory in Iowa giving him momentum in New Hampshire has no historical precedent among Republicans.  (And Romney is from a neighboring state, too!)

As I said, I think that -- given money and blarney and looks, and despite religion and flip-flops and palpable lack of core -- Romney is the GOP's strongest candidate.  And I think that either Obama or Edwards (leaning towards Obama) would be strongest against him.  Of the leading trio, Hillary would be the weakest.  But she'll still beat him.

2. History of the Democratic race in Iowa and New Hampshire

Let's start here again with the recent history of Iowa and New Hampshire.  The main thing I notice is that Iowa simply does not always determine the race.

  1. Ed Muskie (36%) over eventual nominee George McGovern (23%)
  1. eventual nominee Jimmy Carter (28%) over Birch Bayh (13%), 38% uncommitted
  1. incumbent Carter (59%) over Ted Kennedy (31%)
  1. eventual nominee Walter Mondale (49%) over Gary Hart (17%)
  1.  Richard Gephardt (31%) over Paul Simon (27%) and eventual nominee Michael Dukakis (22%)
  1. Tom Harkin (76%); no one else above 4%
  1. incumbent Clinton unopposed
  1. eventual nominee Al Gore (63%) over Bill Bradley (37%)
  1. eventual nominee John Kerry (38%) over John Edwards (32%), Howard Dean (18%), and Richard Gephardt (11%)

To recap:

In 1992 (favorite son) and 1996 (unopposed incumbent), Iowa didn't matter.
In 1976, 1980 (despite incumbency), 2000, and 2004, Iowa predicted and strengthened the nominee.
In 1972 and 1988, Iowa failed to predict the nominee.
In 1984, Iowa mattered by strengthening the distant second-place finisher to the point of almost being able to knock off the consensus presumptive nominee.

New Hampshire has done a better job since 1976, with Walter Mondale (1984, versus Gary Hart) and Bill Clinton (1992, just after a major sex scandal erupted, versus Paul Tsongas) being the only eventual Democratic nominees to lose the primary.

The losses are especially instructive here.  Bill Clinton is the only candidate since 1976 to win the nomination without winning either Iowa or New Hampshire, but in that year at least Iowa and arguably New Hampshire were rendered less relevant by the candidacies of favorite sons.  What the examples of Mondale and Clinton (and Dole and Bush) show is that even a major loss in New Hampshire makes it hard to derail a candidate with major institutional advantages in party support (and, particularly in Bill Clinton's case, unusual talent as a campaigner.)

3. Handicapping the Democratic Race

No one but the Big Three has a chance anymore, barring a Giuliani-like meltdown by Hillary and one of the others, but the possibility of such a meltdown will keep everyone in the race through New Hampshire.  (Kucinich and Gravel may stay in forever, but will get neither coverage nor delegates.)  Here, the strategic reasons for ganging up on Romney don't apply; while Hillary is the front-runner, there are two people comparably well-placed to beat her, and each is the other's biggest rival to take on the "Anyone But Clinton" mantle.  So Obama can't send his Edwards his second-place support, Edwards can't send his to Obama, Richardson will send his to Hillary, Dodd and Biden will have nothing to give, and Kucinich won't send his anywhere this time.

I'm not sure who wins Iowa; I tend to think it will be Obama, but I don't have much confidence.  As with the Republican race, I don't think it will much matter.  If Hillary wins, and especially if Obama and Edwards are so close that Edwards doesn't drop out, then Hillary wins New Hampshire, Nevada, and Florida.  (If Obama and Edwards are still in the race, I think that their supporters vote strategically for either Dodd or uncommitted.  I'd like to predict that Hillary unexpectedly loses Michigan, because it would be so counterintuitive, but I don't think it will happen.  Maybe she loses South Carolina to whichever of Obama and Edwards is still standing.)  If she leads going into Super Tuesday, she ends that day as the presumptive nominee.

Edwards will have trouble in New Hampshire even if he wins Iowa, unless perhaps Obama does so unexpectedly poorly that he can't muster support in the first primary.  Unlike Kerry in 2004, Edwards does not have the support of the party leadership as an acceptable choice this time -- given his Deanesque populist and liberal leanings -- and it's not likely that people will close ranks around him.  If Obama remains competitive in the race beyond New Hampshire, catching fire becomes extremely difficult.  He's still capable of it, but he needs a surprise powerful showing comparable to Kerry's in 2004, one that knocks Obama out.  And this year he seems more like the Gephardt than the Kerry of 2004.

Obama's best case is to win handily enough that Edwards drops out before New Hampshire -- which I don't see Edwards doing easily.  But say that it happens.  We then have a very interesting mano-a-mano, as everyone but Kucinich (and maybe Gravel) drops out.  Like Romney, if she places even third in Iowa and a fairly distant second in New Hampshire, Hillary simply cannot be driven out of the race other than by scandal.  She has too much money and too much institutional advantage.  If Hillary wins New Hampshire, the analysis proceeds as above.  If she loses, she then wins Michigan, Florida, and Nevada; maybe Obama wins South Carolina.  None of this much matters so long as Obama stays viable, and with Edwards probably out, he will.  Super Tuesday then becomes one of the truly most interesting days in recent politics.  Obama could be in control after that day, but that's not the way to bet.

Here are the primaries and caucuses with the numbers of the 2064 total delegates at stake in each:

Primaries:

Alabama 60
Arizona 67
Arkansas 47
California 441
Connecticut 61
Delaware 23
Georgia 104
Illinois 185
Massachusetts 121
Missouri 88
New Jersey 127
New York 280
Oklahoma 47
Rhode Island 32
Tennessee 85
Utah primary 29

Caucuses:

Alaska 18
Colorado 71
Idaho 23
Kansas 40
Minnesota 88
New Mexico 38
North Dakota 21

(Daunting to look at it that way, isn't it?)

I see four stories coming out of Super Tuesday: California, Georgia, Illinois, and the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut/Rhode Island Massachusetts regional primary.  The first and last are the most important by far, and that is where I'd expect Hillary to have the greatest advantage.  Her husband is very popular in California, and the Northeast is her base.

Here's the problem for Obama: the pressure will be on from the party leadership and the institutional press to wrap things up.  They know that they can't push Hillary out of the race; she has the insane Clintonian hunger that kept her husband alive after Gennifer Flowers bloomed in the winter of 1992.  If he's leading going into Super Tuesday, he may have to take 60-65% of the delegates to Hillary's 35-40% before she and those supporting her grudgingly give way.  But if she beats him 53-47, or certainly 55-45, the pressure us going to be strong to coalesce behind her.  That's the advantage of having the institutional party, and the uncommitted superdelegates, largely behind one.  Tie goes to the incumbent, and within the Democratic Party that's essentially what Hillary is.

When you look ahead past Super Tuesday, I see a lot of reasons for Hillary to stay in the race.

February 9 Louisiana primary 68
February 9 Nebraska caucus 31
February 9 Washington caucus 97
February 10 Maine caucus 34
February 12 DC primary 37
February 12 Maryland primary 99
February 12 Virginia primary 103
February 19 Wisconsin primary 92
February 26 Hawaii primary 29
March ... Dems Abroad and territories 37
March 4 Massachusetts primary 121
March 4 Ohio primary 161
March 4 Vermont primary 23
March 4 Texas primary 228
March 8 Wyoming caucus 18
March 11 Mississippi primary 36
April 22 Pennsylvania primary 179 or 181
May 6 Indiana primary 79
May 6 North Carolina primary 110
May 13 West Virginia primary 37
May 20 Kentucky primary 55
May 20 Oregon primary 79
June 1 Puerto Rico primary 58
June 3 Montana primary 23
June 3 South Dakota primary 22

I'd expect her to do better in Louisiana, Obama in Washington, but I expect her to do well in Maryland and Virginia on the 12.  Then the big ones are Wisconsin, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.  If it comes down a true Ford versus Reagan hunt for every last delegate, who do we think is going to have the advantage?  I think it's likely going to be the candidate allied with the President who not that long ago controlled the party and has the connections to win ugly in the above states.  Obama may have more popular support, but I don't think he'll have an arm-twisting organization anywhere near what the Clintons can assemble.

If Hillary looks at that list above and thinks she can make up any gap that may exist after Super Tuesday, I think we're in for a long and bloody campaign, ultimately largely decided by superdelegates.  Obama will have the intellectuals, Oprah, and most of the NYT Editorial page, but I don't think he'll have what both of the Clintons have: the desperate, single-minded dedication to win at any cost.  I do think he has the fire in his belly; but I think that Hillary and Bill have an entire blast furnace in theirs, and when it comes down to backroom politics that would decide the day, I'll take the chances of an LBJ over an Adlai Stevenson.

Obama's chances, then, depend on getting Edwards out immediately and then a win on Super Tuesday so decisive that Hillary doesn't think she can make up the gap, even with superdelegates.  Possible, but not the way to bet.

4. The General Election

Why will Hillary beat Romney?  Remember Clinton fatigue?  Meet Clinton-bashing fatigue.

Obama and Edwards and the rest have made Hillary a better politician in the past few months.  Not great -- far too cautious, far too scripted -- but better.  (This refers only to her abilities, not her policies.)  She is still capable of a howling lapse in judgment of the sort I've long expected would sink her -- remember her lapsing into black vernacular in that Church, something I'd be loathe to try to defend? -- but it's looking less likely.  And once Democrats are reconciled in her candidacy, I think most of us will welcome the comparative sanity of a Clinton Restoration.

Romney, on the other hand, has become a worse politician over the past months.  He's been pushed too far to the right, and he's shown that he can be easily rattled.  He'll try to tack left and he'll end up looking like Kerry.  In fact, my question for the Clintons is:  any shots of Romney windsurfing?

It'll be tough -- but we'll win.  

Update: Take the poll!

Originally posted to Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 08:59 PM PST.

Poll

Who will be the next President of the U.S.?

0%0 votes
25%32 votes
0%0 votes
21%27 votes
1%2 votes
0%1 votes
0%0 votes
4%5 votes
0%1 votes
40%50 votes
0%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%1 votes
0%0 votes
3%4 votes

| 124 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tomorrow (or so), what I think of it all (16+ / 0-)

    I'll give my concerns about the candidates and why I have hope for all of them.  Remember: this prediction is not an endorsement; it's where I'd put my money.

    If you find this interesting, let me know; if not, you have plenty of other prognostications to choose from!

    If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

    by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:01:42 PM PST

  •  Michigan doesn't mean anything. (6+ / 0-)

    No delegates at stake.  Only two people on the ballot.

    Obama's path to victory looks like:

    Win Iowa
    Win NH
    Nevada (?)
    Win SC.

    If he's won 3/4 going into Super Tuesday, he has the infrastructure and national profile to win there too.  If he wins CA and MA and IL, that more than balances out NY and NJ (I don't see MA as her turf--if he beats her in NH he can beat her in MA).

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:07:02 PM PST

    •  One question is whether he wins Super Tuesday (3+ / 0-)

      and the other is whether he wins it by enough.

      These states aren't winner take all; I could see California, for example, being very close.  I could also see the big states not paying that close attention to the earlier races this year; there's just not enough time between them.  Democrats pretty much already know that it's Clinton versus Obama or Edwards (or possibly both) on February 5; it's very much unlike 2004 when we were waiting for someone to emerge.

      I can accept that Obama has good campaign infrastructure, but what we're talking about now is something beyond that -- the best term I can come up with is arm-twisting infrastructure -- the sort of thing where I think having many pre-existing ties to people, and a coherent team, is decisive.  You have my prediction; all I'll say beyond that is that if he can come up with the ability to beat Hillary in an arm-twisting race, he'll be an incredibly strong candidate in 2008.

      If he knocks her out on Super Tuesday, he wins.  If it's close, I'd still go with her.

      If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

      by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:13:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If he beats her on Super Tuesday, that (0+ / 0-)

        should be enough to spell the end of it.  If he's declared the winner of 2/5/08, he'll pick up steam in the other states.

        Also note that he has significantly more field offices open in the Feb 5 states than she does.

        "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

        by Geekesque on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:23:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "Declared the winner?" (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DaleA, Geekesque, SaneSoutherner

          If he's declared the winner by Hillary, then sure.

          How big of a margin in a two-person race do you predict?  Because unless it's out of the range that I'd think likey, I don't think you're going to get Clinton to drop out, nor to not be taken seriously.  I think you're going to see a major uptick in the ugliness of the campaign, but no concession.  She was with Bill in New Hampshire in 2008, and I don't think she has quit in her while she breathes.  Go take a look at what Bill did to Tsongas in 1992.  If Obama wins, at least he'll have been torture-tested.

          FWIW, by the way, I'd much favor Obama vs. Clinton.  This isn't wishful thinking.

          If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

          by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:30:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, I can't project a percentage. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Major Danby

            If he beats her by a 55-45% spread, that should be enough.  It'll snowball from there.  The media will treat him as the winner, he'll call on Clinton to drop out, etc etc.

            Establishment candidates are frontrunners in the classic sense, i.e. once you get them down and behind, they don't know how to play catch-up.

            "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

            by Geekesque on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:34:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Again, as I say below (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DaleA, SaneSoutherner

              A 55-45% spread means that she probably wins several states.  Do you really expect her to bail, especially given that she may well have a countervailing advantage in superdelegates (which she'll certainly claim to have, regardless)?  I don't.

              I expect that if, say, Obama trounces her in California, she'll congratulate him, note that California votes only once in the process, and argue that the remaining states are much more like insert names of states she won than California.  She'll argue that now that he's the frontrunner, people will give him more scrutiny, and she'll be there to help them do so, and she thinks that when it's done they'll come back to her in Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, et al.

              Your scenario is like the 1984 case where Mondale was shown to have a glass jaw, and was within one commercial catchphrase ("Where's the beef?") of losing.  Mondale did not have the fire in his belly that Hillary and Bill have.  They'll keep going.  Obama may beat her, but she'll make him earn the victory.

              If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

              by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:53:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sure, she won't concede. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Major Danby

                But the media will say she lost.  And that will be that.

                The Clinton machine will throw everything they have at Obama between now and the South Carolina primary.  Everything.
                 
                It won't be over until it's over, of course.

                "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

                by Geekesque on Mon Dec 03, 2007 at 05:42:44 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  "The media will say she lost." (0+ / 0-)

                  That's that part of your prediction I don't get.  Why would the media say she lost, if there's a serious argument to be made that she's still viable, especially with superdelegates?  They want there to be a continuing race.  And anyway, they tried shaming Bill Clinton out of the race in 1992; it didn't work.

                  I've been trying to think of what proportion of the two candidate vote (this assuming Edwards would have dropped out) Obama needs to have for Hillary to drop out (and the media to do what you say.)  I think that if it's Obama over Hillary 60-40, she comes up with a way to stay in the race and live to fight another day: "on to Virginia and Maryland!"  If she gets below 40%, and if you see superdelegates as well as the media calling it, then she's out.  But that is a tall order.  And if she makes progress between February 9 and March 11 (and I think she would, especially in Texas), I think she waits for Pennsylvania.  I don't think she has an off switch.

                  If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

                  by Major Danby on Mon Dec 03, 2007 at 01:42:22 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  I'd echo that. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Major Danby, Partially Impartial

            I don't think she has quit in her while she breathes.

            Obama is turning out to be a tough act, as well.

            As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular. - Oscar Wilde

            by SaneSoutherner on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 10:02:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Do you think it makes a difference (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DaleA, Major Danby

        Tha Hillary already has the endorsement of half of the super delegates?  Because no one talks about that, but it's a factor.

        As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular. - Oscar Wilde

        by SaneSoutherner on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:54:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, 4 candidates on Michigan ballot (4+ / 0-)

      Dodd, Gravel, and Kucinich in addition to HRC. There's also an "uncommitted" option.

      That said, a primary without Obama or Edwards on the ballot is an absolute farce. I doubt whether I'll take part in it for yet another reason: the new primary law gives the two parties exclusive access to the list of primary voters. That's right, the taxpayers who paid for this primary won't have access to the voter list.

      "I'll rant as well as thou."--Hamlet, Act V, Scene 1.

      by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:14:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As for what Michigan means (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Trix, DaleA, SaneSoutherner

      It certainly means a lot to Michiganders (and Michiguese.)  We don't know what it means; the situation is pretty much unprecedented.  It will mean what the press says it means and what the public accepts it means.  But: given the need to win the state in the general election, Hillary and her people have a lot more reason to say loudly that the primary is important than her opponents do to loudly dismiss its importance in the press.  I might count it as 1/3 or 1/4 the impact of a sanctioned primary.  Tell people to vote for Dodd there.

      If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

      by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:17:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Minnesota is a caucus primary state. (5+ / 0-)

    FYI.  My sister has been going to caucus training up there for Obama.

  •  Electoral College Prediction (4+ / 0-)

    Our nominee will pick up all of Kerry's state plus Iowa, New Mexico, Florida, Ohio, Missouri and Nevada.

  •  I largely agree with your take on the GOP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby

    primary, disagree somewhat on your take of ours.

    •  First, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, Major Danby

      I don't see why Obama and Edwards couldn't ask their supporters who couldn't reach 15% to help the other out, as their mutual best interest is to make sure Hillary comes out as low as possible- Obama should want Edwards to come in second to him, Edwards should want Obama to come in second behind him.

      Second, Edwards has risen a bit lately in NH, he's high enough that he doesn't need to get as much as Kerry did post Iowa to take NH.  As well, if he wins Iowa but doesn't get enough of a bounce, it could elave him in 2nd to Obama in NH, which could turn it into a two man race.

      Finally, Nevada polls are junk- they've enver had a significant caucus, nobody knows what turnout will be like.

      I think the difference between my take and yours is that I don't think Edwards and Obama are generally competing for the same voters.  Witness that both seem to be rising right now in the polls somewhat while Hillary is sliding.

      •  Good analysis, though I disagree (4+ / 0-)

        Obama and Edwards may not be fighting for the same voters, but they are fighting for the same oxygen, while Hillary has her own canister in Bill.  If they could really game it out so that whoever was ahead in one district would help the other, and hope that it would largely even out, I could believe an Edwards-Kucinich sort of deal.  But I think that as time goes on, they're going to see this as "Hillary + 1 (+ a gadfly)" going forward -- the typical Democratic configuration -- and they both want to be the 1.

        My thesis is that you just don't get Clinton out of the race barring true catastrophe.

        I worked in Nevada last time.  I think it will be a mess, but one Clinton wins handily.

        If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

        by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:35:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How long could she lose and stay in? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Major Danby

          Feb. 5th, I think.  But there's no guarantee she'd win anything significant, if she's lost everything else before that.

          •  Traditionally, losing by two percentage points (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DaleA, cjallen

            is the same as losing by a mile (at least in Iowa.)  By that reckoning, if Obama beats Hillary with 48% to 46% of the overall delegates on Feb. 5, she has to skulk away.

            But my point is that Hillary is not your average candidate.  She doesn't have to play by those rules, nor do the voters and the press expect her to.  If the overall delegate margin that day is close, that will mean that she has several victories in individual states, and she will spin them to the high heavens in saying why they better predict performance over the balance of the calendar.  And she could even be right.  Obama will do the same if he loses the day by a small margin; it's simply that people will be less inclined to believe him -- or to believe that others will believe him.

            She'll also be talking a lot about what she'll claim is her tremendoes lead in superdelegates -- and who has the guts to cross her?  She could lose the whole day Feb. 5 and stay in through at least March 4 (I think she'd prevail in Texas.)  And that big gap between March 11 and April 22 -- the big Pennsylvania primary -- would make it very tempting to keep going if she had a shot.  It's only money, right?

            If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

            by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:46:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I just don't see how she'd win anything (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Major Danby

              excepting NY if she's losing... I know you think she'll take Nevada, but only if she wins something before that, I think... especially if Edwards wins Iowa and gets UNITE HERE's endorsment, anyway, goodnight... off to do a little more work before bed.

  •  Et tu, MD? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby, Marcus Tullius

    Couldn't we talk about something less important on Sunday night / Monday morning, like torture, war or the erosion of civil rights.

    Then again, the Presidential candidates really aren't getting enough coverage here. There are two recommended diaries at present that don't deal with them!

    Sorry for being grumpy. Not one of these people will do a thing for moving our country forward at this point. We are too far gone. We need CONGRESS, and we need it yesterday.

    The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth: the wicked compass about the righteous and wrong judgment proceedeth - Habakkuk 1:4

    by vox humana on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:24:09 PM PST

    •  Agree with you, to an extent, (5+ / 0-)

      but this is the kind of candidate diary I'd prefer to see on the rec list.  

      Before you ask me why I TR'd your tip jar, ask yourself if you've just been the author of a stupid fucking hit piece.

      by Marcus Tullius on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:29:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very true. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Major Danby, Marcus Tullius

        That is why I am only grumpy, not outraged.

        I see the vast amounts of energy expended on this here, now - and I think... if only some of these people were devoting this time to writing Congress to right wrongs... well, who knows?

        That said, yes. You are absolutely right. This is good analysis of an important issue.

        I guess I miss the "off-year" vibe here, when things were more issue-driven. We made a lot of mistakes then, in my opinion. Rather than examine what we might have learned and advocating for better legislative candidates, we are splintering over the presidency, when that is not where the action is going to be after the election.

        Can't we get those great reports about local races - reports supporting Congressional candidates working against all odds to support a progressive agenda?

        I want to know what these people are going to DO when they get there. Legislative elections are about precisely that. Executive elections by nature cannot lay that out with any accuracy because of the broad constituencies that have to be placated.

        Oh, well. Things are what they are.

        The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth: the wicked compass about the righteous and wrong judgment proceedeth - Habakkuk 1:4

        by vox humana on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:36:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I've studiously avoided doing a candidate diary (4+ / 0-)

      but, as I say above, I'm leaving town soon, so this is my last shot at 2008 political primary prognosticating.  Let me have a little fun, c'mon!

      Honestly, if the situation clears up by February 6, we will have lots of time to talk substance (and of course we talk a lot of substance now); don't worry about it.  We will get our good progressive site back, I promise.

      If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

      by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:38:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped, recced. (3+ / 0-)

    Always enjoy reading your take on things, Major.

    Before you ask me why I TR'd your tip jar, ask yourself if you've just been the author of a stupid fucking hit piece.

    by Marcus Tullius on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:26:46 PM PST

  •  I've been saying my money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby, Partially Impartial

    is on Romney for ages. No data, just my gut from being in Red states all my life, and seeing how they think.

    As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular. - Oscar Wilde

    by SaneSoutherner on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 09:58:30 PM PST

  •  Interesting read (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby, SaneSoutherner

    but I find this a little bit of "if/then" covering too many scenarios. Maybe we're all too jacked up already of the import of this -- I'm on it every day, like you, but I admit I'm a junkie. We count now. Few do.

    "It's the Supreme Court, Stupid!"

    by Kestrel on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 10:33:34 PM PST

  •  I'm glad someone's watching the GOP race (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Major Danby

    I haven't been able to make heads or tails of it - when I sat and watched the CNN/YouTube debate I could take maybe 10 minutes of it before I turned it off to preserve my sanity.

    What do you make of the current Obama boomlet? His stock seems to be on the rise but from what I read you saying here, it's only going to boost him in Iowa and maybe New Hampshire, and even then Hillary's drive and massive resources will overwhelm him in the subsequent primaries.

    The Washington caucuses, while likely not going to determine much, are an interesting affair. Usually nobody ever attends them. In 2004, however, attendance soared statewide; most caucuses didn't have the physical space to accommodate the attendees. By far the most active folks there were Dean and Kucinich supporters, despite the fact that Dean had already thrown in the towel and Kucinich was not getting much traction elsewhere. My fiancee got herself elected as a Kucinich delegate to the county convention, but couldn't attend it (unfortunately).

    Point being, anything can happen there, and attendance tends to be motivated by an intense desire to promote a candidate, instead of folks showing up off the street not knowing what they want. If Obama and/or Edwards are still alive and kicking I expect they'll win it; and who knows, those delegates may make a difference if this goes long.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 10:38:36 PM PST

    •  Obama could win it; this is just a prediction of (0+ / 0-)

      what I think is the most likely scenario.  If he really does build steam as much as his supporters predict, then Hillary will wake up on February 6 and decide to throw in the towel.  I just think it will take a better performance from him than is likely, and that she has an institutional advantage after Feb. 5.  (That six week gap before Pennsylvania strikes me as really interesting if the race is still close.  Why give up?  Why not wait and see if a meteor hits him?)

      What is most likely, of course, is that one or the other of them (or Edwards) gathers enough momentum to put the thing away, and we don't have a long fun distressing DKos-destroying race.  I can't really say who might do that; the insight I think people have missed is that Hillary will be harder to knock out of a tight race than Obama will.

      The GOP race really is wild.  I hope that Huckabee is as insane as I think he is.  Have you heard the Editor of the Arkansas Times interviewed about him?  Beauty.

      If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for [its] survival, he's an imbecile. U. Eco. (P.S.: my opinions are mine, not my employer's.)

      by Major Danby on Sun Dec 02, 2007 at 10:56:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clinton is not anywhere near the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby

    presumptive nominee that Gore was in December 1999. Clinton has name recognition, which I think counts for a lot of her polling numbers. In my opinion, the Dem race is up for grabs.

  •  Hillary is the candidate of the party (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby, Partially Impartial

    and that counts for a lot. When all the party functionaries unite behind someone, that someone usually wins. Bill has barely begun to campaign for her. When he lets loose, it will be less tight.

    Thanks for the great diary Major. And good luck with the in-laws.

  •  Kudos for being brave enough to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Major Danby

    lay out a real prediction on both sides.  

    But I happen to think Feb. 5 will be better to Obama than your scenario suggests, if he does well in IA, NH and SC.  He's laying a lot of groundwork to be able to capitalize on gaining momentum.  

    I think Edwards won't be able to stay in much past NH, even if he wins Iowa.  Unless he wins Iowa by an overwhelming enough margin to really boost him in NH he has some big structural disadvantages there compared with Clinton (institutional candidate) and Obama (strong appeal to independents).

    Finally, I think Clinton has a big expectations game problem.  I agree with you that she has a lot of advantages and she probably is very tenacious.  But early losses, especially by more than a point or two, will cost her a lot because she will be expected to dominate the early states.

    I see this race breaking a few different ways depending not only on who wins what but how.

    In the end I can't call it definitely between Clinton and Obama, but I'm just happy that my guy has a real and plausible scenario that could leave him the winner and I'll keep working to make it happen.

    If we want hope to survive in this world today, then every day we've got to teach on, teach on. - Ysaye Maria Barnwell

    by Femlaw on Mon Dec 03, 2007 at 12:55:10 AM PST

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