February 12, 2008

"8 Questions the Potomac Primary Could Answer."

Dan Balz poses the questions:
1) Will a Sweep by Obama Make Him the Front-Runner?...

2) Will the Clinton-Obama Race Split the Party?...

What gives Democrats heart -- and clearly worries Republicans -- is that the Obama-Clinton contest does not reflect a deep, ideological split within the party....

The endgame will be critical if Democrats hope to avoid the kind of rupture that happened after the Carter-Kennedy battle of 1980. If the losing candidate goes out in a blaze of attacks, the bitterness will linger. If superdelegates appear to run counter to the popular vote, that will put the losing side in a deep funk...

3) Will Edwards Endorse Someone Soon?...

4) Will Obama Catch Clinton Among Superdelegates?

Yes -- if he keeps winning....

... "It'll be a combination of true enthusiasm [for Obama] and the old pol's rule of 'Be for what is going to happen,' " [wrote Republican consultant Mike Murphy].

5) Does a Long Democratic Contest Help McCain?...

Of course.... But the Democratic race has captured the country's attention, and McCain will find it hard to get much attention as long as that battle continues. If it ends in a civil way, the Democratic base will be energized and enthusiastic....

6) Will McCain Prove He Can Win Over Conservatives?...

7) How Long Will Huckabee Keep Going?...

[8)] Which Local Politicians Will Be on the VP Short List?
WaPo left the number "8" off the 8th question. I guess we're not ready to get excited about the VP question yet. Or the "local" (Potomac) politicians aren't too exciting.

Anyway, nice format and analysis from Dan Balz, even if WaPo's editors slacked off on the makeweight questions.

Maybe 7 is a better number. Let me suggest a compression — and reformulation — of 7 and 8:

Is Huckabee running for VP?
My answer is: No. I think Huckabee keeps going because he represents people who are normally taken for granted and who want to remain visible as a distinct bloc. Also, he's like Obama: an upstart political genius. Obama is there for the Democrats saying: Turn the page. Huckabee, too, in his own way, is saying turn the page on the past. You don't have to do what they are telling you to do.

18 comments:

Fen said...

A key factor for #2 that he omits is how the Florida/Michigan issue is resolved. Obama played by the rules and stayed off the ballot, Hillary didn't. If those votes become relevant and Obama's voters are cheated by some Clintonian mischief...

peter hoh said...

I was 18 and politically aware in 1980. I don't think that the Kennedy-Carter rift had much to do with Carter's losing the general election.

In 1980 and in 1984, the Democrats went with the "inevitable" candidate and lost. A decent primary fight that results in an upstart overtaking the "inevitable" candidate seems healthy to me.

The length of this fight helps Obama. Had he taken Iowa and New Hampshire and continued to run the table, the lightweight charge would stick. Running a successful campaign against the Clinton machine makes him a giant killer.

peter hoh said...

Fen's point is a good one. If Clinton wins because the rules get changed, expect a major backlash.

Roger said...

Agree with most of Balz's post--re the Huckster and VP--Huck got into the Arkansas governorship by being LT GOV when the incumbent resigned. Prior experience and all of that...

Paddy O. said...

I think Huckabee keeps going because he represents himself, while putting on the act of representing others who feel alienated.

The more I watch him the more I see him as very, very much like the Clintons, however with more grounding that has kept him more under control, and without near the intelligence of Bill.

He is ego-driven. But, a lot of churches thrive on that, and so it's hard to tell.

Obama has a lot of this too, only he is soooooooo much better at it, and because he has risen outside the church ranks in this style he's not bearing the weight of habits that alienate those outside the usual audience.

Sloanasaurus said...

I think Obama will ride his momentum from victories this week through Ohio and Texas. I agree with some of the pundits that say Hillary's new Rudy strategy will fail. That being said, Obama will still need side switchers to win enough delegates.

Future predictions:

The fund raising gap will close considerably between Dems and Republicans. Obama probably does not have Clinton's savy at raising funds and Obama will have to compete with fund raising from the middle. He will start to fall short as the campaign wears on. Moreover, many republican donors have not given because of the diluted primary season.

Henry said...

5) Does a Long Democratic Contest Help McCain?...

6) Will McCain Prove He Can Win Over Conservatives?...


I think items these are related. The longer the Democratic contest, the less everyone even thinks about McCain. This will give conservatives time to subconsciously process their anger and dismay. I'm totally serious. What sticks in the craw in February will be digested by June.

Having the media focus on the Democratic alternatives to McCain will just work this process along.

Hoosier Daddy said...

A key factor for #2 that he omits is how the Florida/Michigan issue is resolved. Obama played by the rules and stayed off the ballot, Hillary didn't. If those votes become relevant and Obama's voters are cheated by some Clintonian mischief...

Which would be absolutely karmic in light of the cries of the 'stolen election in 2000'.

Although I'm certain they'd find someway to blame Bush or Cheney for it. Or Global Warming.

MadisonMan said...

Obama probably does not have Clinton's savvy at raising funds

And yet he's out-fundraising her. Odd.

Sloanasaurus said...

Which would be absolutely karmic in light of the cries of the 'stolen election in 2000'.

Hoosier is right. The Democratic cry especially among the african america community is to count all the votes. How ironic if Obama argues that we need to suddenly play by the rules.

Middle Class Guy said...

Regarding 1980- people can blame the Kennedy-Carter rift or the Reagan Revolution; the election was won by Reagan because a chimp could have run against Carter or Kennedy and won that year. People were that disgusted.

This year may be a repeat. It is why Obama and Huckabee are popular. People are disgusted with business as usual and legacy candidates. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties failed their constituents.

Obama hit the mark with his change campaign. People want change and they will nominate and vote for the candidate that provides that perception. It is perception that is more pwoerful than reality.

rcocean said...

Don't worry about the conservatives suppressing their anger about McCain - they ALWAYS fall in line & support the leader. By September they'll be cheerleading for McCain as if McAmnesty and "Gang of 14" never happened.

Same with McCain's Veep. As long as McCain picks a V-P is to the right of Ted Kennedy, they'll accept him/her. Except maybe for Coulter & Rush.

Fen said...

Hardly, RC. I despise McCain, left the party over his amnesty sham, but will hold my nose and vote for the Democrat-Republican because the other choices are worse.

My litmus test is Immigration Reform and Foreign Policy. And since the latter trumps the former, McCain is the only candidate who's at least half right.

Wretchard of Belmont Club sums Obama up best:

"Although conventional wisdom sees Barack Obama as the future, I think he represents the past, even if he becomes President. He'll take the Fifth on every one of the key controversies the world struggles with today. Not because he's stupid but because his constituency won't let him face the issues.

They've elected him to make it all go away. Wave the wand. Show his face and work his magic. That's why most of his speeches are conjury. He'll try manfully to do it. And if anyone can work roll back history with spells, he's the man. But the last phrase Barack Obama will ever utter is the only phrase that matters: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

What we are more likely to hear from Barack -- because that's what his constituency wants to hear -- are words along the lines of we are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe. My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

As for Hillary, I trust her to be a bitter enemy of radical Islam only because she can't loot the US Treasury if she lets Al Queda blow it up.

Howard said...

Clinton as VP? No way, not only is she disliked but keeping her hubby on the sideline is impossible. Nobody anywhere wants Bill back in any kind of power. Obama as VP? Why? He's a young guy who will be a monster factor in '12 and '16. Hillary will lose in '08 and McCain will be dead by '12. I think Obama is a cinch to be prez by '16. Also, VPs don't translate well if the prez sux. Hillary will pick a pal, Obama will pick whomever can insulate him from the "Bradley Effect" and retain the white vote.

Cedarford said...

The problem with normal political analysis is that a cabal has supercharged the Obama campaign after seeing Obama the orator sell the secular snake oil as well as, if not better than Reagan or Hitler.
The DC metro contests are showing Obama by 20 points over Hillary. The media raptures over the crowd's reaction to his vapid feel-goodism. His campaign is swimming in money.

The only thing missing is gushing reports that the lame were made to walk and the cancer patients cured by touching the hem of Obama's suit.

Against that phenomenon, Hillary is the pedestrian old politician that hangs on to a few blocks and occasionally wins where loyalty matters (NY, Cali politics, NH).

If Obama wins pulling away at the end of the Primaries, he will have the momentum, and plurality of the "won" delegates. It will be hard for "The Establishment" to impose their pick of Hillary 1st, Obama VP and defy DEM voters.

If Obama wins, it might even be better to cast the Clintons into the wilderness rather than have one or both using their Clintonista loyalists to shift power to them in an Obama Administration or make other mischief.

Just announce 61-year old Hillary gets Steven's SCOTUS seat, as a peace offering. Let the hardcore Republicans trash her thin legal credentials.

For VP, let Obama pick a solid white guy of true executive experience. Evan Bayh. Biden.

michael farris said...

I don't know where people have been, but Obama has been the front runner for some time.

Clinton did a much more credible job as candidate than I thought she might (esp in debates where she won a lot of grudging respect).
But ... the presidential race has always been about style over substance. There's no way Clinton's sober policy talking points can compete with a vital, very charismatic guy who's a brilliant public speaker.
Barring unforeseen scandals, meltdown or the press turning on him* Obama's the nominee in a walk.

Of course he's still trying to ride his supposed underdog status. But there are only so many endorsements you can get from the establishment and still represent change (to any but the most gullible) and he passed that number some time ago.

I do hope the contest in November doesn't come down to the youth vote. If the past is any predictor, his youthful base will think the job's over by the time he gets nominated and not bother to actually vote in the general election.

*It's inevitable for the press to turn on him sooner or later, I really hope they do it very soon or wait until after the election. The worst case scenario would be between the convention and the election.

Blake said...

The front runner with fewer delegates all the way to the last set of primaries?

Fen said...

The frontrunner with the popular vote, which the Dems feel is more important than the delegate/electoral vote.