Monday, November 26, 2007

So, Who's Going to be President?

I've stayed away from politics for a while (ever since I realized that my entry on Philip Murphy's blogroll halfway around the world read "Coach GOP Sal"), but it seems that with primary season bearing down on us, it's time for a little prognostication. Now, I teach US History and Civics for a living, so, while not an "expert" pundit, I like to think I at least understand the process in a little context. Let's get one thing out of the way--Hillary Clinton WILL be the Democrat nominee. I like Obama better, and one poll shows him leading (but within the margin of error) in Iowa, and he's got Oprah on his side. But Hillary leads by too much in too many places to not have the delegates she needs by convention time. Period. On the GOP side, only two men have plausible paths to the nomination: Romney and Giuliani. Right now in Republican circles, it's Rudy vs. everybody else--but Romney leads the pack to become the "anti-Rudy." And since Romney has the capacity to win or finish high in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, and SC, it's quite possible that he could be in a position to be the only serious non-Rudy candidate on Super Tuesday. Even if Thompson or Huckabee (or even McCain) catch fire early, none of them have the resources to simultaneously campaign in all the Feb 5 primaries. At that point, it comes down to whether social conservatives (read: pro-lifers) hold their nose and believe (a) Romney's recent conversion to conservatism or (b) Rudy's pledge to appoint only strict constructionist judges. And more importantly, to which one looks more electable compared to Hillary. My best guess is it will wind up being Romney, but I admit to that being a complete hunch. Whichever it is, neither puts enough blue states in play to make a big dent in Hillary's electoral base, so we're looking at another very close election. I keep thinking, though (and this is only based on anecdotal evidence from a couple of my lib friends, so it's not quite scientific), that there is some segment, even of the blue-state population, who just won't vote rather than vote for Hillary (some on Bill issues, some on honesty, some because of her vote for the war). That's combined with the 40%+ of voters who hate her guts. One poll even showed Ron Paul getting 48% against her! So her negatives make it interesting. In the end, though, one thing's for sure. Our next president will be a shrewd politician from a blue state who is at odds with some portion of his or her party's base, in a tight one. And (for now) that's all I'm gonna predict.


mbellison said...

I think you're wrong on both counts. I think if Obama wins Iowa, he wins the nomination. He has plenty of resources to go all the way through and support is still incredibly soft. Remember in 2004 when Kerry won Iowa and then there was a 20 point swing in New Hampshire over night. Hillary's campaign is all about inevitability, and if she loses Iowa, I think she's done. Even if she can win New Hampshire, I think Obama will be able to get her in SC when black voters see that an Obama presidency is a real possibility.

On the Republican side, I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict that Huckabee will win. He is surging in Iowa, and I think he will overtake Romney and win. If he wins, he will raise tens of millions of dollars in the week after the caucuses and have all of the buzz going into New Hampshire. Even if he is a close second, it will be seen as a loss for Romney who has been way up in Iowa for so long with so much more money. I think Romney can still win New Hampshire unless he is beaten badly in Iowa, but if Huckabee can get top 3 (McCain might get 2nd), Huckabee's still in the game. Meanwhile, even though Giuliani may be ahead in the polls for the February 5th primaries now, momentum changes minds. The calendar is terrible for him. If he doesn't win Iowa, New Hampshire, or SC (and I don't think he will win any of them), he's in real trouble. And I think once Huckabee does well early, Christian conservatives will flock to him when they see he's viable. And that will be huge in South Carolina.

So my prediction is Obama/Biden versus Huckabee/I would say Jeb Bush if his name wasn't Bush. And I think Obama wins.

Philip Murphy said...

Dude, don't sweat the tag. I'll change it to Coach Dem Sal... which actually has a better ring to it.

Isn't it crazy that it's been 50 years (or so) since neither a Prez nor the V.P. has been on the ticket?

Coach Sal said...

Phillip, no sweat at all. But don't call me a Democrat. I may wear the GOP label a little uneasily, but the other makes me itch.

Coach Sal said...

Matthew, you could be right--but if I had to pick only half, I'd go with the Dem side. Obama MIGHT could win if he could ding up the aura of inevitability, and if (a BIG if) he could actually beat Hillary among SC black voters. And I like the idea of Obama/Biden (like it FAR better than Clinton/anybody). But Huck? Not gonna happen. Republicans don't fall in love, we fall in line. And despite the Iowa buzz, the serious conservative pundits can't stand Huck. He's great on social issues, but he's fiscally weak and a lightweight on national security. Sadly, having Chuck Norris on your side only makes you invincible on Hallmark Channel reruns of "Walker, Texas Ranger." I do think that a vote for Huckabee or Thompson is a de facto vote for Rudy, and a McCain vote is de facto Romney. Sorry I missed you last week. Hope you had a good break.

Goode Design said...

If I woke up and found out I was a democrat, i'd shoot myself... if i could find a gun.

(yes, i'm a raving capitalist conservative) though, i agree w/ sal... GOP isn't quite fitting very well either.

bekster said...

I've probably said this before, but I think it's a real shame that Hilary is a Democrat. She seems the type to actually get things done, so I think she'd make a great president if I didn't disagree with her on just about everything.

As far as who is going to win, I really don't know, but it seems to me that whoever it is will be someone I don't like. Voting will come down to picking the lesser of the evils. Even the "best" people have significant faults, even if their fault is simply that no one takes them seriously enough to vote for them. It saddens me that we end up having to strategize about how to vote so that we can beat someone we really don't like instead of voting for who we really think would make the better president. But, that's politics...

Just out of curiosity, Larry, how does our country's bi-partisan make-up now (being so polarized, etc.) compare to how things have been throughout history? Was voting always so tricky, or is it worse now?

Coach Sal said...

Well, Becky, the last few elections have been interesting because the country has been so evenly divided, and also because the divisons break down so neatly into the red state-blue state dichotomy that we have come to know so well since 2000. But our two-party system pretty much guarantees they'll all be reasonably close. About 40% of people always vote Democrat, and bout 40% always vote Republican. That leaves only 20% "in play" to make the difference. So even our biggest landslides have only been roughly 60-40, and there have been lots and lots of 50+ to 40+ elections. And of course, our electoral college (about which I may post sometime later on--a work of Madisonian GENIUS, in my estimation) has allowed for the candidate with less popular votes but broader support across more states to win a total of 4 times. As for partisanship, it's bad now, but it's not like it was all roses back in the day. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a pistol duel, Jefferson was called a godless heathen, and Grover Cleveland was taunted with ditties about his illegitimate child (and won, because the other guy was even worse).

I'm interested in what you said about Hillary--that she would "make a great president" because she can "get things done." Now, it's a stretch, and I'm not saying that Hillary is a Hitler. But Hitler definitely "got things done." In the end, being calculating, ruthless, efficient, unpredictable, amoral--all of those can help you "get things done." Nixon was like that, in many ways. But in the end, the question in my mind always must be, "WHAT things are going to 'get done?'" If you're going the wrong direction, getting there faster and more efficiently is not an improvement.

That said, I, like you, wish we could just vote for whoever would make the best president. In my voting lifetime, I have yet to vote FOR a candidate. I have voted AGAINST some doozies. This year's GOP field is especially frustrating, because the ones with the most faults are also (in my mind) the only ones who can possibly win. I still want to morph together the best pieces of Giuliani and Huckabee. Of course, my buddy Matthew would gladly take what I consider the spare parts and make a guy who was proto-liberal. And therein lies the rub. No matter who wins, folks like me are only going to get half a loaf, at best.

Goode Design said...

This is going to just sound plain sexist... i'll try. but i'm not sure how well i'll do. To paraphrase what Becky said:

"I've probably said this before, but I think it's a real shame that Hilary is [an idiot]. She seems the type to actually get things [wrong], so I think she'd make a great [slave driver] if I didn't disagree with her on just about everything."

I'd love to see a JC Watts + Bill Cosby ticket... ok, won't happen.

Goode Design said...

oh, left off the sexist part. She needs to act more like a woman and less like a man. I'm not against strong women... but she is a disgrace to femininity.

bekster said...

Let me explain a little more about the Hilary thing. I really don't know much about her politically (i.e. her performance as a senator, etc.), so what I "know" is what has been presented to me through the media. I have been impressed by how her people have marketed her (impressed by their means of presenting, NOT by the content of what they were presenting). For instance, she has asked questions through Yahoo! to get suggestions for how to deal with certain issues. I have no idea whether she actually USES these suggestions, but the fact that she is asking--and on the Internet, no less--is something that would certainly appeal to the younger generation, which seems to be her target market (like Hitler). It may be somewhat underhanded to get 'em when they're young and brainwash 'em, but from a marketing standpoint, I'd have to say that's pretty smart.

As for the feminist thing, let me say first that I COMPLETELY disagree with the whole feminist ideology. In my opinion, feminists make females everywhere look bad. However, within her feminist circle, Hilary is the epitome of feminist perfection. To a certain type of female, I can see how her life would be very inspiring, especially if she does become the president. She comes off as a very strong-willed person who will do whatever it takes to do what she believes is right, even though we may not agree on what "right" is. Her goals are most definitely NOT my goals, but I have to respect her on some level for her determination to accomplish those goals, as misguided as they are. I respect her like I respect Madonna; Madonna is VERY talented and there are some of her songs that I just love, although I'm sure she is the great harlot of Babylon.

So, I still say that I think Hilary could be a very capable president, but, you're right--capable of WHAT? It is very possible that she could do a lot of "damage" to our country, in the sense that she would be accomplishing things completely counter to our ideals (I'm speaking to the conservatives here). She could bring in some very left wing supreme court justices. She would have a whole lot of power, and I'm confident that she would take full advantage of that power.

And that's why I say again, it's a darn shame that Hilary isn't a Republican. That same kind of ruthless determination in a conservative would be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, the nature of conservatism dictates that we don't like change, so it's very unlikely that any truly conservative candidate would be such a driving force. It goes back to the whole bumper sticker issue. We feel very strongly that abortion is wrong, but not strong enough to get sticky goo on our cars.