Political Update for December, 2007
Has anything happened since I last blogged on this? A little bit. Huckabee has made big strides in Iowa, a state with a population equal to about 1% of the country’s, but for flukish reasons, is given a supersized amount of attention in the presidential race.
I don’t mind Iowa’s caucus (what degree do you need to understand the difference between caucus and primary?) being first in the country. But with less than 3 million people in the entire state (less than the cities of L.A. and N.Y. and only a little bigger than its neighboring city, Chicago), the media way over covers it.
Iowa’s status as first caucus in the nation goes, of course, back to the beginning of the nation’s history. NOT! That’s the silly thing. Iowa’s unique position has existed only since 1972. That’s it. Only something like 125,000 Iowans participated last time.
Despite the media’s intense focus (and consequently, the candidates focus), it’s difficult to say that winning Iowa has a significant impact on a nomination. Of the nine Democratic races since 1972, eight have been opposed, that is, had more than one candidate (it was only Clinton in ’96). Of those eight, the winner of Iowa has been the Democratic nominee only four, i.e., half of the time. That’s not too impressive.
Of the eight Republican caucuses, five have been unopposed and out of those Iowa was right on the nominee three times, or just a little more than half the time.
So, between the two parties, Iowa’s record isn’t too impressive. I guess it means something, but certainly not that much. Losing there didn’t stop a lot of successful nominees and some candidates even skip it or don’t bother to campaign hard there. Both Giuliani, the national front runner, and McCain are not really making much of an effort in Iowa this time around. New Hampshire, home of the first primary has a little better record in its selections since 1952, when it began directly nominating candidates.
Still, no matter what I think, the candidates know they have to work Iowa, if for no other reason, because the media will give them time for doing so. But it hardly seems right to give it such coverage.
The first . . . .
If . . . .
Hillary wins -- she will be the first woman president.
Barak wins -- the first black, the first mixed race, and the first one with a non-Eurpean name
Richardson wins -- the first Hispanic.
McCain wins . . . the third prisoner of war (George Washington was the first in the . . French-Indian War; Andrew Jackson was second).
Giuliani wins -- the first Italian, and the second Catholic (Kennedy). He would also be the first mayor who had not later had a higher office.
Huckabee wins -- the first minister and the second Arkansas governor.
Thompson wins -- the tallest president ever; three inches taller than Lincoln.
Kucinich wins -- the shortest president ever. Just kidding. He’s five seven. Madison was five five. Kucinic just looks incredibly short next to his trophy wife. But he would be the first mayor since 1924.
Romney wins -- the first Mormon and the first born in Michigan.
Edwards wins -- the first one to get only one electoral vote in a previous election (which he got from a “faithless” elector in 2004; Aaron Burr almost pulled it off in 1800 in a different electoral system).
Dodd wins -- the second in a row born in Connecticut (which wouldn’t be as strange as him winning it in the first place – why is he running again?).
Biden wins -- the first born in Delaware and, like Giuliani, the first Catholic.
How bad do you need to lose?
Question. Chris Dodd polled just 11 % in his home state in his very best month, and only 5% last month. In Duncan Hunter’s best month he polled 3.5 % in his home state and only 3% this month. In Biden’s home state, he actually pulled off 19% in October, but that’s less than half of what Hillary polled there. Ron Paul polled only 5% last month in his home state, Texas. Need I go on Mr. Kucinich and Alan Keyes. I want to say it one more time – their home states.
Why are these guys bothering? Perhaps name recognition for the next time around. Good luck guys. Get off the stage, whisper that you are available for the vp slot and let the debates mean at least a little more.
While acknowledging that I was too early for it to mean much, I made my predictions last year. Let’s see how I’m doing (you can check out my December 13, 2006 post for the full article).
For the Republican nomination I picked John McCain, who I rated THE BEST CHANCE TO WIN THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION DESPITE GIULIANI'S GENERAL POPULARITY and I’ve stuck with my pick despite the fact that he has been trounced handily in most polls. However, it shouldn’t escape notice that in the match up polls, he has a better chance of beating Hillary than the poll leader, Giuliani, or anyone else. If Republicans want to have the next president, and not just vote for their personal favorites, they will pay attention to that (probably won’t).
I rated Giuliani THE BEST CHANCE OUT OF ANY REPUBLICAN EXCEPT MCCAIN and Romney a DON’T RULE HIM OUT. Huckabee I actually gave a long shot too if McCain and Giuliani self destructed (with a little self praise, that was well before he was doing so well in Iowa).
There is no telling who will be picked as a VP candidate this early, but I suggested that Huckabee, who has surged to the lead in Iowa, and, Duncan Hunter both have the conservative credentials to make a good choice. I also suggested that Michael Steele of Maryland (who lost a senate race last time) would be an excellent choice. We won’t know this until the convention.
Among the Democrats I picked Hillary and gave Obama the best chance to beat her. I didn’t believe anyone else had a real chance, but thought Bill Richardson might get the nod as VP.
So what do the candidates have to do to make me look even a little prophetic. Well, frankly, if Hillary wins, it won’t be that impressive as she has a wide lead throughout the country’s polls despite an effort by right wing media to suggest she is spiraling down. But a McCain win would be out of the blue right now. He is not going to do well in Iowa. But if he surprises in New Hampshire he has an excellent shot. Even a second place finish there will give him some momentum. I can’t brag about my VP selections really, unless Michael Steele is picked, as the rest of my suggestions (Huckabee, Hunter and Richardson) have been widely promoted as possibilities.
February 5th is the real date. 20 states, including New York and California have their primaries. We don’t know yet how this will play out and I can’t say I have a strong feeling one way or the other. We might have one or more candidates selected at the beginning of the election year. But it is also possible we will see one or more convention fights too. Frankly, I hope so. I have predicted that Edwards will drop out after the 2/5 super-primary, and I stick with that as well. I expect the Republican field will also greatly thin out, if not after New Hampshire.
To vote or not too vote – that is the question
Leaving aside predictions, I wonder if I will vote for president at all. It is not a stretch to imagine Giuliani or Romney against Clinton or Obama. That would leave me with little desire to go to the polls.
Is it wrong not to vote? No, not really; not when our two party system gives us a system where the candidates are so beholden to their base and the campaign funding they desperately need. I am still smarting over my last two votes, the first in which I reluctantly chose Gore and the second in which I reluctantly chose Bush over Kerry. No matter what I did, there was no good ending. It was lose-lose. Do we really need to do that?
What would keep me from voting for a Republican (other than McCain, who has already disappointed me somewhat)? The thought that they will have an opportunity to swing the Supreme Court bench even further right and that they will keep us stuck in Iraq to the last dollar of our treasury. What would keep me from voting for a Democrat? The thought that they will willy nilly remove our troops from Iraq without thought to the safety of our troops and the Iraqi population and that they will together with the Democratic congress embark on a socialistic and possibly financially ruinous program.
Like I said – there are no good choices.
Has anyone else noticed that Michelle Obama is the best speaker on the stump today including all of the presidential candidates? If not for the fact that she is praising her own husband, she makes you want to vote for him. I heard her speak to a group in Iowa, and she held my attention for roughly a half hour. I can’t think of one candidate who can do the same. Unfortunately, I heard her husband speak last week, and do not want to vote for him, although I have even heard conservatives say they like him (but maybe because they think they can beat them). I also heard Bill Clinton speak and there are few better than him. She was.
Ron Paul has to be the most popular candidate ever who can’t get near 10%. Every call in show I listen to has callers who are going to, or, wish they could vote for him. It will not matter, but he might surprise everyone in Iowa with his strong finish. Still, without a strong organization, which he has little interest in, he cannot win.
What is the attraction? Many of those who like him do not know the degree to which he takes his strict construction approach to the constitution. It is his purity, sincerity and genuine humbleness that makes him so attractive.
Has anyone solved the mystery of how Alan Keyes got into the last Republican debate? I am betting he doesn’t get on the stage again. I know he’s a true believer, but there is a deep end out there somewhere waiting for him to fall in.
One legal note. I was troubled by a recent court of appeals case which held it okay for the government to do unscheduled complete searches of the homes of welfare recipients. While it is not unusual for courts to give greater leeway to administrative searches (e.g., a fire marshall seeking to find the cause of a fire can at least do any unimpeded first search) but this is ridiculous. Once they can use receipt of entitlements to justify going through your underwear draw, they are a step away from using your driver's license to go through your car.
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .