Friday, January 04, 2008

From Iowa to New Hampshire

This really isn't supposed to be a purely political blog, but it's hard not to be one this month, as it will later this election year. Next week we get back to normal. In the meantime --

The Iowa caucuses actually followed the polls relatively closely. My predictions were all wrong. I called Romney for the Republicans and he only took second. I called Clinton for the Democrats, who lost out on second place by a half percentage point to Edwards. The best I can say is neither were land slides.

Having seen the polls for the caucuses so far off in the past, I thought that a strong machine on the ground (as Romney showed he had in the straw poll this summer and the Clintons always seem to have) would be the key. The voters surprised me. Although neither Obama’s or Huckabee's victory was not overwhelming for a caucus, they both were national underdogs who won their first true battle.

A New York Times poll showed that the very large turnout was made up of a majority of first time caucus goers. This may be attributable to Obama’s and Huckabee’s somewhat sunny messages. The poll also showed that the voters were much more interested in change than in experience by a large measure. This too may not be a result of anything Obama or Huckabee did, but dissatisfaction with the current administration.

Traditionally, Iowa winners get a bump up in NH polls which dissipate in a few weeks. But there are only five days between Iowa and NH this year. So, arguably, at least Obama may go in to the primary leading, although he trails Clinton right now. Huckabee seems too far behind McCain and Romney to take the lead.

However, given the irrational game of exceeding expectations voters and the media seem to play, McCain’s relatively strong finish in Iowa (13%) exceeded expectations even though he was way behind Romney (27%). Thus, he is probably right to look at it as added momentum going into N.H.

Edwards beating out Clinton by a heart beat in Iowa for second place does not mean much to me. I still think he will be gone after the Feb. 5 super primary. He will not win in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. What worked for him in Iowa, practically making it his home state for the last few years, is not going to give him the same benefit in South Carolina where he polls less than half than Clinton and Obama do (they are virtually in a dead heat) or in New Hampshire where he is far behind Obama who is himself substantially, although not catastrophically, behind Clinton (which, again, may change with the Iowa victory boost).

Speaking of S. Carolina (Jan. 19 Republican primary), it is often given short shrift by the media although it proved quite lethal to McCain in the 2000 Republican primary. There Huckabee, a Southerner, leads in the polls over Romney with Thompson, McCain and Giuliani grouped closely together far behind them. South Carolina may become a rubber match for Obama and Clinton, although none of it may matter on Feb. 5. I have never predicted certain nomination for Clinton, although she is so far ahead in the national polls that this victory in Iowa is Obama’s big and probably only chance to steamroll.

We have to wait and see what happens this week, but I am thinking McCain and Clinton in New Hampshire. Despite her loss in Iowa, I suspect she may also be on her way to the nomination, but haven’t made up my mind. I have not changed my position at all as to vice presidential hopefuls.

I am hopeful that Giuliani’s strategy of waiting out the early small states for Florida on Jan. 29th, and New York and California on 2/5 will be a mistake. It might already be too late for him as the national polls show that his strong lead has evaporated. Ironically, while the right wing media was trumpeting Hillary’s fall in the polls, they seem to haved missed Giuliani’s more significant tumble. Could it be that the right wing doesn’t like the Clintons? Nah.

Can I say something about Mike Huckabee? I saw him over a year ago talking to a small group in New Hampshire. He is as warm and folksy now as he was then. I can think about voting for him. Plus, I admit, I am part of that middle aged male Chuck Norris worhipping group that watches Walker Texas Ranger at 3 in the morning. I wouldn’t vote for Huck because Chuck Norris campaigns for him, but I will watch his rallies because of it. Chuck is my Oprah. But do we really want another president who is learning foreign policy on the job? It didn’t seem to go well this last time round.

Can I say a little more about John McCain? Here are the results of the latest McCain v. Clinton head to head polls and then Giuliani v. Clinton (source Real Clear Politics – winner in bold):

Rasmussen 12/19-20 McCain 49 Clinton 43
FOX News 12/18-19 McCain 47 Clinton 42
Zogby 12/12-14 McCain 49 Clinton 42
CNN 12/06-09 McCain 50 Clinton 48

Rasmussen 12/17-18 Giuliani 45 Clinton 44
NBC/WSJ 12/14-17 Giuliani 43 Clinton 46
USA/Gallup 12/14-16 Giuliani 48 Clinton 49
Zogby 12/12-14 Giuliani 46 Clinton 42
Battlegrnd 12/9-12 Giuliani 44 Clinton 50
CNN 12/06-09 Giuliani 45 Clinton 51

Doesn’t that tell the Republican voters all they need to know. Additionally, the McCain v. Obama polls are dead even but Giuliani has lost in every head to head poll to Obama this month.

Get it, Republicans?

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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 . . . .