Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy Caucus Eve

Tomorrow, when Iowa finally holds the first-in-the-nation contest in the primaries for the 2008 election, and the 5% or so of registered voters from that state (Which means 2~3% of the overall population. Well, actually, Iowa tends to have an above average turnout so call it 3~4%.) will head to their cafeterias and other polling places and, basically, decide the course of the election. Democracy in action!

Which, of course, is to contribute to the general trend and bash the confusing and degenerative caucus system in Iowa that, by dint of going first, has an undue influence on the whole process. I mean, the open primary process we have now is better than the smoke filled rooms at party conventions they replaced but it's not perfect. And, let's not kid ourselves, having only come into existence within the past thirty to forty years, hardly set in stone, either. Here's a good overview from Slate, of all places.

But, whatever, it's the system we have and, as those of us in Michigan are all too aware, the entrenched power structures will only attempt to crush any efforts at breaking it or coming up with an alternative. Or maybe I'm just pissed after having to weather the storm of Romney commercials that have blanketed my bowl watching like the sudden winter squalls have blanketed my drive.

It's not like Iowa decides the race so much as defines it. Especially in the current hyper-compressed schedule. But, essentially, a candidate who wins early has enormous advantages going forward.

As for my predictions? Well, I'm not so bold as to make any definite ones. This year promises to be...weird. I don't have any real dogs in the fight, either. Like most Goldberg fascists, I'm going to be happy with just about anyone who gets elected on the Dem side. Or at least not horribly and irrevocably depressed which amounts to the same thing when dealing with politics.

I have problems with candidates like Clinton and Richardson but then I look at the other side of the aisle and they have my full support if only to prevent another Republican disaster at the helm of the ship of state. At the moment, I'm leaning towards Edwards for reasons I couldn't really put my finger on. Mostly, I think, they have to do with the way Obama's been campaigning lately (And, to a lesser extent, the sad realization that Dodd is a non-starter). I understand the strategy but I don't like how he's veered from the left in a transparent effort to pick up right leaning independents and wavering conservatives by appropriating their talking points.

I think, though, what's going to happen is that after Iowa the field is going to narrow. There's going to be the Clinton side and the anti-Clinton vote will coalesce around the most viable candidate. If Clinton wins, that's likely Obama. If not, (And, remember, in an early primary it's not so much who captures the vote as who surpasses expectations and gets the media push.) it's whoever has the stronger showing, Edwards or Obama.

On the Republican side of things, I just have this feeling that Huckabee's going to take it. If only because he's the candidate who scares the crap out of the secular northerner that is me. I think it's going to be close, but the other candidates seem to be fading. Although the establishment backlash against Huckabee seems to have started, I don't think it's enough. Yet. There's no "scream" despite the best attempts, on both sides, to create one.

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