Thursday, January 3, 2008

I Can't Watch This Crap Anymore

Has Chris Mathews been proven to lower sperm counts yet? Or is it just me? In any event, after a few solid hours of flipping I am out. The networks have apparently called the race on the Republican side - where it's a lot easier since it's a straw poll. On the Democratic side, the procedure is more complicated as you get to switch your vote so it promises to stretch on for a while since it's a three way heat between the three front runners.

At the moment, though, Obama is starting to pull ahead of the pack and that's, basically, how I expect it to go from here. He'll finish with a win total in the mid to high 30s while Edwards and Clinton will be in the low 30s. The thing I'm going to look at in the morning paper is how Clinton does. If she finishes in third, where I expect her to, how close is the margin? If she's not far back she heads into New Hampshire where she has a lot of institutional advantages and, with a strong showing there, sets up a "come back kid" narrative which might propel her the rest of the way. On the other hand, if she finishes weakly, a distant third, that could be a sign that she's fading and her aura of inevitability, one of the chief arguments in her favor (Albeit, not with me), has been shattered. A strong turnout by the right sort of voter in New Hampshire and Obama could take it or show strongly enough that he inflicts a crippling wound on Clinton. Unless Edwards can turn things around, then, he's effectively out of the race.

On the other side fo the ledger, Iowans have apparently chosen the McGovern gambit[1], breaking for Huckabee. This means that whoever wins New Hampshire (Which, with its lack of fundie voters, is a non-starter for Huckabee.) becomes the anti-Huckabee vote. Huckabee, after all, won Iowa with only thirty-some percent of the vote. That means two-thirds of voters in a conservative, lily-white state where evangelicals reportedly turned out in droves didn't vote for him. I'm not sure he has as easy a time picking up those votes as someone else does of winning them over to their own side. At the moment, it seems like the press and the pundits have nominated McCain.

But the New Hampshire vote could also go for transplanted New Englander Romney although I think Iowa was the final stake through his campaign. Or for the moribund Thompson who finished a distant third and, actually, ahead of McCain (I, like a lot of others, wrote him off what with the money troubles and his problems with the "fear of a brown planet" crowd but he's the respectable, mainstream choice and the press loves him so that might have been hasty. He actually is probably the strongest candidate in a general election so this is not exactly a good thing.). That candidate picks up steam in Michigan (Which also lacks a strong fundamentalist vote, thank goodness, as you know, I kinda live there.) or Huckabee does with his populist approach appealing to a region in dire economic straights (That, by the way, is the basic pitch in all the Romney ads which are blanketing the airwaves even now. "Vote for me, things are bad, I ran a successful business/olympics/state, I can make them better". And the news of yet another round of layoffs at Chrysler only helps to drive that message home. But, I think, like Huckabee says people would rather vote for the person who's like the people they work with rather than the person who's like the one who laid them off.). Either way, it sets up an apocalyptic showdown in South Carolina, (Which promises to be a bloodbath, just like 2000) and whoever walks away with that becomes the prohibitive frontrunner and walks away with the rest of the race. That means it's over by Florida and, so, Giuliani probably doesn't matter.

Paul looks to be coming in behind McCain, by the way, so a decent showing but probably not enough to vault him into the second tier. Once the field narrows, though, and it comes down to Huckabee and anybody but, that might make him extremely influential.

[1] - Ie doubling down and playing to their base. That sound you hear is the conservative coalition breaking apart. Like a glacier. Slow and inevitable.

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