Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Presidential Power Rankings # 52

December 26, 2007

Now that it is the last week of 2007, this is the final edition of the Presidential Power Rankings. Very soon, all the also rans and speculative candidates who never got into the race will fade into the footnotes of political history as both parties are now extremely close to choosing nominees. I will plan to on every Wednesday until the nominees are decided (be that February 6th or all the way to the very unlikely prospect of brokered conventions) write a few paragraphs or so about where things stand in the primaries and the states that are about to vote.

But for now, for the last time:


1. Hillary Clinton (1)
2. Barack Obama (2)
3. John Edwards (3)
4. Bill Richardson (4)
5. Joe Biden (5)
6. Chris Dodd (6)
7. Al Gore (7)
8. Dennis Kucinich (8)
9. Mike Gravel (9)

Look for full Iowa predictions to appear next week, but conventional wisdom is that it will be a three way battle for the top spot as well as some intrigue into whetehr Biden can beat Richardson for fourth and if Kucinich can beat Dodd for sixth in the Hawkeye State.

But as for what really matters, polls have been somewhat all over the place between Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, but if the New York Senator manages to place first in Iowa, no matter how narrow the outcome, it could be that the nomination is effectively sealed for her right then and there.

If Obama manages to come in first (especially if Hillary Clinton is third), her path to the nomination will get a good deal more difficult and she will be in deseperate need for a quick rebound in New Hampshire. Interestingly enough, an Obama victory over Clinton in Iowa, which would make the First in the Nation New Hampshire Primary that much more important could be bad news for at least one Republican candidate, as independent leaning voters in the Granite State will be far more likely to pull a Democrat ballot.


1. Mitt Romney (1)
2. John McCain (4)
3. Rudy Giuliani (2)
4. Mike Huckabee (3)
5. Fred Thompson (5)
6. Ron Paul (6)
7. Duncan Hunter (8)
8. Alan Keyes (9)
9. John Cox (10)

Some major changes on the GOP side in this final edition, the least of which being the cutting down of the list to nine names, now that longshot Tom Tancredo has withdrawn from the race and has endorsed Mitt Romney.

National polls, as well as those in New Hampshire, where he won the state eight years ago, and even Iowa, where he is not campaigning heavily, all point to a John McCain surge. Over the summer, his campaign was put on a death watch and just about everyone was speculating that he was likely to withdraw from the race before too long. Now, the royalistic tendencies of the Republican Party as it relates to the "next guy in line" is starting to perhaps kick in and now that Rudy Giuliani's campaign is starting to resemble a Howard Dean like fizzle and rank and file Republicans are spooked at the potential of a Huckabee nomination, McCain has a very real possibility of being the the John Kerry figure of the GOP four years later, as the responsible alternative.

Still though, McCain is far weaker than my preferred candidate Mitt Romney, in terms of money and organization. Romney remains the only Republican candidate with a realistic shot of winning Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Michigan, and South Carolina. If he manages to do so, he will be the nominee. But if McCain finishes stronger than expected in Iowa, and then wins New Hampshire, he will be the one in the drivers' seat going into the later contests.

Romney can afford a second place finish to Mike Huckabee in Iowa and his campaign may in fact even be anticipating it, as seen by their schedule to resume post-holiday campaigning in New Hampshire instead. But if McCain once again wins New Hampshire, two second place finishes for Team Romney may have them in need of a political miracle. It would behoove the Romney campaign to see Barack Obama be the top Democrat in Iowa. If that happens, as mentioned above, fewer New Hampshire Independents or recent Democrats will choose to pull a GOP ballot, and Romney's strength among Republicans and conservatives in a neighboring state would then likely be enough to pull out the state, which then depending on what happened in Iowa, will either put the former Massachusetts Governor either extremely close to locking up the nomination or on the comeback trail.

As for Rudy Giuliani, who led national polls for much of 2007, his campaign appears to be quickly losing steam, and a recent overnight hospital stay due to a severe headache may not have been the kind of news story they welcomed, to say the least. Still though, while it is very possible that when all is said and done, Huckabee could beat Giuliani in several early states and have more staying power, Giuliani's financial and organizational advantages warrant him finishing the power rankings a spot ahead of Huckabee.

In conclusion, while both may now be underdogs in Iowa, I am ending 2007 with a prediction of a general election contest between Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney for the right to be the 43rd President of the United States.

Presidential politics once the voting begins in earnest, can quickly throw a loop into all that though. It will be fascinating to see what develops in both parties.