Monday, January 21, 2008

Nomination Countdown- 1/21/08

At the beginning of 2007, I began posting weekly Presidential Power rankings. As I look back to what the standings were a year ago, the top two contenders for the Democrats have remained very constant throughout and while the Republican rankings have been shaken up many times, with a variety of candidates in the top two spots, it does seem like we are settling into a John McCain vs. Mitt Romney contest as the "final two" GOP contenders for the nomination.

Next week, I will go into more detail for the Republicans, in advance of the crucial Florida primary which will be held a week from tomorrow. Suffice it to say though that since the last edition of "Nomination Countdown", Mitt Romney scored a huge win by a comfortable victory in Michigan, which effectively kept his campaign alive. That was followed on Saturday by an easy, but expected win in the Nevada Caucuses. Romney continues to have far more delegates than any other GOP candidate, more money to spend, and a variety of other factors that could have resembeling a potential Republican frontrunner as much as anyone else. Things certainly look a lot brighter for Romney and his supporters, such as myself, compared to how they did immediately after his back to back second place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

John McCain and his supporters have much to smile about as well. While the loss in Michigan was a setback, and seeing Ron Paul win the Silver Medal in the Silver State was a bit of an embarassment, McCain's victory in the South Carolina primary later on Saturday night was an important boost to his campaign, and one that has many others believing that McCain is the "front-runner-ish." Had McCain lost South Carolina to Mike Huckabee, his campaign might be once again considered to be in a state of implosion. He did manage to win the state by three points though and earned the right to move on to the Sunshine State in a strong position, but with high expectations.

While Fred Thompson managed to narrowly edge out Mitt Romney for third place, (after Romney considerably drew down his South Carolina efforts), that distant showing will not be anywhere good enough for him to continue with any sort of realistic possibility. The rumors of a Thompson withdrawal are everywhere and if he does not drop out, most believe it will be because he would be strategically staying in the race in order to help McCain.

As for Huckabee, since he won Iowa, with the strong support of Evangelicals, he has underperformed expectations in every contest. While he came close to winning South Carolina on Saturday, the fact that he failed to do so, should probably be a serious blow to what was once the "Huckaboom." The former Arkansas Governor won the Evangelical vote, but only with 40 percent of it. Among non-Evangelicals, his showings in all contests, including South Carolina have been very anemic. If Huckabee is unable to win South Carolina, it is tough to see where else he might be able to win outside his home state of Arkansas. While Huckabee is moving on to Florida, it might take a miracle to avoid a fourth place finish there. Many observers also believe that Huckabee is intending to stay in the race in order to help McCain fight off Romney and that he hopes to find a spot on the McCain ticket.

Again, a lot more on Florida next week, but as of today, it is shaping up to be a three way race between McCain, Romney, and Rudy Giuliani, who for weeks have been staking his entire campaign on Florida. Much of Giuliani's former support nationwide, and in Florida, appears to be moving heavily towards McCain, but the former New York City Mayor may also serve to split the South Florida vote and the voters of moderate Republicans, which could allow Romney to focus on the northern and central parts of the state and among more conservative voters. While a Thompson withdrawal may be accompanied by an endorsement of his old Senate buddy McCain, Romney might be the candidate who would get a larger share of the former Thompson supporters.

As for the Democrats, they just held a brutal debate tonight in South Carolina in advance of Saturday's primary in that state, which was quite personal at times and puts into question last week's supposed "truce" between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In the past week, we have learned that the flickering hopes of John Edwards are now almost entirely extinguished, and the once sky-high optimism of the Obama campaign has to be seriously tempered by the fact that he lost the Nevada caucuses to Hillary Clinton, despite having the endorsement of the influential Culinary Union. Obama supporters point to the fact that based on some calculations, they may have actually won more delegates in Nevada than Clinton, the headlines in the papers nationwide all stated that Hillary was the winner of the state.

Michigan (where Clinton won, as the only major candidate on the ballot, albeit in underwhelming fashion) and Nevada have been the first two states for Democrats where substantial minority populations have voted. Based on those results, Clinton is having some serious problems with the African-American vote, while her black opponent, is likely to struggle among Latino voters, which is the main reason why he lost Nevada. A serious black-brown rift appears to be forming among the top two contenders which might have long-term negative implications for Obama moving into Super Tuesday.

Before that though comes South Carolina, and based on the fact that at least half of the Democrat electorate of the Palmetto State is expected to be African-American, Obama should be able to get another win out of that state. If he were to fail, the race is o.v.e.r., and Hillary can begin fielding applications for her running mate.

While Obama should win this weekend, he might be in the process of being lured into a somewhat unwinnable political pissing match with Bill Clinton across the state, as Hillary will spend the next few days elsewhere. The former President remains very popular with African-Americans and the Clinton campaign might have succeeded in getting Obama, the rookie on the national stage, into a fight with a surrogate, instead of with the candidate herself.

Based on the debate tonight, I think Obama had a pretty rough go of it, and was interestingly enough, often double teamed by both Clinton and Edwards. Obama and Clinton clearly dislike each other and that was very obvious tonight. I sort of think though that the fact that Obama got angry at a woman opponent is not something that is going to work to his benefit. Just ask Rick Lazio.


At 1:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


This MDefl. I wrote a post yesterday detailing why I think Romney is the front-runner for the GOP. Considering how often I have been wrong already, that should cause you concern.

I totally agree with McCain and Giuliani splitting the vote. McCain taking SC was the best occurrence for Romney

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Brandon Rosty said...

Romney suffered an embarrassing role by spening more time and money than Huckabee and McCain and came in 4th, and you write it off like it was nothing. it was a blow and the first time he can't claim an olympic medal

At 1:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like Romney might, MIGHT win in Florida based on late polls. If he does, he would be in pretty strong position. If McCain wins, it would do the same for him, only moreso. I also agree that Rudy and Huck have been pushed to the margins. Unless Rudy wins by more more than 5 (very unlikely), there's no way he can claim much from FL.

You're right, Obama needs to win in SC to remain in the race. As an Obama supporter, I've become disgusted and fatigued by the Clinton attacks, which is obviously how Obama felt as well. It's just too hard to run against two when you are one. Sadly, I think his path to the nomination became almost impossible after Nevada. He needs an impressive win in SC and a strong 2nd in FL (5 or so points loss, max).

I'll be rooting for McCain on the repub side, since I think he can beat Clinton most easily. I'll take an honest guy I disagree with over the dishonest Clintons any day.

I think both McCain and Romney had a strong debate. Huck did alright, and so did Rudy, but he fell short for sure.


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