"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”

Pericles



Friday, January 18, 2008

Desperately Seeking the Evangelical Vote

There was a time when evangelicals voted as a monolithic, unified bloc (or so the thinking went). This year they've shattered that piece of conventional wisdom. As The Rothenberg Political Report points out the evangelical voters have been as fickle and unpredictable as the wider GOP primary voter this cycle throwing their support to different candidates (and often providing the margin of victory for the winner) in each of the early GOP contests.

When Huckabee won Iowa with 46% of the evangelical vote many pundits assumed they had coalesced behind one of their own. This hasn't been the case. The Huckabee campaign desperately needs these voters - and is counting on them in states like South Carolina.

This must be the thinking behind Huckabee's recent call to re-write the Constitution to incorporate "God's standards."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Is Rudy Really Running?

The Rudy Retreat continues. He skipped Iowa, abandoned New Hampshire, ignored Michigan avoided South Carolina and now is in a polling freefall in Florida. After his 2000 aborted run against Hillary Clinton in New York it makes me wonder, does this guy really want to be president? He's not going to win the nomination by running the calendar with sixth-place finishes.

He has less fight in him than Grandpa Fred.

Did giving up the private sector's consulting millions (estimated $4M in 2007) cause him to rethink his choice?

Think about it - he didn't give up his consulting salary until very recently - and doesn't all this hype about him being the "9-11" National Security candidate make him much more marketable when he decides to return to his lucrative "calling" as a security consultant? Winning the GOP nod would expose Giuliani to increased scrutiny, threatening to reveal the "Emperor Has No Clothes" reality of his security credentials. With most pundits anticipating a GOP general election loss - regardless of the nominee - would lessen Rudy's value. Could it be that this "campaign" is nothing more than a PR effort for Giuliani Partners?

When he interrupted campaigning right before Christmas and was admitted to the hospital with a headache, I thought he was going to drop out, citing health reasons. After all, it's what "America's Mayor" does when the competition heats up - he cuts and runs.

I still wouldn't be surprised by a "Rudy Withdraws Headline" even before Feb 5th.

The Word of the Day: "Chaos"

The Morning After Michigan provides glee for Democrats as we watch the GOP nomination battle sink further into disarray. The national consensus is the race is in chaos.

But Democrats need to be cautious. It would be a strategic blunder to develop a sense of overconfidence this early in the campaign. The year is barely more than two weeks old and we've seen conventional wisdom twisted and turned on its head multiple times already.

One thing we can all be certain of at this point: There is certainly a long way to go. We haven't seen the last time the punditocracy is left cleaning the egg off their collective faces.

One might try to make the case that the Democratic race is as murky and unpredictable as the Republican contest. While the ultimate winner remains a question mark, I don't think "chaos" is an apt description on the Democratic side. There is a lot of a agreement on policy among the candidates. The vitriol we're experiencing right now regarding race and campaign tactics is actually calm (for a Democratic contest) and is a normal and expected part of a tight nominating contest.

The Republicans, on the other hand, are in disagreement over core issues and approaches - and each candidate is playing to win over their own faction and segment within their disintegrating coalition. This is why you see their candidates cherry-picking the contests where they will compete.

They are also caught in an unenviable vice: How to run a primary campaign advocating change (and against the sitting President) without alienating that president's supporters in the easily agitated GOP electorate? It will become even more difficult in the general election when the Democratic Party unites and turns all of its attention to the Republican nominee, who will either have to refute Dubya's policies (and risk the base staying home) or stick by their guy (and watch indies flock to the Democrats in droves).

Questions for both parties remain as Tsunami Tuesday approaches.

Can the Dems still be torn asunder? Yes (especially if race remains a topic in the upcoming contests)

Can the Republicans pull it together? Probably (but the continued pandering to factions who are fundamentally opposed to one another will make it less and less likely)

"A Fool Born Every Minute"

Must be what Bill is banking on when he says stuff like this on the campaign trail.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hey, Stupid, It's Iraq (and the Economy)!

Arianna has a post up over at HuffPo about the diminished focus on Iraq in the presidential campaign. In recent weeks, the MSM has pushed the "surge is working" storyline and Arianna correctly warns the Democratic contenders about the perils of ignoring Iraq on the campaign trail. She argues ceding the foreign policy and global war on terror issues to Republicans is risky and a repeat of Kerry's 2004 strategic mistakes.

I agree. The Democrats need to buck the newly delivered conventional wisdom being spouted by the media who "have hit on a new way of diminishing the importance of the war: pretend like no one cares about it anymore, like it's old news." It is yet another "inside the beltway" consultant driven talking point that reveals the disconnect between the chattering classes and the American electorate.

Our Democratic nominee will have the best chance of winning in November if they expand beyond our "kitchen table" economic issues (where Dems are traditionally strong) into the realm of foreign policy and national defense.

"Fight Night" in Vegas: Who's Angry Now?

The MSM weeks ago labeled John Edwards as "too angry" to win the Democratic nomination. But the recent turmoil between the Clinton and Obama camps - with charges of racism entering the campaign - puts a new light on Edwards' rhetoric. At least his "anger" is about real issues that affect the daily lives of average Americans.

The MSM's pitbull-like grip on this storyline over the past 72 hours once again reveals the media's fascination with the horse race aspects of the campaign rather than focusing on the important policy issues facing the nation. I may be wrong, but I believe voter interest in the "inside baseball" charges about dirty campaign tricks is negligible.

The charges being thrown between the Obama and Clinton entourages diminishes both frontrunners and the Democratic Party in general. I believe Clinton has been severely wounded - if not fatally for the general election - by angering African American voters. How does she win without their overwhelming support in November? Obama does not escape unscathed. His "politics of hope" is tarnished each time one of these old-time "politics as usual" schoolyard fights breaks out.

With the news of a tighter-than-expected race forming in Nevada prior to this Saturday's caucuses one has to wonder, are Democratic voters taking another look at John Edwards?

Michigan Mischief = No Mandate, No "Big Mo" & No GOP Nominee

Republican operatives are worried Michigan Democrats and Independents may alter the GOP primary results in the Wolverine State, essentially picking the eventual Republican nominee.

While the NY Sun article, "Mich. Democrats May Determine Republican Nominee" doesn't mention the cross-the-aisle meddling advocated by DKos' Markos Moulitsas to support Romney it does reinforce Kos' message: the Michigan results will be dismissed or questioned by whomever finishes second in the primary.

So, if the winner of today's primary receives a questionable mandate and negligible momentum heading into South Carolina, the next stop on the GOP's chaotic campaign of '08 how can anyone really believe the article's headline?