Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Fatasy Cacusing

Novak predicts the Iowa Cacuses. As ever with the douchebag of liberty it is necessary to take his prognostications with more than a pinch of skepticism, particularly on the Democratic side.

His prediction for the GOP:

1st Place: Mitt Romney
2nd Place: Mike Huckabee
3rd Place: Fred Thompson
4th Place: John McCain

I don't think this is right. Thompson has been running well below Paul in the national polls and its not clear that he offers anything more than a face to put to 'none of the above'. McCain is polling above him and I think Paul could beat both. Huckabee has been outpolling Romney in Iowa and the state that nominated Pat Robertson must be his best shot. I would say:

1st Place: Mike Huckabee
2nd Place: Mitt Romney
3rd Place: Ron Paul
4th Place: John McCain

Admittedly Novak does hedge somewhat and admit that a Paul outcome is a possibility but if you allow for all his hedges and such there are very few plausible outcomes Novak excludes. We do both agree that Giuliani comes fifth and is thus unlikely to place at all.

Needless to say, if Paul places in the top four it will become impossible for Faux News to keep him out of the New Hampshire debate. Paul, Giuliani and Huckabee are in a statistical tie in New Hampshire at 8, 11 and 10 percent.

His prediction for the Democrats:

1st Place: Barack Obama
2nd Place: John Edwards
3rd Place: Hillary Clinton
4th Place: Bill Richardson

Again he hedges, essentially allowing any of the top three candidates to place in any order. I think that he is reading his own hatred of Hilary when he suggests that hardball tactics against Obama may have hurt her. The Democrats are looking for the candidate who can beat the GOP. Barack's biggest liability amongst Democrats is that he is too centrist, too willing to compromise, too willing to capitulate to movement conservative veto threats on every issue.

What it really comes down to in Iowa is organization. Clinton and Edwards have been through Iowa before, Clinton has the longest history and a strong ground game. While some Democrats may be nervous about voting for Clinton thinking what the GOP might attempt to do to her they also know that any Democratic candidate will get the same treatment, if they can call a war hero a coward while running a cocaine snorting draft dodger they can smear anyone. I can't see someone who thinks a woman is unelectable thinking that a black male would be any more electable. So I recon that Clinton and Obama should be reversed:

1st Place: Hillary Clinton
2nd Place: John Edwards
3rd Place: Barack Obama
4th Place: Bill Richardson

Again Novak hedges by remembering the Dean crash, but you can't back every horse.

I think that the more interesting question is for which candidates Iowa represents a 'must win state' and which ones can afford a loss. Romney and Huckabee both need a strong result, neither can afford to do any worse than second, but the pressure is greatest on Romney whose campaign strategy was to win Iowa so convincingly that he looked unbeatable.

Clinton can probably afford to lose Iowa as its not considered part of the Democratic heartland or the battleground states. Obama on the other hand has created a strong expectation of a win. He has to do well to maintain credibility,.

Any candidate that fails to place in Iowa is going to face questions as to whether they are viable. All can survive for the time being but anyone who comes fifth or worse in Iowa and New Hampshire can expect credibility questions. Thompson is currently polling at 2.5% in NH and might well drop out before the poll. That will notch up the pressure on Giuliani who is barely ahead of Huckabee and Paul in New Hampshire. There might even be some folk crossing over to support Paul with a view to dropping Rudy and/or Romney out of the race.

If there are going to be any upsets in either Iowa or NH they are going to come from either Paul or McCain on the positive side (i.e. exceeding expectations) Clinton or Obama on the negative side (i.e. falling far short of expectations).

The bigger bet then is which candidates will still be considered viable by the establishment media after NH. It is quite possible, likely even that Clinton will be the only viable Democrat comming out of NH. I expect that Biden and Richardson will have folded. On the Republican side it is quite likely that Thompson, and Romney will both be out and Giuliani's campaign will be on life support. Admittedly the same has been said of McCain before now, but there is a big difference between polls and real votes. These are real votes.

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