A View From The Handbasket

Monday, January 07, 2008
All the tired horses
Posted by neros_fiddle at 12:46 PM
After months of running in place, the now-exhausted field of Presidential hopefuls have started moving forward. Here's some quick thoughts on how they're stumbling along.


The Dems are already winnowed to three, and Obama is looking strong.

HILLARY CLINTON: Third place in Iowa is not what was supposed to happen for Clinton, and the press is writing her off as a result. This is not entirely warranted -- the full weight of the Clinton machine should not be underestimated -- but her campaign appears to be in chaos as they struggle to switch over to underdog mode. A poor showing in NH could be fatal -- not winning in MI or FL definitely would be.

JOHN EDWARDS: Smilin' John is in about the same place he was in '04, with about the same prospects. (In fact, one could say that the whole Dem situation looks a lot like '04 between IA and NH, with Obama playing Kerry, Clinton playing Dean, and Edwards playing himself. Of interest is that the upstart and the establishment candidate have switched places.) He might do well in MI and beat Obama in SC, which would make FL and especially the 2/5 megaprimary vital. The press seems to treat Edwards as yesterday's news, saving most of their ink for the fresh blood.

BARACK OBAMA: Obama has all the momentum on the Dem side, at least if/until Clinton bows out and it becomes Edwards vs. Obama, which could possibly be a slugfest depending on how Edwards does on 2/5. If Obama wins NH convincingly, Clinton is most likely done as without her aura of inevitability she's greatly diminished as a candidate. If Obama then crushes Edwards on 2/5, Obama is the nominee.

As they sing on Gilligan's Island, "and the rest..."

BILL RICHARDSON: He'll hang on until he runs out of money, which should be in a week or two.

DENNIS KUCINICH: Nothing if not stubborn, he'll stick around for the duration and make things a bit more interesting.

MIKE GRAVEL: Dead candidate walking.

CHRIS DODD: My personal favorite has withdrawn after IA.

JOE BIDEN: Bailed after IA.


This is still very murky.

RUDY GIULIANI: After a spectacular December implosion, former golden boy Rudy is reduced to hoping he doesn't get too embarrassed in NH. (When your biggest PR victory of recent weeks is the revelation that the security detail for your mistress was properly paid for, you're probably not doing too well.) An also-ran until proven otherwise.

MIKE HUCKABEE: His schtick plays in Peoria (or at least next door), but whether it translates to the delegate-rich states is the big question. (I see his win in IA much like Pat Robertson's second there in '88.) Should be a relative non-factor in NH and MI, should do well in SC and FL, then will sink or swim on 2/5. Not especially popular among the GOP establishment, but puts butts in voting booths.

DUNCAN HUNTER: Comedy relief only.

ALAN KEYES: See Duncan Hunter.

JOHN MCCAIN: McCain could actually end up getting the nomination by default as voters become exasperated with the weakness of the field. Third was better than expected in IA, and a win in NH could make him the de facto anti-Huckabee. What makes this interesting is that the Republican establishment hates him (Romney is the choice of the smoke-filled room), while the press loves him. If Romney flops, seeing the GOP elite choose between McCain and Huckabee has high comedy potential.

RON PAUL: Yet another internet phenom gets dashed on the rocks of actual voting.

MITT ROMNEY: A poor showing in NH is the end of Romney. His money-driven ride in the polls is played out, and now he has to stand or fall on comparisons to the other guys. Since Romney possesses no coherent record to compare, he fares badly in that arena. A comeback is unlikely.

FRED THOMPSON: Most of the red-meat faithful who hounded poor ol' Fred to run have flocked to Huckabee, and Fred must be wondering why he bothered in the first place. Without a built-in base, Thompson's prospects are very dim.

So, after all that, it's not at all unlikely that we'll have a McCain-Obama general election, which ought to be a whole heap of fun. Stay tuned.

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