This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Abulsme Presidential Predictions

OK, forget about who I prefer… time for going out on a limb and making predictions… predictions which could very well be made close to impossible as soon as tomorrow depending on how Iowa comes out, let alone New Hampshire a few days later. I will of course adjust predictions if what I predict today becomes unlikely due to events as they play out… but as of right now, before Iowa and before the first votes, here would be my best guesses… but frankly, with so much in the air right now, and with so much in play… anything can still happen. These are my predictions, but I can’t say I’d put down too much cash wagering on it… things are just too unsettled.

Anyway…

Republicans. I think Huckabee will peak and then start dropping. The evangelicals have his back, and he does have some general appeal, but I think the other parts of the Republican coalition will ultimately be too uncomfortable with him and I don’t think the religious wing has enough strength to nominate him on their own. Giuliani is self-destructing, and the more people find out about him, the less they like him… and despite some of his super right wing tendencies in some areas, in others he is far too liberal for most of the party. Romney is losing momentum in the two early states where he is strong. We will of course see how that plays out in the next few days. But if he doesn’t win both of them, I think he will sputter out soon after. Absent a major surprise, I think Thompson will probably be out of the race before too much longer. Before he got in it was all about what he might be. Once he got in in was more about “Oh, is that all there is?”. I think he is done. With the strength of his internet support, Paul will stay in it the whole way I think (unless he bails to officially go 3rd party). But within the Republican world I don’t think he’ll ever manage to break the 15% barrier. Maybe not even the 10% barrier, although that might be possible as some of the others drop out. I do think he will out perform expectations though (perhaps even mine) due to the sheer determination of his supporters to get out the vote and keep on plugging. They are a stubborn bunch. But who does that leave? Unless we get the brokered convention scenario and someone coming into play that isn’t even running, that leaves McCain. He had been consistantly losing support for the last year. But he has leveled out nationally, and has actually been regaining strength rapidly in both Iowa and New Hampshire in the last month or so. I think this is a show of the Republican candidates slowly ruling out everybody else on one point or another. McCain is a shadow of his former self from 4 years ago. And he also has problems which make many Republicans uncomfortable. And I don’t think he’d be a strong candidate in the general election. But I think he is the one candidate that a majority of Republicans will end up being able to say “Well, he’s not great, but he’s OK, he’ll do.” And, in true Republican fashion, it is “his turn”. I think we’ll see slow and steady McCain slowly grab the support from the others. If he is lucky he will come in 3rd in Iowa. And he has a real shot at winning New Hampshire. If he does that, he will be on the road to consolidating an overall win. I think in the end he will pull it out. But it will be a weakened and divided Republican party that he presides over.

Now the Democrats. Nationally Hillary is still way ahead in polls by a large margin. (45% to Obama’s 26%.) If she actually manages to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, she will walk away with the rest and be the “inevitable” nominee so many people have thought she has been all along. But her weakness is indeed those first two states. If she loses both of them, she will be in real trouble. She might be able to make it up. She still has very strong leads in all other state polls I have seen. But she has lost some momentum in South Carolina and may be weak there too. If Iowa and New Hampshire fall, her leads elsewhere may start evaporating quickly… or she may manage to hold them, although it would be difficult. But these two states are critical. And I do not think she will be able to hold them. I think in Iowa the “second choice” votes for the under 15% folks will fall toward Obama and not Hillary or Edwards. Edwards is surging in Iowa and he may be able to pull off a surprise win, but I think Iowa is going to go for Obama. (Of course, as I said above, this is a hunch, the actual evidence of polls and such just gives a big fat “it could be any of them”.) If this happens, or, I think, even if Obama just comes in “close”, it will boost him to a win in New Hampshire. He has been rising there for three months while Clinton has been falling. It is now neck and neck. Anything other than a solid win for Hillary in Iowa will show Obama is viable and electable and all of that, and I think push him over the edge to a win in New Hampshire. In that scenerio I see Obama rapidly narrowing the gap in South Carolina and winning that, and then proceeding to build momentum, eventually taking the nomination.

Right after Obama’s 2004 convention speech, I sent this email to a couple of friends:

Subject: Obama
Date: 28 July 2004 14:43:38 GMT+00:00

Missed it last night, but just watched Obama’s convention speech off the C-Span website. He hit it out of the park. Came off VERY well. I liked him a lot. I’ll go out on a limb and say that he WILL be on a presidential ticket (not saying top or bottom) in 2008 or 2012.

I’ll stick by that, and go a bit further now. Yes, predicting today, even though Hillary is still ahead almost everywhere, and nationally by a huge margin, I’d say that Obama will get the Democratic nomination. This time, not in 2012. And he’ll be at the top of the ticket, not the bottom.

And if these come true and it ends up being Obama vs McCain in the general election? Well, first of all there might be some interesting effects if Paul ends up running 3rd party. (As much as I’d like this, if I had to bet right now I’d say he won’t… I think it is clear he does not WANT to… although if his followers make enough of an uproar once he is eliminated from contention on the Republican side, I could see him maybe reluctantly agreeing.) Bloomberg, Dobbs and others are also rumored to be considering it. The right combination of people running might produce interesting things. But frankly, most of the names mentioned as possible 3rd parties would all pull more from the Republican side. And even if a left wing 3rd party candidate entered the fray, I think most people on that side of the spectrum are frightened by the “Nader scenerio” and would stick with the Democratic candidate. (Although I disagree with the contention that Nader and his voters are responsible for the Bush presidency as some folks believe.) So I think pretty much any third party possibility only hurts the Republicans further. And they will already come into this weak I believe.

In terms of both the nomination and the general election though I think it is going to be Obama for more “heart” reasons than “head” reasons.

There is charisma and energy there and the message of hope and unity, etc is compelling. Obama represents a turn to the future and away from the past. It would be a generational shift that would push beyond the old conflicts of the last century. (This would be especially clear if it did end up being Obama vs McCain.) He represents the best of the “American Dream” of yore. The story of his family and his life is inspiring. His energy is contagious. Seeing him speak just makes one catch that optimism and want to follow him. I don’t remember a candidate like him since I have been old enough to be following presidential races closely. Historically he has the vibe of a JFK… or perhaps actually even more so he reflects the way in which I have heard people describe their feelings about RFK before his run for president was cut short.

This is relevant, so for the first time ever I’ll do the embedded YouTube thing here on this blog…

Yes, most of that is from his four year old convention speech, but this does get to the heart of it… This is powerful moving stuff. It is a good message. It will appeal to a lot of people. Will it convince hardcore Republicans to vote Democratic? No. They will mock this sort of thing, not be drawn to it. But it will rally the Democratic base, and it will bring in moderates and independents. And that is what it will take to win. Obama has the charisma and appeal to bring it together and to win this thing. (Absent of course any currently unknown revelations that would damage him later on.) The type of compelling oratory and vision that Obama has is well fitted to the types of media campaigns of today. There may or may not be substance behind it. But you don’t need substance to win. You need to inspire people and make them like you and make them think you are a good person who they can trust to do a good job… even if they may disagree with you on some things. Obama will be able to do that quite nicely. And with a good VP pick to balance out the “experience” criticisms… my guy Biden maybe… he would be very solid. Not saying that it still wouldn’t be a race. I’m not willing to predict a landslide. 2008 may not end up being as close as 2000 or 2004, but it probably still will be somewhat close. But I think Obama would win.

So there we go. My prediction is Obama vs McCain (and maybe one or 2 third party candidates) in the general election, with Obama winning it in the end.

Now, of course that is saying nothing about how I think an Obama administration would actually GOVERN, because being President is a very different thing than running for President… but I think he has what he takes to win. And I think he will.

Of course, as I said at the top, making any predictions this early is foolhardy, and things are so incredibly unsettled that really ANYTHING can still happen… but these are my predictions as of right now.

Of course, if Obama fails to win either Iowa or New Hampshire, and Hillary does… or McCain fails to show decently in both Iowa and New Hampshire… and we’ll of course know all of that very shortly… then everything I said goes out the window completely.

But hey, I thought I’d give it a shot. Worst case, I’m completely wrong. And that happens all the time, so I’m not too worried about it. :-)

Abulsme Presidential Endorsements

Not that anyone cares, and of course the only people who matter at this exact moment are in Iowa, and as far as I know my blog has no regular readers from Iowa, but on the eve of the first actual event in the presidential season, here are my thoughts as of TODAY. I of course expect that as events unfold over the next 10 months my opinions will most likely change several times.

In any case, Democratic side first. I am somewhat torn here because my head and my heart say different things. In terms of story and style and vision and raw appeal, there is only one candidate who completely captures the imagination for me, and that is Obama. But in terms of the candidate who has impressed me most during the debates and who generally when looking directly at what they have said about various issues and how I think they would actually perform as president… I am drawn to Joe Biden. I think he is grounded, he knows his stuff and he could walk in and perform well as president on Day 1. When he talks in debates or elsewhere I am always impressed by his thoughtfulness and directness. I have liked him in previous election cycles when he has run, and I like him this time as well. If I was in Iowa and was caucusing as a Democrat I would vote for Biden in the first round. But of course Biden will not make the needed 15% in the first round. My second choice vote would go to Obama.

On the Republican side… Four years ago I might have liked McCain. I liked him in 2003. Didn’t agree with him on everything, but I liked him. I liked his approach. I liked his attitude. I liked his “straight talk”. I liked his “maverick independent” reputation. In the last four years though he has destroyed all that, and for me at least, lost all remnants of the appeal he had during that time. Huckabee has a few good points (I actually really like the “FairTax” plan for instance). And he seems like a nice guy. But for the most part I disagree with him on most other things. Nope. Giuliani? No. Romney? No. Thompson? No. Of course any of you who have known me for awhile know I am drawn to the Libertarian point of view. Strongly so in most cases. So it is of course obvious I’ll go for Ron Paul here. If you go down a list issue by issue, I end up agreeing with him on most of them. Are there some where I disagree? Of course there are. But the level at which he matches my views is FAR greater than any other candidate in either party. And in many of the places where he does have a difference in opinion on something, it ends up not mattering, because both he and I agree that regardless of the right policy on the specific issue, it should not be the Federal government that decides, it should be a matter for state government, local government, the private sector, or individuals to decide. (Example: He apparently is a complete idiot on evolution, but it doesn’t matter, since neither of us think that the federal government should be setting policy or involved in any way on education matters.) There are of course some policy places that would be on a Federal level that I disagree with him on as well… for instance immigration. But again, the areas where we agree far outnumber those where we disagree. And there is nobody else on the Republican side that I could even come close to endorsing. So, on the Republican side… Ron Paul would be my choice if I was caucusing as a Republican in Iowa today.

And of the two… Biden and Paul… I would of course choose Ron Paul. In plain terms of how close the two candidates are to my own views on issues, Paul is simply closer to me by far.

In many areas of course Biden’s positions are far more realistic. If Biden became President, some of his adgenda might actually happen. If Paul would somehow become President, absolutely nothing would happen for four years, except the things Congress passed over his veto. Now, I think that would be a perfectly fine outcome, but… :-)

Of course, neither Biden or Paul have even the slightest chance of becoming their party’s nominees, let alone President. So what they might or might not do as President is actually somewhat irrelevant. But they would be my choices on principle.

Completely Up for Grabs

Too close to call in both parties with less than 24 hours until the first results start coming out of Iowa. This is so very exciting. I’ll be rushing home from work as soon as my last meeting ends to spend the entire evening watching news coverage. This stuff is great!

Things to watch for besides the obvious “Who wins?”:

  • Do the top three Dems essentially tie like current polls show, with one squeaking out a narrow victory? Or does someone manage to get enough of those “second choice” votes from the lower tier candidates to get a clear win?
  • Who gets third place on the Republican side?

In any case, the results of this will define the shape of the race… for at least the next few DAYS until New Hampshire, at which time it may completely change again.

This is great. Here’s hoping for a long primary season where the ultimate nominee isn’t known for as long as possible and every state is a close race in both parties! :-)

DVD: The Machinist

We’ve been watching a bunch of DVDs this last week it seems. This time it was time for Brandy’s current Netflix movie. She had picked this one because of Christian Bale I think. But after the first 30 minutes Brandy was bored and was ready to just stop. I wanted to finish though. I wasn’t sure what I thought of it, or if I liked it or not… I was leaning toward no… but I like finishing what I start when possible. So we continued to slog on.

I think it improved after it hit about the half way point. A little more was happening. But this is one of those slow atmospheric type movies. It is certainly not driven by action. Things happen slowly and deliberately, and a lot of the movie is just about absorbing the imagery and atmosphere and the slowly building emotional angst.

In the end I think it was perhaps a little TOO slow for this. The urgency increased as the movie continued, but it never really reached the levels where it was completely gripping. There was always the sort of watch checking and “is it over yet” sort of feeling. If I had to grade the first half I’d give it a D. The second half would get a B. Overall a C. If you are really into the atmospheric sort of movie that tries to mess with your head, then you might like this… I often like that kind of movie… but having said that, this one still never completely grabbed me.

And Brandy I think still wishes she’d stopped watching after the first 30 minutes. :-)