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.
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: ObamaI'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.
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.