Iowa Postmortem: Handicapping The Possibilities genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

The Race Is On

I personally feel that Obama is electable...though I don’t disagree that a small portion of the electorate won’t vote for him based upon hidden racism that will only be exposed in the ballot box. That said, I think the same is true for a woman...though it may be a smaller factor.

In looking at the latest head to head polls at Real Clear Politics, John Edwards matches up best against the Republican candidates followed by Obama. At the moment, McCain is the strongest Republican in the head to head match-ups with Democrats.

I suspect that McCain is doing best because he appeals to many of the moderate independent voters who have begun to support Obama...a fact that won’t go unnoticed by savvy GOP strategists who realize they need a candidate who can win a fair share of these voters if the GOP is to hold the White House.

The best scenario for the Democrats is continued success by Huckabee, which will undoubtedly portend a major problem for the GOP. I suspect most establishment Republicans favor Giuliani but the problem they have is that he isn’t apt to gain much traction until Super Tuesday in early February. If Huckabee continues to do well...keeping McCain at bay until February...the GOP will be confronted by evangelicals refusing to back Giuliani and establishment Republicans refusing to support Huckabee. If that dynamic holds (meaning McCain doesn’t break out of the pack to challenge Huckabee), the GOP may be fatally fractured for the foreseeable future.

If the above scenario unfolds, I suspect any of the frontrunner Democrats could win in November...and possibly by comfortable margins.

If McCain becomes the compromise candidate who can hold the GOP coalition together, all bets are off and it could well be a tight race. If this happens, it makes Edwards and Obama the preferred Democratic candidates. If Obama catapults Iowa into even more independent voter support (and the post-primary data in Iowa suggests he can), he will likely be the better candidate to oppose McCain.

While I’m not opposed to Clinton as the nominee (with reservations as to electability), I see a McCain – Clinton contest as the worst-case scenario for the Democrats. It offers nothing new to voters seeking change; it leaves in play all of the partisan hyperbole that has dominated politics during the Bush and Clinton administrations; it likely means independents will break for McCain, and it gives the GOP an enemy they can all oppose.

My hunch is that Obama has the potential to catch fire and run away with it all.

I've not factored in a third party candidate...though I doubt it dramatically alters the race.

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Now that Iowa has spoken, there is a possibility the a result of the Huckabee on the verge of a fatal fracture. John McCain may be the only antidote and he may well be the best Republican to challenge Barack Obama's emerging candidacy... [Read More]

Tracked on January 4, 2008 4:43 PM

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