2008 and the coming primaries
Six weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, the presidential race looks more uncertain than ever. Only last week did the schedule of contests become certain: The day before Thanksgiving, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner set the state's primary on Jan. 8, and the day before that, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Michigan primary can proceed on Jan. 15. Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani continue to lead the competitions in national polls and in the large states, but on the Democratic side, there is a virtual three-way tie in Iowa, and on the Republican side, Mitt Romney leads in Iowa and New Hampshire. As for the general election, national polls show Democrats generally doing better than Republicans, but recent Rasmussen and Mason-Dixon polls show Hillary Clinton trailing in what was, in 2000 and 2004, the key state of Florida.I still think that Texas may get a chance to be the decider in the Republican race with its March 4th primary. By not moving up, Texas may have enhanced its importance.
Some Republican insiders are talking about the possibility that none of the candidates gets a majority of delegates. Presumably the nomination will be brokered, probably long before the convention, but not before the party goes through considerable turmoil. I think that's possible; unlikely things can happen (Florida 2000).
What about the general election? Consider two poll results: When the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked voters which party they preferred to win the race for president, Democrats led 49 percent to 36 percent. When the FOX News poll asked which of two specific candidates would do the better job of protecting the country, Rudy Giuliani came out ahead of Hillary Clinton by 50 percent to 36 percent. Those numbers suggest to me that the range of possible outcomes in November 2008 is much wider than it was in November 2004.
What we have not seen yet is a debate between the two parties on ideas. The Democratic candidates have been busy pounding George W. Bush, who will not be on the ballot. The Republican candidates have been busy pounding Hillary Clinton, who may or may not be on the ballot. And candidates in each of the parties have gotten started pounding each other. These arguments are mostly about the past. We haven't heard much yet about the future.
Between the ...'s Barone discusses the scenarios for each candidate getting the nomination. However his comparison of the generic ballot to the Fox ballot on protecting the country explains both the generic poll bias and the reason Democrats should lose in 2008 and every other election. There is a large segment of the country that quite rightly does not trust them on issues of national security. Certainly their various positions on defeating the enemy in Iraq confirm the good judgment of those who think they are wrong on national security.