Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.
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Thursday, November 30, 2006
Presidential Odds Update
Democrats Hillary Clinton 5:2. There is speculation floating around that Hillary isn't doing what she needs to in Iowa, and further speculation that maybe she won't run if Obama gets in. Not sure I believe it - I think she's very driven, and would consider him an ideal VP partner - but I have to reflect it nonetheless. So I'm taking her down from 5:3 to 5:2. Barack Obama 5:1 John Edwards 6:1. Al Gore 7:1. Jimmy Carter wants Al to run and would support him. Evan Bayh 10:1 Bill Richardson 10:1 John Kerry 14:1. Wes Clark 14:1. Joe Biden 16:1. Tom Vilsack 18:1. Did this on Thursday. Chris Dodd 20:1. He's been talking about it very seriously - it seems like he's running, so I'll take him up from 35:1 to 20:1. But I can't really envision the scenario right now that sees this happen. Tom Daschle 22:1. Bill Bradley 48:1 Brian Schweitzer 60:1 Bill Nelson 65:1 Howard Dean 85:1 Janet Napolitano 100:1
Republicans John McCain 3:1. Mitt Romney 6:1. Rudy Giuliani 8:1.. Newt Gingrich 11:1 Condoleezza Rice 16:1. Chuck Hagel 17:1. Sam Brownback 17:1. Mike Huckabee 20:1 George Pataki 22:1 Jeb Bush 24:1 George Allen 30:1 Mark Sanford 30:1 Colin Powell 35:1 Tom Ridge 35:1 Duncan Hunter 38:1. Bill Owens 40:1 Haley Barbour 40:1 Dick Cheney 125:1 Christie Todd Whitman 150:1
Tom Vilsack became the first Democrat to officially announce his candidacy today (Biden, Daschle, and Richardson have more or less declared, but not officially).
You can read his announcement speech here. It's fine... nothing too exciting.
Vilsack is a long shot. He faces serious challenges in name recognition and financing against the likes of Clinton, Obama, Gore and Edwards. He's even less well known than the other 2nd tier candidates. So his only real chance is to do something creative online and carve out a different message that happens to strike a chord (anyone having a 2004 tingle?).
I'm upping him to 18:1 from 20:1, since he's confirmed. But he's really running for VP, most likely.
I have an expanded love for new VA Senator James Webb. From the Washington Post:
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.
"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.
"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.
"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.
The 2008 Presidential Race news comes fast and furious in December and January. Today's installment: Bill Frist will announce he's not running at 1pm.
There are two interesting competing dynamics in this race: #1 - It's more wide open than usual, on both sides, but especially on the GOP side which competes with #2 - Running for President is more awful than ever before
Seems like for Warner, Feingold, and Frist, #2 is outweighing #1. I'm curious to see how that calculus works out for the likes Obama, Gore, Gingrich, and Hagel.
I'm back after an extended Thanksgiving holiday with... you guessed it... some info on the 2008 Presidential Race.
A recent Rasmussen survey found that 43% of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormom for President, while only 38% said they'd consider it. 53% of Evangelicals said no.
That's not good for exiting Mass governor Mitt Romney, who I've recently upped in the odds. I suppose this is further evidence in support of my thesis that McCain, Giuliani and Romney all have troubles, and that a void exists into which Gingrich, Hagel or Brownback could step.
Democrats Hillary Clinton 5:3 Barack Obama 5:1 John Edwards 6:1. Al Gore 7:1 Evan Bayh 10:1 Bill Richardson 10:1 John Kerry 14:1. Wes Clark 14:1. Joe Biden 16:1. Tom Daschle 22:1. Tom Vilsack 28:1 Chris Dodd 35:1. Bill Bradley 48:1 Brian Schweitzer 60:1 Bill Nelson 65:1 Howard Dean 85:1 Janet Napolitano 100:1
Republicans John McCain 3:1. I'm going to take McCain from 2:1 to 3:1. I don't think it's a shoo-in at all. Mitt Romney 6:1. I think Romney is going to become at least the initial main foe of McCain. Moving from 8:1 to 6:1. As I've said a few times, I think all of these top 3 have issues, potentially opening up an opportunity for Gingrich, Hagel, or even Brownback. Rudy Giuliani 8:1.. Despite good-looking polls, I'm moving Giuliani down. He's a pro-choice, pro gun control, pro-gay Republican who just can't really win this nomination, can he? Taking him from 5:1 to 8:1. Newt Gingrich 11:1 Condoleezza Rice 16:1. Moving up from 18:1 to 16:1. She's said no many times, but I think Bush might push her in. Unlikely but possible. Chuck Hagel 17:1. Sam Brownback 17:1. He says there's room for a full-scale conservative, and I think he's right. He and Gingrich are the most likely. Moving from 20:1 to 17:1. Bill Frist 17:1. Mike Huckabee 20:1 George Pataki 22:1 Jeb Bush 24:1 George Allen 30:1 Mark Sanford 30:1 Colin Powell 35:1 Tom Ridge 35:1 Duncan Hunter 38:1. NEW ENTRANT! Bill Owens 40:1 Haley Barbour 40:1 Dick Cheney 125:1 Christie Todd Whitman 150:1
There's a very funny thing going on between John Edwards and Wal-Mart over a Playstation 3. Here's the run-down from the Wall Street Journal:
Wal-Mart issued a press release this afternoon saying that an aide to John Edwards, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate and North Carolina senator, contacted a Wal-Mart store in Raleigh, N.C., in search of a Sony PlayStation3 “on behalf of the senator’s family.” The coveted game console, available in limited quantities, goes on sale at midnight tonight.
The giant retailer noted the irony, given Edwards’s participation Wednesday in a conference call organized by Wal-Mart critic WakeUpWalMart.com. During the call, Edwards criticized Wal-Mart’s employment practices and recounted how his son had taken to task another student for buying shoes at Wal-Mart. WakeUpWalMart.com and other union-backed groups have pilloried the retailer’s employment practices at several events recently.
Edwards’s One America Committee didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Update: In a statement, Edwards said: “Elizabeth and I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. We haven’t been in a Wal-Mart in years. We instructed no one to contact Wal-Mart on our behalf.” Second update: Wal-Mart says it stands by its statement.
The company noted that the PlayStation3 “is an extremely popular item this Christmas season, and while the rest of America’s working families are waiting patiently in line, Sen. Edwards wants to cut to the front,” Wal-Mart’s statement reads. – Kris Hudson
This flurry of 2008 Presidential activity is reaching a crescendo over the next couple of months. It will likely slow after January, when the new legislature gets down to work, and most of the initial annoucements have been made.
Today, we've got a new entrant on the Republican side, who wasn't in the odds: former Wisconsin governor and Health & Human Services cabinet secretary Tommy Thompson.
Nobody knows you Tommy. So you start at 40:1. Godspeed.
Today's news on the 2008 Presidential front is that Rudy Giuliani is forming an exploratory committee, meaning it's quite likely he's going to run. I'm keeping him at 5:1, because I was taking that fact as practically a given, considering his recent public statements.
Here in Feb '05 I note that a visit to South Carolina makes me think he's running. And here in July '06 I moved Rudy up to 2nd spot at 5:1 (where he is now), because his informal 2008 poll results continued to look good.
But I'll repeat what I said in July - I think Giuliani is too moderate for today's GOP - and that the GOP race for President is really wide open for someone like Romney, Gingrich, or Hagel to step into the void. Josh Marshall very aptly makes the case against Giuliani:
do we really have to pretend that Rudy Giuliani has more than a snowball's chance in hell of getting the Republican presidential nomination? Or can we all just stipulate that a multiple adulterer, who supports gay civil rights and choice, has deep and on-going ties to mobbed-up and now-disgraced Police boss Bernie Kerik, has a largely unscrutinized (outside of New York) resume, and had the bright idea of locating the NYC disaster center in the already-once-bombed World Trade Center probably will have some rough sledding in Republican primaries?
I think I'll be improving Romney, Gingrich, and Hagel's odds at the end of this week.
Today brings news that Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a favorite of the bloggers and other leftys, largely because he was the "1" in the 99-1 Senate vote approving the Patriot Act, has decided not to run for President in 2008.
Somewhat surprising, since a lot of insiders thought he had a good chance to be the main left-sided opposition to front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Who this really helps? One man in particular: Barack Obama. Who else is the blogosphere and the left-wing going to rally around? You could say Wes Clark (don't know if he's running) or Al Gore (same) or John Edwards or maybe Bill Richardson, but really it comes down to the fact that Obama (if HE runs) is now Hillary's main opponent. I'm upping him to 5:1 for now (will go up if he forms an exploratory committee). And I'm going to knock John Edwards back down to 6:1... Feingold in the race helped him a bit.
I'm also taking Al Gore from 5:1 to 7:1 since he wasn't part of this Democratic revival, and people might not want to be seen as going backwards.
Here are some of the times I've discussed Feingold's potential presidential candidacy: 10/12/06: Bumped him from 13:1 to 12:1 in light of Warner dropping out. 5/25/06: I begrudgingly move him up from 12:1 to 11:1 after he continues to be popular with the Daily Kos crowd. 5/12/06: I argue that Feingold is not 2008's Howard Dean. 4/15/05: I think his 2nd divorce could hurt his chances. 1/31/05: Noted his initial interest. 11/9/04: In my initial survey of the landscape, I put Feingold as the lead longshot.
I'm also bringing South Carolina governor Mark Sanford into the rankings. The Wall Street Journal notes that fiscal conservatives aren't happy with their choices - McCain and Romney being the main ones, and that Mark Sanford fits into the Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee group (both of whom I have in the rankings) as a potential guy for that side of the party.
Also of note is that South Carolina is an early primary state, and Sanford was just re-elected. So he's got that advantage. I'll debut him in the list at 30:1, pending some rumor that he's thinking about it.
NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg was in my rankings for a long time - on both the Democratic and Republican sides. I took him out in August after a pretty firm statement that he wouldn't run. But I probably should have just knocked him down.
The thing is, I really can't see him running for either party. Almost definitely not as a Republican, with this Republican constituency running that party. And not as a Democrat either after 5 years as a Republican mayor.
So increasingly the possibility narrows to Bloomberg potentially being the Ross Perot of 2008, though with more to back up a 3rd party / independent run, and a much higher profile.
I also need to factor Tuesday into my nomination odds. The major change here will be George Allen. He started on this list with much better odds, and I gradually dropped him as the campaign went on and he kept shooting himself in the foot. He went into Tuesday at 16:1, but in light of his loss, I think he now becomes a 30:1 shot at best, with that likely being too optimistic. The only reason I'll hold him at 30 for now is that the right-wing base of the party loves him, and would love to help him recover. But it's more likely that I'll continue to drop him over the next year, depending on what he finds himself doing.
I'm also going to up Mitt Romney from 9:1 to 8:1. Yes, a Dem was elected to replace him as Mass governor, but I think he benefits significantly from Allen's demise. They were similar candidates.
I'll knock Pataki from 16:1 to 20:1. He couldn't avoid a Republican melt-down in New York.
With regards to my 2008 Presidential Nomination Odds, I've said all along that people's odds would get better once they actually declare, so as each person officially files, I'll bump them a little, and give my summary of their chances.
Tom Vilsack So today I'm moving Tom Vilsack up from 28:1 to 20:1.
Vilsack benefits somewhat from his geography... he's a midwesterner, which is a good demographic for the Democrats who want to be seen as a party of middle class people. His major problems are going to be attracting the big financial support early in the race, competing with Evan Bayh who has roughly the same natural constituency, and getting enough recognition on the coasts where Hillary, Obama, and Gore will attract all the attention. I give Vilsack a much better shot at being VP than P.
The House was not really a surprise. Charlie Cook said the pickup would be 20-35 seats. I said 25, and I'm very happy that it looks like my number was indeed conservative and something closer to the wave I imagined but didn't predict has happened - lots of Republican incumbents lost close races (Sweeney losing to Gillibrand in Saratoga, for example). The final House pickup looks like it will be around 35, which is fairly remarkable considering the Republican landslide of 1994 was 54 seats, but 98 seats were considered competitive that year. Nowadays, thanks to Republican gerrymandering, only about 40 seats are considered demographically competitive. So this is, in some ways, a more impressive sweep than 1994.
In the Senate, I have to say I am extremely pleasantly surprised. I dislike George Allen immensely - I think he is the most dangerous kind of politician - so if that result holds up I will be thrilled to see his political career effectively ended. I didn't think Jim Webb was compelling enough to win, but it looks like he is. Claire McCaskill's win in MO is wonderful - she will be a fantastic Senator, and is a person to look out for on the national stage. She's extremely articulate. It's sad that Ford lost in Tennessee, but he'll be back. He's a great politician who lives in the wrong state. John Tester made things a little close for comfort in Montana, but that is now a Democratic state... hopefully brings much of the west into contention in 2008.
I know this is an annoying comment, but it's true: the challenge has just begun. Democrats must capitalize upon this opportunity and improve the country in the next two years. That's why we elect them - not just to be part of the winning team, which I feel sucks up too much effort. We vote for them because we think they're better at governing. Now they've got to put up.
Rumsfeld out. Robert Gates (not Joe Lieberman) in. Phew.
Ps. Bush in his press conference said he came to Washington 6 years ago hoping to change the tone. I love how the third questioner asked him to reconcile that with his campaign speeches last week where he said the Democrats philosophy comes down to "terrorists win, America loses".
Let's assume the Dems take the Senate 51-49. Rumsfeld resigns. Bush appoints Joe Lieberman as the new Sec of Defense. Then the governor of CT, Republican Jodi Rell, would get to choose Lieberman's replacement in the Senate. She chooses a Republican, and now we're back to 50-50 with Cheney as the tiebreaker?
Likely? No. Possible? Maybe. It will give me a nightmare or two.
I think Rumsfeld's resignation (or quiet forced exit) is coming. Hopefully, Joe Lieberman would either turn down the job, knowing that the Democrats would NEVER EVER forgive him for selling out our majority like that. Otherwise, hopefully Jodi Rell would realize that she should logically appoint Ned Lamont or another Democrat, seeing that Democrats combined for EIGHTY-NINE percent of the vote today.
Update: Looks like some others are worried about this too (though I beat them to it): Andrew Sullivan
I know it's 2 years away that we pick a new President, but that race starts TOMORROW, and hits its main stride at the end of next summer and fall. So that means we've all got ~6 months or less to pick our horse and start working (I remember hopping on the Dean bandwagon in the early Spring of 2003).
I talk a lot about odds of winning the nomination, so here are my actual opinions... first stabs at who I might support:
- Hillary Clinton. I think she'd be the best President out of the whole group. She's the smartest person. And a good politician. And a woman (about time). But she's got some baggage (I think Anna Quindlen was right that it's WAAAAAYYYY over-estimated), I don't love her war position, and my friend Jared has convinced me that the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton thing would not be a good sign for an open democracy. We'll see.
- Al Gore. Next best President. But has he really learned how to campaign yet? Jury's still out.
- Barack Obama. He'd be great in the campaign. As President, he could start new dialogues and potentially change the tone of politics and the course of the country way more than any other politician could. But he is inexperienced, and that is a little scary. Nevertheless, I think he could do it.
- John Edwards. I love what he's doing for working class people, and am starting to think that perhaps he's better suited to that than to being President. I just don't read the intellectual acumen from him that I read in the three above.
- Bill Richardson. I need to see him speak more. I don't know how he campaigns. He's got great experience.
I really would love opinions on this... please hit "comments" below. I value other people's opinions in making up my own mind, I want to back the winner, and I need to start figuring out where to spend my $ and energy soon. Let's start the discussion today).
House of Reps: Dems pick up 25 seats (15 needed for majority). Final result: 226-205.
Senate: Dems pick up 5 seats (6 needed for majority). Final result: 50-50 (with Lieberman and Sanders counted for the Dems). Republicans would retain control with the Cheney tie-breaker, but committee chairmanships would probably have to be split.
I think we get that result by having the Dems pick up Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, Montana, and Missouri. I think Allen pulls it out in Virginia (though I hope not) and Corker beats Ford in Tennessee.
By the way, I'm hoping that my picks are way too pessimistic, and that the Dems actually pick up 35-40 seats in the House and 6-7 Senate seats (maybe even Arizona or Nevada will come into play?).
But I'm not getting my hopes up. GOP GOTV is impressive, and I think there are a fair amount of people that might tell pollsters they hate Bush and the Republicans, but secretly still vote for them when all alone in the booth. (The contrary is I think there's a chance polls are under-estimating Democratic turnout)
Republicans have the momentum in many of these races. I'm worried that Democratic voters are more likely to stay home and think that these races are in the bag, versus Republican voters who believe that it's their duty to vote.
I'm staying cautious on tomorrow. Still projecting the Republicans hold the Senate (either 50-50 with a Cheney tie-breaker, or 51-49) and the Dems winning a smallish majority in the House (226-209).