Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.
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Monday, December 31, 2007
4 days to caucus night
Things are getting crazy out there. Not that I'm out there. I'm here.
The outcome of the Iowa caucuses is really unpredictable right now. Which is why I'll try to predict it. Here is my Monday guess for how the caucuses will turn out. I may change this once or twice or as many times as I like (nice to be a blogger) between now and Thursday.
The big question for me on the Republican side is: in light of the Huckabee collapse, which I think we are in the midst of, where does his support go back to? I assert that it will fragment between Romney, McCain, and Thompson (almost none to Rudy). The key for McCain is to try to lock up as much of the Huckabee, anti-mormon, religious conservative vote as possible.
Reading this article about how Mitt Romney is basically running for President to in some way atone for his father's loss in a 1968 Presidential run, made me think about this: isn't is much more impressive when someone catapults themselves to a Presidential run without the benefit of a family member who paved their way?
There are obvious examples of this on both sides. Romney's dad was corporate executive, then governor of Michigan, then a legit Presidential candidate. I'd argue that this made Mitt Romney's path to where he is today much easier. Similarly, Hillary Clinton is obviously a brilliant academic and lawyer, but she probably wouldn't be running for President if she hadn't married Bill Clinton. And even John McCain benefitted - his grandfather and father were very senior Navy Admirals, so McCain's ascension isn't incredibly surprising.
On the other hand, there are a number of candidates that are more or less self-made, and these folks are more impressive to me. Barack Obama, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, and (hate to say it) Rudy Giuliani, should get credit for largely steering their own courses to the top of their respective primaries.
Of course it's not the most important factor. But it should not go unrecognized.
So in light of the Huckabee boom (which I called a year and a half ago), I'm pulling a non-common-sense change in the Presidential Odds on the Republican side.
Here's how it goes: Caucus Night in Iowa. It's cold, and you've got to sit for 3 hours in a drafty gymnasium. People stand up and give their pitches for candidates, and then the argument ensues. This is where I see Huckabee unraveling. Because he's less vetted, people won't have appropriate comebacks when Huckabee opponents raise all of his negatives - lack of foreign policy, evangelical musings like saying he's getting direction from God (which doesn't fly much anymore after Bush), etc. etc. Same goes more or less for Romney and Giuliani. There are lots of great arguments to be made against them (for Romney: try mormonism being founded by a con man) (for Giuliani: try terrible relationship with his son and two former wives).
So the top three candidates are looking weak. Where to turn? Not Fred Thompson. But John McCain. People know him. People trust him. Yeah, he's old and a bit wild, and he's dissed Iowa a few times, but he's tough and he's honest, and when it comes down to it you have to pick a President.
So my guess right now is that John McCain has a surprisingly good showing in Iowa. Probably won't win, but I wouldn't be shocked by a close second. That propels him to win New Hampshire, and then off we go.
Reserve the right to change my mind in the next few weeks.
Romney: steady at 3:1 McCain: up from 6:1 to 4:1 Huckabee: up from 5:1 to 9:2 Giuliani: down from 3:1 to 5:1 Paul: up from 18:1 to 12:1 (that money is coming from somewhere) Thompson: down from 11:1 to 13:1
By the way, on the Democratic side, I think John Edwards could be the beneficiary of the same effect, to a lesser degree. (And maybe Joe Biden)
Obama: up from 3:1 to 5:2 Clinton: down from 2:1 to 3:1 (Des Moines Register helps, but not sure) Edwards: up from 5:1 to 4:1 Richardson: steady at 13:1 Biden: up from 35:1 to 15:1 Dodd: down from 25:1 to 30:1 Gore: down from 17:1 to 50:1 Kucinich: steady at 100:1