Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sorting Out The Democratic Field

I'm not going to do a lot of reliance on polls and published opinions, in fact I'm not going to bother with attributions and links. I've indulged in way too much input to sort it out, so you'll get my thinking, for whatever you take it as worth.

I don't think Bill Richardson or Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel are going to be able to more than shape the discussion to certain degree. There just are not any numbers showing them going anywhere.

Hillary has a problem. The problem is not Iowa, that only pointed an arrow at the problem. I have heard almost no enthusiasm for Hillary from activist Democrats, youth, or Independents. The nation is unhappy, and an unhappy nation does not react well to "same old, same old" and worse for Hillary is that the "experienced" mantra tends to mean "same old." Throw into the mix the memories of the Clinton Administration's miscues and there's some baggage. Exposure to Hillary doesn't seem to undo the negatives she carries with Democrats, for their reasons, and Independents, for their reasons. What is difficult is undoing both the Senatorial record with Democrats and the Clinton baggage with the Indies and then trying simultaneously to run on the past and the future in a Democratic Primary while looking at the General. I'm really pleased it isn't my job.

Obama has some real plus column stuff going on right now, whatever the realities of Iowa, he won. That means a lot in attention and the regard of voters thinking about winning. I may find the Iowa caucuses a manipulable event, but that isn't of much effect about attitudes. Some real questions remain, will charm and his aura of change outweigh the fact that his version of change is not materially different from the status quo and neither is his record? Will race count in the ballot booth versus more public displays of support - ie caucuses and phone polling? A lot of this depends on his support base, youth may very well not carry racism into a booth, but will they deconstruct the change image? Youth enthusiasm is impressive, but there is a deep vein of skepticism running through that group. Independents tend to start out skeptical, can Obama play his version effectively against Edwards? In reality his appeal for votes battle is not against Hillary, it is with Edwards. Hillary's dedicated voters are not going to move, it is the polled leaning voters that she can lose and they have little reason to stay with two viable candidates other than her.

Edwards, this is a mess to try to sort out. He has the populist progressive message of the three, it is most change oriented but he also is not a fresh face and he has a record that does not quite line up with it. He, in essence, asks you to consider his Senate record an aberration in his life story, which it may be, but it still leaves questions - like why? Will voters pay attention to the expensive hair cut crap? Who knows, it is irrelevant, but it may have potency. Much I've read and heard indicates a tendency to see Edwards as fake, or at least as imagery rather than solid. This could cause huge difficulties with the message's targets, these are the very most skeptical of all the voter groups. The brass tacks of this group is that they have either been hurt directly or care deeply about the damage to workers and the poor. The poor have little record of coming out to vote and that narrows the field and gets to those with a "hard core" agenda and that bunch ain't buying a paint job. He has a shot at one group neither front runner can have and that is the gun owning non-Republicans (or Republican leaning Indies by virtue of this one issue) but that entails the risk of speaking up about it in a Democratic Primary. There are ways to do it, but he hasn't asked me. He has his wife, an advantage of large consequence, but can he get media attention? His anti-corporate greed message is antithetical to Corporate Media, reporters are another story, but they don't run the show.

Of the front runners, Edwards gets my nod, but his viability is in question. He is short of money and his game is to let Hillary lose votes and fight with Obama for votes. It's a tough calculation, he cannot beat up on Obama, but the Hillary shed votes might well not be enough to keep his campaign going. Obama is not going to go away as a force, therefore Hillary has to be marginalized, and she is a big fat target. She can thank the media inevitability circus she created for that. Hillary is subject to attack, and there is little for Edwards to lose in that provided he stays on the "civil" side of it. Edwards absolutely has to collect the votes shed from other candidates than Obama while preventing him from picking them up. It's time for him to go talk to Biden and Dodd now and probably even Richardson after NH. Biden's persona has always been populist and Dodd will fight, showing them reason to endorse could help. He is closer to Richardson on issues than either Obama or Clinton, but there may be other factors at work.

If Edwards can afford to stay in I believe the real election will come down to him and Obama; Clinton can afford to stay the course, but I believe as time passes she will be less of a force, my guess is mid to high 20s in votes. Hillary just does not wear well and her campaign isn't made up of those who 'get it' or wear well, either. If Edwards falls out, Obama shouldn't have a lot of trouble wrapping the thing up.

All of this discounts the possibility of massively stupid missteps by any of the candidates, that is an imponderable with any set of humans. Feel free to tell me just how badly I've messed this up, just don't cuss at me because I didn't give your candidate a thumbs up.


Zak J. said...

Today's polls in N.H. seem to show about a 10% decline for Edwards and 10% increase for Obama in the wake of Iowa. Together in Iowa, the Obama & Edwards voters outnumbered Clinton voters more than 2-to-1. The think is, Edwards voters will not move to Clinton, they'll move to Obama, as is seen, giving him a greater and greater lead as voters look for the viable candidate who can stop Clinton from being the nominee.

I think the tide has turned against Edwards at this point unless Obama makes a huge gaff that Clinton can't capitalize on. Edwards would do quite well to stay civil now because he's the better VP choice for Obama than Clinton (too much baggage, too likely to upstage him).

Chuck Butcher said...

I don't think there's any way Edwards would Veep for either. Capital will win once again and labor can go suck eggs. You'd think Obama would have a clue what's been done to the working class over the last 25 years, you sure can't tell it from his politics.