2008 Election Prediction: McCain vs. Obama
It’s a tough thing to make Presidential election predictions, especially at this point in the game where things are in flux. It’s especially tough when, like me, you have a horrible, horrible record for calling the outcome of primaries and elections. Still, no self-respecting pundit can enter election season without making predictions that he will then boldly ignore once reality proves him terribly, terribly wrong. So here goes:
Republican Nominee: John McCain – I’ve actually been saying for quite a few months now that I think that McCain, campaign troubles to the contrary, is still the most likely Republican nominee. Granted, this is all dependent on one thing: Mitt Romney loses both Iowa and New Hampshire. I think right now, it’s pretty clear that Iowa is lost for Romney, and while he still has a solid lead in New Hampshire, I think an Iowa loss cripples his chances. If things play out the way they are now, I see an Iowa victory for Huckabee, followed by a McCain victory in New Hampshire, and either a Giuliani or McCain victory in Nevada. In any case, after those three losses, I’d expect Romney and Fred Thompson to drop out of the race, leaving Huckabee, McCain, Giuliani and Paul as the only major contenders left. And when the media starts to focus on the four man race prior to February 5, I can’t see anyone but McCain benefiting. While I respect Paul’s run, I suspect that he’s at or near his peak level of support, so he probably won’t be a factor. So let’s look at who we have left.
Huckabee is clearly completely unprepared for the Presidency. Indeed, his support in the polls has risen so fast that it’s disturbingly fascinating to watch him learn about the strange and wonderful world beyond the borders of Arkansas. His reaction to his quick rise to the top of the polls reminds me of a Victorian time-traveler who comes to the present and stares for hours in wonder at the automatic door at the supermarket. What marvels this place has! Not Presidential material.
Giuliani’s dead in the water. The polls have consistently shown that the closer people are following the Presidential race, the less they like Giuliani. He’s got more skeletons in his closet than the family in Poltergeist, and, as many have pointed out, all of the attributes that make him a good mayor will not make him a good President.
So, stack Huckabee and Giuliani next to McCain, who’s going to come out on top? McCain, that’s who.
Now, the Dark Horse in the Republican race is clearly Mitt Romney. If Romney can salvage either Iowa or New Hampshire, he will be in a much stronger position to take the nomination, and probably force McCain out of the race. However, given the flow of the campaigns so far, I just don’t think that Romney can pull it out.
Democratic Nominee: Barack Obama – Clearly, the tide is turning in Obama’s favor. He is rapidly gaining in the polls and his campaign has shown a lot of savvy in tackling Hillary Clinton. The only thing truly holding him back, I think, is that he’s not seen as being as electable as Hillary Clinton. However, early caucus or primary victories will change that dynamic. My understanding is that victory in the Iowa caucuses is all about second choices. My guess is that most Clinton supporters have Obama as their second choice–as do most Edwards supporters. So I think that Iowa will go Obama. And if Obama can follow up a victory in Iowa with a victory in New Hampshire or South Carolina, then the aura of inevitability that Hillary Clinton will crack and Obama will win. I think this is the most likely scenario–especially given the serious setbacks of her campaign as of late.
Plus, you know, Oprah is campaigning for Obama. Do not underestimate the Oprah. Seriously. Oprah Winfrey takes her career and her position very seriously, and I honestly believe that she would not be campaigning for Obama if she didn’t already think that the momentum was on his side–she has too much to lose already by actively getting involved in politics, and backing a losing candidate is only going to make that worse.
Could Clinton still take it? Maybe, but only if Obama drops the ball. But I think that a small crack in the armor is all Obama needed to send Hillary’s campaign tumbling down, so the only way for a Clinton nomination to happen is for Obama’s campaign to shoot itself in the foot.