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Assessing the Iowa presidential primaries.

So, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee ended up winning their respective primaries last night in Iowa. I was pleasantly surprised to see Obama win in a state that some might view as not being conducive for him to win in, but his message apparently resonated with a lot of young voters, who it appears turned out in big numbers to vote for him. What was even more surprising was that John Edwards appears to have edged out Hilary Clinton for 2nd place. I have said previously that perhaps he was the candidate US progressives could get behind, and it appears, at least in Iowa, that his message, which combine progressive and populist politics, was effective and did indeed have US progressives lauding his campaign. The early loser of this campaign has to be Hilary Clinton. It wasn’t too long ago some people seemed to be talking of a coronation for her as the Democratic presidential candidate, but the Clinton juggernaut took a big hit last night. That isn’t saying she can’t win the nomination, but she and her team are going to have to work a bit harder then previously thought.

As for the Republicans, you have a very interesting character in Mike Huckabee. It appears that the Republican Party establishment don’t want him to win, for a variety of reasons. The conservatives in the Republican Party dislike him because they believe him to be the American equivalent of a Canadian Red Tory – one that will enact government programs or raise spending to solve problems, rather then slash government spending and reduce it to the bone, as many of these folks believe is necessary. One prominent conservative even calls Huckabee a “Christian socialist” for that exact reason.

The other reasons for the Republican Party establishment disliking Huckabee is over his foreign policy stances, as well as the very public religious aspect Huckabee brings to the race (he is an ordained Baptist minister, and is not afraid to espouse his views on the campaign trail). A few weeks ago, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post wrote that the problem is that the GOP was fine to have the evangelicals support “when it was just a resource to be cynically exploited every few years in demagogic anti-gay get-out-the-vote campaigns. But now the holy-rolling monster the GOP’s Dr. Frankensteins have created has thrown off the shackles (and) fled the lab. And the party doesn’t know what to do.”

Expanding on this aversion to Huckabee from the Republican establishment was Markos Moulitisias, writing at his site, the big liberal Democratic blog Daily Kos:

Huckabee isn’t a corporate con — he isn’t even a millionaire! — and he certainly isn’t a neocon. His foreign policy would actually be predicated on liberal ideals of respect, trust and cooperation — poison to those who get their foreign policy from Soldier of Fortune magazine T-shirt ads: “kill ’em all and let god sort them out”. He’s a theocon, the very people who empowered the corporate cons and neocons the past two decades by their tireless on-the-ground activism while the others kept their fingernails clean in their Wall Street and think tank corner offices. Now that the theocons are threatening to take their turn at the helm of the GOP, it’s amusing how the rest of the -cons in the GOP are suddenly less than thrilled and willing to play ball.

What’s even more amusing to me is that the person the Republican establishment has anointed as the person to stop Mike Huckabee from winning is Mitt Romney, whose Mormon beliefs are viewed with great suspicion by the very same evangelicals which Huckabee used to win Iowa last night. Unless John McCain revives his campaign in New Hampshire from the poor 4th place showing in Iowa he had, the Republican establishment may have no choice but to stick with Romney as their “anybody but Huckabee” candidate.

Quite frankly, my opinion is that any of Edwards, Clinton or Obama could beat whoever the Republicans pick in 2008 (and of course, my view is that any of those 3 could run the US better then Bush has, or any of the Republicans).  I think Bush has so poisoned the waters for the Republicans to the large majority of the country that they will lose the Presidency and have smaller minorities in both branches of Congress.

6 comments to Assessing the Iowa presidential primaries.

  • I too want the Democrats to win and I think Obama has the best chance of doing it, although I could see the Republicans still pulling it off.  As unpopular as Bush is, your average American tends to lean more to the right than left just as your average Canadian tends to lean more to the left than right, so if everything is equal, the Republicans will win, just as the Liberals do in Canada.  Now with Bush doing such a disastrous job, I believe it will be an uphill battle, but not impossible.

  • mushroom

    Jason,

    Over at nbpolitico, a Hillary meltdown is called for.  He had Obama by 16 over Hillary with Edwards only 2 behind second!!!!

  • Jason Hickman

    I’ll live to regret this prediction, I’m sure, but I think the GOP will win the presidential race if Clinton is nominated.  Not b/c she’s female, but b/c she polarizes the electorate to such a huge extent, and she’ll do a better job of uniting Republicans (and centre-right independents) than anyone else in either party.

    On the other hand, if Obama can hold Clinton off in NH and take the nomination, it would seem – right now – that he’ll be danmed tough to beat.

    One very interesting thing was how well Obama did amongst the younger voters and – more importantly – how his campaign got them to show up in sufficient numbers for him to win.  The conventional wisdom is that support amongst the youth in polls doesn’t mean as much as it does amongst older voters, since the latter are much more likely to show up (and they leaned Clinton’s way).  According at least to the CNN coverage I was watching last evening, Obama may have broken that pattern.  If he did, and if he can do so down the line, that’s huge.

    If – BIG "if" – he can survive the fury that the Clinton folks are going to unleash on him now, *and* survive the first wave of Republican attacks, he may run the table of the at-play states this November.  I don’t think he’ll win as big as Regan did, but a strong, decisive, Bush-in-’88 margin of victory (you kids born in the 80’s & ’90’s can look it up!) is quite within reach.

    That said, as I hedge all my bets above, there are a lot of miles between now & New Hampshire, let alone between now & November…

    Last thing – Edwards is, I think, done (though I’ll probably regret that prediction, too).  He needed to win last night, since he put all his eggs in Iowa’s basket.  I don’t think he has legs elsewhere, and he was counting on winning Iowa to give him some.  Second place wasn’t enough for him.

  • mushroom

    Thompson’s showing is solid and that is due to his Law and Order reputation!!!!

    He will be viable in the Southern primaries.  Maybe they can work together to starve off Giuliani.  Don’t know where McCain is competitive beyond New Hampshire due to the rise of Huckabee and Thompson still a bit player.

  • ALW

    I think Bush has so poisoned the waters for the Republicans to the large majority of the country that they will lose the Presidency and have smaller minorities in both branches of Congress.

    Well, hell must have frozen over, because I agree with you here.  Although I can’t totally discount the Democrats’ strong tradition of managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Scott

    One quibble, McCain’s showing in Iowa is anything but "poor", if you consider the expectations game.  McCain never ran an ad in Iowa, his strategy starts in NH.  If anything, McCain’s showing is respectable, given his focus and what the pundit class expected.  McCain is unscathed coming out of Iowa, but he benefits from Romney’s failure.  The only bad thing I suppose, had Thompson finished behind McCain he would have dropped out and the scuttlebutt is that he would endorse McCain.

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