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Friday, January 04, 2008

The Morning After

Okay, it's the morning after Iowa, so even though Britney continues her descent into madness, my mind is on politics. Certainly an interesting evening, but before turning to what we learned (and didn't learn), I have to reiterate the stupidity of this system.

There are legitimate arguments that a state such as Iowa (and NH) should have first crack at the candidates. Despite the lack of diversity, the argument goes, these states pride themselves in retail politics where the candidates must speak to the voters and things other than money matter. (Exhibit A: Mitt Romney.)

These arguments have some appeal (although I would completely gut the system), but to have caucuses and not a primary is inane, and the Democratic version is far worse and to actually watch it reveals what a mockery it is. The system limits turnout even further by precluding many from participating (i.e., those who cannot be present at their caucus at 7pm last night), creates a strange result with the lobbying going on throughout the process and distributing the votes of nonviable candidates, and because the democratic "vote" is based not on votes but on local delegates, a candidate with the most support can lose, e..g, possibly Paul Simon (the senator, not the singer) in 1988. I stress that I am not saying a different candidate would have won last night with a different system, but this is inane.

As for the results:

1. On the GOP side, I have been saying for more than 6 months that McCain, despite going broke, had a good shot at the nomination. There is even a post of mine from months ago that I'm too lazy to find saying just that. A large part of my argument was based upon his opponents, all of whom have major, major flaws. With Romney losing last night, he is in deep, deep trouble, and if he loses NH (which I think he will), he is toast. His whole strategy was to win both, and he spent a fortune trying to do so. At least he didn't go bald.

As for the Huck, he is amusing, but I don't think the GOP is insane enough to nominate him. Remember, Pat Robertson came in second in Iowa in 1988; Huckabee is just slightly more sane (albeit much funnier). And when it comes down to a more mainstream opponent to Huckabee, McCain is perfectly positioned for the role. Guiliani thinks he is, but his decision to forgo Iowa and NH and his continuing scandals plus his view on social issues make it highly unlikely he can all of sudden get things started in Florida.

2. On the Democratic side, a great job by Obama. I was skeptical, but in the end, he was able to get a massive turnout among the young and new voters, something that other candidates have tried to do and failed. He is now the clear front runner heading into NH and SC with huge momentum. Clinton (and only Clinton) could stop him, but it is going to be very tough. Because of (1) Obama's ability to stay positive, (2) concerns about her, (3) the presses love for him and not for her (cf. McCain and Romney) (I thought Chris Matthews was going to orgasm when MSNBC called Iowa for Obama.), and (4) Obama's race and the increasing role (after NH) of the African-American vote, she can't really attack him without it backfiring. I would never count out a Clinton, but Hillary ain't her husband, and at this point I think Obama is in great shape.

So, the big winners: Obama, Huckabee, McCain, and Ron Paul (10% and he crushed Rudy in Iowa)

The classy losers: Biden and Dodd. They had their chance; they saw the future; they can leave looking proud.

The losers: Edwards (he moved to Iowa in 2005 and had to win it to remain viable; he didn't and he didn't even bother to congratulate Obama in his concession speech); Richardson (2% ain't going to cut it); Thompson (he tied McCain in IA who really didn't campaign there; please come back to Law & Order so Jack McCoy can return to the courtroom); Guiliani (campaigning or no campaigning, 6th place is lame).

The big losers: Romney and Hillary. (To be fair to Hillary, IA was always a tough state for her; her problem was that as she began to look inevitable, it made is very difficult to forgo the state; now that she has lost, she has to regret not doing so.)

At least until next Tuesday.


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