Open Season: my primary predictions

Dave Broker

It’s primary season! Of course, for us Wisconsinites, we will likely know who the nominees will be before our February 19 primary. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at what’s happening.For Democrats, it has come down to Clinton and Obama. Despite his best efforts to be a populist, Edwards could not win in Iowa, which took the bulk of his campaign’s resources, and he has been on a steady decline. Clinton was able to save her neck by winning New Hampshire, and picked up headlines by winning Nevada. The good news for Obama is that unions now feel comfortable endorsing him and polls show that his popularity among blacks (50 percent of South Carolina’s Democrats) has skyrocketed since his Iowa victory.

Of course, Bill Clinton is going door to door in South Carolina’s black neighborhoods, which could give his wife a tremendous boost there. This might be a tight race to the end, but I think California, rich with delegates, is the key. Polls there show Clinton has a solid lead, but polls this year have been unreliable and there’s time for Obama to use his extensive outreach in the Golden State. Watch the delegate scoreboard as the race continues.

In case you’re one of the 12 Republicans at Lawrence, I’ll break down your race too. First of all, Romney’s position is looking better, but his resources are in serious question after he dumped his personal fortune into Iowa and New Hampshire. McCain has made a triumphant return, regardless of his records on immigration, tax cuts, and campaign finance reform — none of which sit well with many conservatives.

The libertarian Ron Paul has done much better than I expected, thanks to the most dedicated, organized and vocal base of supporters imaginable. However, no one actually expects him to win. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani has decided to take the road less — or, well, never — traveled by waiting until the Florida primary on January 29 before becoming a serious contender. Frankly, his numbers aren’t high in early states where you need more than name recognition. If this strategy works, pinch me.

Fred Thompson, the only candidate with the Reagan credentials that most Republicans are looking for, has campaigned like a snail with asthma and will subsequently lose. He was, however, able to take enough votes away from Huckabee in South Carolina to give McCain a victory there. Finally, Huckabee has become the candidate of the religious right. Some disagree that it will be enough to win him the nomination, but Evangelicals have a stranglehold over that party, and seem to think that America can only be righteous with a Baptist minister in charge.

Huckabee needs to be on the ticket; otherwise the Evangelicals will stay home in November and the GOP will lose. If Huckabee is the nominee, his tax policy ideas will lose him the Independents, who already lean Democratic (the Democrats have seen much more turnout for their primaries than the GOP has, thanks to Independents). Both Clinton and Obama would be in danger in the case of a McCain-Huckabee ticket, but a Democrat will more likely replace Bush.

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