Some Inconsequential Thoughts on The Presidential Races
If current national polling of presidential preferences for 2008 matter, then Senator Hillary Clinton and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani are the clear favorites to win their respective nominations. Historically, national polling has not meant that much. The early primary results have been much more important. Look we know who is not going to win I think - anyone not named Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Gore, Giuliani, McCain, Romney or Fred Thompson. But which of these will?
The most important factor that can change where we are today is the results of the early primaries. Some candidates in the past have withstood losses in early primaries and cacuses. Ronald Reagan withstood losing Iowa in 1980. George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis also lost in Iowa in 1988. They needed to win in New Hampshire to win the nomination and they did. In 1992, Tom Harkin ran for President and took Iowa out of play. Bill Clinton finished second in New Hampshire but it was deemed a "win" for the Comeback Kid.
Here's the bottom line. In the modern era, other than the exceptional circumstances of Clinton in 92, no candidate who has lost both Iowa and New Hampshire has captured the nomination. I do not believe this year will be any different.
There are some reasons to believe that it could be different this year. The most important of these is the topsy turvy primary schedule. If Iowa and New Hampshire lose their "first" status or if the results and the Media aftermath are crowded with other primaries, it could have an effect. I think it won't. Iowa and New Hampshire will be first and the coverage they generate will create a domino effect in the contests that immediately follow. I believe, as has been almost always the case, Iowa and New Hampshire will decide who will be the nominees for President.
Taking that as a given, how do we rate the chances of the realistic candidates? Ummm, I have no idea. I don't think anyone really does. Sure John Edwards has a leg up in Iowa but such legs up are ephemeral. Dick Gephardt had a leg up in Iowa in 2004.
What's my point? Horserace blogging on the Presidential election may be fun, but it is completely nonserious and not based on anything. And it will continue to be so until about a couple of months before the Iowa caucuses.
Let me put it plainly. The debates now do not matter to the contest. The coverage does not matter. The blogging does not matter. To some extent, the CAMPAIGNING does not matter. Of course, the campaigns have to have the pieces ready in the field for when it does matter. That does matter. But the rest of it? Nope.
So everybody can have their fun now about national polls and whatnot so long as everyone keeps in mind that it is all pretty meaningless in terms of the horserace.
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