Paths To The Nomination

Given that the Democratic field is nearly set and the likely event that February 5th, 2008 will be "Super Early Tuesday," here are my preliminary thoughts on the different ways the primary season could unfold:
  1. No Clear Voting Blocks. Voting blocks in Democratic primaries have traditionally been one of the factors that can mute the effects of frontloading. If one candidate has a sizable number of votes locked down due to demographic of ideological affinity, it becomes far more difficult for other candidates to gain traction through a series of victories of good showings in early states. For example, Jesse Jackson was unaffected by poor early state showing in 1984 and 1988, because he had hard support among African-Americans around the country. Al Gore and Bill Clinton, to differing degrees, were unaffected by early state troubles in 1988 and 1992, because of their support among southern whites (and, for Clinton, among southern blacks as well), during Super Tuesday.

    However, I do not currently see much in the way of voting blocks now. The southern, white wing of the party might lean towards Edwards, but it is much smaller and less distinct within the party than it was in past cycles. African-Americans are not solidly behind any single candidate, and could be split between Obama and Clinton. The progressive movement is slowly emerging as something of a distinct voting block, but currently is split between Edwards, Obama and Clark. Latinos and westerners swung hard in favor of Democrats in 2006, which could favor Richardson as he holds both categories to himself. However, there is no prior evidence to indicate that either demographic group would vote in block-type fashion.

    The lack of hard support for candidates that voting blocks can provide swings the advantage in these the nomination process distinctly in favor of those candidates who do well in early states. As no candidate can rely on any solid base of support if s/he were to stumble in early states, even so called top-tier candidates must perform at least up to expectations to have any shot at a strong performance on February 5th. People will not stick with someone who is perceived to be a loser.

  2. Paths to February 5th Viability. Without voting blocks every candidate must find a way to go into February 5th with a strong chance of meeting the 15% delegate threshold in the vast majority of Super Early Tuesday states. Here is how I currently see the different paths:
    • Edwards must win Iowa. If Edwards loses Iowa, there is probably no remaining path for him to the nomination, as he would have no real chance to make up any deficit in Nevada or New Hampshire. He might still be able to pull out South Carolina, but then even so, at best he could only equal his distant second place performance to Kerry on Super Tuesday, 2004. However, if he wins in Iowa, South Carolina becomes virtually assured. He also would have a great chance to seize New Hampshire and, to a lesser extent, Nevada, and would be guaranteed strong February 5th viability. Simply put, for Edwards, it all rests on Iowa.

    • Clinton must finish in the top two in two of the following three: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Of all candidates, Hillary Clinton might have both the most money, and the largest core of hard-core voters, giving her the only path that does not require winning an early state. Democrats have been with the Clintons for a long time, and would be less likely to abandon her as long as she doesn't lose too badly in the early states. With a $100M or more, she would be able to run a large amount of TV spots in all Early Super Tuesday states for three or four weeks beforehand. So, for her, the key to strong February 5th viability will be showing that she is still in the game. If she finishes in third or lower in both Iowa and New Hampshire, she will have failed to do that, and will be finished. In order to be viable on February 5th, she needs to avoid being blown out early on.

    • Obama must win an early state, and do "better than expected" in at least one other. The ideal situation for Obama is a victory in Iowa, which would severely cripple Edwards and give him the lion's share of soft, shifting support otherwise known as "momentum." This would probably also result in a New Hampshire victory, consolidated netroots support, significantly improved African-American support... and then he would be off to the races. However, failing an Iowa victory, he would then require a victory in New Hampshire (which would be difficult without an Iowa victory), and at the very least a strong second place in South Carolina. That would be good enough to get him into February 5th with a decent shot.

    • Everyone else must win an early state. Period. Even if another candidate breaks through into the top tier before Iowa, failure to win any early state is the death knell of any potential insurgency. What victories could there be? Vilsack, obviously, can win Iowa. Biden in going for South Carolina. Richardson might have a good shot at Nevada. Dodd might be able to make some noise in New Hampshire. Clark has actually won a primary before, so he could have a chance. Kucinich and Gravel? I don't see it.

  3. Brokered convention? In order for the nomination to not be clear after February 5th, it will require two or more candidates to be virtually tied in terms of delegates the next day. If any candidate has any distinct delegate edge after Early Super Tuesday, the nomination will be over. I can see two possibilities in this regard. First, either Edwards or Obama sweeps the early states, but Clinton's money and long-term supporters keep her in the delegate game, thus extending the primary season possibly through the convention. Second, Clinton is shut out of the early states, but the winners of those contests are split three or four other ways, leaving three to five candidates viable on February 5th. The exact day, the delegate counts are split among so many different camps, that no one is close to securing 50%, thus pretty much guaranteeing a brokered scenario. The first scenario is far more likely to happen, but the second scenario is far more likely to produce a brokered convention.
Right now, simply because his lead in Iowa appears solid, I would give Edwards a very slight edge in terms of the nomination. However, with Clinton's recent poll bounce, and with Obama's Facebook army, I could change my mind any minute. It also does not help Edwards, or anyone else, for that matter, that most of the media wants to portray this as a two person campaign between Obama and Clinton. The longer that keeps up, the harder it will become for Edwards. If either Obama or Clinton ever take the lead in Iowa in multiple, consecutive polls, that person will easily take over the frontrunner spot.

Tags: Democrats, President 2008 (all tags)



Hillary must do well in either NH or Iowa

or Nev.

Yes she could survive early disappointment better than the rest however Hillary has the Lieberman factor working with her too, the more people see her retail campaigning events, the more likely she will become less attractive plus her "inevitability campaign" will lose some luster.

The reason her campaign came out with "why she is electable in the general" meme is because once people realize either Edwards or Obama would be more electable AND help local races she could be toast.

Did anyone try to watch her speach on healthcare yesterday - it's hard to watch her speak continuously for so long.

by TarHeel 2007-01-26 07:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary must do well in either NH or Iowa

This kind of analysis is fun to read but absolutely meaningless so far from even the first of the debates, let alone the primaries.  When over 50% of the people don't even have enough to form an opinion of Obama what importance is Edwards early lead in Iowa?  

I've only seen one thing which is relevant to what might happen down the line - Hillary's negative numbers.  It's easy to go from unknown to positive or negative, or go from positive to negative, but once people have a negative reaction to you, to turn that around is about the most difficult thing you can do.  There are a lot of people who just will not vote for her no matter how much money she spends - and in fact, a huge outlay of advertising might have just the opposite effect of solidifying her negative base in resistance to an attempt to buy them.  Anyone else with those type of numbers this early on would not be considered a viable candidate.

by dougdilg 2007-01-26 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary must do well in either NH or Iowa

people who believe that Clinton is competitive with Obama in the Black vote, do so at their peril

by thelonius 2007-01-26 10:41AM | 0 recs
dear god, let's hope so

I worry that the media's not-so-subtle interest in Hillary winning--she angries up the blood, and sells papers--will combine with her almost unlimited money to make it impossible for any of the, well, better, candidates to really get traction.

She's not a good media politician, which probably helps; a friend of mine pointed out last night that she's actually much better when wonking out on substance than spouting those content-free political cliches.

Of course, her enormous coterie of clueless advisors make their living on those cliches (I always think of the brilliant Simpsons lines--"The politics of failure have failed! We must make them work again!... always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!"), so hopefully they'll get her to play to her weaknesses by pushing that pablum.

I wonder about Bowers' contention here that Hillary has the largest and most committed group of supporters. Granted that Democratic rank-and-file loyalty to the Clintons probably runs a lot deeper than mine does, isn't this kind of the Lieberman 2003 factor? Name recognition plus familiarity equals support that's a mile wide and an inch deep.

Maybe it's wishful thinking. Even after 2006, I don't have enough confidence in our politics to envision a process where Hillary's huge negatives--most prominently the 46 percent of the country we'd write off with her as the nominee--are really brought front and center. But I'd like to be pleasantly surprised.

by dajafi 2007-01-27 08:05AM | 0 recs
A completely different take

California is delegate rich, and feels it has been snubbed by effectively having no voice in the Presidential primary; hence the anticipated, and much supported move to February 5th (Terminator, Speaker, and Senate Prez all in favor).  With that in mind, and indulging in a bit of presidential political fantasy (and it is all fantasy at this stage of the race), let me give an alternative:

An up and comer in the State Democratic Party, such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villariagosa, and with no clear favorite heading into February 5th, mounts a favorite son candidacy to hold the lion's share of California's preferential delegates until the Convention.  This would allow serious brokering, especially in terms of a Vice-President.

What say ye?

by VeniceDave 2007-01-26 08:12AM | 0 recs
very unlikely

Democrats can't even come up with a good candidate against a Republican governor, but now they are going to vote for a Californian instead of the big national candidates who will, after all, be campaigning?  Fun to think about, but less likely than a Kucinich win.

by John DE 2007-01-26 08:52AM | 0 recs
This makes no sense

Edwards is strong in Nevada, maybe favored there given the strong support of the unions. He could lose Iowa, then win Nevada. Momentum regained heading into NH and SC.

These sorts of posts are fun to read and probably fun to write but ultimately probably do damage. Bowers, an influential blogger, just used shaky reasoning to set up Iowa as a must-win for Edwards. That kind of prediction can be self-fulfilling. The more people say Iowa is a must-win for Edwards, the more people believe it, so that if he were to lose Iowa, it would be a worse loss than it otherwise woulda been.

Bowers, you want candidates to stick to the issues and avoid matters of process. Maybe you should do the same.

by david mizner 2007-01-26 08:13AM | 0 recs
If california moves up for democrats

(I think so far it's just republicans) than we might as well just auction the nomination on EBAY for whoever can raise the most $$$.

by TarHeel 2007-01-26 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: If california moves up for democrats

No.  If it happens it will be for both parties.

by dougdilg 2007-01-26 09:25AM | 0 recs
Re: This makes no sense

I doubt that Edwards is "the frontrunner" in Nevada. I'd say that's Richardson right now because of a combination of institutional support (former Reid people seem to be on his side), strength among the Hispanic population, and familiarity with Western issues (I'd doubt that Edwards would be fluent on water issues, for instance).

That said, I think Edwards could be strong there, but that's just another way of agreeing with Chris: if Edwards wins Iowa, he could take Nevada, and then he would be tough to stop.

by BriVT 2007-01-26 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: This makes no sense

But doesn't Edwards have the unions in Nevada, which are particularly strong there?

by justinh 2007-01-26 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: This makes no sense

Yes, he does.  I would consider Edwards and Richardson to be tied for support in Nevada right now (with Obama gaining).

by mbcarl 2007-01-26 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: This makes no sense

Well, maybe. It's hard to know right now. The unions there are primarily service unions, of course, with very large Hispanic membership. So ... it's hard to know how the support will play out between Edwards and Richardson. Plus, while Edwards has done a great job with garnering union support, I'm interested to see how it goes as others woo support.

I'm not saying that Edwards has no strength in Nevada ... I'm just disputing that he's the "frontrunner." I'd say Richardson is. To me, the union/Hispanic dynamic plays out to at least a wash, with Richardson's strengths in other areas making him the frontrunner. But it's waaaayyyy early to say anything definitive about Nevada. Edwards has every chance of grabbing that mantle before 2007 is out ... and Richardson has chances to solidify his standing ...

by BriVT 2007-01-26 10:01AM | 0 recs
Premature Prognostication

Things change and expectations change with them. Say Edwards drops to third or fourth in the polls in Iowa, then finishes a strong second. Then one of the stories coming outta there is Edwards is surging as they head into Nevada.

There a hundred plausible scenarios, and about fifty of them undermine the idea that Edwards is done if he doesn't win Iowa.

No one knows what's gonna happen. But we do know that Edwards is running a populist campaign to the left of Hillary and Obama. Let's talk about that, not about possible scenarios for the way things will unfold a year from now.

by david mizner 2007-01-26 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Premature Prognostication

Very true.

I like the Edwards campaign a lot. He's raising issues that should be a big part of the conversation, and my main complaint with this primary calendar is that there isn't enough time for that conversation to take place. Personally, I like Edwards and Richardson so far ... even though they're opposites in almost every way. I'm still undecided, though ...

I hope the primary race gets a lot of attention this year so we can get a sense of what issues and messages are resonating.

by BriVT 2007-01-26 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: This makes no sense

The UNITE-HERE and SEIU locals in Vegas are the best organized in the country. It won't be absolute, but if they strongly endorse Edwards, their members will strongly vote Edwards. That's part of why they've been successful.

by CT student 2007-01-26 01:51PM | 0 recs
Is Richardson Western?

What is this with the idea of "Western" voters supporting Richardson.  I don't get it.  I'm from rural Oregon, I get the Western thing, but Richardson doesn't seem like a Western guy.  He seems like a DC guy.

by jallen 2007-01-26 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Is Richardson Western?

Sure. He lives in NM, been Governor there for a while, represented a district there for years ... I mean, he's not Western in a Jon Tester/"grew up on a farm and lost a finger" sort of way, but he's Western in the sense that he's had to deal with issues of water usage, ranching and land use, Mexican immigration, etc, etc in ways John Edwards (or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama) certainly hasn't. He's lived the problems of the growing Southwest for quite a while. That kind of fluency on issues is hard to acquire just from briefing books and heavy thought.

by BriVT 2007-01-26 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: This makes no sense

Agree that the "Edwards must win Iowa" line is unfair and even a harmful meme.  And I'm not an Edwards guy.

Look, how easy is this scenario to imagine:

Obama wins Iowa
Edwards wins Nevada
Obama wins New Hampshire
Edwards wins South Carolina

I actually think that's the most likely scenario, speaking from this far out and discounting the huge movements that will inevitably take place.  I'd caveat that I really don't know whom the Iowa peaceniks will drift to, Obama or Edwards, but I think Edwards has a very strong shot at Nevada and South Carolina, and I think Obama is favored (at this time) over Hillary in New Hampshire and Iowa.

In any case, I think Edwards has a very clear path into Feb 5th that doesn't go through Iowa, because I think he could build a solid base of support in Nevada and South Carolina.

by texas dem 2007-01-26 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Two related fake news items from Sub-Rosa News section of


January 24      In negotiations with the U.S. Treasury Department Secretary Henry Paulson Chinese officials resisted all efforts to have them increase the exchange rate for Chinese currency, the yuan. In addition to prior arguments, the officials stated that any increase was out of the question now that Hillary Clinton has more dollar reserves than China.

January 25     The U.S. Congress has begun hearings on a change of the 2008 Election Day from November to May. Proponents of such a change pointed out that the November date would mean an interminable wait since the candidates for both parties would be determined in February.

Homer Hewitt

by Homer 2007-01-26 08:15AM | 0 recs
Good analysis

I see only four viable candidates (sorry Clark supporters):

Clinton, Obama, Edwards and Richardson.

Richardson brings Clark's Nat. Security experience with the added bonus of being hispanic.

The wild card is African American support.  What will the impact of Obama be?

There are early signs that the entire African American political community is lining up behind Obama.  

I'd still bet that Hillary does NOT get the kind of black support she thinks she will with Obama in the race and that Obama does very well through Super Tuesday.

by jgkojak 2007-01-26 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Good analysis

"There are early signs that the entire African American political community is lining up behind Obama."

What signs?  And doesn't Bill deliver the block for Hillary?  (Although I hope this isn't the case.)  

by justinh 2007-01-26 08:51AM | 0 recs
so far polls with black voters

are going 2 to 1 for hillary.

I hope you are right and Obama does better with that segment.

by TarHeel 2007-01-26 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Facebook Army

I am not impressed with 100,000 Facebook friends. Heck, I'm one of them and I have no intention of voting for Obama in the primary, let alone volunteering for him. I joined to add one to the number because I thought it was neat, and I like Obama in general. I'm leaning Edwards right now, but I'm not yet willing to volunteer for him either.

by Jawis 2007-01-26 08:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Facebook Army

same, i'm in the facebook group yet i'm a bit undecided with Obama and Edwards, while i'm currently leaning towards Edwards given his backbone as of late. That said, it's subject to change.

by KainIIIC 2007-01-26 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

It's patently ridiculous that a tiny minority of voters in a small state have so much influence on who gets to run for President.  It's undemocratic and it just needs to stop.  Failing a massive shift in media behavior and voting patterns, that means a change to how primaries are conducted.  Federal regulations mandating a primary schedule (possibly on a rotating basis) for Presidential elections need to be enacted.

I also believe that having an annointed candidate so early (in February, for crying out loud) is detrimental to the party.  A contested primary is free media in the months leading up to the convention, putting Democratic ideas and politicians in voters' living rooms every night for months.

by libdevil 2007-01-26 08:59AM | 0 recs
Clark! Ha!

I disagree with the conventional wisdom that a candidate will need to win one of the early low-delegate States in order succeed. I think Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 showed the country the importance or not just every voter, but also the individual importance of each State.

Here's my worthless opinion. The only people backing Clark are internet bloggers. Richardson, like Kucinich, has a 'presidential image problem'. He looks like the fat funny kid you'd cast if you were making a movie about summer camp .... or the actor that plays Josh on the popular Nickelodeon show, Jake and Josh.

Clinton, Edwards and Obama will jockey back and forth through-out the primaries .... and that's if Obama doesn't make a mistake that makes him appear unseasoned.

If Gore enters, he wins it all.

by Cleveland John 2007-01-26 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Clark! Ha!

Yes... because general election swing states are just soooo important in setting the early primary tone/granting momentum...

by Nathan Empsall 2007-01-26 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

If there is a consensus "winner" of the first two states, that person will win the nomination, imo. Say Edwards wins Iowa and pulls a close second in Nevada, then he wins. Or say Richardson pulls out a surprisingly good showing in Iowa (wins or is a surprisingly close second) and then wins Nevada, then he wins. Or Obama takes Iowa and sweeps into Nevada. Whatever ...

I lived in NH for a long time (went to public HS there, my parents still live there), and voters there may be more retail-oriented than other places, but it's a media primary all the same. And most people just don't pay too much attention until January. Combine that with the limited utility of paid media in that compressed window, and what you have is a situation that makes earned media extremely important. If someone comes out of the first two caucuses with a "win" in both, the earned media will be all about "why" that candidate did so well, giving a large amplification to the positives in that candidate's message. So NH voters will hear a whole bunch of that. That'll give that candidate a huge boost into NH, which will carry into SC, and no one (not even Hillary) can have the kind of national campaign that can blunt that momentum before Super-Duper-Zowee Tuesday.

I think this nomination process is remarkably volatile for that reason: we're essentially banking on two caucuses, one in a state that's never had a high-profile caucus before. If someone can put together a crackerjack caucus operation in those two states (and is considered "viable" before that), then they can take it. I'd consider the folks with that shot to be Hillary, Obama, Edwards, and Richardson. Clark's not in yet, so I don't know how he'll turn out, Vilsack is actually greatly hindered because he's from Iowa (and therefore can't "win" that state in the media perception), and Dodd, Biden, Kucinich, et al have no shot whatsoever.

The other possibility is that there is no clear winner in the first round ... then I'd have to say that it'll be Hillary or Obama, whichever has the national lead on name ID going into the primaries.

But, given the national media's obsession with declaring a "winner," I'd say that the first possibility is more likely.

IMO, anyway ...

by BriVT 2007-01-26 09:24AM | 0 recs
Obama and South Carolina

Obama has a shot at winning SC. As long as he looks like he has a chance of being the nominee going into the SC weekend, he could come out 1st in SC with a strong black vote as his base.

If Hillary looks at all weak by then, the black vote could well move over almaost en masse to Obama. Sharpton did very well even when he had no chance at the nomination.

by demondeac 2007-01-26 09:27AM | 0 recs
what if sharpton backs Hillary?

which seems like a real possibility..

If sharpton backs Hillary wouldn't that be the end of Obama in SC?

by TarHeel 2007-01-26 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: what if sharpton backs Hillary?

Yea, there are "what ifs" aplenty at this stage.

Sharpton seems as unlikely to support anyone right now. He is being coy.

Jesse Jackson has all but declared for Obama and carries a lot of weight in NC and SC (as you know).

Long way to go.

My comment's point was just to add one more scenario to the list in the original post.

by demondeac 2007-01-26 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

This kind of analysis is fun to read but absolutely meaningless so far from even the first of the debates, let alone the primaries.  When over 50% of the people don't even have enough to form an opinion of Obama what importance is Edwards early lead in Iowa?  

I've only seen one thing which is relevant to what might happen down the line - Hillary's negative numbers.  It's easy to go from unknown to positive or negative, or go from positive to negative, but once people have a negative reaction to you, to turn that around is about the most difficult thing you can do.  There are a lot of people who just will not vote for her no matter how much money she spends - and in fact, a huge outlay of advertising might have just the opposite effect of solidifying her negative base in resistance to an attempt to buy them.  Anyone else with those type of numbers this early on would not be considered a viable candidate.

by dougdilg 2007-01-26 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

I agree.

I think Hillary's main hope is to make the whole primary about her, crowding out all the others. Her negatives aren't so low so she's lose in that scenario, but I do think her support is a lot softer than her opposition.

by BriVT 2007-01-26 10:11AM | 0 recs
Barring something unforeseen...

...Edwards will win Iowa. Obamarama or -mania or -palooza or whatever you want to call the media lovefest, it hasn't dislodged him.

Hillary's support is (with a few exceptions) among the less-informed, less-inspired, less-active Democrats -- exactly the people who don't show up for three hours on a January night.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-26 09:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Barring something unforeseen...

At this point in 2003, you would have said that barring something unforeseen, Gephardt would win Iowa.

The "less-informed, less-inspired, less-active Democrats" in Iowa were the ones Dean was counting on not showing up either, correct?

by Adam B 2007-01-26 09:54AM | 0 recs
Gephardt is a poor comparison.

Gep was viewed as past his time by about two decades and was just terribly dull (later on, people were dreading a Kerry-Gephardt ticket for that reason). He had hard union support, but everything else was marshmallow soft.

Edwards, on the other hand, just came on the scene for most people in late 2003, basically coming out of nowhere thanks to his retail campaigning skills, and now has been at 25% in Iowa for THREE YEARS. That's why I say, barring something unforeseen, that's not going away. He's beating the state's two-term Democratic governor.

The media's love for Obama is a two-edged sword. They have set the "rock star" expectations so high that it's virtually impossible for him to meet them when most Iowans finally see him live. The grueling, day-in-day-out campaigning process in Iowa is something I'm not sure anyone can appreciate until they have done it. Rock stars have one concert a night. Campaigning is like five concerts a day.

Hillary is stuck in the mid-teens here and will be splitting a lot of the (relatively small) African-American support in Iowa with Obama. I personally do not know a single person who plans to caucus for her -- or at least, who will admit it. And caucuses require you to admit it in front of many of your friends and neighbors.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-26 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Gephardt is a poor comparison.

As of January 20, 2003, says Zogby, "In a poll of 480 likely Democratic voters conducted by Zogby International January 17-19,  Congressman Richard Gephardt of Missouri leads the pack at 19%, followed by Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman (17%) and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry (11%).  No other candidate earned more than 5% support."

Edwarsd has phenomenal retail skills, but for that reason I wonder if he's already near his Iowa ceiling, given how much experience they have with him.  As for Hillary, people like voting for a winner, and if she convinces people that this is a coronation, she'll surprise you in the end.

by Adam B 2007-01-26 10:33AM | 0 recs
A lot more campaigning ahead

Edwarsd has phenomenal retail skills, but for that reason I wonder if he's already near his Iowa ceiling, given how much experience they have with him.

He is indeed very good at it, and there's an awful lot more retail campaigning to be done. I think the day-after-day, week-after-week intensity of it is something Obama and Clinton have never experienced first-hand -- their elections have been quite easy by comparison.

As for Hillary, people like voting for a winner, and if she convinces people that this is a coronation, she'll surprise you in the end.

The Republicans like coronations. Democrats, not so much.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-26 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: A lot more campaigning ahead

Everyone likes coronations.  Why do you think Kerry did so well post-Iowa?  It's been borne out by the research -- if you ask people a month after an election who they voted for, way more claim to have voted for the winner than who action did.

Obama did major retail politics to get the 2004 nomination; Hillary across that 2000 race of hers -- plus, she was involved in how many races of her husband's, 10+?

by Adam B 2007-01-26 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: A lot more campaigning ahead

"Obama did major retail politics to get the 2004 nomination"

In chicago, yes. Downstate, not so much. He's done much better since he was elected at representing the whole state though. We'll see how he rubs off on rural Iowans.

by adamterando 2007-01-26 11:05AM | 0 recs
What people say after the fact is different issue.

Kerry had to win in Iowa first. And Democrats have a history of pitching their front-runner overboard.

Hillary was "involved" in Bill's races, but that's a different animal.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-26 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: A lot more campaigning ahead

FWIW, the Des Moines Register did a poll for both caucuses recently focusing on Iraq.  The paper's conclusion was that no Democrat who was for the war could win in Iowa and no Republican who was against it had a chance in their caucus.  That would seem to bury Hagel and possibly Hillary.

Iowa Democrats were kicking themselves at this point that they did not make Iraq the litmus test in January 2004.

Based on that finding, the paper expected Iowa to be an easy win for an anti-war Democrat in November, 2008.  Hell of a crystal ball, if it works out.

by David Kowalski 2007-01-26 01:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Gephardt is a poor comparison.

There's always a reaction against the Democratic front-runner. The key for that front-runner is to be strong enough, have enough core support, to weather that reaction.

Does Hillary? I don't know. Will the reaction against her go too far and doom her chances? Who knows?

But I'm pretty confident she won't be able to make this a "coronation" for all of 2007 into Iowa next January.

by BriVT 2007-01-26 11:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Gephardt is a poor comparison.

My concern is a repeat of the Republican field in 1999 -- Forbes, Dole, Lamar!, Quayle and Kasich all dropped out in the face of the Dubya Juggernaut.

by Adam B 2007-01-26 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Gephardt is a poor comparison.

First, I always love a reference to Lamar! with the exclamation point ...

But, yeah, I guess that's a possibility, but I don't see Obama, Edwards, or Richardson bowing out ... I could see Clark not getting in, and any of Dodd, Biden, or Vilsack dropping out, but would that matter?

Obama's too popular, Edwards and Richardson have realistic ideas of where they are and good support for that position (and Edwards is in a strong position already) ... I dunno, I just don't see it.

Republicans may quiver in the face of a powerful frontrunner, but we Democrats are made of sterner stuff ...

by BriVT 2007-01-26 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Gephardt is a poor comparison.

... which is why so many people ran in 2000 against Al Gore. :)

Kerry has already bowed out, Gore and Clark might, and I could envision even Obama saying "it's just not my time yet" depending on how things go.   Edwards is in it until 2008, for sure, but anyone else could certainly test the waters and find them too cold.  I certainly never would have expected Liddy Dole not to make it to the caucuses.

by Adam B 2007-01-26 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Gephardt is a poor comparison.

I think there's enough real Democratic Party money that is skeptical of Hillary to fund at least one opponent all the way through.  Probably two.

There was no Republican money that was skeptical of W.  

If Obama has Hollywood, Chicago, and half of Boston to run on (in terms of money), he'll have no problem staying in.

I'd expect him to do well in Silicon Valley and Seattle too.

I get your fear of a coronation but I don't think Hillary can get herself coronated, much as she wanted it.  Her high personal negatives and her war position prevent the party money from getting entirely on board with her.

by texas dem 2007-01-26 03:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Barring something unforeseen...

It's the foreseen that is unforseen, becasue it seldom ever happens that way.  How about Iran for a potential unforseen?  That could scramble the radar. John Edwards for example has positioned himself for a run from the left but some of his comments about Iran of late can be jarring to leftist ears.  If tensions keep building with Iran I think a lot of bets are off about how this race may play out.

Not to mention the standard disclaimer which a number of others have already mentioned.  It is a long way until Iowa, New Hampshire and the others.  Front runners have to live up to their billing or the vultures start circling.  It's hard for anyone to stay popular for a year inside the cross hairs.

That, by the way, is one reason why I disagree about the fact that a darker horse would need to win one of the very first contests in order to be viable. Especially since it is quite possible that there will not be one runaway vote getter this time.  John Edwards gained momentum by coming in 4th in New Hampshire last time.  If expectations are low enough for a dark horse, those expectations will not be that hard to shatter.  

A solid early second place finish by a dark horse can build real excitement for that candidate, and if no one is running away with the race early, that buzz can quickly build, especially if support from one of the initial favorites starts moving toward a dark horse with momentum.

by Tom Rinaldo 2007-01-26 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

I saw a discussion of the importance of unions, specifically the chefs? union, in Nevada.  Those concerned discussed the possibility that Edwards might do well with them, apparently on the basis of his populist rich vs. poor frame.

But I'm thinking that union members have never cared for the rich vs. poor frame.  Clark, on the other hand, has made some very intriguing statements about the future of unions in recent speeches.  He sees them playing a much larger role in education, finding new jobs for members, etc.  I would think that might prove very appealing to union members, who might vote more as a block once again, as a result.

by catherineD 2007-01-26 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

"But I'm thinking that union members have never cared for the rich vs. poor frame."


by adamterando 2007-01-26 11:05AM | 0 recs
What if...

Biden, Richardson, Clark, Vilsack, or Dodd fails to win an early state, but comes in the top 2-3 of, say, three of them, or even four? Would you consider them competetive then?

by Nathan Empsall 2007-01-26 10:37AM | 0 recs
Vilsack's in a tough spot.

If he loses the state he's just been governor of for two terms, I don't see how people take him seriously anywhere else.

Richardson has an image problem, Dodd a geographical problem. I have a hard time seeing them catch on.

I could see Biden or Clark being able to hang around by doing "better than expected" -- but the money issue seems formidable.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-26 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Vilsack's in a tough spot.

I agree about Vilsack.  Regarding Clark or Biden being able to hang around by doing "better than expected" and the matter of money, one of the key factors will be whether Clark or Biden, or whoever the surging dark horse at the time may be, has strong netroots support.  If he does, that will make a real difference, not just in the ability to tap into grassroots money, but also for the buzz amplification effect that the netroots can produce, if the supporters of that netroots candidate are well organized.

by Tom Rinaldo 2007-01-26 03:19PM | 0 recs
Netroots support is split.

I don't think Biden has much support online at all. He's very articulate on foreign policy, but that just doesn't seem to translate into support.

Clark clearly has highly organized and devoted netroots support. But unlike with Dean in 2003, the netroots are divided at least three ways.

I think something big has to happen in order to create an opening for Clark, maybe even something catastrophic that will emphasize the value of the skill set and experience he brings to the table.

by MeanBoneII 2007-01-26 11:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Netroots support is split.

Well there is nothing fresh and new about Joe Biden, and it sometimes seems like his face has been on our Sunday TV screens virtually every week now for decades. People can always discover something new about someone, but very few voters would say that they haven't already "discovered" Joe Biden.

For several reasons Clark has the greatest untapped upside potential in the race.  He is the only current dark horse canidate who has significant Netroots support, but that is not the only reason.  Still, it is telling that Clark still has that type of support even though he is not yet in the race and the mainstream media has been dismissing Clark for over a year while having touted, to varying degrees, virtually any other Democrat who has shown an interest in running in 2008.  

Most recently, when Richardson entered, the AP ran stories listing the other current Democratic candidates, while mentioning that Gore and Kerry were still on the sidelines, without any mention of Wes Clark.  The netroots are not typical voters but they are still subjected to media buzz about who is and who is not viable, and of course that has an effect, otherwise Kucinich would have much more grassroots support than he now does.

But Wes Clark has another well to draw on that is uniquely his own.  Clark's lifetime of service in the military does set him apart from any other candidate. One can argue that is a positive or negative distinction.  Clearly, in my mind at least, it would be an asset to Clark in the General Election, and I don't think that fact will be lost on Democratic Primary voters either.

Because of his years spent in the uniform of our country, Wes Clark has a special appeal to Democrats in Red leaning parts of the nation.  They want him in their districts campaigning.  They don't worry that his views will be seen as "too Liberal" for their constituents, becasue the messenger transcends the message. Clark is credible to many moderates and conservatives because he served so long with distinction. They will rally toward Wes Clark once his campaign is seen as viable.

Wes Clark is constrained right now by a perceived "Viability threshold" that he has not yet crossed, almost a type of circular logic that says he is not viable because he isn't seen as viable.  Money, coverage, it mostly all comes back to that. But if Wes Clark start moving toward achieving recognition that he is in fact a viable candidate, as he campaigns in retail politics states, Clark can shatter the crass ceiling which till now has held him back.

by Tom Rinaldo 2007-01-27 04:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

California is going to decide who the candidate will be because we are definitely pushing our primary up.  California understands entertainment and come on, what better entertainment can there be than a late December California debate, all the candidates on stage wearing Santa Claus caps?

by dougdilg 2007-01-26 11:12AM | 0 recs
A state that gave us the Governator...

...should pick our next president?

Hmm color me unconvinced about California's special abilities. ;)

by MNPundit 2007-01-26 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: A state that gave us the Governator...

And we're slowly turning him from a Republican into a Progressive...maybe we can do the same with Hillary.

by dougdilg 2007-01-26 11:18AM | 0 recs
Hmm I doubt that.... seems he veers left to save his hide and then right as soon as he can so.... basically he's just suckering your a good chunk of your state.

by MNPundit 2007-01-30 03:48AM | 0 recs
Do we Want a Brokered Convention?

Or would this be the kind of thing that means the primary campaign actually goes on all summer? Would that be a good thing?

by MNPundit 2007-01-26 11:13AM | 0 recs
gonna have to disagree a bit...

as he would have no real chance to make up any deficit in Nevada

Edwards is strong in Nevada. Real strong. See this (excellent) recent diary for some details.

And I get the sense that the black vote is actually splitting three ways, not just Obama and Clinton, but Edwards as well. It seems to be a smaller group of black supporters, but the group that's paying the most attention.

I'm an Edwards supporter, so take this all with a grain of salt; maybe I'm just sensitive, but in terms of his chances, I think you're underestimating him. The fact that he's off the radar screen a bit is a good thing for now. He can be as progressive as he wants as he flies under the radar. I think if we, on the netroots, respond to that (because he's by far the most progressive, populist, and anti-war candidate at the moment) he'll vault past the two big-media candidates before they even know what hit them.

On the whole I agree with your assessment, and though I think Edwards very well might win Iowa, I don't think he has to.

by msnook 2007-01-26 12:46PM | 0 recs
Although I will say...

Edwards is currently so strong in Iowa that if he doesn't win it, it's may be because he's tanked so bad he can't win the nomination anyway.

So I guess I'm fine with you saying Iowa is important for Edwards, but not because it will cause him to win or lose, but because it will indicate whether he can.

by msnook 2007-01-26 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Voting blocks:

I think you underestimate Clinton and Obama here. It might not be an absolute 100% block but it is clear to me that Hillary Clinton will have a strong female voting block in every state. I strongly suspect the same is true for Barack Obama and the African-American vote.

Paths to Feb. 5th:

I agree with your comments regarding Edwards. He needs to win to stay in the game.

I think your description of Clinton describes Obama better than Clinton. As long as no other single candidate sweeps the 4 early states then as long as Obama and Clinton place well in them they are both in the game on Feb. 5.

For Edwards to a degree and absolutely the others, winning in an early state is a requirement.

Now, this is all assuming that they stay in the money game so that they can compete Feb. 5.

If the states move up on create "Super Early Tuesday" on Feb. 5 then that day probably sorts it all out unless someone has swept the first 4 states already. But as long as they stay competitive organizationally and monetarily then Clinton and Obama are in at least until Feb. 5.

But if it is truly close going in to Feb. 5 between 3 or more candidates then it may well be truly close coming out as well. That is a scenario that might lead to either a brokered convention or, more likely, a deal between 2 of the front runners to create a majority ticket.

I sincerely doubt any deal making on the floor and in the backrooms of the convention itself. That will have already been done and probably between Super Early Tuesday in Feb. and Super Tuesday in March.

by Andrew C White 2007-01-26 01:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

This all changes of course if Vice President Al Gore jumps in at some point.

by Andrew C White 2007-01-26 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Agree with your thinking. In 2004 the choice was between tall white men. In 2008 there's going to be a woman, a black man and several white men. A lot of people are going to vote on that information alone. Forget the war, forget detailed policy positions, forget head to head polls are republicans, forget who won Iowa, who did well in New Hampshire.

If you are going to vote for Obama because he's a black guy, or HRC because she's a woman, then I can't see you changing your mind just because they didn't do that well in Iowa.

Now I'm not sure these voting blocks are big enough to win the nomination but they must surely be big enough to keep the candidate in the race deep into mid Feb provided they've got the cash.

by kundalini 2007-01-27 12:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Once voters see how well Hillary deflects the smear tactics of the Republicans and the rightwing media, and throws it right back at them, her support will climb even more.

She is preparing now to put Iowa in her camp and has hired a tough team to help her do this. She is fully aware of the importance of Iowa and has many months to conduct listening tours in each of Iowa's 99 counties, with Bill Clinton doing the same.

by marycontrary 2007-01-26 01:37PM | 0 recs
Clinton has high negatives

They are so high that I personally might not vote for her if she wins the general (I live in California, so my vote is 100% worthless).  A large section of the population in the middle (and right) simply hates her.  A large section on the liberal left and libertarian left (I'm in the second category here) does too, and they might flock to Nader and whoever the Libertarians run, respectively.  She's really damned close to Lieberman in many of he policy positions (weak anti-Iraq war stance, is a cultural warrior like Lieberman, etc.).

She of course has high positives too, especially amoungst women and blacks.  She could win in the general.  But I rather she lost in the primary so we don't have to find out.

by Geotpf 2007-01-26 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

She is preparing now to put Iowa in her camp and has hired a tough team to help her do this.

You don't get to just put voters in your camp.  Sorry, it's not that easy.  You can't shapeshift yourself into any profile you like, so you're stuck with your own past (as Romney is learning), and if voters don't care for what you're presenting, they'll vote for someone else.  It's that simple.  Short of actually destroying the alternate choices (which she can do to Obama or Edwards but probably not both), she can't just make voters vote for her.  Sorry.

by texas dem 2007-01-26 03:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

'tough', 'brutal' - Sheesh!  You are using the same adjectives I am thinking of when I am not liking her.

How about 'elitist', 'entitled' and 'centrist' while you are about it.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-01-26 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

I think it will be very difficult for HRC to do well in Iowa. She's probably too late, just not a great fit for the state, and numerous other reasons why a strong second place would be a good result for her. Bill ignored Iowa back in 92 and HRC hasn't visited the place for years.

I do think she can win Nevada if she can generate a huge turnout. On a low turnout Edwards is far more likely to win there.

Similarly New Hampshire is viable, though again it will difficult.

by kundalini 2007-01-27 12:07AM | 0 recs
I'm hoping for a brokered convention

Because it's the only way Feingold gets the nomination since he ain't running. :-P

Highly unlikely, but if Iraq really, really sucks, he is the strongest anti-war canidate, having both voted against the Iraq war and showing the ability to win a purple state in a state-wide election (three times).  Kucinich is just as anti-war as Feingold (maybe more so), but he's never shown he can win anything other than a cushy liberal House seat.  So, if Feingold is willing (still a question), he might be satisfactory to many convention goers as an odd compromise.  Yeah, yeah, wishful thinking.

by Geotpf 2007-01-26 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm hoping for a brokered convention

If it comes to that it works for me.  But do you really think he can win the general?

by Shaun Appleby 2007-01-26 07:37PM | 0 recs
Sure...why not?

He just needs to let his "maverick" nature shine through-works for McCain.  Besides, the 08 election may be just as much about the Iraq war as the 06 one was, maybe more so, and he's the most credibile anti-Iraq war voice.

by Geotpf 2007-01-27 01:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination
The media is already moving away from the two person race thing into the declaration that we might as well forget supporting or voting for anyone but Hillary as she has the nomination.  This is the turn now.  The media has picked our nominee and is trying to convince us that no one else has a chance as they have decided Hillary is the winner now.  
Next they will be wanting the primaries cancelled as they will be on the Why hold them when we have picked out your candidate"
So, not only will Edwards not get air time but, everyone else will not as well.  So, don't feel bad if Edwards is being ignored.  
It's funny but, I thought we had a democracy and we picked our nominee and not the media.  or did I miss something?????  hmmmmm
by vwcat 2007-01-26 03:51PM | 0 recs
Let Them Eat Health Care

They aren't about to give up on the Obama vs The Queen story so easily.  For what it is worth the MSM is selling us a two horse race.  There is nothing in it for them to end this sideshow attraction too early.

They would love to do a lengthy 'how the mighty are fallen' piece with a chorus of Republican tricotteuses howling as HRC is led to the Place de la Greve.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-01-26 07:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Don't hand Nevada to Edwards so fast.  Why?  Because there are union workers?  If Barack goes into Vegas and Reno and delivers a variation of this speech, he wins. e_national_convention.php

by dougdilg 2007-01-26 07:58PM | 0 recs
I Second That Opinion

Look, I was sooooo tempted to quote a huge tract of that speech here but thought you all might troll-rate me.

Give it a read, I was more than impressed.  It stumps me that you folks are having trouble with Obama as a progressive Democrat in favour of Edwards when he just seems to hit things on the head in his speeches.

PS I like Edwards too.

by Shaun Appleby 2007-01-26 08:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

texas dem wrote:
"You don't get to just put voters in your camp.  Sorry, it's not that easy.  You can't shapeshift yourself into any profile you like, so you're stuck with your own past (as Romney is learning), and if voters don't care for what you're presenting, they'll vote for someone else.  It's that simple.  Short of actually destroying the alternate choices (which she can do to Obama or Edwards but probably not both), she can't just make voters vote for her.  Sorry."

My response:
I agree completely.  Hillary Clinton will have to work for every single vote, just as she did throughout the state of New York. I'm afraid you read too much into my choice of verb, perhaps.
I don't know how she will fare in Iowa, but I do know she will give it her best effort.  Hillary does not sit back and expect results. She works for them. She always has.

by marycontrary 2007-01-26 11:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Its true that the media began with the Hillary vs.Obama theme,I think mainly because Obama so obviously could cut into her African-American base.

However,in the past week,it seems that they have woke up to the fact that Edwards is in the race based on the Iowa polls and the head to head matchups with McCain and Rudy which show him a the most electable.

Edwards,as a white Southern male,can get away with running to the left of both of them and running to their left is the only way to take them on.He has to avoid the Dean problem of anger and the slight flakiness factor which became apparent even before the Iowa scream after Dean tanked in the caucus.

by Litvak36 2007-01-27 01:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Just a few quick observations:

1. In years when Iowa is contested only Vice President Walter Mondale has gone wire to wire -- holding his lead there for over a year and winning the state in 1984.   The toughest thing to do in American politics is to hold a lead in Iowa when the entire field is trying to tear you down there.  Maybe that sounds like bitterness out of personal experience -- but its the truth.  I ran Iowa for Mondale in 1984.  I was with Gephardt in 1988 when we were in last place with weeks to go, and Senator Paul Simon of Illinois had a strong lead there -- Gephardt won.  And then of course there was Dean going to the lead there in 2004.  I've seen this play out three times now -- from the winning side twice -- and the losing side once. It will be very tough for Edwards to hold his lead there.  Not impossible -- but very tough.

2. If California moves up -- it does not mean a candidate needs more money -- but it does mean that the candidate that surprises early will win the nomination.  There is no amount of money on the planet that can stop a campaign that is rocketing out of a surprise win or second in Iowa.
See Gary Hart 1984.  He was running on fumes against Mondale -- he defeated Mondale in state after state with out much money -- had the calendar been this frontloaded -- Gary Hart would have been the nominee.  

3. Jesse Jackson won 11 states in 1988 against Al Gore and Michael Dukakis.  It was Jackson's strength among african American voters that stopped Gore from winning key states on Super Tuesday.  Obama's appeal is far broader than Jackson'S.  If Obama runs he alters the dynamics of the race in a very big way.

by JoeTrippi 2007-01-27 03:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Paths To The Nomination

Can Hillary Clinton win the nomination while going 0-for-4 in January?  I do not see it, nor do I see her winning IA, NV, NH, or SC.  She might not even make the top 3 in the Palmetto State.

by CLLGADEM 2007-01-27 07:44AM | 0 recs


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