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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - John McIntyre

RealClearPolitics - Articles - John McIntyre

Last Build Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2008 14:30:35 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2008

Why Pennsylvania Matters

Mon, 21 Apr 2008 14:30:35 -0600

Clinton will undoubtedly stay in the race with a 6-9 point victory, but at that point her chances for the nomination will be reduced to hoping for an Obama scandal or major gaffe that causes Obama's campaign to implode. Not totally impossible. But, then again, not very likely either.

Where the race could get very interesting is if Clinton is able to beat Obama by double-digits. Something to keep in mind is Pennsylvania will be the first time Democratic voters, as opposed to pollsters, have had a chance to factor in some of the recent controversies surrounding Obama the last six weeks, in particular Reverend Wright and his "bitter" comments in San Francisco. A big win by Clinton may cause a reassessment of how damaging these issues might be to Obama. On the back of Senator Obama's dismal showing in the Ohio River Valley among working class whites, his performance in Pennsylvania among downscale white voters will take on heightened importance.

A Clinton victory over 10 points will allow two critical things for the Clinton campaign.

1) Given the likelihood that Obama will overwhelmingly carry black voters and young voters, a 10+ point Clinton win, will mean Obama performed terribly among blue-collar whites. This will exacerbate angst among undecided superdelegates, fully aware that the most reasonable Democratic pathways to 270 electoral votes include wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey.

2) A double-digit win keeps Clinton in position to be able to ultimately claim a victory in the popular vote. And a win in the popular vote is critical to the Clinton campaign's ultimate strategy for the nomination, as it gives superdelegates the rationale (and more importantly the cover) to buck all the emotional investment in Obama as the nominee.

Here is a quick guide to sort through the inevitable post-PA spin.

--Obama wins: Race is totally over.

--Clinton wins by 5 or less: Race is effectively over.

--Clinton wins by 6-9: Status quo, which favors the front runner Obama, particularly as the clock winds down.

--Clinton wins by 10-13: Clinton remains the underdog, but her odds of being the nominee will be considerably higher than the conventional wisdom in the media.

--Clinton wins by 14+: Totally different race, as Clinton will be on a path to claim a popular vote win that will give her every bit as much of an argument as the legitimate "winner". In this scenario anything could ultimately happen, including neither Clinton nor Obama becoming the eventual nominee.

Time to Buy Hillary Clinton

Mon, 17 Mar 2008 08:30:52 -0600

3) The mostly unnoticed switch of Puerto Rico from a caucus on June 7 to a primary on June 1, gives Hillary Clinton a very real opportunity to surpass Barack Obama in the popular vote count. If Senator Clinton can "win" the popular vote, this will provide undecided superdelegates ample rationale to go with the less risky general election option of Senator Clinton.

Currently on Intrade Senator Clinton's odds to become the next president stand at 17.9%, down from a 2008 high of 47.5% on January 22. With Senator Obama unlikely to win another primary until May, it is time to be buying Hillary Clinton.

Schwarzenegger, Giuliani and McCain Republicans

Thu, 31 Jan 2008 11:30:16 -0600

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Zell Miller.

These prime-time speaking slots were not an accident.

For a President who was struggling with sub-50% job approval ratings (ratings that many pundits felt would ensure his loss) these four speakers were meant to send a clear message to Independents and moderate Democrats that they were welcome - and wanted - in a big tent, majority Republican Party.

Starting Tuesday in the state that delivered George W. Bush the presidency in 2000 and in California yesterday and today with the Giuliani and Schwarzenegger endorsements, the Bush/Cheney baton has been passed to John McCain.

Many on the more conservative side of the Republican Party are balking now that the Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, McCain faction looks likely to be the standard bearer in 2008. But with President Bush's approval ratings hovering in the low 30's (as opposed to the high 40's of 2004) and after the wipe out in 2006 where the GOP was annihilated in the Northeast and basically everywhere outside of the South, the Republican party is putting forth - either through luck, serendipity, or design - its most competitive general election candidate, by far.

With the country screaming for change and very ready for a Democratic president, George W. Bush would not win a third term. But if the Democrats nominate the divisive Hillary Clinton over the inspiring Barack Obama, John McCain will be in a very strong position to keep the White House in Republican hands, with one caveat.

Without Schwarzenegger, Giuliani and McCain voters in 2004 George Bush would have lost to John Kerry and without Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and evangelical voters in 2008 John McCain does not have a chance against Hillary Clinton.

What the Major Campaigns Need Tonight

Thu, 03 Jan 2008 14:30:43 -0600

Hillary Clinton

Clinton only has to avoid getting embarrassed. Because of her money, organization and huge lead nationally she can survive a loss, even a third place finish. Though a distant, humiliating third could very well be the beginning of the end.


If Obama wins Iowa, the Democratic race will probably come down to Clinton vs. Obama in New Hampshire. Both the Clinton and Obama campaigns are obviously well positioned to compete far past New Hampshire, but an Obama win in Iowa tonight, coupled with a win Tuesday would make him the clear front-runner. On the other hand, if Clinton -- who currently holds a 7-point lead in the latest RCP Average in New Hampshire -- is able to hold off Obama, the nomination contest will move on to Nevada, South Carolina and February 5 and Obama will in all likelihood have lost his window to halt the Clinton machine.


Mike Huckabee

To keep his long-shot hopes of winning the GOP nomination alive there is no question Huckabee has to win Iowa, and win big. However, since Huckabee is unlikely to become the GOP nominee no matter what happens tonight, all he has to do is finish in a close second to play a significant role in the rest of this campaign as it moves past Iowa and New Hampshire and on to Michigan, South Carolina and Florida.

Mitt Romney

Romney is facing a precarious five days. Because of McCain's surge in New Hampshire -- particularly the timing of McCain's surge -- a loss tonight in Iowa would probably foreshadow a loss to McCain on Tuesday. While the Romney campaign will have all the money they need to press on -- and may even be able to do well in Michigan on January 15 -- an 0-2 start for a campaign that based its entire nominating strategy on leveraging early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire would be the beginning of the end for the Romney campaign.

John McCain

Would love a third place finish, but quite frankly the McCain campaign would trade a Romney loss for third place any day. McCain simply needs fourth or better.

Fred Thompson

Has to have a solid third or better.

Rudy Giuliani

Would prefer not to be embarrassed by sixth place and a below 5% finish, but at this stage in the Giuliani campaign tonight really won't have much of an effect. Like the McCain camp, Rudy is hoping Huckabee holds on to win.

Ron Paul

The caucus format gives the Paul campaign a chance to really pull a surprise. And heading into New Hampshire -- a state where Paul does have an ideological constituency -- the eccentric Paul campaign might find some decent momentum. Of course no matter how well Paul does tonight, or in New Hampshire, he will not be the GOP nominee.

I Would Not Be Shorting McCain Now

Wed, 02 Jan 2008 16:03:35 -0600

Well the e-mailer must not be watching the political futures on McCain. After languishing in single digits since his summer implosion McCain's odds have over tripled; moving from a Dec 1 close of 6.8% to a close last night at 22.3%.

If his odds are low, they are better than most in the GOP field as he is basically tied with Mitt Romney for second. Interestingly (and not insignificant), for all the talk of Giuliani's demise he still trades in the top slot with a last trade at 27.3, Romney currently stands at 23.9 with McCain barely behind at 23.4. Huckabee is a distant fourth at 11.4.

Don't be surprised if McCain is the clear favorite on Intrade a week from today.

Why Huckabee Might Be Helping Romney

Tue, 18 Dec 2007 11:30:04 -0600

Further complicating matters for the Romney campaign has been the spectacle of this moderate businessman on social issues aggressively playing up the importance of faith in an attempt to become the "social conservative" candidate in the GOP field. The campaign's calculation was that with former Sen. George Allen of Virginia out of the race, and with the remaining viable candidates being John McCain and Rudy Giuliani (this is of course pre-Huckabee and pre-Thompson), Romney would make himself the social conservative in the field. The campaign astutely spent millions in Iowa and New Hampshire over the course of 2007 enabling Romney to occupy a place among the first tier candidates even though he languished in a distant 4th and 5th for most of the year in national surveys. In many ways, National Review, the long-standing flagship of conservative intellectual opinion, validated the effectiveness of the Romney strategy with their endorsement of the former Massachusetts governor last week. The inherent problem for Romney in this strategy, however, is that even with early wins in Iowa and New Hampshire he was always going to have to deal with the fallout from his obvious -- and recent -- flip-flop from a moderate, Northeastern Republican on social issues to a down-the-line social conservative. While the transformation might have been necessary in order for Romney to even be a viable candidate in the Republican field, the associated baggage severely complicates Romney's ability to win in the general election. This in turn makes him a harder sell on electability grounds in head-to-head match-ups against either Giuliani or McCain to a Republican Party fighting to prevent a President Clinton or Obama. This is where Mike Huckabee may actually be doing Mitt Romney a favor. With the former Baptist minister prominently running on his Christian faith and with Romney's long held lead in Iowa gone, the Romney camp shrewdly hyped a speech on religious freedom four weeks before the first contest. The speech received prominent national media coverage for a full week, with the quiet insinuation from the campaign that Romney's electoral problems stemmed from anti-Mormon bigotry. This allowed Romney to be viewed sympathetically as a victim of religious intolerance, both by the Republican party and the nation as a whole. The rise of Huckabee (and more importantly the fear of Huckabee as the GOP nominee) coupled with the "Mormon" speech have been the catalysts that have allowed Romney to get a second look from many Republican voters. With Huckabee now solidly on Romney's right flank as the "religious" candidate and the socially liberal Giuliani with a closet full of personal baggage on his left flank, Romney ironically might be in a stronger position coming out of a New Hampshire win to get the nomination than the non-Huckabee scenario of three months ago where he won both Iowa and New Hampshire. The wild card of course in all of this primary gamesmanship that has to make the Romney high command extremely nervous is the unknown of just how much a loss in Iowa might hurt Romney in New Hampshire, as he tries to hold off a resurgent John McCain. The Giuliani campaign's tactical retreat from New Hampshire may be a tacit acknowledgment that suddenly a Huckabee-Romney-Giualini 3-way is not a race they want to see. With a little over two weeks until the Iowa Caucuses the GOP nomination is as wide open as ever and there is no question that if Romney goes winless in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mike Huckabee would have dealt a death blow to his campaign. But if Mitt Romney loses Iowa and wins New Hampshire, and then goes on to win the GOP nomination, the Mike Huckabee boomlet may actually have been a key part of the dynamic as to why it happened.[...]

Huckabee is For Real

Thu, 29 Nov 2007 10:30:27 -0600

The GOP race is usually characterized as either a two-person contest (Giuliani vs. Romney) or a wide open field among the five viable candidates (Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, Huckabee and McCain). However, what we are fast approaching is a three-man race between Huckabee, Romney and Giuliani.

In general this is very bad news for Mitt Romney. A strongly viable Huckabee will steal voters Romney has to have to be able to beat Giuliani as the primary calendar moves into the post-New Hampshire contests. Ironically it may be Romney's money, campaign infrastructure, coupled with his strength in New Hampshire that keeps his campaign alive long enough to prevent the anti-Giuliani forces in the GOP from rallying around Huckabee. Back in July I speculated that this type of three way dynamic splitting the anti-Rudy vote was one of Giuliani's path's to the nomination.

Just like Giuliani was the key to McCain's demise, Thompson may be what sinks the Romney campaign. This would effectively leave a two-person race between the New Yorker and the Tennessean, with Romney perhaps siphoning just enough conservative votes that allows the pro-choice, thrice married Rudy Giuliani the pathway to the GOP nomination.

What we have developing is Huckabee stepping in and filling the void in the GOP field that was available to Thompson in the summer - a void that his inept campaign has been unable to fill. So perhaps instead of the Tennessean sinking the Romney campaign it could very well be the Arkansan.

For the Romney campaign the silver lining in Huckabee's move into the first tier -- and it is not an unimportant silver lining -- is that Huckabee has totally shaken up the expectations for Iowa on the GOP side. Because of this resetting of expectations in December, if Romney is able to hold off Huckabee in Iowa it will be a huge win for his campaign. A win that would allow the Romney campaign to get the kind of momentum they were looking for when they originally laid out their sling-shot strategy to the nomination. (Win Iowa, win New Hampshire, win Michigan, make it a two-person race against Giuliani, combine the early wins with Romney's personal wealth to overwhelm Rudy).

However, what has to make the Romney campaign very nervous is this chart in Iowa.


Intrade now has Huckabee at 55.1 and Romney at 38.0. Those markets are correctly pricing the race. Romney is now the underdog in Iowa.

An important signal to watch for over the next month will be whether Huckabee overtakes Romney in the national polls leading up to Iowa. If that were to happen concurrently with Huckabee continuing to head toward a win in Iowa that would be an important tell that Republican voters are moving toward ultimately a Huckabee vs. Giuliani showdown.

Giuliani remains the favorite, but at 10-1 odds that would be a showdown that Mike Huckabee might just be able to win.