Thursday, January 03, 2008

Who will the caucusing caucasians select for us?

This is my audacious "hope" for tonight's Iowa Caucus results. It's basically what I think will happen, plus or minus a couple points for favoritism. Remember: if this guess is correct or way off, it is not a great reflection of my analytical abilities when it comes to politics.

Obama 33
Edwards 31
Clinton 29

On the face of it, it should concern Obama supporters like myself that

1) The most persuasive argument in support of Barack Obama was written by Andy Sullivan.

2) Obama's catch-phrase is "hope".

3) Obama is betting the farm on youthful first timers and independents in a rural caucus state.

But it doesn't worry me. If he should "lose" in Iowa, I won't second-guess his strategy. Obama was playing to win, and I respect that in a candidate. Many of the things the liberal blogosphere has got so huffy-puffy over are actually quite minor little things when looked at in context. Do you think Obama creating separation between himself and other candidates on Social Security had anything to do with Iowa's geriatric caucusing base? Do you think his Broderist, bipartisan rhetoric had anything to do with winning strategy?

A smile creeps over my face when I read comments like these:

It just gets me to wondering: Did Obama pick this whole bipartisan bull s**t line because he knew it would play in Iowa and guarantee him the nomination? Or, was he just lucky and a natural fit for the weird worldview of the Hawkeye state?


What do you think? Obama's just getting "lucky"? He raises a hundred million dollars and campaigns for a year, and he's not going to position himself to win Iowa?

Over in the comments at Adrastos, I tried to put things in context:

Jeffrey writes: "I also think the Obama-enthusiasts are too overconfident. I think they are placing too much Audacious Hope in the idea that we have turned some sort of magical corner regarding racism in this country."

And remember, that this isn't "anonymous voting". These white Iowans are caucusing; they are standing in front of their neighbors (while the country is at war) and affirming their support for "Barrack Hussein Obama", a black man who they never heard of 5 years ago. In some cases these white supporters will be actively trying to persuade their neighbors-- often moderate or slightly conservative older folks-- away from a white male or female candidate who they've known longer, and towards Barrack Obama.

Think for a second what it takes for a candidate and a campaign to successfully do that, in political terms.

In the comments at this Yellow Blog post, David asked why I liked Obama. I replied:

He opposed a trillion dollar war of choice that has resulted in hundreds of thousands dead, and is probably the biggest strategic mistake since Vietnam.

He arguably has the best plan for New Orleans/Gulf Coast recovery.

He has the best chance to win a serious electoral majority, and get a "mandate", and provide nationwide coattails with enthused independents and new voters.

And He's playing to win when he doesn't have to. (For example: He's not rolling over in a debate like John Edwards did with Cheney in 2004, knowing that he can afford to play it safe because there will be opportunities down the road.)

I believe that "serious electoral majority" stuff, btw.

===
I'd love to know what Edwards' post-Iowa gameplan is if he has momentum coming out of Iowa. Improve on his 4th place finish in New Hampshire in 2004, win South Carolina and get thumped on Super Primary Tuesday?
===

More soon.

30 comments:

jeffrey said...

Remember: if this guess is correct or way off, it is not a great reflection of my analytical abilities when it comes to politics.

It's close. The fact is, nobody can actually call this and take that call to the bank.

bigshot said...

I picked Obama v. Romney last Christmas, and then for Obama to defeat Romney in the general. I'm sticking to it tonight, so long as Obama finishes no worse than a close second to either Edwards or Clinton.

Oyster, I couldn't agree more about Kos nation making a mountain out of a mole hill when it comes to Obama's strategy. He's got to win first, and in doing so, nothing he's campaigned on, even the Social Security stuff, is something to be alarmed over. Is it enough to support an Edwards over an Obama? That's fine, but don't make the big O out to be the next poll-driven triangulator. That's clearly not who he is.

Ryan said...

Oyster:

I'm not so sure that Obama will continue to do well once we get to the states that do NOT allow independents to vote in Democratic primaries. Seriously, what is up that? If these folks are not willing to stand up and be identified as Democrats, why should they be allowed to tell us Democrats who we should nominate?

Ryan

Huck said...

Hey! Why should Andrew Sullivan's argument for Obama be a concern to us liberal Democrats? Sullivan may be a conservative in many respects, but he's very perceptive and has a lot of classical liberalism about him, too.

Obama is not only playing to win, he has to win in the early stages so as to put to rest the notion that either he's not ready for the primetime or that we're not ready for him.

The man exudes leadership, and he does so without any kind of wishy-washiness in terms of his liberal credentials. In fact, I think he's probably the most purely classically liberal candidate of the bunch of Democratic frontrunners. What I love about Obama is that he makes it easy for thinking Republicans and Independents to buy into liberal ideology guiltlessly. He will eviscerate the Bush-Cheney-Limbaugh-Hannity conservative movement. Obama for President!

bayoustjohndavid said...

I didn't ask why you like Obama. I asked about your near-giddy enthusiasm for a politician who won't get such kid gloves treatment from the media in a general election. "Kid gloves" might be too strong a term, but the media obviously hate two of the three Democratic front runners.

I'm not "blaming the madia." For one thing, Edwards is my favorite among the big three, but I'm not really an Edwards fan, and I'm not a Clinton fan. But unless Huckabee gets the nomination, I don't see Obama's opponent in a general election getting more critical media treatment than Obama. that's something that should concern all Democrats.

Mark said...

The problem I have with Obama is the same one I referenced at Adrastos (see the "empty suit" comment): it's too soon for him, too big a leap to quickly.

I having moved back to the Deep South, no, I don't think America is ready to elect a black man with an ethnic name to the presidency. They're just not. That's sad but true.

In the end I think the whole national election system is so poisoned and dysfunctional that the GOP will likely win again, because they are consciousless golums who will do anything to win. I think the system they've rigged up over the last several decades will eviscerate anyone of the three leaders we put up.

Hillary might be the most survivable, but if she were to do so and win she would come out in the end making Margaret Thatcher look like a Disney fairy god mother.

Still, in the end, I'm pulling for Edwards if only because I think Obama has had to put himself to close to the infernal money machine you often write about to raise his $100 million. If no one stands up to our own capitalism-in-a-steroid-rage demon at home, it won't matter if bin Laden is the next president of Pakistan.

Like Bush, I'm not waiting up. I'm too depressed about what's going on in my real country (ex., Alan's post about the HDLC) to invest too much emotional capital in what happens in Iowa.

joejoejoe said...

Me at yellow blog this AM:

Obama 38%
Edwards 32%
Clinton 29%

Turnout 200,000 (+60% from '04)

Not bad. I had a roommate from Iowa at college in Illinois so maybe I had special insights. Second-hand wisdom like "the Quad Cities are the armpit of Iowa" and "only assholes say 'knee high by the 4th of July' about corn, if it's that short in Iowa there's a drought" and pearls like "Jeff Moe is Iowa's Danny Ainge" give me perspective you can't get from Wolf Blitzer.

E said...

hey oyster!

what you gotta say about huckabee's appeal now?

huh?

i was off on mccain in iowa...

jeffrey said...

joe,

I think your turnout call ended up being low actually.

I think Ryan is on to one of Obama's upcoming problems... and I think Mark is on to the rest of it.

I hate to say this but it certainly looks like Hillary/McCain to me now.

In which case... do I have to shoot myself or just wait for the pretty music to put me to sleep?

bayoustjohndavid said...

Ryan's problem would keep Obama getting the nomination. Mark's problem would come up if he were nominated, and I think it's a little more complicated than it would seem at first blush. In what battleground states would race cause an increased turnout among idiot racists who, thankfully, normally don't vote? The ones that normally vote don't vote for the Democrat anyway. In what battleground state would Obama, either for race or other reasons, have an increased turnout from people who normally don't vote?

I brought up the media thing because Obama's always been the fair-haired (bad choice of expression) boy of media coverage, it's legit to ask how he'd do if his opponent got the same, or more favorable, treatment. Wouldn't happen against Huckabee. Probably not against Mitt Robot. Against the hero of 9/11? The former prosecutor against the guy who "did a little blow when he could afford it?" If Giuliani, or a Giuliani supporter, brings it up, he won't be crucified for it like Clinton was. Worst of all, the candidate who did a little blow as a young man against the candidate who spent part of his early adulthood in a POW camp. I'm probably just being paranoid, but I hope we don't find ourselves asking Nora Ephron's question from two years ago:

"My point is that Matthews is a perfect example -- although obviously exaggerated -- of what happens to men in the presence of Senator McCain. They lose their minds. They suck up. They turn absolutely giddy. They ask questions they don't care about the answers to. It's Valentine's Day.

Is it the torture that causes them to go all weak-kneed? That's obviously part of it. Is it that he resonates with the balls most men know they don't have? Maybe. Is it that he seems to have so much testosterone that it's catching? I don't know. But when I see John McCain on television being interviewed by Chris Matthew, I know in my heart that there is not a man in America who would not vote for the guy.

Which is profoundly depressing.
...
But what is to be done?"

I'll assume that Ephron knows that some of us men have our own balls and would vote against McCain, but Keith Olbermann might be the only one on cable.

joejoejoe said...

Holy crap.

WaPo: "With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the Iowa Democratic Party reported a record turnout of 239,000 caucus attendees."

Barack Obama 37.6%
John Edwards 29.7%
Hillary Clinton 29.5%

That's amazing. My 200,000 turnout prediction was pretty much on the high side of predictions I saw online and it still got blown out of the water. Obama ran some turnout operations for Carol Mosely-Braun in '92 that had record results in Illinois. Say what you will about the guy but he knows how to GOTV. That counts a little in politics.

Note: I based my predictions for each candidate on the trend lines of Kerry/Edwards/Gephardt/Dean in '04 Iowa caucus. Obama's trends looked almost exactly like Kerry, I figured Edwards voters would be the same people more less, and everybody else I gave to Clinton.

In '04 Iowa went..
Kerry 37.6%
Edwards 31.8%
Dean 18.0%
Gephardt 10.6%

Huck said...

To all the naysayers who think this country's not ready to elect a black man, I say if not now, when? It's like a couple saying conditions need to be just right to have children. They're never "just right" on their own. It's only possible if we make it so. The ONLY reason why this country might not be ready for Obama is because people like Mark keep trying to convince us we're not. First off, I just don't believe it. Second, the "ready or not" meme is a foolish reason upon which to decide one's vote. The real question should be whether Obama is the best candidate. And if the answer to that question is yes, then not to be an enthusiastic supporter of him because somebody else possibly might not be ready for him is not cautious pragmatism, but foolish cynicism.

bayoustjohndavid said...

He has a Mosely-Braun connection? That reinforces my concerns. That really reinforces my concerns.

Leigh C. said...

"It's ready for a retarded president, why wouldn't it be ready for an African American president?"

- Chris Rock, upon being asked whether this country is ready for an African American president

Jim said...

Hey, great prediction! Obama did a little better because he picked up a lot of independents. You had the other two dead on.

Mark said...

Ok, Huck, let's assume Obama can't carry a single deep south state, or a single state which has had or is contemplating for anti-immigrant initiative (because the Neanderthals are a bit better organized there because of those initiatives).

My personal problem with Obama is the same problem I had with the candidate I'm leaning toward when he ran four years ago: age and experience.

Still, if he's the nominee, I will probably break my pre-Flood vow of silence and my post-flood what-does-it-matter-to-me-anymore ennui and hit the streets for him.

It is entirely possible for the GOP to manage to f0ck it up and make it possible for some Democrat to win, a prospect I had been increasingly writing off. But if they keep trending toward Huckabee--governor, Baptist minister, nice guy--and don't nominate Rudy or Mitt, it's going to be a very tough and close race, and frankly the Democrats who have never the balls or the smarts to win those nationally in the past are running Hillary's campaign, and we can see how well that's going.

bigshot said...

Iowa, one of the few toss-up states, went for Bush in 2004, and barely to Gore in 2000. Yet Barack Hussein Obama went in there last night and won convincingly on his ability to win over a record number of moderates and independents. This is clear evidence that it is he, and not any other Dem, who stands the best chance in a general election against any Republican.

Yes, there are people, even in the Democratic party, who will not vote for a black man named Hussein. But, Obama is so damn likable that he more than makes up for the loss of racist votes with his ability to appeal to the masses. I don't like that the likability factor is so important in general elections, but it is. Unlike the previous Democratic nominees over the last 25 years, there is no ick factor with Obama. At the end of the day, the Republicans will have no choice but to attack him on the merits. And as we already know, independents largely don't care about the merits. They just want to have a beer with their president.

Daniel Z. said...

" Many of the things the liberal blogosphere has got so huffy-puffy over are actually quite minor little things when looked at in context."

You can say that again. Too many of us liberal bloggers are willing to cut of their noses to spite their faces.

On Iowa, I don't think it will have as much influence this year because I think different parts of the country will go for different people.

Boyd said...

I think this is the perfect time of year to get all pissy, so long as they don't keep it up. But the most remarkable numbers from last night (from Kos):

Total Voter Turnout (approximate)
356,000

Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

oyster said...

Great call joejoejoe. You nailed it.

Great points, bigshot.

Great stat, boyd.

Mark (and others)-- you are WAY overrating Huckabee's electoral appeal and power. Powerful elements in the GOP despise the guy: Limbaugh, Neocons/NRO/Club for Growth/WSJ... most of the hard conservative blogosphere. He will have no foreign policy edge, and his dumb sales tax plan undercuts his "populism".

BSJD: Yes, Obama helped GOTV for Moseley-Braun. Big freaking deal. Will that and the coke thing (which is old news) be the foundation for your "serious concerns" about Obama's electability?

The media likes this guy, especially if he knocks off Clinton. He's fresh, new and all that other happy horseshit. Sure, if he's the nominee, they'll take off the kid gloves and find some troubling "disclosures"... but the media narrative on Obama will generally be positive. McCain is Dole. Huckabee's skeletons haven't been disclosed. Giuliani is an investigator's dream. And Romney is pegged as a slick, rich, flip flopper.

I love the operating dynamics here, if Obama can get the nom. I just love them.

Huck said...

Ok, Huck, let's assume Obama can't carry a single deep south state, or a single state which has had or is contemplating for anti-immigrant initiative (because the Neanderthals are a bit better organized there because of those initiatives).

Mark, that's an assumption that I just refuse to accept. We live in a deep south state that just elected a dark-skinned son of immigrants from a predominantly Hindu country who was himself originally Hindu before converting to Catholicism. That said, I think it is a pretty sure bet that the fact that Obama is black and has "Hussein" in his name just won't matter as much as you think it will. Moreover, the man rises above racialized and xenophobic politics. And the magnanimous manner of his doing so shames people who harbor such thoughts, even if such thoughts are hidden deep in the recesses of one's being.

oyster said...

And for e, who asked what I think about Huckabee's appeal now:

I never said he didn't have "appeal". He's got a lot of it. But he hasn't fully received the media "treatment" yet, and he's got powerful enemies in his own party.

Here's what I wrote over at Library Chronicles:

For all Huckabee's political talent, and his admirable "intimacy" on camera and in person, his enemies in the GOP are legion. They are some of the most powerful and effective elements in conservatism. They will work hard so that he won't redefine "their" party, and they'll cede a Presidential election if need be, in order to regroup.

Huckabee won't raise a ton of money, won't energize national turnout, has no foreign policy advantage, his dumb sales tax idea undercuts his "populism", and he won't attract independents with his fundagelical social extremism.

oyster said...

Actually, on second thought I might like that kos stat boyd references a little less. I'm not sure I agree with how it was done, because 2nd choice totals are added to the Dems, while they are not with the GOP.

If the Goopers had the same process, Thompson and McCain and Paul's and 9iu11ani's totals would've been redistributed to Huck and Romney.

I think.

jeffrey said...

And here's how the wacky author of that site responded:

Okay so Huck vs Hill-Obama straight up I see going to Huck.

By they way, if you're seriously considering that the "legion powerful elements of conservatism" would accept Obama rather than Huckabee, then what does that tell you about Obama? Not that I buy that argument... I would almost buy it for Hillary but still not quite.

But you're right in that this makes Huckabee's quest for the nomination a steep uphill climb.

Huck vs Hill-Obama with Bloomberg or some other idiotic "Unity" candidate involved probably yields a neutral result.

Paul as a third-party candidate obviously kills Huckabee.


I think the "powerful enemies" can keep Huckabee from attaining the GOP nomination... but even that isn't set in stone.

But the Huckabee vs Hill-Obama calculus looks all Huck to me.

Daniel Z. said...

" We live in a deep south state that just elected a dark-skinned son of immigrants from a predominantly Hindu country who was himself originally Hindu before converting to Catholicism. That said, I think it is a pretty sure bet that the fact that Obama is black and has "Hussein" in his name just won't matter as much as you think it will."

Huck: Are you actually trying to claim that because Louisiana elected Jindal that Louisiana will go for Obama?

When campaigning for David Gereighty in the 2006 elections, we where flat out told by people in St. Tammany parish that they would never vote for Democrats because Democrats are a bunch of "N***ER LOVERS". Those people supported Jindal. Even though Jindal was not white, it was just as important to those racists that he was not black either.

So you will excuse me if I fail to accept your newfound view of Louisiana's racial tollerance.

And if ANY Democrat voted for Jindal because they thought that by electing Jindal it might make it easier for Obama to take Louisiana, well, they would be idiots.

oyster said...

Jeffrey writes:

By they way, if you're seriously considering that the "legion powerful elements of conservatism" would accept Obama rather than Huckabee, then what does that tell you about Obama?

It's not that they would "accept" OBama, Jeffrey. Obviously their FOX/LIMBAUGH/WSJ/Weekly Standard confederacy doesn't hold a helluva lot of sway over Dems and Independents. I know it's hard for you and Mark and others to envisage, but they may not be able to stop Obama from a big election day victory (providing he is able to get the nomination).

This is the party of Goldwater in 64, and Reagan in 1976. They're more willing than you think to take an election "off", for "principle", and regroup, rather than try to coalesce around a guy they did their utmost to destroy just months earlier.

Huck said...

Huck: Are you actually trying to claim that because Louisiana elected Jindal that Louisiana will go for Obama?

Not at all. Jindal is a conservative Republican and Obama is a liberal Democrat. Louisiana may have elected Jindal because was a conservative Republican, and may not go for Obama because he is not; but it won't be because either one or the other's skin color and "foreign" roots. My point is that it is the ideology, party affiliation, and policy positions that will determine the outcome of the election and not skin-color.

What's interesting is that your example from St. Tammany parish indicates that the racists there voted on the basis of racial "perceptions" and not actually on skin color or xenophobia. And if that's what you mean, then how any dark-skinned person with a funny-sounding foreign name is "perceived" becomes the operational element here. Which leads to the question of how folks "perceive" Barack Obama on the racial continuum. Now, I'm not denying the existence of racial prejudice in Louisiana. Sure, racists exist in our state. But what I'm saying is that these folks will be insignificant in determining the outcome of an election pitting Barack Obama against any of the top GOP candidates. Barack Obama might lose Louisiana because he's a liberal Democrat, but it won't be because he's black.

And if ANY Democrat voted for Jindal because they thought that by electing Jindal it might make it easier for Obama to take Louisiana, well, they would be idiots.

I agree. Such people would be idiots. But, frankly, I think your suggesting this outlandish scenario is conspiracy theorizing at its god-awful worst. Let me ask you: Do you know any Democrats who voted for Jindal for this reason? I do know some Democrats who voted for Jindal for other reasons, none of which had anything at all to do with Barack Obama's potential candidacy. Now, if you're trying to imply by that comment that I voted for Jindal for this reason because of the comment I made, all I can do is laugh. Not only did I not vote for Jindal for governor, I also was not even thinking of Obama when I decided for whom to cast my vote.

Daniel Z. said...

"What's interesting is that your example from St. Tammany parish indicates that the racists there voted on the basis of racial "perceptions" and not actually on skin color or xenophobia."

They still voted against Democrats for that very eloquant reason. So they would vote against white Democrats because those white Democrats actually want to treat Black people as regular old people (what they refer to as "N****R LOVERS".

"Barack Obama might lose Louisiana because he's a liberal Democrat, but it won't be because he's black."
Let's put it this way, with the racism that has been seen in our state (be it overt, institutional, or otherwise) I do not think that Alan Keyes or Condi Rice could get the Louisiana vote either.

"But what I'm saying is that these folks will be insignificant in determining the outcome of an election pitting Barack Obama against any of the top GOP candidates."

In Louisiaia, im sure the GOP candidate would win. And while there may be other reasons why certain people vote, race would play a part of it.

The fact that people kept dwelling on the fact that the Jena 6 committed crimes as well and could not understand that the problem in Jena was the inequity of charges brought between someone who was black and someone that is white helps to drive home the point, at least for me.

"I agree. Such people would be idiots. But, frankly, I think your suggesting this outlandish scenario is conspiracy theorizing at its god-awful worst. Let me ask you: Do you know any Democrats who voted for Jindal for this reason?"

No I do not know any Democrats who voted for Jindal for that reason. But I would have also never thought to say that a black candidate with a name that is associated with Islam would have less of an effect that one might think in Louisiana.

" I do know some Democrats who voted for Jindal for other reasons, none of which had anything at all to do with Barack Obama's potential candidacy. "

I do as well, and it absolutely baffles me why any Democrat would vote for him. But hey, voters have done silly things in the past as well.

I do know some Democrats though, who wanted to form a "Louisiana for Obama" group even though the governors race was not even over yet. That just baffled the mind.

"Now, if you're trying to imply by that comment that I voted for Jindal for this reason because of the comment I made, all I can do is laugh. Not only did I not vote for Jindal for governor, I also was not even thinking of Obama when I decided for whom to cast my vote."

No, I wasn't implying that.

Huck said...

daniel z - Well, we'll just have to see how Obama fares in Louisiana, for I'm banking on his being the Democratic nominee.

As for my suggesting that racism and xenophobia won't be as determinative in the election in Louisiana as you seem to think it will be, you should know that I'm not nearly as far out on a limb in making that statement as you were in hypothesizing a Louisiana Democrat's vote for Jindal as a service to Obama! I don't think you'll ever find evidence in support of your hypothesis, and I think my hypothesis will be born out in November of 2008. ;)

Daniel Z. said...

He may very well be the Democratic Nominee. He may very well carry Louisiana in the primary (though I would think Edwards might still take Louisiana regardless)

My statement was not a hypothesis, but regardless of how "out on a limb" that statement was, that doesn't take away the fact that racism will absolutely play a part and your ideas that the impact will be less are also very far out on a limb. There are plenty of people in Louisiana who voted for Jindal who still hate black people. Considering the comment that Jindal made about "outside agitators", I can see why. Jindal embraced that term in regards to the Jena 6 situation in a way that would make a klansman proud.