Friday, February 29, 2008

His cover blown, Prince Harry is going home after ten weeks in Afghanistan. I find it truly unfortunate that some in the Western media are either not capable of self-restraint or, and I think this is more likely, do not believe that they are part of the West and, therefore, are not obligated to do their reporting with some sensitivity to the security needs of Western armed forces and governments. It is worth noting that the majority of those Western media outlets that were given the information about Harry's deployment kept the secret. But, you might ask, why should they? I would make this simple argument. As a member of the Western media (in my case, the American media) and a citizen of the United States, I am not completely detached from the war that is raging between Islamist fundamentalists and the West. I am on one side in that fight. I do want my side to win. Therefore, I will not report on things that, in my best judgment, would endanger the people who are fighting on my side. There is, of course, the possibility that those who reported on Harry's deployment did not see that such reporting would put him, and his men, in danger. I suspect they are not that stupid.

Meanwhile, here in the States, the most recent polls in Texas show Obama with a slight lead, and those polls of Ohio show Clinton with a slight lead in that state. The bad news for Hillary is that the trends are going Obama's way, as she once held a solid lead in both states.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

As you would expect, a big roundup of appreciation for the life of William F. Buckley at the National Review website. All Conservatives owe him a debt of gratitude for what he did as the intellectual leader of a reformed and revived Conservative movement in America.

Well, those of us hoping for a McCain victory in November won't be getting any help from a Michael Bloomberg third-party candidacy. In this New York Times op-ed, Mayor Bloomberg says he will not run for President. I had hoped he might run because, with his enormous personal resources, he could have run a very credible campaign that would have taken quite a few votes away from the Democratic nominee. It probably would not have been enough to win any states but might have swung some states into the GOP column. I guess we'll have to be satisfied with the far smaller efforts of Ralph Nader. Of course, in 2000 that was enough.

I always love stories that show Liberals being hoisted on their own petards. Here is one about the large, well-endowed educational institutions resisting calls from Congress to use more of their endowments for financial aid and other pro-social purposes. How dare those members of Congress tell people how to spend their own money! Heh.

Is John McCain eligible to be President? That's the question examined in this New York Times article. In my opinion, if John McCain is not eligible to be our President, then no one is.

Is the GOP in trouble in Texas? That's the question in this article, which points to recent Democratic successes in the Lone Star State, driven primarily by Hispanics switching from Republican to Democrat. John McCain's apostasy on the immigration issue may actually help in that area.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Despite all the advantages of our tax structure here in New Hampshire (no state income or sales tax), we are still home to those who simply will not accept the facts and are determined to get a state income tax. Here is a story from the Boston Globe this morning about such a group. I won't go over the arguments about the issue once again, as I know that those who hold a different view from mine will not be convinced to change their view, and neither can mine be changed but, as a political matter, there is one fact which must be kept in mind when thinking about the issue. If the Democrats were to ever pass an income tax into law, it would be the greatest political gift they could ever give to New Hampshire Republicans. You see, we lost this state politically (after controlling it since the birth of the GOP in the 1850s) in recent years due (in my estimation) primarily to the fact that the demographics of the state have changed. We are now increasingly the home of upper-income white voters who (and this is a national trend) are increasingly liberal on social and foreign policy issues. But they are not necessarily liberal on economic issues in the traditional Democratic fashion. In fact, many are from places like Massachusetts and New York that have long been dominated by traditional tax-and-spend Democratic political machines. The same thinking that has attracted voters in those states to elect GOP Governors (until this last round of elections) is evident in the voting behavior of the folks that have come here to live year-round. Therefore, while they will certainly vote for Democrats when the major issues are on social or foreign policy (which is why the Democrats took control of the state legislature and the two congressional seats in the last election), I do not believe the same dynamic would be at work if the major issues were taxes and spending. Thus, if the Democrats were to pass a state income tax here, the GOP would make that the major issue and, in all likelihood, regain control of the State House. Of course, Democratic Governor John Lynch knows this, which is at least one reason why he continues to vow to veto any state sales or income tax. "The Pledge" lives on in New Hampshire and, ironically, it is maintained by many Democrats as well as Republicans.

The latest CBS/New York Times poll shows Obama gaining strength.

Jay Cost points out that the race for the Democratic nomination is not over. But, as I pointed out in Friday's post, she really needs to win in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania to get this thing to the convention. John Diliulo also believes it's not over till it's over.

No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, there are two big issue facing the Presidential contenders. One is the economy. The other is the Iraq War. The economy seems to be going from bad to worse. This should be a plus for the Democrats, as they always seem to have the advantage on this type of issue. Of course, the Democrats control Congress, so it won't be as easy to blame the economic woes of the country on the fellows in power, since the two parties are sharing power at the moment. Still, painting Republican bankers and corporate CEOs as the bad guys has always worked in the past, and some of them deserve the blame this time around. As for the Iraq War, the Democrats are going to be pulled by their base to get out of Iraq with arguments like this one in today's Washington Post. Americans don't like to send their sons and daughters to fight in wars that can't be won, and that is the key. Is the Iraq War a lost cause? If Americans have concluded that it is, then Obama should win on that issue. But if John McCain can convince voters that the opposite is true (and if the facts on the ground aid him in making that case), then he will have a powerful tool to aid him in winning the Presidency. As I write this in February, it is impossible to say what the public mood will be in November. Only time will tell.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Despite all the evidence that points to a good year for the Democrats, is it possible that the GOP might pull out a victory in November? Well, several things have to happen.

First, a viable third party candidate might help pull a few votes away from the Democrats. So thank you Ralph Nader for announcing that, once again, you are throwing your hat in the ring. Alas, I suspect that a lot of liberal voters have learned their lesson from 2000 and 2004 and, besides, Obama is much more to their liking than Gore or Kerry.

Second, the Democratic Party needs to engage in a long, drawn-out fight for the nomination, perhaps all the way to the convention. This will prevent the eventual nominee from doing fundraising and campaigning for the general election during that period and, more importantly, could result in bad blood between partisans of both candidates. This fact is becoming more and more apparent to media observers, and clearly must be on the minds of those inside the party leadership. Bob Novak, observing this, wonders who among them will tell Hillary that she needs to drop out. Jonathan Alter is conflicted, as his media persona wants the compelling story that would be generated by a fight all the way to the convention, but his liberal self wants Hillary to get out now.

Finally, it could be that Obama's messianic vision of himself might become apparent to the voters, something writers (and McCain supporters) like Bill Kristol will keep pointing out between now and the election.

Pretty thin stuff, I know, but it's all I can hope for at the moment.

Meanwhile, if this is the end for Hillary, we can join Andrew Sullivan in marvelling at how all their old, bad habits came back to bite them, and rejoice at finally (perhaps) seeing them recede in our rear view window.

One other story of note, as the New York Times puts into print the hushed talk that has surrounded the Obama campaign (I've heard it myself in casual conversation with a number of people). Is Obama more likely to be a target for assassination than any other presidential candidate? A lot of folks think so, including the Secret Service.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Gerard Baker, writing in the Times of London, wonders about whether or not Americans are ready to embrace the far-left policies of Barack Obama. I think most Americans don't yet have a clue about his far-left policies, but when they get that clue, things will start looking up for John McCain and the GOP.

Jay Cost analyzes the Democratic race at this point, and sees some evidence that Obama is gaining ground with poor, white voters. Just another sign that Obama is nearing the point where he can knock Hillary out of the race. At this point, Hillary has only one hope, which I will now examine.

According to CNN, the latest delegate count puts Obama at 1,319 (1,158 pledged and 161 supers) and Clinton at 1,250 (1,016 pledged and 234 supers). To win the nomination one needs to reach 2,025 total delegates. The next chance to win delegates comes on Tuesday, March 4. Ohio will hold a primary, at which time 141 delegates will be allocated. Rhode Island will hold a primary, allocating 21 delegates. Vermont will hold a primary, allocating 15 delegates. In Texas, a complex primary-caucus combination will allocate 126 delegates based on the primary vote, then caucus attendeees will select delegates to county and senate district conventions, which will later choose delegates to the state convention, which will then choose the remainder of the pledged delegates (67). So, a total of 303 delegates will be immediately available, with that Texas caucus starting the process toward allocating their 67 remaining pledged delegates. Obama is ahead by 69. To catch him that day, Clinton will need to win 234 of those 303, or 77%. Under Democratic party rules, which allocate delegates proportionally by state-wide and/or congressional district vote (except in Texas where it is done by state senate districts), it seems an impossible task even if Hillary wins big victories everywhere that day, which she will not. So, let's examine the best case for Clinton, day-by-day, as we move forward, to see how she might be able to pull it off.

March 4 - 303 available. Obama will likely win most of Vermont's delegates. Let's say Obama wins 9 delegates and Clinton wins 4. Clinton should do well in Rhode Island, as she did in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, so let's give her 14 and Obama 7. She should win in Ohio, so let's give her 90 and Obama 51. In Texas, it looks to be close, so let's split the delegates, but give a slight edge to Clinton, 66 to 60. So, at the end of the day, under that scenario (not counting the additional 67 delegates that Texas will award later), Obama would have 1,446 and Clinton would have 1,424. Clinton down only 22.

March 8 - 7 delegates awarded in Wyoming at county caucuses. Obama should do well, so lets give him 5 to Clinton's 2. Obama 1,451, Clinton 1,426. Clinton down 25.

March 11 - 33 delegates awarded in a Mississippi primary. Should be good for Obama. Let's give him 20 and Clinton 13. Obama 1,471, Clinton 1,439. Clinton down 32.

April 22 - 158 delegates awarded in a Pennsylvania primary. This is hard to read. The latest poll of Pennsylvania shows Clinton ahead 44% to 32%, but a lot can happen between now and April 22. But, since this is a best-case scenario for Clinton, let's say she holds her lead in the Keystone State. So, give her 90 delegates to Obama's 68. Obama 1,539, Clinton 1,529. Clinton down only 10.

May 3-17 - 55 delegates awarded in Colorado's two-tier convention system. 19 have already been calculated into CNN's number based on the Feb. 5 event, so lets hand out the rest based on those results. Obama 24, Clinton 12. So, Obama 1,563, Clinton 1,541. Clinton down 22.

May 6 - 72 delegates in a primary in Indiana. I have no clue as to what might happen in Indiana. So, let's call it a draw. Obama 36, Clinton 36. In North Carolina, 115 delegates are at stake in a primary. Let's say this should be fertile ground for Obama, as South Carolina was, so call it Obama 70, Clinton 45. So, for the day, Obama wins 106 and Clinton wins 81. Obama 1,669, Clinton 1,622. Clinton down 47.

May 13 - 28 delegates awarded in a West Virginia primary. Part of the state is similar to Virginia, and part to Ohio, but let's call it Clinton country for purposes of this analysis. Clinton 18, Obama 10. Obama 1,679, Clinton 1,640. Clinton down 39.

May 20 - 51 delegates awarded in a Kentucky primary. Let's give it to Clinton. Clinton 30, Obama 21. 52 delegates in an Oregon primary. This should be Obama country. Obama 30, Clinton 22. So, at the end of the day, Clinton wins 52 and Obama 51. Obama 1,730, Clinton 1,692. Clinton down 38.

June 3 - 16 delegates in a Montana primary. Obama has done well in these Western states. Call it Obama 10, Clinton 6. 15 delegates in a South Dakota primary. Should look like Montana. Call it Obama 9, Clinton 6. For the day, Obama wins 19 and Clinton 12. Obama 1,749, Clinton 1,704. Clinton down by 45.

June 7 - 55 delegates in a caucus in Puerto Rico. Caucuses have been good for Obama, but Hispanic voters have been kind to Hillary (so far). Let's call it a slight edge to Obama. Obama 30, Clinton 25. In Texas, those remaining 67 delegates are pledged in a convention based on the caucuses held the same day as the primary. Let's give Clinton a slight edge, Clinton 35, Obama 32. So, for the day, Obama wins 62, Clinton 60. Obama 1,811, Clinton 1,764. Clinton down by 47. Due to the fact that some of the delegates in prior contests have not been awarded based on the CNN calculation, I am short by 73 delegates so, for purposes of this scenario, let's give a slight edge to Clinton and award Clinton 40 and Obama 33 of those delegates. The total is now Obama 1,844 and Clinton 1,804. Clinton down by only 40 delegates.

That's the end of the line. So, best case scenario for Hillary is that she prevents Obama from winning the necessary number of pledged delegates to win the nomination outright. That leaves it to the super delegates. There are scheduled to be 3,253 pledged delegates at the convention (which I have allocated using the real world and speculative math above) and 796 super delegates, of which at the moment Clinton has 234 and Obama 161 (those delegates are factored in to the final numbers above). So, since 395 super delegates are already committed, under this scenario the decision will be made by the remaining 401. If Obama can win 181 of those, he wins. If Clinton wins 221 of those, she wins.

So, to repeat, under the best-case scenario for Hillary Clinton to win the nomination, she needs to get the race to the convention and allow super delegates to decide the matter. I can think of nothing better for the GOP, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New York Times hits John McCain hard in this story about an "inappropriate relationship" with a pretty, female lobbyist. Fortunately, they are dropping this bomb nine months before the general election, which minimizes its impact.

Richard Adams has this piece on why the Clinton campaign has been on a losing streak. Basically, they have been beaten organizationally.

Chuck Todd has these thoughts on why the Obama campaign is close to wrapping up the nomination.

Karl Rove, in this op-ed, says that Obama is vulnerable.

I am still hoping for a Clinton comeback, as that would be the most destructive thing that could happen to the Democratic Party between now and November, but it looks increasingly unlikely. Therefore, the best I can now hope for is that when Clinton is finally dispatched, the media will take a closer look at Obama and begin to find things to write about, like his standard, far-left positions on the issues. I expect that Obama will begin the general election campaign ahead of McCain in the national polls. But, as his positions become clear, despite the soaring rhetoric, those poll numbers will move more in McCain's favor.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another night, another pair of Obama victories. As expected, Obama won the Hawaii caucuses handily, 76% to 24%, but the real eye-opener was his smashing victory in the Wisconsin primary. Obama won the contest 58% to 41%. This in a state with demographics that seemed to match Hillary's strengths, and a state where the Clinton campaign advertised heavily. Jay Cost analyzes the results in detail, but even a brief perusal of the exit polls tells the tale. Obama has the momentum, as he is now beating Hillary among those voters she was winning in prior contests. Obama actually split females with Hillary 50-50, and won the male vote overwhelmingly, 67% to 31%. Obama won every age group except the over-60 crowd, every church-going group except Catholics who attend church weekly, and he won people who do not have a college degree, as well as those who have one. This is grim news for Hillary.

Larry Kudlow thinks the Wisconsin results mean that the race is over. I agree. Hillary's only hope was to keep this one close. Despite what the most recent polls say, I expect now that there is nothing to stop Obama from winning most of the remaining contests. Hillary might pull out Ohio, but I doubt it. It's over. (John Derbyshire doesn't think so, but his prediction for the Democratic nomination is, to say the least, a little bizarre in my estimation).

Still, one can hope that buyer's remorse might set in. Robert Samuelson takes a swipe at Obama's meaningless rhetoric. I hope this is just the first in a series of columns and blogs and other commentaries that will lay bare the pedestrian, McGovernite views of Senator Obama which, combined with his lack of experience, is John McCain's only chance of winning in November.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro resigns as President of Cuba. It is the end of an era, but not the end of totalitarian government in Cuba, as Fidel's brother Raoul will continue his family's rule of that island nation. Having said that, I will try to maintain my optimistic belief that all people desire freedom and that, as a consequence, the people of Cuba will someday throw off the yoke of totalitarianism.

The split among European nations widens over Kosovo. The Serbs and Russians refuse to recognize the move, while the U.S., Britain, Germany and others welcome Kosovo into the fold of nations. In the past a small spark in the Balkans like this one has been known to ignite a larger conflagration. We shall see if we have moved beyond such primitive practices.

President Musharraf's party loses big in the elections in Pakistan. I guess this means the elections weren't rigged, but now I bet Musharraf wishes they had been.

Here on the home front, Michael Barone has a state-by-state analysis of the upcoming Democratic primaries and caucuses. He believes there is a scenario for a Clinton victory. Ben Smith at Politico also believes Hillary can win. One writer thinks Hillary's last stand might be in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, many in the feminist movement are vexed by the fact that Hillary is being beaten by a man who, they believe, has less substance.

Is John McCain the Manchurian Conservative? The headline compelled me to read the piece, and it's humorous style made it worth reading. At the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson believes McCain is the on the wrong side of nearly every issue of importance to the American people. Of course, that's why we have elections, so pundits can be proved right or wrong.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Next up for the Democrats is the Wisconsin primary and the Hawaii caucuses, both to be held tomorrow. Hawaii's caucus will award 20 delegates based on a Presidential straw poll held during the caucus, which should start at 7 PM Hawaiian time (Midnight here in the East), so we won't know what the results are until late. Most observers say Obama has a lock on that one. Not so in Wisconsin, which holds a primary to award 74 delegates. The latest polls of Wisconsin show Obama with a very narrow lead. If Hillary can pull off an upset, that may start to change the dynamics of the race.

One writer who knows the Clintons well (and dreads them) says we should not write them off, as they have been known for facing fourth and long time and time again, and converting every time.

In other news, Kosovo has declared its independence, a move that is raising tensions with Serbia and her historic ally, Russia.

Bob Novak writes that the reason Democrats failed to renew our government's expanded surveillance rights concerning potential terrorists was not out of some principled opposition to such an expansion of government power but, rather, a desire to please one of their powerful constituencies, the trial lawyers.

Bill Kristol says Democrats would do well to read Kipling, a man who chronicled events from the perspective of the rulers who had the responsibility of making hard choices, rather than the opposition which merely objects and is never responsible for making such choices.

In what should be a blowout election for the Democrats, the specter of handing over the reins of government entirely to the Democrats during a time of war, when that party has not been held in high esteem by the public on issues of national security, may make the race much closer than it now appears.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

If the experts who have done the delegate math are right, then it's all about the super delegates in determining who will be the Democratic Presidential nominee. The New York Times has as it's lead story this piece about those delegates and how they are being wooed by the two campaigns. There is also this story about the very different delegate selection rules in the two parties. I especially like this bit...

The two parties’ nominating systems reflect the philosophical differences between them. Or, as a prominent Republican strategist, Mike Murphy, suggested, perhaps jocularly, in a recent appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Democrats are hung up on ideas of fairness and equity.

“Democrats, being the nice liberals they are, grade on a curve,” he said. “They give you delegates for coming in second.”

“Republicans,” he continued, “being mean social Darwinists, we tend to punish the second-place guy with a lot of winner-take-all primaries.”

In other words, the Republican who kills the buffalo gets all the meat; the Democrat has to crouch around the campfire and share it with his brethren and sistren.

Heh. Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, in a disturbing sign of things to come, election officials in California are still struggling to count all the votes nearly two weeks after the Super Tuesday primary in the Golden State. If they are having this much of a problem for a primary, what will it be like in what should be a very high turnout election in November? If the election is as close as the last two, and California is close (not likely, I know, but possible), it could make for another 2000 scenario.

The Clinton campaign is working hard at their eleventh-hour strategy for pulling out the nomination. They need wins in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. If they lose those states, even if they still get enough delegates to deny Obama the mathematical clincher prior to the convention, their case for electability goes out the window and with it, the nomination.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Democratic Party leaders are looking for a way to avoid a bruising battle at their convention. Here's some advice....make sure Obama is the winner before you get there. If he does not have it locked up by the time the last event is held (Puerto Rico on June 7), then we can expect the Clintons will use all their power and all their cunning and all their resources to wrest the nomination away at the convention.

Going forward, Hillary has a chance to get back some momentum, which would obviate the need for wheeling and dealing at the convention. In Wisconsin, she only trails Obama by a few points in the polls. Jeff Greenfield, a one-time student at the University of Wisconsin, points out that the state should be ripe for the picking by the Clintonistas. Meanwhile, Clinton still maintains a substantial lead in both Texas and Ohio. If she can pull off an upset in Wisconsin, and then go on to win handily in Texas and Ohio, she can revive her electability case. However, if we are to believe this poll, she might not be able to win in Texas.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rich Lowry believes Hillary will try to win the nomination "by any means necessary".

Scot Lehigh writes about a proposal that would bring order to our primary system. Good luck making it happen.

Barbara Ehrenreich believes that Obama is now unstoppable. With some African-American leaders (and super delegates) now switching to Obama's side, that might be the case. Obama will also get the endorsements of two powerful unions. Michael Gerson believes Hillary's path to the nomination is unappealing, which is an understatement. As I've written before, the manner in which Hillary will win the nomination, if she does so, is such that it is sure to spark a civil war inside the Democratic Party and could lead to depressed turnout in November, and a probable GOP victory.

Finally, a sad note. Noted Boston radio personality Jess Cain passed away yesterday at the age of 81. Jess hosted the morning show at WHDH in Boston for 33 years until he retired in 1991. I worked at WHDH from 1989-93 and got to know him at that time. He was a great talent, and a kind and courteous man. I saw him from time-to-time when he would come up to do some work with us at WGIR in the 90s (his son was, and is, an employee there). He was always a true professional. My business has lost one of the great ones.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

As some of you may have figured out by now, my regular work day in New York is Wednesday, which is why I have not been able to post anything on that day. So, first....

The results from the Virginia, Maryland and D.C primaries show one thing that is more important than simply the fact that Obama won them all and won them big. As is now being generally recognized, Obama is starting to win over those groups who had previously been supporting Hillary Clinton. In the early contests, Obama was doing well with African-Americans and with highly educated, upper-income white voters. Clinton was doing well with older voters, those with incomes under $50,000, and with women. That base of support is eroding, and with surprising speed. The realization that the nomination may be slipping away is driving the turmoil inside the Clinton campaign, as well as creating an atmosphere inside the punditocracy that Obama will be the Democratic nominee. For instance, Dick Morris says Hillary will lose. John Heilemann writes that her outlook is bleak. The team at MSNBC First Read says that the math is starting to look very difficult for Clinton. All of these folks, and many more (me included) who are political geeks of the highest order and pay close attention to these things, are coming to the same conclusion. While it is not impossible for Hillary to take this thing in the end, especially with all of those super delegates still out there and with the possibility that it is those delegates who will decide the nomination, more and more it looks like Obama will be the nominee. Ohio and Texas loom as Hillary's Waterloo. She needs to win both by large margins to restore the argument that she is best suited to be the nominee.

But, isn't it possible that she and her husband will, by hook and by crook, grab the necessary super delegates to win? Yes. Of course, I can think of nothing that would better ensure a GOP victory in the Fall than to have Obama win a plurality of the popular votes in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, and a plurality of the pledged delegates, only to lose the nomination because party leaders chose Hillary. Not only would her nomination galvanize Republicans to work for the election of John McCain, if for no other reason than to make sure Clinton is defeated, it would also dispirit and discourage all of those voters who were inspired by Obama. If I can see that scenario, surely the majority of the super delegates can see it, as many of them are politicians themselves.

In an important, but unrelated, matter, someone managed to plant a bomb that blew up one of the world's most notorious terrorists. Imad Mugniyah was suspected of planning the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the 1986 TWA hijacking that resulted in the murder of a Navy diver, and a whole slew of heinous crimes in the years since then. The man was thought by both his followers and his adversaries to be a terrorist genius. So, in terms of the on-going war against these people, their side has been struck a grevious blow. Did the Israelis do it? The Americans? How did they manage to pull it off in Syria? Did the Syrians rat him out? Perhaps, someday, we'll learn the truth and be able to celebrate the names of the heroes who won this particular battle in this long war.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Political strategist Mathew Dowd now believes Obama will win the Democratic nomination.

His cause will be helped if he does well in today's Potomac primaries. Obama leads by a subtantial margin in the polls of Virginia and Maryland. In the District of Columbia, with its large African-American population, everyone expects an Obama victory. So, it should be a sweep. Clinton can regain some momentum if she can at least make any of these closer than expected.

Jay Cost has an excellent analysis of the Democratic primary and caucus voters, based on results and exit polls. The bottom line? Obama wins 80% of the Black vote irrespective of where those voters live. He does less well, however, with Whites depending upon whether or not they live in a state with a large minority population. The more exposure White voters have to minorites, especially African-Americans, it seems the less likely they are to vote for Obama. Combine that with these observations from Susan Estrich and it seems, once again, that racism rears its head in American politics, even among the subset of supposedly more tolerant and progressive Democratic voters. Bob Krumm, looking at the results from Tennessee, sees clear evidence of the racial factor in the contest between Clinton and Obama. Cost's analysis, which shows that Whites are much more likely to vote for Obama when they live in racially homogenous states, points out an important, if uncomfortable, theory that has been recently much discusssed within the social science commmunity, which is that racial and ethnic tolerance is greater among people who live in homogenous communities. This is a very controversial finding, in part because it seems counter-intuitive. After all, shouldn't exposure to people of different ethnicities and races create more understanding and tolerance? Apparently not. If this hypothesis is true, then we should expect Clinton to do much better in Virginia and Maryland today then the polls show (which would also reveal more of the so-called Bradley effect). But, that's the beauty of speculation of this sort. It can be tested in the real world.

Speaking of ethnicity, could racism be at work in the effort to crack down on illegal immigration? History tells us that racism and tribalism has always been at work in anti-immigration movements. Today's hard liners on immigration (and I am one of them, more or less) say that it is all about the word "illegal". This is not just a GOP problem. In heavily Democratic Rhode Island, recent budget difficulties have led to a crackdown on "illegals". In more Republican Arizona, there is also an effort underway along similar lines. In fact, it is happening all across the country. It is not just a matter of Right-Wing Republicans (who, according to the Liberals are, by definition, racists) cracking down on "illegals", but folks from all walks of life. Working class Democrats are convinced, justifiably so, that their wages are being driven down by competition from "illegals". This is one area where our next President, whether McCain, Obama or Clinton, may have to eat their earlier words in the face of political realities.

Speaking of political realities, John Podhoretz, writing in Commentary, says that the Iraq War is still the dominant political reality of our times. He believes GOP losses in recent elections were driven by despair about losing the war, and a posture of surrender by the Democratic nominee for President, whether perception or reality, may help McCain in November.

David Brooks says the reality of the war, as well as other political realities, will come home with a vengeance to the new President, which would be especially troubling if that President were a Democrat. Realities like the budget and Pakistan are among the most troubling, if you read the Weekly Standard. I do, and I agree with those assessments, at least. In the end the new President may wish he (or she) had stayed home.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another day, another caucus, another Obama victory. This time it is the Maine caucuses, which Obama won handily, 59% to 40%. This one was a real shock to the Clinton folks, who thought they would win, as they had done in neighboring New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Having lived in Maine I can tell you that the population is a bit less affluent overall than here in New Hampshire (although that is not the case in the Greater Portland area) and, therefore, should have fit into the demographics that propelled Hillary to victory here. But that was then, this is now, and that was a primary, this was a caucus. Obama continues to gain momentum which may very well be eroding Hillary's strength with lower-income whites. The Virginia and Maryland primaries on Tuesday will give us a clearer picture. Later on, the primaries in Ohio and Texas will either save Hillary and prolong the fight, or finish her off.

The litany of bad news over the weekend no doubt solidified the view inside the Clinton camp that they needed to make a change at the top. Unfortunately for them, they can only fire the campaign manager, not the candidate (of course, technically speaking Patti Solis Doyle resigned her position, but that's how these things are done).

In the delegate fight, CBS News now calculates that Obama has taken the lead over Clinton. That assessment is shared by the folks at RealClearPolitics, who have Obama at 1146 and Clinton with 1142. Bill Kristol, writing in the New York Times (much to the chagrin of some), sees Obama's path to victory. Ben Smith at Politico also sees a break in the deadlock in Obama's favor as a result of this weekend's caucuses. In a cautionary note, Bob Novak says there are some rumblings inside the Democratic Party about the so-called Bradley effect, which refers to former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley who was positioned to win the California Governor's office big based on polls back in 1982, but lost, which many suspected was due to the fact that white voters told pollsters they would vote for a black candidate, but did not. Of course, this is not 1982. While Obama did lead here in New Hampshire, and later in California, according to the polls, and Clinton won both, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Bradley effect was the cause. Still, it is something to watch, especially as we go into the primaries on Tuesday. Obama is way ahead according to the polls in Virginia, anywhere from 15 to 20 points ahead, and ahead by an even larger margin according to the polls in Maryland, anywhere from 18 to 26 points. If Clinton wins either of these states (or both), or even comes close, then we might be seeing the Bradley effect at work.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee is protesting the results from the Washington State caucuses, which showed a narrow McCain win.

Andrew McCarthy, writing in the National Review, has some thoughts on conservatives and John McCain.

John Fund, writing in the Wall St. Journal, has some thoughts on how John McCain could win the election in November, despite all the signs that point to a big win for the Democrats. At some point I'll do my own state-by-state analysis (I've done some preliminary work already), but I want to wait until the Democrats have their nominee.

Finally, here are the inconvenient truths of the 2008 election, at least from one man's perspective (I agree with him, which is why I recommend you read it).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Here are the results from yesterday's caucuses and primaries.

Obama's wins in the caucuses in Washington and Nebraska again point to his organizational superiority, which is surprising since he is facing an opponent who should have the advantage in that area. Since winning in Iowa Obama has won nearly every caucus. That shows how his supporters are well organized and passionate about their candidate. In Louisiana, Obama won by a significant margin, again taking over 80% of the African-American vote, while getting a quarter of the white vote. Obama continues to beat Clinton by such larger margins among African-Americans and white men that he negates her advantage with women. After watching his speech last night, and after looking at the results, I am still convinced that he will eventually surpass Hillary in delegates and reach the finish line ahead of her.

Huckabee won by a large margin in the Kansas caucuses, which allowed him to get the attention early in the evening on the TV election coverage and the headlines in the Sunday morning papers, but McCain managed to eke out a win in the Washington caucuses and was very close to Huckabee in Louisiana. Since Huckabee did not get to 50% in Louisiana, no delegates were awarded. Huckabee's campaign is still alive, but the mathematics of the situation preclude a victory for him (barring a miracle). Still, unlike some others, I think his presence in the campaign is valuable. Some believe he should step aside so that McCain, as the presumptive GOP nominee, can get a head start on campaigning in general election mode. I think that an early end to the GOP contest would be harmful, as all the press attention (and, therefore, the public's attention) would be centered on the fascinating drama being played out in the Democratic contest. As long as Huckabee is in the race, the networks and the rest of the press are obligated to cover the GOP caucuses and primaries. Of course they will spend more time and resources covering the Democrats, as there is more drama in that race. But they will still talk about the Republicans in the context of whether or not McCain can unify the party. This will keep some attention on them for a while longer. When McCain mathematically locks up the nomination, Huckabee can join him on the stage (maybe they can get Romney to join them, as well as the other candidates who dropped out) and they can declare a unified front. Notice, too, that Huckabee is not attacking McCain. That, I believe, is deliberate. He can campaign honorably and with enthusiasm without slinging mud onto the likely nominee.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

UPDATE...Mike Huckabee is the winner of the GOP caucuses in Kansas. He won overwhelmingly, so much so that he got not only the 27 statewide at-large delegate but also the delegates from all the congressional districts, for a total of 36 delegates. As has been so often the case so far, my prediction of a McCain win in Kansas wasn't worth the energy expended to make it. No more state-by-state predictions for me (although I'll maintain my prediction of McCain as the GOP nominee and Obama beating Clinton for the Democratic nomination).

UPDATE...Barack Obama wins the Nebraska caucuses and is projected to win the caucuces in Washington State. In both cases, it looks like he has won a substantial victory, which means he will pull more delegates out of each contest.

UPDATE...Obama wins in Louisiana, as expected. So it is an Obama sweep. Still waiting on the GOP results in Louisiana and Washington, but Huckabee leads in Louisiana by a decent margin, and is leading in Washington by a small margin as I write this at 10:35 PM. It will be hard for the Clinton people to spin these results, and the momentum clearly remains with Obama. If he can sweep Maryland, Virginia and D.C. on Tuesday, especially if he can win by good margins, then it becomes increasingly difficult to argue that Clinton is the better hope for the Democrats in November.

Here is a brief description of today's contests. On the Democratic side:

Louisiana - 56 delegates at stake in a primary, allocated proportionally. 37 of those delegates will be allocated on a district-by-district basis, and another 19 based on the statewide vote. Louisiana has an additional 10 super delegates who are officially unpledged. I haven't seen any polling data, but the conventional wisdom is that Obama should do well, as he has done in some of the other Southern states.

Nebraska - 16 delegates will be awarded proportionally based on the results of a statewide caucus. 8 more will be allocated at a state convention in June and Nebraska has 7 more super delegates. Obama has done well in all the caucus states.

Washington - A confusing, multi-tier system starts today with the election of delegates to county conventions. In the end, delegates will eventually be elected to a state convention that will chose delegates to the national convention.

U.S. Virgin Islands - A convention is held today to choose 9 delegates. Three super delegates are officially unpledged.

This should be a good day for Obama, as he has strength in the South and he has shown organizational strength in caucus states. Dick Morris, looking ahead, sees the road to Obama's eventual nomination.

For the GOP:

Louisiana - 20 delegates are available in this primary. If a candidate wins 50% of the vote or more, he gets all 20. If not, the 20 remain unpledged until the state convention next Saturday, at which time the convention can choose to pledge those delegates.

Kansas - Caucuses will allocate 36 delegates. The rather complex rules could allow one candidate to get 27 of those delegates, so it's almost, but not quite, winner-take-all.

Washington - Precinct caucuses will choose 18 officially unpledged delegates. 19 more will be allocated in a primary on February 19.

Not a big day for the GOP race, but the math looks prohibitively difficult for Huckabee going forward (even with the win in Kansas). Of course, his campaign managers still see a path to victory.

Meanwhile, a group of conservative leaders met with Mitt Romney immediately after he dropped out of the Republican race. At least some of them want Romney to become the new face of the movement, possibly positioning himsef to be the GOP nominee in 2012.

Friday, February 08, 2008

While Clinton and Obama battle over fund raising and the debate schedule, Peggy Noonan speculates on how Hillary will handle defeat. Noonan shares my belief that Obama has the momentum, and that Obama would be the tougher candidate for the GOP to beat, although there are some who believe that it is the Democrats who are in trouble. I do not. All the trends seem to be working in the Democrats favor.

First, the Iraq War is still unpopular. It is not as important an issue as it was six months ago, and the situation on the ground certainly looks a good deal better now than it did six months ago, but the fact remains that this war, just like Vietnam and Korea, after initially being viewed favorably, lost the bulk of the American people when it became clear that no traditional victory was possible. Americans don't like to participate in wars that drag on without any clear resolution in sight (although they don't like to surrender, either, which is why when we do withdraw it will be after we declare victory, real or not).

Second, Democratic turnout and enthusiasm is much higher than what we see in the GOP. Democrats like both candidates, and are determined to reject the Bush legacy. Republicans are divided and a bit dispirited.

Third, and most importantly, the economy seems to be headed into a downward cycle. Polls show that almost everyone believes the economy is getting worse. The mortgage crisis, which literally hits close to home for many people, is driving the bus, but there are other poor indicators as well, including the falling stock market. As the job numbers start to soften, which is already happening, and high energy and health care costs continue to take a toll, many Americans are looking for someone to blame. The party holding the White House is always a convenient scapegoat in such situations, and the GOP has the image of being the party of Big Business, and it seems that it is Big Business that is failing us at the moment, rather than Big Government.

Some Republicans now believe that we could be facing a repeat of 1974, a debacle for the GOP in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal. I don't think it will be that bad, but the spate of resignations seems to indicate that the men who do politics for a living are betting on it being pretty bad.

All of this should create fertile ground for a third-party candidacy, but in the opinion of most experts at least, it seems that a Bloomberg run is less likely. I still think it is possible, but it does appear less likely as the weeks drag on.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I was in NYC yesterday and was unable to post anything.

UPDATE....Mitt Romney has suspended his campaign. As I write this he is poised to make the announcement at the CPAC conference. Romney has many faults, but stupidity is not one of them. He can analyze the delegate math as well as anyone. If he wants a future in Republican politics, and he does, it makes sense to stop bashing the guy who will be the 2008 GOP nominee, get with the program and await his next opportunity (which will be 2012 if McCain loses in November, and might be 2012 anyway if McCain, due to age, decides to serve only one term).

UPDATE...Romney gave a terrific speech. If he had given more speeches like that one (or if he has and they were seen by more people) then he would have had more success. His campaign was plagued by several problems, including the fact that his authenticity was questioned (by people like me), he was unable to get the conservative wing of the party to back him earlier in the process (as many flirted with the idea of Fred Thompson, for instance), and he saw the evangelical vote split by the presence of Mike Huckabee in the race. In the end he was able to get most of the leading movement conservatives to back him, but too late to get enough of the rank-and-file to join up (especially with Huckabee drawing evangelicals and McCain getting national security hawks). It is clear that Romney is positioning himself to be next in line for the GOP nomination if McCain goes down to defeat in November.

My impressions of Super Tuesday? As I said on the air as we wrapped up our coverage on WBZ radio in Boston, I don't see anything to stand in the way of John McCain wrapping up the Republican nomination. Here is an analysis from the Boston Globe that explains why the math just doesn't work for Romney and Huckabee. For the Democrats, while he still trails Clinton in the delegate count (although the numbers have not yet been finalized), and while Clinton still has institutional support and a lead in Super Delegates, it's beginning to look more and more likely that Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination. Why? Well, here is a list of five reasons why Clinton should be worried. Her biggest problem is that as Obama has become more well known, he has become more well liked. As Clinton campaigns she has not been able to substantially change her image. She is well liked by most Democrats, but has not been able to improve her image with independents. She does well with women, but can't seem to improve with men. She does well with older voters, but is losing young voters in droves to Obama. She has done well, so far, with Hispanics, but it is possible that could change, while she has lost any chance of improving with African-Americans as the possibility that Obama could win this thing becomes more and more apparent. Because they are so close in delegates, and because of the system of proportional allocation in all the Democratic primaries and caucuses to come, they will both continue to win delegates and remain neck-and-neck as we approach the convention. But I will not be surprised if the momentum for Obama continues to grow and he eventually takes the lead in delegates to the point where Super Delegates begin to abandon Clinton to come over to Obama's camp. Therefore, I expect Obama to clinch the nomination before the convention.

Here is some more evidence that Obama is on the winning path, as he raises more and more money, while Clinton is forced to loan her campaign personal funds.

David Broder surveys some old political hands who agree that John McCain would be a formidable candidate in the Fall, despite the ideological divisions that, according to E. J. Dionne, continue to plague the GOP. Ironically, as the GOP moves closer to nominating McCain, some of the old hands in the Democratic Party are going to realize that they can have a powerful influence on whether or not the Republicans unite behind the Senator from Arizona. Nominate Hillary Clinton and watch as conservatives bury the hatchet to unite behind McCain in their effort to prevent her (and Bill) from returning to the White House. Nominate Obama and watch as conservatives sink into passivity.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

It's Super Tuesday and people are going to the polls in 24 states, while the candidates campaign furiously, looking for an edge. So, if you live in one of the participating states, please go out and vote.

Update...the first contest has come to an end. After a second round of voting, West Virginia will send 18 delegates for Mike Huckabee. The process in itself is fascinating. West Virginia Republicans held a state convention today to award those 18 delegates. They will also hold a primary on May 13 to award an additional 9 delegates. At today's convention, the first round of voting resulted in a Huckabee lead, but not by enough to win. So, to prevent Romney from winning the delegates, McCain's people switched to Huckabee, thus giving him the simple majority required to win all 18 delegates. Here are the vote totals, courtesy of CNN. Democracy at work.

Senator Obama's advantage with African-American voters could be an advantage when it comes to winning delegates today, according to this story, which explains why.

Here is a convenient tool for looking at each state, courtesy of the Washington Times and the Associated Press.

I will be participating in the coverage of Super Tuesday on WBZ radio in Boston tonight starting at 7 PM. It should be fun.

Monday, February 04, 2008

"History Derailed" is the Boston Globe headline. Now, they will be known as the biggest chokers in sports history.

The race for President is tightening up on the Democratic side, while John McCain looks to wrap things up on the GOP side. Bob Novak explains the origins of this potential Democratic stalemate.

Dick Morris analyzes the race having looked at the most recent poll data.

I have also spent some time looking at the numbers. Here is what it looks like at this moment:

On the GOP side, McCain is ahead in the winner-take-all states of Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. While I haven't found any polling data, I suspect that Utah will go for Romney. I have no data on Montana. In the proportional states, McCain is ahead in Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Tennessee (although that one is very close). Romney has a slight lead in the big state of California and a solid lead in his home state of Massachusetts. Huckabee should win his home state of Arkansas. I have no data on Alaska, North Dakota or West Virginia. All-in-all, a solid advantage to McCain.

On the Democratic side, with all the states splitting their delegates proportionally, Clinton should win Arkansas, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee. Obama should win his home state of Illinois and Georgia. Clinton is ahead or slightly ahead in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Obama is ahead or slightly ahead in New Mexico and Utah. It's a dead heat in Alabama, Colorado, Idaho and Missouri. I have no data for Delaware and North Dakota. Clinton has the slight advantage, but because of the way delegates are allocated, both candidates could come out roughly even in the delegate count by the end of the night on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mark Steyn is unhappy that the Presidential ballot in November may end up with the names Clinton and McCain on it (and if one added Bloomberg, he still wouldn't be happy).

Can they go any lower? Probably, but it will be hard to get lower than using mentally-disabled women as suicide bombers.

As the Romney campaign strategizes on how to stay alive in the race, their biggest problem for Tuesday is Mike Huckabee's strength in the South, who faces problems of his own concerning the air of impropriety surrounding his gift-taking while Governor of Arkansas.

Noted Eagle's fan Arlen Specter has resurrected the "Spygate" controversy just before the Super Bowl, which shouldn't make Giants fans very happy, since I think Dan Shaughnessy is correct in his belief that it will simply add fuel to the Patriots' ire.

The job growth streak ends, another sign that we may already be in a recession.

First, the daughter of President Kennedy came out to endorse Obama, now the grandaughter of President Eisenhower does the same. The Clintons must be asking themselves, "Where is Amy Carter now that we need her?"

As for the Presidential polls heading into Super Tuesday, RealClearPolitics is the best place to go for a quick glance at the numbers, but Dave Leip's Presidential Atlas site is another good spot to look at the state-by-state numbers that are available. McCain and Clinton are leading in most states. Still, because the Democrats allocate all their delegates based on Congressional districts in a proportional manner, Obama does not have to split these states with Clinton, just win enough districts within these states to stay in the delegate hunt. On the other hand, Romney faces the possibility of McCain winning all or nearly all the winner-take-all GOP contests in Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Utah. Only Utah looks like a good bet for Romney. McCain is way ahead in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, he is slightly ahead in Missouri and, of course, Arizona is his home state. I don't know of any publicly available state polls of Montana or Delaware, so I have no read on those states. It looks like a big uphill climb for Romney.