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February 09, 2008

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A race against Clinton it will be McCain's to lose. Still, he might lose it.

A poster on Kos says that there is a new slogan on the R side, "It Takes a Carter to Get a Reagan." I don't think the R base will stay home to any significat extent if Clinton is ouur nominee, but we might get lucky.

On the other hand we might nominate Obama and just plain win.

I am a delegate, BTW! I blew everyone away with my wonderful speech. My take away form my Washington caucus is this: the Hillary supporters were the impractical, hopeful wishful thinkers and they were pissed that she isn't a shoo-in. One Hillary supporter came right ouut and said that we should all support Hillary because it was time to stand up for women. Well I'm a woman and I think that the time to stand up for women is all the time, including when I vote for Michelle Obama's husband. One tried to make the case that Hillary is the more electable candidate. Polling data, lack of independent support, high disapproval ratings--she waved that all away as not important because Hillary will win because she will win! It seemed like a much more emotional thing on the Hillary side than the Obama side.

So anyway I don't think caucuses are the ideal way to choose a candidate but it is fun to get thhe chance to discuss things.

One strategy would be for both candidates to attack McCain while it is awkward for him to counter attack because to do so is to provide natural selection for the candidate most able to fend him off and potentially forces I'm to contradict himself (while attacking both).

Given the fact that so many of the Republican primaries are winner-take-all, this has the potential to be very interesting... For McCain to go 0-3 is way different from Hillary going 0-3...

"Given the fact that so many of the Republican primaries are winner-take-all, this has the potential to be very interesting... For McCain to go 0-3 is way different from Hillary going 0-3..."

It seems unlikely to me. Next week it's Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. I can maybe see Huckabee doing okay in Virginia, possibly even winning, but in Maryland and D.C.? I suppose it's possible, and if he wins Maryland, than maybe you're right.

But, still, how is Huckabee going to play in Wisconsin, Vermont, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Oregon, New Mexico, and the other non-southern states? How does he get to an actual threat in number of delegates?

It's not impossible, I agree; maybe he can sweep the remaining southern states, and Texas and Ohio, and pick up the strength to get those other states.

But it seems pretty darn unlikely.

What I meant is that if the GOP primaries were all proportional, McCain would be a fait accompli -- he probably wouldn't even have to "win" anything. Winner-take-all caucuses keep Huckabee in the game and actually make him a credible threat.

But, still, how is Huckabee going to play in Wisconsin, Vermont, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Oregon, New Mexico, and the other non-southern states? How does he get to an actual threat in number of delegates?

My family's from Indiana -- I'd be astounded if Huckabee didn't win there. If I had to guess, I'd give him Virginia and Texas in a walk, too. I'd put Maryland, D.C., Vermont, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Oregon in McCain's column, and probably New Mexico. Ohio is the big tossup.

The big question, I think, is how the Romney voters break, just how strong the anybody-but-McCain sentiment really is, and whether Huckabee's fundie nutcase-ism or anti-D.C. populism will count against him.

And Texas is a lot of delegates. In the end, the smart money is still on McCain, but Huckabee has a real shot. And outside shot, but definitely a shot.

(And really -- consider whether the smart money was on McCain two months ago...)

DC Republicans are a strange group, a small minority who have voluntarily disenfranchised themselves by registering as Republicans and so making themselves ineligible for the Democratic primary, which is the real election here (cue superdestroyer). Still, I don't think they include a disproportionate number with theocratic leanings, so I'd have to guess that they'll be voting for McCain.

I was out tonight in DC putting up Obama signs and was happy to come back to find that Obama was making a clean sweep of all four of today's contests, including winning 90% of the vote in the US Virgin Islands. He outperformed the predictions in his leaked memo, which people like Jerome Armstrong were viewing as overoptimistic. And I see he's up to 64 on Intrade. Of course this means that expectations are getting overheated, so I fear a crash any day now.

if the GOP primaries were all proportional, McCain would be a fait accompli

Eh? If the GOP primaries were proportional, McCain wouldn't have nearly as many delegates as he has now. He's been able to get 100% of the delegates in lots of states without even getting a majority of the vote.

Perhaps you meant if only the remaining GOP primaries were proportional.

OK, my numbers, per Wikipedia:
- McCain has 714 delegates.
- Huckabee has 217 delegates.
- The magic number is 1191.
- Winner-take-all primaries: WA, MD, WI, VA, OH, DC. Wikipedia is not clear on the rest. Perhaps someone can explain those.

I'd say McCain probably takes WA (40), MD (37), WI (40), RI (20), VT (17), MI (39), PA (74), and OR (30), ending up with 1,011 delegates. He would need 180 more to win.

I'd say Huck probably takes VA (63), TX (140), IN (57), NC (69), NE (33), KY (45), ID (32), and SD (27), ending up with 683 delegates. He would need 508 more to win.

I'm not sure how to call OH (88), NM (32), or DC (19). Those are worth 139 delegates, in toto, so even taking all of them leaves McCain 41 delegates short.

The territories are worth 59 delegates (23 for PR, 9 each for the other 4), but I have no idea how those work.

Lousiana's 47 delegates will be selected by state convention on the 16th.

- Paul has 16 delegates.
- Romney has 286 delegates.
- There are 123 superdelegates.

(This leaves me 16 delegates short of the 2,380 total, so I must have missed something somewhere)

I'd say the chances of a brokered convention of some sort are actually pretty high, and Mitt Romney is holding all the cards...

Perhaps you meant if only the remaining GOP primaries were proportional.

Yes.

And I see he's up to 64 on Intrade. Of course this means that expectations are getting overheated, so I fear a crash any day now.

I disagree, simply because Obama won tonight. Maybe if there's a media backlash. My constant reading of intrade has led me to believe that it does nothing but reflect the perception of current conventional wisdom -- that is, the number is always exactly what you would expect if you asked a political wonk what they thought the populace was thinking based solely on the most recent CNN headlines.

It's like the blogger-parlor-game version of the efficient capital markets hypothesis. But it is fun to watch.

"Wikipedia is not clear on the rest. Perhaps someone can explain those."

See here. (As I recommended here.)

Oh man, now my head hurts. Great.

Looking over the rules, I'm now going to say that McCain is only likely to win RI, VT, OH, and WI, but only VT and OH are winner-take-all. Those four have open primaries and the others I had going for McCain are mostly closed.

I give Huckabee ID, IN, KY, MS, NE, SD, and TX. KY and SD are proportional but closed. TX is open, but the hybrid caucus system heavily favors Huckabee.

Given that open primaries clearly favor McCain, and closed primaries Huckabee, I think the rest are tossups:
DC (19) - WTA, closed
HI (20) - ? "no formal system"
MD (37) - WTA, closed
NC (69) - proportional, partially open
NM (32) - proportional
OR (30) - proportional, closed
PA (74) - ? "nonbinding," closed
VA (63) - WTA, open

If you split the proportionals 50/50, the end result is McCain 991, Huckabee 617. Clearly the race hinges on DC, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia. McCain needs to pick up 200 delegates somewhere to win. If he gets Romney, it's pretty much automatic -- I'd put a lot of money on a McCain/Romney ticket.

Oh, thanks for the tip, Gary, headache or no ;)

"Oh man, now my head hurts. Great."

Reminds me of a story I heard somewhere about this dude who liked to pound his head against the wall because it felt so good when he stopped.

Excellent analysis throughout, Adam.

Honestly, I don't want it to be messy over on that side of the aisle, and can't wait til they send McCain up as the nominee. I'm horrified by the thought that someone like Lugar might wake up tomorrow and get it in his head to try and save the GOP. Just a bad dream, I tell myself, it'll never happen. But just the same, I'll take McCain any day of the week. I'll probably sleep better.

What exactly does the custodian of a politically correct English department at a fading liberal-arts college sound like???

Of course "conservatives will come home" but the more interesting question is how many come home, or stated another way, how many don't and decide to set it out. I think the number who just don't vote will be more than nominal, in part because of how McCain does, and will be forced to continue to, campaign. His style is not a natural fit for appealing to the base. He seems incapable of the sort of dog whistle fundamentalist allusions that are the stock and trade of Republican nominees. He just doesn't know how to appeal to this constituency. Secondly, he will be forced to piss-off either moderates/independents or the fundies. He will not be able to avoid this fundamentally contradictory imperative. I don't care what the numbers say today; he will not be competitive against either Clinton or Obama and that is why Limbaugh and other's are trying distance themselves lest they be tainted by the loss.

Matt Welch has a pretty scary article on McCain. Also an interview here. Some teasers:

Like almost every past McCain crusade, from fining Big Tobacco to drug-testing athletes to restricting political speech in the name of campaign finance reform, the surge involved an increase in the power of the federal government, particularly in the executive branch.

A McCain presidency would put legislative flesh on David Brooks’ fuzzy pre-9/11 notions of “grand aspiration,” deploying a virtuous federal bureaucracy to purify unclean private transactions from the boardroom to the bedroom. And it would prosecute the nation’s post-9/11 wars with a militaristic zeal this country hasn’t seen in generations.

“Keating Five”

“I have spent much of my life choosing my own attitude, often carelessly, often for no better reason than to indulge a conceit”

McCain’s fondness for government power doesn’t stop there. He pushed for the huge airline industry bailouts after September 11. He recently proposed legislation requiring every registered sex offender in the country to report all their active email accounts to law enforcement or face prison. He wants to federalize the oversight of professional boxing. He wants yet more vigor in fighting the War on Meth.

For years McCain has warned that a draft will be necessary if we don’t boost military pay, and he has long agitated for mandatory national service.

But in the 2006 elections he made a fool of himself campaigning for an Arizona ballot initiative banning gay marriage. Perhaps because of the libertarian strain in Arizona’s political tradition, the proposition lost. McCain has been a pretty consistent opponent of abortion, but he went from saying he wouldn’t seek to reverse Roe v. Wade in 1999 to saying he would in 2006.

On these questions, the most militaristic presidential candidate since Ulysses S. Grant has provided a clear answer: If you think George W. Bush had an itchy trigger finger, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

In addition to calling for tens of thousands more troops in Iraq than Bush has committed, McCain has pushed to keep military options against Iran “open,” criticized the “repeated failure to back…rhetoric with action” against North Korea, supported a general policy of “rogue state rollback,” and lamented the Pentagon’s failure to intervene in Darfur.

Defending campaign finance reform, McCain said, “I would rather have a clean government than one…where ‘First Amendment rights’ are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice I’d rather have a clean government.”

And what’s very little sort of understood—one of many things that’s little understood about John McCain is that from the beginning he was spending crazy amounts of money. You know, he’s this champion of campaign finance, but he wildly outspent his opponents in Arizona time and time again, especially at the beginning of his career, with his father-in-law’s money, with money from Charles Keating and money from other people, and built up this political career and ended up going to the Senate and becoming the maverick we all know and love.

So he is basically winning the GOP primaries on the back of the antiwar vote, when in fact he would be the most explicitly interventionist president since Teddy Roosevelt, and he certainly makes George Bush look gun-shy by comparison.

That said, his bill last year trying to eliminate torture ended up eliminating habeas corpus sort of by accident on the back end. And so, you know, as often happens, with McCain in particular, he had a great idea, his “heart was in the right place.” And the legislative result of that was not necessarily something that worked out to the nation’s benefit.

The basic McCain strategy– you know in 1999 McCain advocated this policy of rogue-state rollback which is basically preemptive war three and a half years before Bush ever thought of it.

And any time we make a threat and someone calls our bluff, we also have to use US force. It is incredibly interventionist militaristic approach towards foreign policy that he has had all along.

He is constantly rattling sabers in the general direction of everybody. Of China, Russia, certainly of North Korea. At any given time, he considers this or that dictator or authoritarian or kind of mean guy to be the transcendent issue that we must focus on this very moment. It is the only sort of lever or– the only sort of grade that he knows to approach the world’s problems, which is “identify evil everywhere and get in evil’s face”.

"Matt Welch has a pretty scary article on McCain."

Lots, actually. He wrote the book, and has been following McCain for years. He's got dozens and dozens and dozens of articles on McCain.

dmh @ 10:43:

While I agree that both parties in this year's Presidential race are going to possibly face a non-trivial "sit it out" factor (depending on the eventual nominee), I think that the Republicans are better-prepared to overcome their disaffected factions' qualms; for a number of reasons:

1. They are (as a national Party) better-organized.

2. They will be far more desperate.

3. Their base of "GOP Disgruntleds" will (as dmh points out) have nowhere else to go - and the theocrat/fundamentalist wing of the party will be faced with the choice of voting for: a) a candidate they don't like and is perceived as indifferent to their interests; or b) a candidate they loathe, who is perceived as actively hostile.

The sex-obsessed "values voter" crowd and their enablers in Big Religion may not be thrilled by the GOP's nomination of John McCain: but if the alternative looks to be a complete shut-out of their disproportional influence in Washington (as opposed to a mere diminuition of it), I think (pace Dr. Dobson), they will hold their noses, turn out and pull the GOP lever in significant numbers. Significant enough, given the right circumstances, to perhaps make a different in some "swing" states.


Oh, and dmh: while I also agree that Sen. McCain doesn't do "dog-whistle" politicking well: that can be easily overcome by adept speechwriting and "handling": after all, it's a political campaign; he only has to sound like he means it!

"3. Their base of "GOP Disgruntleds" will (as dmh points out) have nowhere else to go - and the theocrat/fundamentalist wing of the party will be faced with the choice of voting for: a) a candidate they don't like and is perceived as indifferent to their interests; or b) a candidate they loathe, who is perceived as actively hostile."

This doesn't take into account the significant numbers who will calculate that it's better to have a Democrat in the White House to run against (and fund raise against) for four, or even eight, years, than to let apostate non-Christians gain control of the Republican Party again, as they see it.

Ditto some of the other flavors of ultra-conservative that can't stand McCain for offenses against their principles, as they see it.

It'll only be a minority of various flavors of conservative, but it will be significant.

That's also why this is entirely wrong: "...he will not be competitive against either Clinton or Obama and that is why Limbaugh and other's are trying distance themselves lest they be tainted by the loss."

Completely wrong. If McCain wins, Limbaugh and company are paper tigers. If Hillary wins, it's the best possible world for them. Jeebus, if you don't know that, you are completely clueless.

Rush and company did far better under the Clintons than under G. W. Bush. A polarizing Democrat is what they want in the White House: not a Republican they have to explain away.

Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. He lives off ratings, and fundraising, not off votes. He has maximum political power and money and ratings when the conservatives are outsiders, not insiders.

Basic, basic, stuff.

Damn Gary, that was some great insight.

This doesn't take into account the significant numbers who will calculate that it's better to have a Democrat in the White House to run against (and fund raise against) for four, or even eight, years, than to let apostate non-Christians gain control of the Republican Party again, as they see it.

Probably true; I also have some agreement with your other comments. I personally have completely different reasons for thinking that Obama might get my vote, should he wind up being nominated, and I fully admit that some of my reasons might be irrational. I have some hope, at least, that he's really as reasonable a guy as he seems to be, and is not yet sucked into catering to the party power structure as I think Hillary is.

Ditto if Clinton gets the nod; it's almost a given that I have a certain emotional aversion to Clinton, and that would probably affect my decision more than I'd want it to, only in the other direction.

Possibly this irrationality is the predictable sort, and possibly it's only predictable when aggregated with everyone else's; I'm certainly not the guy to ask. But everyone has their own decision-making process, and on an individual basis, that process is, I'd hazard to guess, generally not predictable.

That said, his bill last year trying to eliminate torture ended up eliminating habeas corpus sort of by accident on the back end.

That wasn't "by accident"; that was intentional. The only reason for McCain to pull his little stunt was to kill the anti-torture bill. Elimination of habeas corpus was intentional. For him to claim otherwise is horsefeathers.

"Horsefeathers" is a pretty charitable description. McCain voted against the amendment that would have stripped the habeas provisions out of McCain's bill. It was a close vote, on a signature issue, and his going the other way would have made all the difference.

Gary Farber wrote "Completely wrong. If McCain wins, Limbaugh and company are paper tigers. If Hillary wins, it's the best possible world for them. Jeebus, if you don't know that, you are completely clueless.

I must have missed the part where I wrote that Limbaugh and company would be worse off if the Dems win. I thought I merely said they would not embrace McCain because they have concluded (in my view, correctly) that McCain is toast and don't want to be tainted by what is shaping up to be a blow-out loss. They will undoubtedly thrive in opposition to either Clinton or Obama. But then you are apparently more clever than me and were able to read words, and opinions, I failed to write. I guess I really am clueless.

I do not love thee, John McCain
The reason why, I can't explain
But this I know, I know it plain
I do not love thee, John McCain

I wrote above: "Rush and company did far better under the Clintons than under G. W. Bush. A polarizing Democrat is what they want in the White House: not a Republican they have to explain away."

Here:

[...] "The irony is that Limbaugh, by attacking McCain and having him win anyway, may end up with a larger audience because people that don't like McCain will rally around him," says Michael Harrison, editor and publisher of Talkers magazine, the main trade journal for the talk-show industry. "The person who takes the unpopular view in radio often gets the biggest audience because so many other people are competing for the popular view. Limbaugh is the smartest man on the air. He is a brilliant broadcaster and a great talent … Hillary would be better for conservative hosts than McCain. They are all salivating over the hope that Hillary will get elected."

"Hillary would be better for conservative hosts than McCain."

Not the least because under McCain a restoration of the 'fairness' doctrine is a virtual certainty, which would pretty much kill off talk radio. Not only is McCain obsessed with censoring political speech, utterly contemptuous of the 1st amendment, and holds onto a grudge even tighter than a Clinton, he has the potential to sway at least a few Republican votes in favor of campaign censorship of all flavors, rendering chances of filibustering that free speech nightmare negligible.

I agree that neither candidate can lose to McCain. The Christians won't be coming back in as large a group, the people are less likely to be scared by gays, too many supporters of the war in 2004 are, or have friends who are, 'Gold Star Mothers."

McCain can't answer the 64,000,000 vote question without either alienating Bushies or Independents. ("Sen. McCain, do you see yourself as the preserver of President Bush's legacy or the corrector of his mistakes, and if the seond, what were they?")

Even some of the 'Hilary haters' will stay home, the ones whose hate was fueled by her 'refusal to stand up to an adulterer.' McCain's own marital history will curb some of their enthusiasm.

And much of our fear of McCain is based on our memories of McCain 2000. It might not be 'fair' to point this out, but it is unmistakeable. McCain has aged much more than eight years since then. And he doesn't come across as the 'vigorous senior citizen with the (purported) "wisdom of his years"' that Reagan was able to project -- and that GHWB still can. He comes across as a somewhat confused, sour, old man.

(I am not saying 'go to sleep' as someone responded to a similar post of mine. We have lost so repeatedly -- Clinton was saved by Perot's candidacy, Ford by the Nixon pardon, it hasn't been since Vietnam that we've given the Republicans the electoral thrashing they deserve -- that we've forgotten what winning feels like. We forget how it feels to fight even harder because we know we're going to win.

The big question is how the Congressional races will be affected. Yes, enough 'Hilary haters' might come out to cost us some close races, but there's a more important consideration.

Obama has shown he is able to bring out voters in the reddest of districts, and has shown how enthusiastic a following he has. This means that the Republicans, already somewhat underfunded (for them) and under-enthusiastic about their candidate, will have to defend even more seats that might have been considered safe. They might save a lot of the 'reddest' -- but not all -- but they will lose a lot of other races they might have saved because they were 'stretched too thin.'

They might save a lot of the 'reddest' -- but not all -- but they will lose a lot of other races they might have saved because they were 'stretched too thin.'

Every dollar spent defending Virginia is a dollar that's can't be spent taking Ohio.

"I agree that neither candidate can lose to McCain."

And that's just idiotic to say nine months before an election.

All it would take is a serious scandal about either Democrat, based in fact, to arise to derail the current circumstances and elect McCain. Or any of an infinite list of other possibile developments.

If you said it was unlikely for McCain to win, you'd have a perfectly valid argument.

"Can't" is flatly and completely and provably wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

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