Trb Calls The Democratic Race!

by Jonathan Chait | January 4, 2008

 

A few post-Iowa thoughts:

1. In his book about the Democratic Leadership Council, "Reinventing Democrats," Ken Baer recounts how DLC-ites always imagined Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign as a centrist crusade to take the party back from its orthodox liberal wing, picturing a Clinton battle against a liberal favorite like Mario Cuomo. Instead, Clinton found himself running against uber-centrist Paul Tsongas, and ended up emphasizing populist themes.

Hillary Clinton is in a similar spot now. Her main strategist, Mark Penn, has been positioning her as the centrist for years. And now she finds herself running against an opponent in Barack Obama who has virtually all the independent and cross-party support. Clinton is the candidate of party regulars. Her remarks last night about appealing to "the people of America, and particularly [my emphasis] Democrats, and like-minded independents, and Republicans that have seen the light" were an eerie echo of George W. Bush's line in 2000, trying to discredit John McCain for drawing so many votes from independents and crossover Democrats.

2. (Related) Hillary Clinton is toast. Before Iowa, Clinton's drawbacks were that some voters didn't like or trust her. Obama's drawbacks, in addition to a lack of experience, were that some voters didn't take him seriously, didn't think he was for real, didn't know much about him, didn't think he could attract white voters. Clinton's drawbacks cannot be assuaged. Obama's could if he wins a state, especially a disproportionately white state.

Well, Obama has won a state. Now he goes to New Hampshire, which is an open primary far better suited than Iowa to a movement-based campaign with strong independent appeal. Then he goes to South Carolina which has a large black vote that, I'm confident, will now see him as a bona fide contender. So, my prediction is that Obama wins New Hampshire by double-digits, then crushes Clinton in South Carolina, at which point the race will be over.

3. On one of the news channels this morning, they were reporting on the political trading markets in New Hampshire. The percentage chance of each candidate to in the primary, which they flashed up on the screen for a lengthy period of time and repeated breathlessly, were:

Obama: 65%

Clinton: 40%

Edwards: 3%

I swear, they put these numbers on screen, and repeated them, without noticing anything amiss. Maybe the political trading markets are dominated by football coaches who expect the voters to give 110%.

--Jonathan Chait

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/trb-calls-the-democratic-race