Sunday, December 23, 2007


"Nobody Knows What's Going On"
4 Plausible G.O.P. Nominees, No Frontrunner

Once left for dead by the political chattering class, Republican John McCain has crept back within striking distance of Mitt Romney in the state of New Hampshire, according to the freshest poll conducted by the Boston Globe.

Mitt Romney 28%
John McCain 25%
Rudy Giuliani 14%
Mike Huckabee 10%

The margin of error is about 5%. On the Democratic side, in this same poll, Barack Obama holds a slim 2 point edge over Hillary Clinton. 40% of likely voters in both parties tell the pollsters they are still undecided.

Citing the fluidity in the Republican race, George Will suggested there's a possibility the G.O.P. could still be fighting over its nominee at convention time. "I hold the Olympic record for the most anti-McCain columns ever written . . . That said, you can also make the case that he would be the strongest man in the general election," said Will on ABC's This Week.

NBC Political Director Chuck Todd basically predicted Mitt Romney would lose Iowa. He said the future of Romney's candidacy will depend on how bad. "They're worried they are going to lose Iowa, but they are trying to close the gap," Todd said. "So they look like they have a running start to salvage New Hampshire because their bigger fear right now, the Romney people are absolutely petrified of John McCain," Todd added.

John Harwood of CNBC wouldn't rule out a Romney comeback in Iowa because of his organization there. Still, Mitt Romney is now getting hammered for his explanation about whether his father, former Gov. George Romney, ever appeared with or marched with Martin Luther King. Although Romney mentioned his father and King in a speech, there are now real questions about whether that actually occurred. "The problem is it feeds into this idea that he will say anything it takes to win over a constituency group," Todd argued on Meet the Press today. "I don't know if it goes away . . . Mitt Romney has not been good when the pressure has been on and when the spotlight has been on," he said.

On the Democratic side, E.J. Dionne acknowledged, "Nobody knows what's going on in Iowa." Could the question of experience be what ultimately stops Barack Obama? That's Hillary Clinton's closing argument. Are voters really willing to roll the dice, take a chance . . . for hope? Will argues yes. "If politics is supposed to be exciting, then Obama is the candidate," Will said.

There also seems to be a growing sense that Obama is turning his attention towards Edwards in Iowa, instead of Clinton. The punditry agrees that Obama must see Edwards on the move there. Could Edwards be Obama's real threat to winning the Hawkeye State. What if Hillary places third? If Edwards pulls out a win in Iowa, the Clinton camp hopes that would weaken Obama in New Hampshire. "Hillary Clinton would much rather lose to Edwards than Obama," Harwood said.

"What if its 32-31-30? Clinton's at 30, Edwards is at 32. Is that a victory? It's probably not a victory at that point, and you sort of move on. That's where Edwards could get lost. If he wins Iowa, he needs a little bit of pad between first and second," Todd said of Edwards' long-term chances.

Bottom line: The next week will be tricky for negativity. With many voters focused on church, family and presents, how candidates handle criticism will be extremely important, given how close this race is.

But it looks like us junkies have already gotten our Christmas wish: an unpredictable race for president on both sides.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Huckabee and McCain have become twin nightmares for Romney. Due to the time and resources he's invested in Iowa, anything but a win there is devastating. Add to this that he is a favored "regional candidate" in New Hampshire, and anything but a win here is likewise devastating.

McCain is clearly on the move, collecting numerous endorsements from Joe Lieberman to the largest newspapers in New Hampshire and Iowa. It is possible that McCain is getting a serious second look from voters in these early states who like McCain experience and electability.

The real race in Iowa may be for 3rd place- for the traditional third ticket out of Iowa. I believe that Huckabee will beat Romney in a photo finish in Iowa, with either McCain or Thompson coming in third.