Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Front-Runner

Believe it or not, October begins on Monday. Third quarter fund-raising numbers for the 2008 Presidential candidates will be released. And it’s just three and a half months before the primaries begin.

So what are analysts saying about the race for the Democratic nomination at this point? Let’s take a look:

Headline: “Clinton is the candidate to beat.”

Headline: “Clinton Appears To Be The Likely Nominee”

Headline: “Analysts And Insiders Say It's Looking Like Clinton.”

Zogby: “Given where we stand now, it's hard to see a way to stop Clinton, especially if she has a strong showing in Iowa, which she very well may have.” Zogby said Clinton swept all demographic categories, leading among all age groups, among union and non-union voters, and among self-described progressives and liberals. “This is stunning,” said Zogby. “This qualifies as juggernaut status.

Larry Sabato, Director of UVA's Center For Politics: Clinton is the candidate to beat. “Over the years, I have followed so many of these and watched the candidates and the numbers and everything. . . . I don't want to give my own Crystal Ball away, but Clinton is just running away with it. When you put all the factors together and weight them properly as I think we have done with this analysis, good luck to the others.”

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile: “I think if I were Clinton's campaign manger, I would feel comfortable now that for the last three months Hillary Clinton has been in the driver's seat.”
So, Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and the others gave it their best shot, but it looks like the Clinton Machine was simply too much for them. You wonder why they even bother staying in the race at this point?

Well, I can give you one very good reason: All of the above quotes and headlines were actually from October 2003, and they were all about Howard Dean.

Read back through the news coverage at this point in the last election and Howard Dean was the longtime front-runner, the “man to beat,” and Wesley Clark was stirring up things with his entrance into the race. In October 2003, Dean led the national polls, with Clark second, followed closely by Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman. (Remember Lieberman, Al Gore’s sublime choice for VP in 2000? A real, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, Joe was. We miss you, Joe!)

John Kerry was in fifth place and couldn’t even break into double digits, eking out a measly 9%.

But National Poll numbers are never as important as poll numbers from the individual primary states, analysts like to say. So, in October 2003, Dean and Gephardt were tied in Iowa, with 26% each. Kerry was struggling at 15%. John Edwards wasn’t listed anywhere, his numbers were so pathetic.

The results in January 2004? Kerry 38%, Edwards 32%, Dean 18%, with Gephardt a distant fourth.

In New Hampshire, in October 2003, Dean was running away with the race at 40%. Kerry was tanking at 17%. Wesley Clark and John Edwards were tied at 6%.

The results in January 2004: Kerry 39%, Dean 26%, Clark 12%, Edwards 11%.

I decided to look up these quotes and headlines about Dean after I saw the following Washington Post headline: "Clinton as the Insiders' Shoo-in." (“It's official: Washington insiders believe Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the Democratic presidential nominee.")

And, of course, the guy in the White house said this week that he thought Hillary would be the nominee. I don't know about you, but the last thing I would want as a candidate right now would be George W. Bush saying he thought I would be the nominee. Hillary's staff must have ordered a lot of extra TP after that little jewel came out in the media.

Hillary Clinton may indeed wind up as the Democratic nominee. But this is a funny world we live in, and I guess I still believe that in politics, as in football, anything can happen. That's why we still play the games and still hold the elections.

We'll know more in a few months.

UPDATE: Discounting the nomination process in 2000 (Gore was a sitting VP) and 1996 (Clinton's re-election), the next example of a contested nomination for the Democrats was in 1992.

Who was the front-runner in the fall of 1991? The guy who never ran: Mario Cuomo. A November 1991 national poll in the LA Times looked like this: Cuomo 38%, Jerry Brown 11%, Douglas Wilder 7%, Clinton 6%.

The Iowa caucus that year wasn't a factor, because Iowa's senator, Tom Harkin, was a candidate and no one else contested him there. New Hampshire was the first primary test. In November 1991, Bill Clinton only had 5% support, placing him fifth behind Paul Tsongas, Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin and Jerry Brown.

The results: Tsongas 34%, Clinton 26%, Kerrey 12%, Harkin 11%, Brown 9%.

That's an especially impressive showing for Clinton, considering that the primary took place just as the stories of his infidelities were coming out.

Other intersting poll numbers from that time period:

Gallup Poll, Oct 91: Clinton Favorability

25% Favorable; 16 Unfavorable; 17 Heard of, no opinion; 40 Never heard of

Bush 58% vs. Clinton 22%


crystal said...

Go, Hillary! :-) Hey, it could still happen.

So if not Edwards, who are you for?

cowboyangel said...

Ron Paul!

i'm surprised you had to ask. Isn't everyone for Ron Paul?

crystal said...

Who? :-)

cowboyangel said...

Ron Paul!

cowboyangel said...

Wait, sorry, that's Ru Paul.

Ron Paul!

crystal said...

Ru is more known to me than Ron, but I was teasing you :-)

I wonder what it would be like to have a woman president. Probably no real difference besides the perceived, but I'm kind of looking forward to finding out.

Jeff said...

Oh, nice of you to try to jinx America's Quarterback with that obscene photo of Tom Brady. True enough, however, that you can't just hand us the trophy, darn it. What nerve to have to actually play the games. What nerve to have to actually hold the elections...

Nice political analysis, William. Freaking Iowa... I'm so sick of Iowa and their cock-us results.


As for Ron Paul... Thanks Ron, but I'm not a charter member of the Herbert Hoover Fan Club. It's nice that you're against the war and all, but I actually like the fact that we have a Social Security Program and a Food and Drug administration. Is it alright with you if we can at least keep those two measly crumbs that are left to us?

Hey, you know who I'm missing in the race from the Republican side, for better comic relief than Ron Paul? "I'm Morry Taylor, the CEO of the Titan Wheel Company!" Or how about Steve Forbes? Now that was a real Republican!

cowboyangel said...

I would love to see a woman president. I'd prefer a different woman, but if Hillary wins, I think it would be great on many levels. I'm a little concerned about her feeling like she has to prove herself tough on defense because she's a woman. She's been courting the military types quite a bit, I've read. If things continue to escalate with Iran, and she became president, I think she might be more inclined to do something big, because she's afraid she'll look weak. Of course, she has the added burden of her husband's relationship with the Armed Forces, which wasn't good. Plus the fact that she's a Democrat, which makes all of them talk tough. I stil can't believe Obama was talking about nuking Pakistan. If a Republican said that, the liberals would be foaming at the mouth. I didn't hear much from them when it was Obama.

Just to clarify, I'm not really supporting Ron Paul. Or Ru Paul. That was a joke.

cowboyangel said...


Was that Tom Brady in the photo? I just typed in "fumble" into Google Images and that came up. I didn't even realize it was the Patriots. Huh. Imagine that!


That one was for you! I like the photo. Might print it out and stick it on my wall.

And I am now going to publicly embarrass myself with the following confession, which I've been waiting to tell you: I actually dreamt of Tom Brady two nights ago! He was my friend and he had come to visit. He seemed kind of down, so I was trying to cheer him up. I was feeling kind of down myself, but in the dream, I thought to myself, "Wow, Tom Brady is my friend. That's pretty cool." And I felt so much better. I woke up feeling incredibly comforted, better than I had in days.

I've been watching football since I was about 9 years old. That's the first time in my life I've ever dreamt of a football player. How weird is that.

Anyway, you can go tell your Patriot buddies that a Jets fan had a dream where Tom Brady was the hero.

Glad you caught the football analogy. I'm not sure how many others know that every analyst in pro football has crowned the Patsies Super Bowl XLII Champions just 3 games into the season.

Liam said...

Did Tom Brady videotape your notes for your blog?

Great analysis, batman, you always have a way to put things in perspective.

cowboyangel said...

Hey man, where you been? People have been asking after you? They want to know about Ahmn$#%^$# - the Iranian guy - at Columbia.

Am I the only one who can't spell that name without seeing it right in front of me? Probably.

Good to hear from you, Liam.

Jeff said...

And I am now going to publicly embarrass myself with the following confession, which I've been waiting to tell you: I actually dreamt of Tom Brady two nights ago!

What serendipity that is! That is exactly the same thing that my wife Anne tells me every two days! Wait 'til I tell her that you've been having the same dream too!

In any case, it's a good sign that you are dreaming about him. "Come to the dark side..."

I notice in the photo that Tom didn't hold on to the ball too well. Thank goodness the NFL made the Tuck Rule specially for his benefit. The only way I can imagine him getting sacked here is if the video feed of the defensive call was really late coming in from the sidelines, but his reads are usually quick enough.

Hey, did you happen to see the Tavi Smiley GOP debate last night. The one without all the front-runners? "African-Americans? There are African-Americans in this country? Psssstt ... Do you happen to know any African-Americans?"

cowboyangel said...

Well, it's one thing for a woman to dream about Tom Brady. That's understandable. La Reina likes Tom Brady. Supermodels like Tom Brady and have his babies. But for a male, heterosexual Jets fan to dream aobut Tom Brady . . . . That's just plain wrong.

It was really a Jesus dream. It's just that Jesus happend to be played by Tom Brady in this case. The emotions evoked in the dream were the kind I would expect to feel if it were Jesus next to me: comfort, solid feeling about life, "everything's going to bokay." Weird, weird, weird.

I didn't see the Tavis Smiley-Republican debate, but I read the live-blogging excerpts on Wonkette. ("This is perhaps the first and only time we’ll hear 'Let’s give it up for' Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo.) Seems like Huckabee continiues to come off well, even on Wonkette. I don't understand why he's not making more of an impact in the Republican race.