Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Day At The Races

By Cernig

So far, I've not had a lot of success at predicting primary winners - mostly because beinga foreigner I don't get all the nuanced dynamics for individual states. So I've been reading a couple of people who do seem to get those dynamics - and an overall picture certainly seems to be emerging.

Dr. Steven Taylor at Poliblog is a Professor of PoliScience and an astute observer. His toast-o-meter says the emerging narrative is of a McCain vs Clinton contest for the presidency. Although Obama still has a chance to catch Clinton, McCain is emerging as the GOP candidate who is doing better everywhere and, perhaps most importantly, is least likely to turn GOP voters off.

His assessment is shared by Sarah Baxter at Murdoch's London Times. She's a partisan hack of a journalist but her insider connections to the Washington neoconservative faction and the Bush administration make for some meaningful insight amongst the Clinton-bashing.
After all the hoopla, Clinton is simply back to where she was in the first place as the favourite to win the Democratic nomination – we’re just a lot clearer after a particularly nasty race about how badly she and Bill want to return to the White House. We can now expect them to put the squeeze on African-American voters ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic primary this Saturday and start collecting on all the IOU’s they hold.

...Mr McCain has strong enemies among die-hard Republicans, who consider the war hero to be popular with Democrats, independents and the liberal media rather than one of them. But some sane conservative voices are urging the Republicans to stop picking quarrels among themselves and start backing Mr McCain if they want to have any chance of winning the White House.

The Arizona Senator’s victory over the evangelical Mike Huckabee was narrow – he won by 33 per cent to 30 per cent – but it should now inject some stability into a race which has seen candidates rise and fall to great heights and depths.

The fact that Mr McCain pulled himself back from the brink of disaster into the position of frontrunner without any help from Republican bigwigs means that he is free to be his own man for the rest of the campaign.
These really are the narratives that the Republican party wants to see take hold - maverick McCain against dynastic Clinton favors the GOP greatly, as more Republicans will hold their noses and vote for McCain than any other second-choice candidate while Clinton seems to excite more partisan feelings within her own party. Have a look at the comments to MNSBC's report on the Nevada delegates story for a prime example. It seems to me that, like Connecticut, the race is shaping into one of McCain as a compromise and Clinton despite strong internal opposition, both with corporatist nods.

That McCain really is a maverick who has done it all without party bigwig help is, of course, nonsense. That Murdoch's flacks are throwing their weight behind him now that there's a growing belief that Rudy is toast should be seen as a significant and powerful boost for him, though. Murdoch has been the media kingmaker in all the UK's elections for the last three decades and finally has the omnipresent diversity of media ownership in the US he needs to do the same by pushing the same message, suitably tailored, to every demographic in the U.S.

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