Friday, December 28, 2007

Into the Iowa Home Stretch

The Iowa Caucuses are only about a week away, and it is by no means clear who will win Iowa, let alone how that will affect the longer term prospects of the winners and losers.

On the Republican side of the race McCain is showing signs of life in Iowa and New Hampshire, and in National polls. If he topples the "front runners" Romney and Giuliani it'll breath some life into a campaign that had been slowed considerably by challenges in organization and funding.

Still, President Picker predicts a Romney win in Iowa by a modest percentage and then a stronger win in New Hampshire, consolidating Romney as the Republican Front Runner and seeing more drop outs - probably Thompson first after predicted bad showings in the first two states.

Democrats are also hard to call, but we think Obama's latest surge has been mostly a product of big spending and Oprah appearances and his hard core support may fade when push comes to shove comes to the complex caucus process. In fact I think it's possible we'll see Obama support higher in number than Clinton's but still a caucus loss due to inferior organization and strategy or even some last minute bombshells that will weaken Obama support.

Clinton has one of the great political masterminds of the 20th century on her team, and it's unlikely the Clinton campaign will botch their broad based Iowa support and organization. Likewise Edwards has been through this before with good results, so his organization may outperform his actual support.

Of course even the weather can play a huge role in Iowa, as will the football game which gives Clinton a nice edge demographically as she has more female voters and they are less likely to stay home and watch the game. Stormy? Clinton wins handily due to organization and football. Perfect Weather? Obama has a shot. Edwards....second.

In Memoriam: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani moderate and champion of democracy, is yet another reminder of the instability in so many parts of our challenged world. Bhutto’s assassination, and the ongoing attacks on General Musharaff, bring that possibility closer as Pakistan’s hopes for a quality democracy drift again into the shadows.

India and Pakistan have been very antagonistic towards each other since Pakistan’s fiery birth soon after Indian independence from Britain. Disputes over the Kashmir region, claimed by both countries, flare up regularly.

Instability favors the extremists and those who support them, and takes us away from the democracy that most people favor as the best way to bring justice and prosperity to all.

Bhutto stood for democracy, and died for democracy. Even in our much safer society our prominent elected officials and candidates risk their lives in the pursuit of the democratic dream. We should respect them all for taking this risk in the name of our freedoms.