Thursday, January 31, 2008

Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain

Popular California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain, probably this week. This comes at a critical time in the Republican primary and with only Romney and McCain left as serious candidates. Although Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee remain in the race neither of them is polling at anything like the levels of McCain and Romney, or can run enough ads to turn things around in time for "Super Tuesday" when many states will cast votes.

Despite what most felt was a strong debate performance last night, Romney's chances appear to be dimming as John McCain scoops up more prominent endorsments. There is some confusion right now as to Romney's campaign spending plans - some reports suggest he'll have a major media push in California and perhaps nationally but others say his national spend will be modest, perhaps an acknowledgement that McCain is looking like the likely nominee.

Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain

Popular California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse John McCain, probably this week. This comes at a critical time in the Republican primary and with only Romney and McCain left as serious candidates. Although Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee remain in the race neither of them is polling at anything like the levels of McCain and Romney, or can run enough ads to turn things around in time for "Super Tuesday" when many states will cast votes.

Despite what most felt was a strong debate performance last night, Romney's chances appear to be dimming as John McCain scoops up more prominent endorsments. There is some confusion right now as to Romney's campaign spending plans - some reports suggest he'll have a major media push in California and perhaps nationally but others say his national spend will be modest, perhaps an acknowledgement that McCain is looking like the likely nominee.

Twitter the President? Nope.

Tech President wonders if Twitter could be the breakout technology for the 2008 Election.

Ummm - no. No way. Twitter has far too few participants to matter in a national election. Sure it should be part of a social media strategy - probably more so than the weak current usage I've seen from several campaigns using proxys to submit for their candidates as twitterees, but only Myspace and Facebook have the huge national reach that would make them worth a lot of attention by a candidate.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is Nader Nuts?

Ralph Nader:

John Edwards, the banner of Democratic Party populism, is dropping out, and Dennis Kucinich dropped out earlier, so in terms of voters who are at least interested in having major areas of injustice, depravations, and solutions discussed in a presidential campaign, they might be interested in my exploratory effort...

I'd suggest there is no way Nader could even reach the pitiful support levels of Dennis Kucinich, and Nader's bizarre notion that he can is yet another indication of his failing mental coherence and relevance to the national political scene.

Nader is correct that the old style populism embraced by Edwards and pseudo-socialist economics embraced by Kucinich match Nader's odd worldview, but I don't think Nader understands the degree to which his former support base has eroded, and also the strategic errors he made by failing to negotiate a deal with Al Gore - a deal that would have made Gore the president in 2000 and could have given Nader huge influence in certain areas.

John Edwards drops out of Democratic Primary

In a move that has surprised many pundits, John Edwards has dropped out of the democratic race. In New Orleans he said that Obama and Clinton had both pledged to make ending poverty a key cause of their campaigns:

"they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency."
"This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause,"

It's not clear how much Edwards support will flow to Clinton and Obama though the next set of tracking polls should be very interesting. I'd wildly guess it'll split about equally between Clinton and Obama.

Dick Morris was suggesting that the Florida results indicated Obama is moving up fast on Clinton, citing the fact that those who made a last minute decision were split between the two where earlier deciders went for Clinton. I'm not clear he's got the math right on this however, since this tell us something about "last minute deciders" rather than about the broader electorate. He felt this was like a tracking poll trending strongly in Obama's favor, but I think that is not mathematically sound reasoning.

McCain Wins Florida by 5%

John McCain soundly beat second place Mitt Romney in Florida, winning 36% of the vote in that key Republican primary. Giuliani will now drop out and endorse McCain.

Clinton "won" Florida as well for the democrats, but the delegates there currently are not eligible to participate at the national convention though many suggest they eventually will be allowed. In fact this could become a key point if the race gets close. A supreme irony would be a democratic convention where the Florida delegate ruling would determine the outcome.

Heading into mega primary Tuesday we find the Democrats and Republicans in two fairly close races between Clinton and Obama and McCain and Romney. Although I'm not nearly as confident as before I still think Clinton will win after a strong Tuesday showing. I'm not nearly as confident about a Romney victory - something seemed to derail his upward trend and it may simply be that McCain is a known quantity and that comforts voters.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Florida Primary: McCain vs Romney will be close

Most pundits are predicting a McCain win for Florida. I have not followed this one very close but my gut says that Romney will win and by a decent margin. Why? New Hampshire's polling fiasco suggest there may be a hidden voting block that does not participate in the polls but does participate in the elections. If Clinton's surprise NH victory is any indication this block could be "Senior Women" who are a large block that votes religiously. Who will senior Republican women support in Florida? Maybe McCain because he's an appealing character, but I think they'll vote disproportionately for the young, vigorous, and handsome Romney who appears far more "Presidential" and in command than McCain, who is older than many voters.

But I would not bet on this outcome....too many variables in play.

Betting on the President

Intrade is an actual gambling venue where you can bet on the various candidates to win primaries and the general election. It these gamblers are right, we'll see a McCain v Clinton General Election in the fall. At Intrade, both Obama and Romney only have about a third of the betting action chance to win their respective primaries.

Intrade odds on the 2008 elections

Monday, January 28, 2008

Superdelegates are almost 20% of the vote in Democratic primary.

Underreported in the mainstream media is the significant role played by Democratic "superdelegates" in the primary process. 20% of the delegates at the convention are superdelegates. A list of these delegates along with their endorsements so far is HERE. Considering Clinton's large lead in the polls her clear superdelegate lead is also very significant. In fact one could argue that the superdelegate approach - by design - helps give a significant edge to political insiders like Hilary Clinton.

Clinton v Obama on February 5th. Mainstream media analysis has gone from worthless to opportunistic.

President Picker still thinks Hilary Clinton will be the nominee of the Democrats, and that the victory will be clear next Tuesday after the national primaries. Obama's speeches are both inspired and we think he's credible, but several factors continue to favor Clinton:

Polling shows Clinton with substantial voting leads almost across the board. has the best polling coverage and Clinton looks fairly solid. It'll be interesting to see how the Kennedy endorsement of Obama today affects the tracking polls tomorrow, but I'm guessing this was a media event that'll have little national impact on Obama's poll numbers.

So why does the media keep gushing over relatively insignificant events and aspects of the race? Because they LOVE a horserace, and they've helped make one happen by overstating Obama's chances, overstating Bill Clinton's positive and negative influences, and overstating the tensions in what has been a remarkably civil and dignified campaign.

With several exceptions such as the always frank and honest Pat Buchanon, many Republican analysts appear to me to be nothing short of deceptive with their glowing pseudo-endorsements of Obama, hoping to either create a weaker opponent for their Republican preference or (more likely) begin the tear-down of Hilary Clinton as early as possible.

Predictions? As always we are happy to give them. Clinton will consolidate here position and effectively win the democratic primary next week. Romney and McCain will remain close and that race will go down to the wire, perhaps depending on last minute negative campaign tactics, and probably going to the Republican convenion for a winner.

Look for Clinton to win very graciously and bring Obama on as her VP nominee quickly, consolidating the votes of two key groups in the general election: Women and African Americans.

Kennedy Endorses Obama

Ted Kennedy has endorsed Barack Obama. Although most of the media, almost gushing over the announcement, suggests this is a very positive development for the Obama campaign, I think that on balance this may not bode well for Obama.

First, the Kennedy endorsement consolidates Obama's position as the most liberal of the two key players. Yet he was already very popular among the most liberal factions of the Democratic party. Strategically, how will this endorsement affect the votes of the suburban soccer moms and moderate Democrats? I'd suggest it will push them firmly into the Clinton camp. Also significant is that even if Obama wins the Democratic nomination it's clear that painting himself as a "left wing liberal" will not help in the general election. The Democrat is *almost certain* to get the liberal vote regardless of the candidate lineups on either the Democrat or Republican side. The key battleground in the election will be the undecided, indecisive middle of the road voters who I predict want to see balanced and moderate forces prevail. As GW Bush did in 2000, Obama has masterfully portrayed himself as a "reach across the aisle" candidate. Kennedy's endorsement will not lend much support to this assertion.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama wins big in South Carolina

Barack Obama crushed his two opponents in today's South Carolina primary, winning 55% of the vote over Hilary Clinton and John Edwards who had only 45% of the vote - combined. Although an Obama win was expected in South Carolina the size of the win was not. This huge percentage victory will inject a lot of enthusiasm and momentum into an already strong effort by the Obama campaign.

February 5th's massive primary day, where 22 states are in play, may not even be the decisive event now that the race is so close.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kucinich out

Democratic Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has dropped out of the race. Lackluster poll numbers combined with a recent legal confrontation with MSNBC which fought hard to keep Kucinich out of the recent Democratic Debate. The New York Times reports on that conflict, where MSNBC wanted to exclude Kucinich after earlier invites and Kucinich arguing that this was a breach of contract. Initially the ruling was in Kucinich's favor, but appeared at last minute to be overtuned by legal appeal.

This leaves the democratics with three candidates: Clinton, Edwards, and Obama. Although Clinton still leads nationally Obama is now poised to win Saturday's South Carolina debate which may edge him even closer to polling parity with Clinton as we move into what may prove to be the definitive day in the election: February 5.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thompson out of Republican Primary

Fred Thompson has dropped out of the race after a weak showing in the South Carolina primary on Saturday behind John McCain and Mike Huckabee. This was a predictable development, especially given Thompson's lackluster attitude towards the race. It almost appeared as if his candidacy was mostly the result of pressure from friends rather than a passion Thompson had to win.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

McCain poised to win South Carolina, Thompson to drop soon.

John McCain appears poised to win South Carolina as early returns have McCain leading Huckabee with some 38% of the So. Carolina vote.

This should be seen as very encouraging for the McCain campaign given the conservatism of this state. If Huckabee can't win in So. Carolina it's an indication that his early Iowa victory was more from good strategy than hidden high levels of national support.

Thompson appears in line for a 4th place showing behind Romney, which will almost certainly lead to him dropping out of the race by tomorrow.

Note that the Democratic primary in So. Carolina is *next* Saturday.

Romney, Clinton in Nevada

Mitt Romney and Hilary Clinton are the Nevada Caucus winners. This is something of a surprise victory for Clinton who effectively lost a court battle to keep the cuacuses out of the Casinos, where Obama appeared to have a strong edge given his endorsement by the powerful Culinary Workers Union.

South Carolina Returns are now coming in with McCain and Huckabee close.

Duncan Hunter has dropped out, and I expect Thompson to drop by tomorrow morning after what appears to be a poor showing in South Carolina.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Casino Caucusing to go forward in Nevada Primary

The court has ruled that Caucusing will be allowed in Casinos as originally planned for the Nevada democratic primary, giving Barack Obama a huge boost in his effort to win that state. The Teachers Union has challenged the decision on the grounds that it was not fair to give Casino workers such easy access away from their districts while other workers won't have the same benefit, but the court has rejected that argument.

Look for Obama to win Nevada given his endorsement by the Culinary Workers union, a major political force in the state and in the key city of Las Vegas.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Romney wins Michigan

Mitt Romney has won the Michigan primary handily, giving him a victory many saw as essential to keeping a strong candidacy alive. McCain ran second with about 30% to Romney's 39%.

The mixed results of the initial primaries are leaving the Republican nomination up for grabs, with Huckabee, Romney, McCain, and Giuliani all considered strong possible contenders. Even Thompson, with a strong South Carolina primary showing, could see a campaign surge though Thompson appears a very long shot at this point.

President Picker still thinks Romney has the edge due to superficial appearance issues and, most importantly, cash on hand, which for Romney is effectively his own bank on which he can draw as needed. That said it seems evangelical voters have been reluctant to embrace Romney and McCain's straight talk has charged his campaign, so it's anybody's race now.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Michigan results shortly. Kucinich may debate after all.

The Michigan primary results will be in shortly. For the Dems this is almost a non-event due to national party penalties which are not going to count Michigan votes. Only Clinton is on the ballot, she will "win" handily, but get no delegates for the nomination.

The Republican Michigan vote is far more significant. Romney arguably must win the state of Michigan - where he and his wife grew up - to demonstrate his national viability. Polls show Romney and McCain in a close race.

Tonights Democratic Debate in Las Vegas was originally to feature Dennis Kucinich but poor showings were to leave him out. However a judge ruled today that Kucinich must either speak or the judge may order an injunction to stop the debate altogether. Look for Kucinich to be included at the last minute.

Monday, January 14, 2008

McCain leading Republicans in national primary polling

Polling problems have become a conspicuous feature of American politics, but generally they still are useful as predictors and John McCain's campaign must be thrilled with the latest reports from CNN which have McCain leading nationally by about 10 points over Mike Huckabee.

Part of the challenge with national polls is that they may be subject to a lot of simple "name recognition" bias - ie people are saying their favorite candidate is simply the one they've heard of. As the TV ads hit and the race heats up in the dozens of states with primaries coming up in a matter of weeks, we are likely to see a narrowing of the polling numbers in almost all races.

Tomorrow's Michigan vote will be a significant factor in the race, especially if McCain "steals" victory away from Romney. A Romney loss in Michigan could sound a death knell for his campaign which failed in Iowa and New Hampshire despite substantial effort and expense in those states.

Race and the Democratic Primary

The pundit ranting and media attention focusing on "race issues" in the Democratic primary seems extremely overhyped to me - almost a network fabrication to pique viewer interest and heat up a race where all three Democrats have similar platforms, voting records, and sensibilities.

Of course there are tiny little "swift boat" attacks every day by people who are associated with the campaigns in various ways, but on balance it is ridiculous to see this as a contentious campaign - the dialog for the most part has been very respectful and civil, reflecting the fact that the players are much more ideologically compatible than they are incompatible.

Tomorrow's Democratic debate should provide an excellent read on the state of the campaigns in terms of negativity and future direction. I expect a fiesty but respectful Obama and Clinton, with Edwards probably doing some Hilary bashing as he's clearly lining himself up with the "new kids on the block" rather than the Clinton old school.

Kerry's endorsement of Obama was intriguing given that he ran with John Edwards. Despite almost becoming president himself, Kerry no longer has much national political clout - perhaps another reflection on our "all or nothing" American political mentality.

It's a horserace!

As the primaries go to different players with no clear winners in sight the 2008 campaign is shaping up to be a close race in both parties as well as the general election.

Clinton's surprise win in New Hampshire raised more questions about polling validity as almost all polls showed Obama winning handily. McCain's strong showing in New Hampshire has revitalized his sagging campaign, suddenly focusing a lot of attention on Romney's

Tomorrow's Michigan race could be a critical one for the Romney campaign. He's from Michigan where his father was a popular Governor. If McCain beats Romney in Michigan look for some major strategy changes by the Romney campaign, and perhaps even a drop out though I think that is very unlikely. Romney's personal wealth gives him a powerful financial backing that is lacking in the McCain, Giuliani, or Huckabee camps.

For the Dems, look for some lively debate tomorrow night as Edwards, Clinton, and Obama duke it out in Las Vegas in the first debate with only those three frontrunners.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Hampshire Primary - will it change the game?

Light posting here because I'm at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas right now, and posting a lot about that at

However it's looking like Obama will win NH and pretty much inherit the Clinton "Frontrunner" mantle, providing a powerful buzz boost for the campaign as it enters the races that have many more delegates at stake. If Edwards takes second it'll be even a more serious blow to the Clinton Campaign. Look for Clinton to hire a new campaign manager...tomorrow. I predict Carville will come on board, and I predict he will turn things around. Is Edwards a contender? Of course - though he seems to face the challenges of being seen as something of a Washington "insider" like Clinton and lacks the superb speaking style and "shiny new" appeal of Obama.

On the Republican side McCain looks like the clear winner, with Romney again the bridesmaid where he hoped to be the bride. It appears many are souring on Romney, appearing to fear his polished style and perhaps his Mormon religious heritage. Could "Big Love" have sunk Romney before he even had a shot? It's fair to say the Republican field is even more open than the Democrats with McCain, Romney, Giuliani, and Huckabee all real contenders for the prize.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Biden, Dodd out

Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have dropped out after poor Iowa showings. Meanwhile Huckabee and Obama are the media toasts of the town, getting more buzz than even big advertising money can buy.

The New Hampshire results won't necessarily reflect the national opinion but unlike Iowa they'll include a lot more groups. If Obama and Huckabee do well in New Hamphire - which probably means second or strong third, they may come out as presumptive frontrunners although the race is likely to tighten after New Hampshire since it is unlikely to be nearly as friendly to Huckabee as Iowa's small and dedicated Christian lobby turned the tide there. Even for Obama it'll be tough to pull out a New Hampshire win.

But ultimately the race will be decided in February on super mega primary day when more than half of all the delegates will be awarded in the huge number of major races around the country - from New York to California. Any predictions before that time are pretty speculative, though we plan to make them anyway.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Next Presidential Battleground: New Hampshire

It's not yet clear how the Iowa results will affect the New Hampshire Primary but it's certain to have some effect. There's a tendency for people to jump on and off political bandwagons, so a good guess going in to New Hampshire is that Huckabee and Obama will improve their current showings, probably at the expense of Clinton and Romney.

It's also not clear how this will affect the national polls, which still show Clinton with a sizable lead and show Giuliani - not even a player in Iowa or New Hampshire - with the national Republican lead.

We were wrong about Iowa, so we won't be predicting anything for at least...24 hours!

Obama holding Iowa lead, CNN projects Obama Victory

CNN Projects Obama as winner in Iowa

With about 70% of the democratic precincts in Barack Obama appears the likely Democratic winner with 35% of the vote, with Edwards and Clinton tied at 32%.

A defeat for Clinton in Iowa will hurt her campaign and energize Obamas, though the quirky Iowa caucus process can quickly fade from memory and it is notable that few of the past Presidents actually won this state. Still, media attention is white hot this year and the Huckabee and Obama wins are likely to fuel a lot more attention and a lot more donation money.

Huckabee Wins Iowa

CNN projects Huckabee as Iowa Winner.

15% precincts have reported for Republicans. Huckabee appears to be showing a whopping 40% to Romney 20% from those precincts, though info is still coming in...

CNN Iowa entrance Polls: Tight Obama v Clinton and Romney v Huckabee. Edwards down

CNN Iowa entrance Polls: Tight Obama v Clinton and Romney v Huckabee. Edwards down.

CNN's got some great coverage tonight from *inside* five Iowa Democratic Caucus locations. there are some 3500 locations so it won't be very helpful in terms of prediction, but it's a great insight into the Iowa process, which is at one level very democratic and open yet at another level it is not very participatory (only a small fraction of the electorate participates) and also to my mind is very biased in favor of more assertive folks who are willing to stand up for their opinions. This last feature is very questionable, as it effectively may disenfranchise some " shy" folks, which is not democratic. The Republican system, a simple straw poll, is arguably more "fair" to all involved.

Huckabee's Surprise?

The Huckabee campaign is now predicting a 5%+ victory tonight in the Iowa Caucuses, as reported by Fox News' Shepard Smith a few moments ago. Fox suggests that the Huckabee Campaign has an exceptional rural religious get out the vote campaign that has been underreported so far during the campaign (though polls should have captured this data).

A close election on both Republican and Democratic sides probably will not shift the balances of power, but a runaway victory or loss by any candidate could do a lot to change the national polls.

This just in: Obama campaign is suggesting there are early indications of record, large turnouts. Most think this will hurt John Edwards and help Clinton and Obama with a *very* large turnout helping Obama the most.

Iowa Caucuses are Coming!

Tonight some 150.000 - 200,000 Iowans will gather at locations all across their state to choose the Democratic and Republican candidates as Iowa's recommendations for the national conventions. As the "jumping off point" for the Presidential Race Iowa's importance to the media is extraordinary - and many would say irrationally overblown by the media.

Some conventional wisdom holds that there are "three tickets out" of Iowa and this year probably won't be the exception to that on the Democratic side, where it's likely that Obama, Edwards, and Clinton will come out with enough support to make the next race - New Hampshire - the media's next darling.

Republican results will be complicated by the fact that Giuliani and McCain, both strong nationally, have made few attempts to do well in Iowa. I'd suggest that after Iowa we'll see the Republican field quickly narrow to Huckabee, Romney, McCain, and Giuliani with the first two as rising stars and the second two as falling stars. I still predict Romney will win the Republican nomination.

Based on the most recent polling averages I'm starting to doubt my own predictions of Romney and Clinton, but it's very hard to predict Caucus results based on polls because people must make a substantial committment to a caucus, especially on the Democratic side where you must also stand up and sometimes speak for your candidate.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Iowa Republicans: Huckabee on Tonight Show, Romney Rolling along

As we move into the final hours before the Iowa Caucuses the Republican interest is focusing in on Romney and Huckabee. The latest poll from the Desmoines newspaper shows Huckabee with a solid lead, though averaging several recent polls gives puts Romney and Huckabee in a virtual dead heat with Huckabee ahead by a fraction of a percent.

The Republican field is complicated by the fact that national frontrunner Giuliani skipped Iowa completely and John McCain has not compaigned very heard in Iowa - partly because his honest stand against foolish ethanol subsidies made it very hard for him to do much in Iowa. If Huckabee or Romney's campaigns show huge boosts after Iowa this "no Iowa" strategy may be seen as a mistake, but on balance I think this was a good choice for McCain and Giuliani. What is likely is that we'll see the Republican field narrow to three - maybe four candidates after New Hampshire next week. Those are likely to be Huckabee, Romney, McCain, Giuliani.

Huckabee's huge surge over the past few months is the most significant developement in the race. It appears to be a reflection of the desire on the part of many Christian conservative Republicans to have a candidate that strongly supports a pro-Christian, anti-abortion stand that is not seen in the other leading candidates. Money will come into play heavily for Huckabee as he moves to the larger states where campaigns cannot be run as personally as in Iowa, though a win in Iowa woult lead to a significant increase in donations.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Obama and Huckabee lead in large DesMoines Register Poll

The key newspaper in the upcoming Iowa race is the DesMoines Register. On CSPAN today Pollster J. Anne Selzer is discussing their latest poll, the last major one before the caucuses:

Frustratingly in terms of predicting outcomes, their result is dramatically different from Zogby for the Democrats. Register shows Obama leading in a big way, Zogby shows Clinton with the lead. RealClearPolitics averaging process shows a very narrow Clinton lead.

On the Republican side they agree with Zogby and show a Huckabee lead. RealClearPolitics averages now show Huckabee with a sliver of a lead: 0.4% over Romney.

The Clinton and Edwards campaigns suggested the Register's methodology was flawed, especially in terms of projected caucus participation. Selzer thinks a lot of independents will be involved - many more than historically. She also notes that they were able to contact some potential voters by cell phone, most notable college students who will be back in time for caucus but are not in Iowa now - which she said was a flaw in some other polls.

So, how does this affect our Predictions? No change. Romney and Clinton will win Iowa.


As Mark noted below Huckabee is showing as the Iowa leader in the Zogby tracking poll as well as the averaged ClearPolitics polling here:

The MSNBC poll they discussed today showing Romney in the lead is listed at ClearPolitics as Mason Dixon, but as I've noted before poll averaging is probably the best measure assuming all the polls in the average are unbiased. Averaging can fail miserably if you include polling that is not objective - e.g. polls by groups with an agenda or axe to grind. I have no reason to believe any of these fall into that category.

Huckabee's press conference today was the talk of the media at MSNBC who suggested he was trying to be negative without running the negative ad he'd planned. It'll be interesting to see whether Romney or Huckabee can master the art of being very negative *without acting like you are being negative*. Both are working hard at that during these last few days.

Some polls are showing Obama over Clinton where MSNBC had almost a dead heat. It'll be fun to try to untangle some of this data over the next few days, though our predictions remain as Clinton and Romney with Iowa Victories.