19 October 2007

Handicapping the Republican candidates

In 1994 I succesfully predicted, very early, that Bill Clinton would earn the Democratic nomination. Full of myself, I've attempted to make early predictions of the nominees every election since, with a success rate of 0%. So here goes, my handicapping of the relevant candidates (see prior post for a list of irrelevant candidates).

    Mitt Romney: Romney is the current front-runner, but I have a hard time seeing him gain the support of the religious right, or of moderates if his religious views become known. Granted, Bob Jones III has endorsed Romney, and te religious right likes his opposition to gay marriage and abortion (although his conversion on those issues appears to be a pure political move as he positioned himself for this run), but most theologically conservative Christians are going to see him as an idolator and heretic. For what it's worth, Jerry Fallwell disagrees with me, but James Dobson agrees. But also, non-devout people, raised in a culture where mainstream Christianity is the norm, may also be unnerved if some of the tenets of the Mormom faith become public. (I won't list any of them here--I don't believe it ought to matter, so I'm not going to participate in "outing" Romney's beliefs.)

    Rudy Guiliani: Forget it. The polls showing he's popular are not targeting the right group of people, likely Republican primary voters. The more devout party members are the ones who dominate primaries, and in the Republican Party most of those people are far more conservative than Guiliani. He won't get the nomination, period. End of story.

    John McCain: My good friend, Jeff, in Iowa, claims McCain's making a comeback after struggling badly. My own feeling is that his time has passed. He was news in 2000, but now seems passe. (Too bad, as he's my favorite among the Republicans). But he's an old pro, so don't count him out. A surprisingly good showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, where he's working hard, could set him on a path toward the nomination.

    Mike Huckabee: As a true conservative, former minister, and governor, he ought to be doing better. I suspect his funny name, and the fact that, like Clinton, he's from Hope, Arkansas will doom his candidacy. Symbolism is important in the candidate selection process, and that's all working against him. Come on, say it with me, "Another president from Arkansas." It just sounds bad. Could be a good Veep pick, however, very appealing to the religious conservatives.

    Fred Thompson: OK, so tell me. If the Democrats are the party of Hollywood, why is it only Republicans who run actors for elected office? Reagan, Fred Grandy (Congressman Gopher), Clint Eastwood, Arnold, and Thompson. (OK, Ben Jones, Congressman Cooter, is a Dem, but they're still outnumbered.) Thompson was supposed to have the Reaganesque quality, but so far he's disappointing people. The reason is that he's not as smooth without a script as Reagan. Thompson's great with a script, but he hasn't developed his non-scripted speaking skills, and unless he does quickly, he'll bomb in the debates. Also, he has cancer, and people simply aren't going to vote for someone with cancer--they don't want to vote for someone they think will die in office (remember Paul Tsongas). Furthermore, after seeing him in the debate, I didn't think he looked healthy, and my lovely wife agreed. So, a guy with cancer who looks ill...He might as well toss it in and go join Brownback in the hinterlands of Kansas.

So who will get the nomination? Good god, they all look dreadfully flawed in terms of winning the Republican primary. I'm going to take a flyer and say McCain. Which, if my batting average holds, means he doesn't stand a ghost of a chance.

Next posting--handicapping the Democrats. Much easier, fewer candidates. God bless the, I guess.

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