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    January 30, 2008

    And then there were five

    Posted by: Chris

    080130_edwards_analysis John Edwards is out. Rudy Giuliani is out. Not only will that impact who wins the primaries but allows for more meaningful comparisons of the likely match-ups for the fall as well.

    Edwards' departure obviously clarifies the Democratic race, though it's anybody's guess whether it will benefit Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. The North Carolina senator ran on the ideological left of the field, a contrast from his Senate voting record and his 2004 persona. If his supporters are similarly inclined, then Obama may benefit because voters perceive him (probably correctly) as more liberal than Clinton -- especially on the Iraq War.

    Obama will obviously also benefit by consolidating the "anybody but Hillary" folks. As much as I have grown to dislike Hillary in this campaign, I do not count myself among that crowd. If Obama had dropped out, I would have probably swung Hillary's way -- because Edwards' "journey" on gay rights and other issues struck me as only slightly more genuine that Mitt Romney's trip the contrary direction, and Edwards' proximity to trial lawyers and trade unions is anathema to me.

    W0129110a On the Republican side, Giuliani's non-starter of a campaign was a huge disappointment to many social moderates in the party. The only bright side is that few analysts are blaming his failure on his left-leaning social views, although those and his messey personal life no doubt were to blame in part for why he never caught fire in Iowa or New Hampshire and ended up bailing on both.

    His departure from the campaign puts gay-friendly moderates in a bind. Mike Huckabee is obviously a non-starter, except for those who believe that nominating the least electable candidate is the best political strategy. My own view is that he's only staying at this point because he knows that many of his evangelical backers would likely flock to Romney, whom Huckabee clearly disdains. There's also plenty of speculation that Huckabee is bucking to be McCain's running mate, although I find that unlikely, even though it might help the ticket with evangelicals and in the South.

    John McCain is portrayed as the remaining moderate in the race, and the label fits well on issues like finance reform, immigration, torture, tax cuts -- where he can be a GOP maverick. His famous willingness to "reach across the aisle" has never extended to social issues, even though it doesn't appear he cares particularly much about them. Despite his "agents of intolerance" broadside against the religious right in 2000, McCain has consistently opposed even basic, bipartisan gay rights legislation like employment non-discrimination and hate crimes protection.

    McCain has opposed on federalism grounds a federal marriage amendment, something both Romney and Huckabee support. But the president doesn't get a vote on constitutional amendments, and the whole idea will be in political nowheresville after the Democrats solidify their control of Congress in November.

    Romney presents something of an enigma. He was targeted by Log Cabin (on non-gay issues) because of the way he reinvented himself on a whole host of social issues to adapt to a more conservative GOP primary electorate. It's a fair question to ask which Romney is closer to his actual core, the moderate Massachusetts governor or the conservative presidential candidate. After all, when John Kerry tacked to the right in 2004, few believed his newfound views were truly his own; why shouldn't we wonder the same about Romney?

    The newly conservative Romney as a nominee would at least present voters a clearer choice between the parties than McCain would. My dream matchup, actually, would be Romney against Obama, since the former's mean-spirited, take-no-prisoners negative campaigning is the perfect contrast to Obama's "new politics." There's a reason why Obama soared when the Clintons went harshly negative, and I believe those tactics would backfire especially with independents even more explosively on Romney.

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    1. rawdawgbuffalo on Jan 30, 2008 10:22:55 PM:

      True. But I think Edwards droppin out may have one of thre outcomes. .

    1. rawdawgbuffalo on Jan 30, 2008 10:23:13 PM:

      True. But I think Edwards droppin out may have one of thre outcomes. .

    1. Andoni on Jan 31, 2008 7:25:14 AM:

      My nightmare scenario is a McCain Huckabee ticket with the country falling for McCain as a "mocerate" and as someone who should be rewarded at this time for serving his country, and he gets elected. Then a year into office he dies, and we have Huckabee as president. That would be a turn toward a religious fundamentalist government which most of the people who voted for McCain would not have properly considered before they voted for him.

      My lesser nightmare scenario is a McCain Clinton matchup. Experience would go to McCain. Toughness would go to McCain. Being commander in chief would go to McCain (we would see the video of Hillary tearing ...asking if this is who you wnat as C.I.C over and over again. Also, change would probably go to McCain because he would represent a change from the Bush Clinton Bush Clinton status quo.

      Finally, if it comes down to McCain Clinton, that would be sad. In an election that is supposed to be about change we would have two Iraq War hawks, two Iran War hawks, and two definite insiders. Change? Bah, humbug!

      The American people will have said one thing about change to the pollsters and voted in another manner when they got into the booth. Like most habits (smoking, drugs, swearing) change in your political thinking really is hard to do. Can the American people pull it off now during the primaries before it's too late and we end up with a Clinton McCain matchup?

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Jan 31, 2008 11:50:36 PM:

      I have a different perspective on a McCain-Clinton race.

      I think "change" would defintely go to Hillary Clinton. To me, McCain would simply continue Bush's policies. We know he'd continue the war. He has recently come around to supporting Bush's tax cuts. He is as bad as Bush on gay rights, so we can expect nothing from him there. Yeah, I think a McCain presidency would kinda be like Bush's 3rd term.

      On the other hand, Hillary Clinton will likely end the war, will develop national healthcare, would probably rescind DADT, and work to repeal at least part of the federal DOMA. I think that's a pretty radical departure from Bush. Definitely a change.

      My concern in this match up is that Hillary has the "high negatives" and most polls show McCain defeating her.

    1. Richard Wicks on Nov 9, 2008 11:51:26 PM:

      What drives me nuts about a MINORITY of homosexuals is that all they seem to freaking care about is gay issues.

      How about the Iraq War? Is the PATRIOT ACT important to you? How about the $840 billion dollar "bailout"? Is the solvency of the NATION of a concern to you?

      Nah, all that's important is if the state recognizes a RELIGIOUS institution called marriage which the state has no business being in at all. Now that's fucking important!

      So a few hundred thousand people are dead in Iraq over total bullshit? Who CARES? It's not as important as whether a government recognizes a union which can be entirely replaced by contractual law any fucking how.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 3:03:04 AM:

      So a few hundred thousand people are dead in Iraq over total bullshit? Who CARES? It's not as important as whether a government recognizes a union which can be entirely replaced by contractual law any fucking how.

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