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An Election Prediction a Year and a Half Out

April 22, 2015 1 comment

White_House_Front_Dusk_Alternate

Do not mistake this as endorsement or repudiation.  I don’t really care one way or the other if Hillary Clinton gets elected President.  Whatever happens, I’m sure the Republic will survive.   But as an amateur pundit who watches politics like a ghoulish NASCAR fan watches car racing- waiting for the spectacular crash- I’m sorry to inform you that my prediction is fairly mundane: Hillary Clinton will be elected the next President of the United States.

It doesn’t matter how many scandals are brought up, dredged up, or created.  It doesn’t matter how many Republican-backed books hit the best-seller lists on a monthly basis. Whitewater won’t matter.  Monica Lewinsky will not matter.  The State department e-mails will not matter.  The Clinton Foundation and which foreign governments did or did not contribute to it will not matter. We don’t even need to get into the latest CNN poll that finds she is ahead by double digits against all the potential GOP candidates. Surely, that will narrow significantly.

But Hillary Clinton’s narrative is set. She has been such a long-time player in American political life that opinions about her are concluded, cemented, done and finished.  The real question is this:  Is the tiny number of American voters who have no opinion of Hillary Clinton larger than the roughly 2 to 3% margin that her positive ratings generally outpace her negative ratings?

The opposition will have a new attack line every month right up until Election Day.  And every single time, regardless of the merits of the arguments, Hillary Clinton will call it predictable partisan vitriol and the slight majority that supports her will completely agree.  Partisan attacks on Hillary Clinton will be eaten up like candy by the anti-Hillary faithful but will change not one single mind among her supporters and I’m not sure there are enough “undecideds” left to make any difference.

The Soft Launch

There was much criticism of the “soft launch” of the Hillary campaign.  Many liberals and just about all conservatives, seemed to blanch at what they saw as the emptiness of her announcement video.  She was waging identity politics, they argued, featuring nothing more than a cartoonish smorgasbord of African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Gays in her ad.  She had no policy details whatsoever. Her vow to be the champion of the middle-class echoed hollow to the critics from the left and the right.

Politically/strategically- it looks like it pretty much did the trick.  You could see it in the grudging back-handed compliments from the opposition’s punditry class.  “Slick but empty,” was the common refrain from conservative commentators like Jennifer Rubin.  What was noticeable was the recognition that the ad was actually pretty smooth.  It was, like her or hate her, good packaging.

Politico had these quotes from Republican operatives in Iowa and New Hampshire, about Hillary Clinton’s soft launch:

 “Honestly, I was very impressed,” said a top Iowa Republican…“She’s always been seen as cold. I think this helps warm her up for the general election. It also creates a soft launch for her.”

“She can be very hard to listen to speak, at times shrill, so this was refreshing and a little inspirational,” said a second Iowa Republican. “She knows she needs to earn people’s vote. It’s a smart way to brush off being the ‘anointed one.’”

“The drive to Iowa is the smartest play I’ve seen her make in a while,” declared a New Hampshire Republican.

A second Granite State Republican described the road trip as a masterstroke. “The campaign is, rightly, underplaying it and letting the social media activity promote her and her travels,” he said. “Really, really well played.”

But “where’s the beef?”  Of course, this was all empty calories.  That’s the nature of American politics.  Joe McGinnis articulated it all quite nicely in the Selling of the President written in 1968.  Forgive my cynicism, but when was the last time we expected any kind of substance at all from a politician?  Besides, everybody knows Hillary Clinton is a total policy wonk and would greatly prefer noodling policy then actually campaigning.  I would bet she’s being urged to NOT be that policy wonk, and instead is being counseled to be warm, approachable, humble, Grandmother-like (who doesn’t love grandmothers?) and also generic, non-specific and pure pabulum.

But does it really matter?  Whether she articulates to the granular level or not on every issue known to man, don’t most folks have a pretty good sense that Hillary Clinton will govern quite differently than whoever the Republicans will nominate (Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, is my current pick to get GOP nod)?

Keeping the Obama Block

Some argue she will never approximate the block of voters put together by the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012.   I would concur.  But she doesn’t need to get to that level in order to win.  What she does need is a big turn-out election.  While polls are currently finding there may be less novelty and fascination with a woman becoming President than may have been generally assumed- I don’t believe those numbers.

On the eve of election day next year, a woman standing on the precipice of the American presidency, taking the mantle of Commander-in-Chief for the first time in history, potentially elected as the leader of the free world- will be a really big deal.  It will be historic in every sense of the word.  As has become patently obvious in the last two elections, large turn-out amplifies the country’s changing demographics just as surely as low-turn-out, mid-term elections distort them.

It’s just a prediction ridiculously offered more than year and a half before the main event.  A lesser margin than either of Obama’s victories, but a victory nonetheless.

Election Home Stretch: But First a Hurricane

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

(OK, this graphic could have been done more professionally but my resources are limited)

I’m not sure which hype will win the day.  The closest, craziest Presidential election race ever, or the storm of the millennium- a combo hurricane/blizzard/nor’easter more perfect in its evil ingredients than even the last Perfect Storm in 1991 that was so horrific it was turned into a popular movie.

I do know this.  Because I live in the all-important swing state of Virginia, any possible power outages will have the added benefit of wiping out several hundred political TV commercials, thus frustrating the mass media strategies of both campaigns.   Honestly, these media strategies have always been puzzling to me.

On the 833rd viewing of a particular campaign spot, is something supposed to suddenly click?  Does the viewer slap his head in a moment of unexpected epiphany?  “You know, the first 832 times I saw that commercial, I must have missed the candidate’s furrowed brow at the mention of massive deficits- but now it all makes sense to me!”

I get a kick out of the regular “people” in these commercials.  It’s not bad enough that the “small businessman/woman” is clumsily reading cue cards, but they’re also not even a small businessman/woman, they’re just bad actors.  “Ok, honey, at the end of the speech about how your kids are all in debt, give us that forlorn look, right into the camera- bingo, that’s a wrap!”

I’ve been whipsawed now for several months.  It’s Morning in America!  Millions of new jobs have been added!  No, it’s Armageddon in America!  It’s all a living hell until January 20th when everything suddenly changes!

Ok, so Hurricane Sandy’s impending visit will give us a political commercial respite, but what if the power outage also takes out the internet?  Then, what?  Where, exactly, am I supposed to find out the latest on the political polls?  My God, what happens when 1pm comes and goes and I haven’t been able to check the latest Gallup tracking numbers?   Is it really possible I may not be able to read Nate Silver for over 48 hours?

Well, the good news is that not only do I still have leftover tuna cans from last year’s big hurricane, I added to my supplies yesterday with a last-minute, late night visit to the local Harris Teeter.   True, they had run out of cheap water, but I do now have several dozen very attractive and incredibly expensive bottles of Fiji water.

I also have a very entertaining Saturday ahead of me.  From my 10th floor Pentagon City apartment, I have an excellent view of the Costco parking lot.  Storm preparation mayhem and panic all unfolding right before my very eyes as I sip my Fiji water and munch on my tuna and crackers.

God, life is good.