« What James Fallows Said, Eleven Years Ago | Main | Kids These Days, With their Myspace, and their YouTube »

July 29, 2007

Everybody Gets a Turn

By Neil the Ethical Werewolf

Young Matt Zeitlin on the shape of the Democratic race:

And assuming the rest of the vote is split between Edwards and Obama, one could win Iowa and the other is going to probable be second in a bunch of states, both will stay in long enough for it to be too late for a progressive, anti Hillary to emerge and successfully challenge her.

Where Matt sees Edwards and Obama blocking each other from the nomination, I see a two-stage process.  In Iowa, where he's leading, Edwards has the first shot at dislodging Hillary.  If he wins, and the resulting media exposure and incoming cash carries him through the early states (Kerry was losing 37-15 in New Hampshire on New Year's Day and saw that margin reverse after Iowa), he goes into February as the frontrunner.  But if things don't go Kerrystyle and Edwards peters out, Obama has a chance to propel himself into February with a victory in heavily black South Carolina.  This is a state where residual Edwards support post-Iowa could divide the white vote, launching Obama into Super Tuesday with a victory. 

July 29, 2007 | Permalink


Obama's key state to win is New Hampshire, dominated by independents (with whom he holds a solid lead) not South Carolina, dominated by African American dems (with whom he is currently trailing Clinton).

The appeal is political, not racial.

Posted by: Dave White | Jul 29, 2007 2:06:04 PM

Certainly, an NH victory would get Obama going, but given his fundraising performance, I think he can hold on even if Edwards wins IA and Hillary wins NH. Obama's NH numbers aren't spectacular, in any event -- he's usually trailing by a solid margin.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jul 29, 2007 2:15:41 PM

That's true, but I think he has a better shot raising poll numbers in NH than in South Carolina. Obama isn't as strong with African Americans as is Clinton, and I don't think that's likely to change come late January just cause he's black. He'll have an easier time winning over the independently-minded (and independently affiliated) New Hampshire voters.

Posted by: Dave White | Jul 29, 2007 2:49:44 PM

Neil, what you underestimate is the power of the CW media in all this. Media folks will anoint whoever wins the first primary the nominee, and the public will follow that.

Posted by: John | Jul 29, 2007 3:46:14 PM

Being an optimistic Edwards supporter, I estimate the power of media coverage of the Iowa primary quite highly. I hope you're right and I'm still underestimating it. Certainly if I received a guarantee that Iowa would be as significant in 2008 as it was in 2004, I'd be a very happy man.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jul 29, 2007 4:06:24 PM

I think we're still a bit far out to say confidently that Edwards can hold on to his lead in Iowa; even if he wins, and gets the "now we take him seriously" bounce, he's less likely to take New Hampshire, and if Clinton can hold him off in South Carolina (I suspect she can), then he's back to square one (or maybe one and a half). All of that said, Zeitlin's repeating the received wisdom these days, which is starting to harden into dogma, which isn't a good sign; still, Obama and Edwards can't seem to get past each other for one of them to offer the real single alternative to Clinton that's probably necessary to derail her - the logic of that really hasn't changed, and this past week didn't really help either of them that much. So Neil, I don't think Week 9's optimism is any more of a convincer than the last 8 (or what, 12... or 16?) weekend posts... but keep trying. ;)

Posted by: weboy | Jul 29, 2007 5:30:46 PM

In the Long Campaign of 2007, the first-in-the-nation primary is not in New Hampshire in 2008 -- it will be in the Senate in September and October as the Constitutional Crisis builds over Iraq, Executive Privilege, Congressional Contempt, and the Congressional spending bills.

If either Clinton or Obama assume a role of articulate spokesman -- or in the right circumstance, conspicuously fail to do so -- a change in popular and/or financial support as large as that triggered by any primary outcome could be set in motion.

In this September Primary, Richardson is setting himself up to play the spoiler, and Edwards, for the moment, appears to be clueless.

The deepening recession ought to aid Edwards, but his poverty platform, for the moment, is preventing him from finding a way to participate meaningfully in the September Primary. He's going to have to grab a clue, soon, to survive. Richardson appears to have a clue.

Posted by: Bruce Wilder | Jul 29, 2007 6:01:11 PM

If only someone can get Clinton to "scream" after she loses in Iowa.

Posted by: nabob | Jul 29, 2007 11:23:38 PM

Another unknown in these speculations is what happens to the GOP candidates in those states. In South Carolina, you're going to see more dog whistles than a sheep-herding festival, looking to get the base of the GOP base motivated.

But Bruce Wilder's point is most apposite, I think. While Senate seniority works against Clinton and Obama -- plus, neither is on the Judiciary Committee -- they have to use their time in the chamber to do something, not just to win the nom, but to lift the curse on senators in presidential elections.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 30, 2007 12:29:43 AM

I'm afraid the difference this time is that the media expects Edwards to win Iowa -- Kerry came out of Iowa like barnburners because he surprised the media with a late surge.

Posted by: RW | Jul 30, 2007 1:20:34 AM

I think RW is right on about Edwards and expectations. Because him winning Iowa wouldn't be a surprise...indeed, the chattering class has often affirmed that the only reason they're paying any attention is because of his leads in Iowa...he wouldn't get nearly as big a boost as Kerry did. And with the compressed primary schedule, the amount of time he could use that boost to translate into fundraising for ads and GOTV efforts on Super-tuesday is cut in half. He's gonna have a lot of trouble replicating Kerry's rise.

Posted by: michael | Jul 31, 2007 2:22:48 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.