1/02/2008

Iowa Predictions (R)

Against my better judgment, I will attempt to handicap the Iowa caucuses tomorrow and offer my predictions. (Why not have a little bit of fun, right?) In this post I will address the Republican race. (I addressed the Democratic contest here.)

The Republican contest consists of two smaller contests: the battle for first and the battle for third. The battle for first is between Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Huckabee came out of nowhere and surged to the top of the polls in recent weeks, much to the chagrin of Mitt Romney, who has invested millions from his personal fortune in the state. However, it is possible that Huckabee peaked too soon, as crises abroad reminded voters of the importance of electing a president with foreign policy chops. Huckabee fumbled the issue by tying the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto with Pakistani illegal immigrants. This fumble likely benefited John McCain in his quest for third more than it benefited Romney in his quest for first simply because Romney's foreign policy credentials are also suspect.

Romney seems to be more of an establishment Republican who adequately represents the evangelical and business wings of the party. Huckabee is more of the insurgent or outsider candidate who wants to take the party in a whole new direction. However, Christian conservatives who like Huckabee (because he has the Christianity without the Mormonism and the anti-abortion rhetoric without the anti-anti-abortion past) probably have reservations about his policy depth in other areas. Romney has also attacked Huckabee hard over the past few weeks on his record on illegal immigration, taxes, and crime. Evangelical Christians will have to be honest with themselves about their personal biases, as Romney seems to be a more complete candidate than Huckabee. Huckabee seems to be the candidate of these voters' hearts while Romney is the candidate of these voters' heads.

The battle for third is between John McCain, Fred Thompson, and Rudy Giuliani. A third place showing by McCain would give him tremendous momentum because he has not campaigned much in Iowa at all. This momentum would serve him well in New Hampshire, where he is much more competitive. Put another way, Romney cannot spin a second place loss to Huckabee as a victory. However, McCain can spin a third place loss to Romney and Huckabee as a victory.

Fred Thompson has a vested interest in placing third as well because if he fails to do so, it's hard to see how he remains relevant later on. He is polling under 5% in New Hampshire, so it will all come down to South Carolina for him. But placing fourth or fifth in Iowa would probably end his campaign before he even makes it to South Carolina because it's hard to see how a candidate can go from a fourth place showing in Iowa to a sixth place showing in New Hampshire to victory in South Carolina.

Third place would be nice for Rudy Giuliani to have, but because he's not making a serious play for any state before Florida, Iowa is relatively meaningless for his campaign. A Huckabee victory in Iowa would be good for Giuliani not only because it would prolong the battle between his divided conservative opposition, but also because when it comes time for the media to generate their "What went wrong?" stories, they would more likely be about Romney instead of Giuliani, even if Giuliani placed fifth.

What about Ron Paul?

Nobody is saying much about it, but there will be serious pressure on the other candidates to drop out of the race or explain themselves if they place lower than Paul. Despite Paul's popularity online and among regular voters, it is clear that the establishment and the main candidates in general view him with contempt. Should Paul place third or fourth, that would be a severe embarrassment to Giuliani and Thompson in particular. After all, it is Giuliani who famously smacked Paul down in the debates when it came to discussions about the reasons behind the September 11 attacks. And as for Thompson, it would be hard for his followers to conceive of their candidate, once the great hope of conservatives everywhere, faring worse than the "loony libertarian."

Final prediction: Romney 32%, Huckabee 24%, McCain 17%, Paul 11%, Thompson 8%

10 Comments:

tbuzz41058 said...

Watch this video, then tell me what you think.

http://fredfile.fred08.com/blog/2007/video-freds-message-to-iowa-voters/

He's not running any negative ads. He just shows you who he is, and what he stands for. He says what he means and means what he says.

Thomas said...

Anthony, do you think the Republican establishment trashing of Mike Huckabee will effect how religious conservatives view the GOP? How will Mitt Romney's trashing of Huckabee effect his standing among this same group?

Anthony Palmer said...

Tbuzz,

I saw the video and Thompson seems sincere. However, I think most Republican voters have given up on him and don't view him as a credible candidate. His candidacy trumped his campaign, so he was never able to meet everyone's expectations. Now I don't know which niche Thompson fills that another better prepared candidate doesn't already fill. On top of this, news from the Politico is saying that he'll probably drop out if he doesn't even place third.

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Thomas,

The GOP is fractured. The business wing and the evangelical wing of the party are going to have to be honest with themselves about their platform because there's no longer enough room in the base for both of them. I think most Republicans are not as socially conservatives as the evangelicals are, but the evangelicals are fiercely loyal to the GOP. I think these problems are far larger than Romney, Huckabee, or any other single candidate. It's an ideological issue. Your business wing Republicans of the Northeast and Midwest are pretty moderate on social issues and fiscally conservative. Your evangelicals are the exact opposite. How can they continue to coexist?

Thank you both for your comments.

Crazychester said...

"Intelligent and independent political analysis" Really?
You seem more interested in towing the line or regurgitating fixed poll mentalities than writing something of substance and thought.
If you really believe Giuliani "smacked down" Dr.Paul in that debate, then we were watching two different debates. A portion of America is thankfully waking up to the lies and manipulations of our government and media. You are correct on one thing though. These other supposed top-tier candidates will and should be embarrassed when Paul does better than 4th in Iowa and may just take New Hampshire. Not because of Paul mind you, but their own lack of integrity and honesty.

Nikki said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. ALRIGHTY THEN.

Anthony Palmer said...

Crazychester,

I happen to agree with Ron Paul about September 11. But surely you must have observed by now that he would commonly receive questions about the causes of September 11 and what to do about Iraq in the debates only to have another Republican candidate immediately and harshly repudiate him almost as if on cue, much to the delight of the members of the audience. It's almost as if he was being set up by the moderators so that one of his rivals (usually Giuliani) could get an easy applause line. I will not retract my statement that Giuliani smacked Paul down, but nowhere did I say that Giuliani was right.

I would encourage you to do a bit of research before you make such blanket statements regarding things with which you are unfamiliar. A simple scan through the archives or post labels would reveal the following posts:

May 5

"Ron Paul is the libertarian in the race. He may very well have a monopoly on anti-tax conservatives and anti-war Republicans. However, as a libertarian, evangelicals might not take too kindly to his "don't tread on me/live and let live" philosophy. I think he has a lot of potential, but I worry his campaign may be doomed by Republican fratricide, rather than any gaffes of his own making. Look for his popularity to increase."

link here

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May 15

"I have no idea what to make of Ron Paul. His arguments were compelling and well thought out, but I don't think America is quite yet ready for Paul's ideas. I worry that Republicans and dittoheads will mischaracterize his exchange with Rudy Giuliani about why 9-11 happened. Sean Hannity accused Ron Paul of blaming America for 9-11, which he did not do at all. Paul offers a new way of looking at America's role in the world, but it is a complex view that requires people to avoid knee jerk thinking. But he spoke in a way average people could understand though. ("If China started building permanent bases in America, how would you feel?") A lot of Democrats are looking at Ron Paul as a Republican they can live with. Many Republicans are probably wondering if Paul is even running for the right party's nomination. I think Paul can more effectively get out his libertarian message as a Republican candidate than as a Libertarian or Democratic candidate, however. How well this message will be received, however, is a whole different kettle of fish."

Taken from the same post:

"[Giuliani] spoke much more convincingly this time around and had the most poignant exchange of the night with Ron Paul, although I think he misrepresented Paul's position."

link here

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September 6

"I don't know how to classify Ron Paul. He definitely won the war of ideas even though he may not have won the actual debate.

"Aside from Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul was probably the most authentic candidate on stage. And he was definitely consistent. The arguments he make seem to be at odds with most Republicans, and I fear they are not well received because Paul is much more intellectual in his presentation of ideas. He really shined when talking about Iraq. One of his best lines was how "the people who are telling us that there will be a bloodbath if we leave Iraq are the same people who said we'd be greeted as liberators and that oil revenues will pay for the war." When the moderator condescendingly asked how the United States could gather intelligence about terrorism if the FBI and CIA were defunded, Paul didn't miss a beat as he reminded the audience that the billions of dollars the nation has spent on the FBI and CIA still failed to prevent 9-11. "We need intelligent people interpreting our intelligence information" drew wild cheers. He also had some harsh words for Republicans and reminded them of their obligations to the Constitution. Paul certainly had a lot of fans in the crowd and he gave them a lot to cheer about. The other Republicans on the stage probably want Paul to drop out of the race, but his ideas are quite compelling and intriguing. Ron Paul might be at 1% in most national polls, but I get the sense that his real support is far higher. I sincerely hope he continues to be invited to future debates because even though there are no other candidates advocating his positions, I think his genuine appeal is far greater."

link here

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October 9

"Rudy Giuliani would be wise to evoke September 11 a bit more prudently. Giuliani has been criticized a lot recently for tying so many of his behaviors and policies to these terrorist attacks. He even went so far as to attribute his taking a call on his cell phone from his wife in the middle of a speech to the NRA to September 11. Ron Paul was making a firm point about the war in Iraq and the potential war with Iran and said that there has never been an imminent attack on the United States in 220 years. Giuliani then reminded him of September 11. Paul defended himself by saying the terrorists were "19 thugs instead of a country," but Giuliani asserted that "there were operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan" and that "we could have launched a strike that would have disrupted their operations." (These are not direct quotations.) Anyway, Giuliani's responses seem okay on the surface and would likely appeal to voters who generally do not dig a bit deeper. However, in this exchange with Ron Paul, how could a terrorist strike in Pakistan have stopped the September 11 attacks if the hijackers were all in the United States by the time these attacks became "imminent?" Will a candidate begin to poke holes in Giuliani's 9-11 mantra in the future and diminish his executive/national security image? The openings are definitely there."

link here

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November 6

Here’s a post dedicated entirely to Ron Paul and why he's so popular:

link here

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I guess none of this qualifies as meaningful "substance or thought" though, at least not to you. Oh well.

Anyway, since most people don't bother commenting on blogs that offer nothing of "substance or thought," as you put it, the fact that you chose to do so with my own inconsequential corner of cyberspace suggests otherwise. Thank you for reading. Come back soon.

Nikki said...

This is precisely my problem with Ron Paul. Whenever he talks he sounds like he is going to blow a gaskett and like him his supporters are irate, hyper-focused attack dogs that can't "discuss" without deeming other philosophies as stupid or less passionate. Ron Paul has one octave.......loud. thats my 2 pennies.

oso diablo said...

underestimated, again.

Anthony Palmer said...

Oso,

This is the risk of offering predictions. Oh well. Congratulations to Huckabee on his victory. He certainly wounded Romney severely tonight!

One thing I'm curious about though, however, is how much Romney's Mormonism penalized him. 60% of the caucus attendees were evangelicals, so I wonder how many of them chose Huckabee simply because he was a "pure" Christian?

Nikki said...

what a night. I am disappointed. I think there was a religious factor and as a Mormon that sucks. I am wondering if any of you caught Ed Rollins interview with Chris Wallace......whoa. I am trying to find it on youtube and posting it on my blog. I am sure it will be on there soon. Nice picking on the dem side....