Examining the Iowa Bump

May 31, 2007

With Hillary Clinton’s deputy campaign manager proposing skipping Iowa as are Giuliani staffers, I thought it might be time to examine the effects of an Iowa bump.

In 2004, John Kerry won the Iowa caucus (on Jan. 19) with 38% of the vote and John Edwards came in second with 32%. The day of the Iowa caucus, Kerry was polling at 20% in New Hampshire and Edwards was polling at 8%. Just five days later, Kerry skyrocketed to 38% in NH and Edwards to 15%. Meanwhile, Howard Dean, who had been leading polling in the state, slipped after a poor third-place showing in Iowa. So, Kerry and Edwards nearly doubled their support after good showings in Iowa.

Let’s look at the Republicans in 2000. Right before the Iowa caucus, John McCain was leading Bush 45% to 33% in New Hampshire. Immediately after the caucus, which Bush won, Bush was ahead of McCain by 37%-36%. However, Bush’s bump evaporated, and McCain was leading Bush by 10 points two days before the primary. McCain went on to eventually win in NH by 20 points.

However, there are a few reasons why momentum may be dampened this year. This election has seen the earliest campaigning ever, providing voters with ample time to make up their mind about candidates. Also, many voters in later states will have already voted before the Iowa caucuses, due to new early-voting systems.

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Fred Thompson’s Running

May 30, 2007

Mike Allen of the Politico reports today Fred Thompson will jump into the Republican race on the Fourth of July weekend, with the announcement planned in Nashville. The news leaked when Thompson urged 100 potential donors over a conference call to raise $50,000 for the campaign. Members from the past three Republican administrations are expected to play roles in the campaign.

However, there are many barriers Thompson will have to overcome to wage a successful campaign. Already, the top tier of Republican candidates has built up strong organizations in early states and gathered endorsements. Thompson also has gained a reputation of disliking campaigning, and recently disclosed he has non-Hodgkin’s lymphona, a type of cancer. But, which Republican candidates are most hurt by Thompson’s entrance?

Mitt Romney: Romney has positioned himself as the true conservative candidate in the race, leading to rising poll numbers.  Thompson would likely court the same voting constituency as Romney and detract from his support. In fact, when Thompson was included in Republican polling, Romney’s numbers deteriorated significantly. Also, the last three competititive Iowa caucuses have indicated that the most socially conservative candidate captures a quarter of the vote. If Thompson and Romney were to divvy that portion among them, it would be detrimental to both of them. However, Romney has already built up a strong, impressive organization in Iowa, a consequence of Thompson’s late entry. Romney also has a tremendous financial advantage after his first quarter fundraising haul.

John McCain: The immediate threat Thompson poses to McCain relates to fundraising. McCain had a lackluster total in the first three months of the year and is fervently attempting to improve on that figure for the second quarter.  The buzz about Thompson’s candidacy is sure to attract significant dollars. In the long-term, the entrance of Thompson means votes are split among four main candidates: Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and Thompson.  McCain is the best-known of the candidates and likely has a committed base of voters. It is unlikely that base will defect to Thompson, but wavering Romney or Giuliani supporters may.

Rudy Giuliani: Thompson competes with Giuliani for star power and celebrity status, based on his acting career. Also, some Republican voters are concerned about electability more than orthodoxy, and thus support Giuliani. Thompson shares the voters’ conservative views and will portray himself as an appealing general election candidate, drawing voters from Giuliani. Thompson’s entrance may be beneficial to Giuliani’s candidacy. With four candidates battling in the early states, there may be no clear winner that emerges. Any momentum a candidate would hope to gain from winning an early state disappears, and Giuliani performs well on February 5.


Roundup

May 29, 2007

Karen Tumulty of Time says Obama’s healthcare proposal “would cost the government an additional $50- $65 billion a year, which Obama said he would pay for by allowing President Bush’s tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year to expire.”

She also says, “Obama rejected … a so-called ‘individual mandate’, similar to that being tried in Massachusetts and proposed in California, where everyone would be required to buy health insurance, just as car owners are now required to carry auto insurance.”

Mitt Romney has not only flip-flopped on social issues, but also on campaign finance reform.  In the most recent Republican debate, he said the campaign-finance reform legislation, McCain-Feingold, was bad.  However, he expressed strikingly different views as Massachusetts governor.  During his time there, Romney called for spending limits on candidates and wanted to abolish political action committees.

But good news for Romney, James W. Pindell and Scott Helman of the Boston Globe report Romney can claim frontrunner status in Iowa, “due in large part to his aggressive and well-organized campaign operation in the Hawkeye State.”


More on Healthcare

May 29, 2007

“By mandating coverage for children, making health insurance affordable and enrollment easy, we expect to cover every American. Our plan has allocated enough subsidy dollars to accomplish this. If we find that after the plan is implemented all Americans are not covered, we will look to see who is not covered and why and take appropriate action to make sure we get to universal coverage. We have the resources set aside in the plan to do whatever turns out to be necessary to cover everyone.” – Dan Pfeiffer, Obama spokesman

In response to Obama’s plan, Mark Kornblau (Edwards spokesman) said the following: “John Edwards has a detailed plan to make health care coverage more affordable and truly universal. He believes that incremental measures are not enough. Any plan that does not cover all Americans is simply inadequate.”

Obama’s plan calls for universal access, but since it doesn’t mandate health insurance for adults, may not cover everyone.


Obama on Healthcare

May 29, 2007

Today, Barack Obama announced his healthcare policy today, the full plan which can be found here (pdf).

Key Points:

Obama will make available a new national health plan giving individuals the opportunity to buy healthcare similar to the plan available to federal employees.

Employers would be forced to provide healthcare; if not, they would have to subsidize the national plan.

Children have to have healthcare, but not adults.

Reducing costs of catastrophic illnesses for employers and their employees: 5% of people with greatest healthcare expenses spent 49% of overall expenditures on healthcare.

Allow buying safe and cheaper medicines from other “developed countries”.

Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic says, “Now, there’s still a ton to like in the plan, to be sure — particularly the meaty material on bringing down costs and improving quality. Good regulation of the insurance industry, too, plus a new public program into which people can enroll.”


Presidential Candidates on Sunday Talk Shows

May 26, 2007

Senator Joe Biden makes an appearance on CNN’s Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.  Biden was the only Democratic presidential candidate in the Senate to support the war funding bill, while Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, and Barack Obama opposed it.  Also appearing on Late Edition is Duncan Hunter, facing off against Charlie Rangel in a debate on war funding.

Bill Richardson sits down with Tim Russert on Meet the Press on the first weekend after he formally announced his presidential bid.

Jim Gilmore appears on This Week and Mike Huckabee on Fox News Sunday.


War Funding Barbs: McCain, Romney, and Obama

May 25, 2007

In response to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton voting against a bill including $100 billion in troop funding, Mitt Romney and John McCain released harsh statements criticizing the two of them.

Romney: “At a time when the men and women of our military fighting terrorism around the globe needed them most, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama cast a vote that singularly defines their lack of leadership and serves as a glaring example of an unrealistic and inexperienced worldview on national security that is regrettably shared by too many of their fellow Capitol Hill Democrats.”

McCain: “I was very disappointed to see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton embrace the policy of surrender by voting against funds to support our brave men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. This vote may win favor with MoveOn and liberal primary voters, but it’s the equivalent of waving a white flag to al Qaeda.”

Obama fiercely retorted in a statement, “This country is united in our support for our troops, but we also owe them a plan to relieve them of the burden of policing someone else’s civil war. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe the course we are on in Iraq is working, but I do not. And if there ever was a reflection of that it’s the fact that Senator McCain required a flack jacket, ten armored Humvees, two Apache attack helicopters, and 100 soldiers with rifles by his side to stroll through a market in Baghdad just a few weeks ago.

“Governor Romney and Senator McCain are still supporting a war that has cost us thousands of lives, made us less safe in the world, and resulted in a resurgence of al-Qaeda. It is time to end this war so that we can redeploy our forces to focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and all those who plan to do us harm.”

Then, McCain counters: “While Senator Obama’s two years in the U.S. Senate certainly entitle him to vote against funding our troops, my service and experience combined with conversations with military leaders on the ground in Iraq lead me to believe that we must give this new strategy a chance to succeed because the consequences of failure would be catastrophic to our nation’s security.”

And then, “By the way, Senator Obama, it’s a ‘flak’ jacket, not a ‘flack’ jacket.”

Continuing this long chain of events, Bill Burton, an Obama spokesman, responded, “America doesn’t need juvenile name-calling from Washington, we need a commitment to end this war and bring our brave troops home.”