Preliminary Democratic Debate Analysis

October 31, 2007

Tonight, the Democratic field (as well as moderator Tim Russert) finally engaged Hillary Clinton with success.  Our early thoughts:  The winners of the debate were Obama and Edwards, who repeatedly drew contrasts with Clinton and criticized her political pandering.  One perfect example occurred during the debate, when Clinton refused to be pinned down on a question regarding giving driving licenses to illegal immigrants.  Edwards commented, “Unless I missed something, Senator Clinton said two different things in the course of two minutes”, and Obama nodded in agreement.  The best line of the night went to Joe Biden, who characterized Rudy Giuliani’s sentences as such: a noun, a verb, and 9/11.  Also, congratulations to Tim Russert, an excellent moderator who pressed for answers and clearly did his research.

Coming into the debate with a large bulls-eye on her back, Clinton was evasive at times and appeared rattled.  In the first debate in which she underwent heavy criticism, Clinton turned in an unimpressive performance.   Another flip-flopping moment happened during the Social Security round, when Russert brought up differences between her public and private statements.  The victim of post-debate coverage had to be Dennis Kucinich, who claimed to have sighted an UFO.  On the MSNBC analysis, Chris Matthews kept coming back to the UFO reference, lampooning the Ohio congressman.

We’ll have a more complete analysis tomorrow, these are just preliminary thoughts.  Who do you think won?  And why?


Explanation of Iowa Caucuses

October 26, 2007

A neat video from whytuesday.org explaining the caucus process.


Surprising Poll Numbers

October 24, 2007

The latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll reveals an interesting tidbit about the Republican race.  One question: “Could you vote for a candidate for president who supports abortion and gay rights if you agree with him on other issues, or could you only vote for a candidate for president who opposes these issues?”  Out of the 39% of Republican primary voters who could only vote for candidates opposing these issues, 19% are supporting Giuliani in the primary.  Another surprising number: a plurality (20%) of Republicans believe Giuliani would be the best among the field at handling social issues such as abortion and gay rights.

There are some fascinating general election numbers revealing Obama’s immense cross-over appeal.  In a hypothetical Clinton vs. Giuliani matchup, Clinton gets 10% of registered Republicans.  On the other hand, Obama is supported by 23% of registered Republicans in a Obama/Giuliani contest.  Clinton vs. Thompson – the junior NY senator gets 12% of Republicans.  Obama vs. Thompson – Obama gets 22% of Republicans.  Obama also beats Clinton in Republican support against McCain and Romney by five and three points, respectively.


Florida Republican Debate

October 22, 2007

The early reviews for last night’s Republican debate in Florida are in, with the large majority of reporters giving John McCain the line of the night.  He blasted Hillary’s now-dead proposal to spend $1 million for a memorial to the Woodstock rock concert, “a cultural and pharmaceutical event” that he said he couldn’t attend because “I was tied up at the time.”  The line drew a rare standing ovation from the debate crowd in appreciation for the former prisoner of war.

In the round focused on bashing Hillary, the Fox moderators put up the network’s latest poll numbers showing hypothetical general election match-ups.  The Republican who performed the best was not Giuliani, but McCain.  Although McCain bettered Giuliani’s showing by a statistically insignificant margin of 1%, the Arizona senator can boast of the same electability Hizzoner claims.  The most recent series of Rasmussen polling has Hillary leading Giuliani by 7%, but she squeaks past McCain by only 1%.  A case can be made for declaring McCain the most electable Republican, but his problem is resuscitating his campaign to win the primaries.

A main component of Giuliani’s strategy is emphasizing his ability to beat Hillary in a general election, a mask covering up his more liberal social views.  If he were to become president, then a large pillar of his appeal is knocked out – his purpose to prevent Hillary from the White House is achieved.  Then, when it comes time to actual policy making, his vows to nominate strict-constructionist judges may not pacify the base.  On the other hand, McCain stands firmly with Republicans on the deal-breaker for many, abortion; he has a 0% NARAL rating.  Although he differs on immigration and campaign finance, you don’t see candidates saying “I can’t support a pro-campaign-finance-reform nominee” – the issue isn’t necessarily a tipping point (although it still galvanizes the base).

McCain’s chances at the nomination still seem slim, although the electability and experience appeal remain.


Obama’s Increasing Attacks

October 16, 2007

In an unusually brash email entitled “Hillary’s money” sent out today, Barack Obama castigated Hillary Clinton for accepting money from lobbyists and PACs, saying, “Washington lobbyists and special interests rallied to help Hillary Clinton out-raise us for the first time.” The math behind that reasoning is somewhat fuzzy. Obama says he’s $2.1 million behind, but Clinton has raised only $1.2 million from lobbyists and PACs. The $1.2 million didn’t push Clinton over the edge to surpass Obama, but it helped pad her margin. Full email after the jump.

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Republican Fundraising – Romney’s Burn Rate

October 15, 2007

Mitt Romney’s campaign just filed their financial disclosure reports for the third quarter, revealing $9.2 million cash on hand. The campaign spent $21 million for the quarter after pulling in $18 million (which included a sizable $8.5 million personal loan from the candidate) , continuing the heavy burn rate seen in the first half of the year. Signs of where the money’s going: the 10,893 ads Romney has run, mostly in Iowa, dwarfing his Republican competitors.

Rudy Giuliani’s campaign spent $13.3 million over the summer and has $11.6 million on hand, while Fred Thompson spent $5.7 million and has just over $7 million available.  No word yet on the other candidates.


Sparring Between McCain and Romney

October 15, 2007

The tension between John McCain and Mitt Romney has spilled over into public display this past week, beginning with the former governor’s comments that he is “the only real Republican” in the race and speaks for the “Republican wing of the Republican party”. Intended to spotlight Rudy Giuliani’s liberal social views, Romney’s remarks provoked a fervent response from McCain, who said the following:

“When Governor Romney donated money to a Democratic candidate in New Hampshire, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans. When he voted for a Democratic candidate for president, Paul Tsongas, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans. When he refused to endorse the Contract with America, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans. And when he was embracing the Democratic position on many issues of the day, I don’t think he was speaking for Republicans.”

McCain made the preceding remarks in, guess where, New Hampshire.  The Granite State is his Waterloo, where voters place him in third place in recent polls.  By doling out harsh criticism aimed at Romney, the faltering front-runner in the state, McCain hopes to boost his own support.  Is McCain’s strategy likely to work?  Romney’s support is soft, only 37% in NH strongly support him according to the latest Marist poll.  However, Romney supporters are much more likely to flock to Giuliani over McCain – 47% have the former mayor as their second choice, only 25% for McCain.  The real beneficiary of the McCain-Romney tiff is Giuliani, who gets to stand above the fray while the others battle it out.

Four years ago, Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean engaged in their own war of words, the verbal sparring leaving many Iowan voters disgusted with the both of them.  The caucus-goers found alternatives,  leading to a Kerry-Edwards one-two finish.  A similar situation may replay this time around in New Hampshire.