Thursday, February 23, 2006

2008 Political Fortunes

Here are the big issues that look to be looming in 2008 for the presidential campaigns.

1. How did the 2006 elections fare? Did the Republicans gain or lose seats or stay about even? What surprises were there, and what were the major issues going into the election?

2. The Middle East. How has the political situation evolved in Iraq (and presumably Iran)? Is the US in Vietnam II or is the political situation mostly stabilized, with troop deployments being lowered significantly.

3. The Bush Administration. Was Jack Abramoff this Administration's Iran-Contra, or is there something worse of which we aren't aware? This is one reason I'd suspect Al Gonzales has about as much chance at being placed on the Supreme Court now as it would be for the Republican Party to nominate Hillary Clinton as their Presidential nominee. Will ties to the Bush Administration be political poison for any Republican?

4. Super-size government. Will the president's big-government conservatism be rejected wholeheartedly by his party? Or will the Democrats actually co-opt the issue of fiscal responsibility from the Republicans?

5. Judicial nominations. W already has selected 2 distinctively conservative judicial nominees to replace conservatives. A great deal of Republican direction depends on how many other appointments he makes, and how conservative they are perceived to be.

Some commentary follows.

John McCain's political fortunes are inversely tied to the Republican performance in the 2006 Congressional elections. If the GOP gains seats, then he is almost assuredlly not going to win the nomination without moving way to the right. On the other hand, if the Republicans do poorly, then his political stock could not be higher for him. For the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton is a non-starter UNLESS she utterly sweeps upstate New York, with a high turnout, in her '06 reelection bid. She will always be perceived as a liberal, no matter how moderate she becomes. John McCain would soak up huge amounts of moderate and even liberal Democratic votes, but Hillary Clinton would possibly lose some of her own party's votes and would gain none of the Republican/conservative independent votes.

Strong Tickets with lots of potential:

Republicans: Gains in 2006 - George Allen/Tim Pawlenty - popular Southern governor/Senator and a noted and well-like Minnesota governor makes for a great duo.

Losses in 2006 - McCain/Brownback or McCain/Romney (if he chooses a governor) - Maverick McCain with a strongly conservative running mate (either middle America or Northeast)

Dark Horse Candidates: Ken Blackwell (likely Governor of Ohio), Tim Pawlenty, Michael Steele (presuming he wins the Senate seat in Maryland), Haley Barbour (Gov. of Mississippi)

Democrats: Gains in 2006 (heavy losses for Republicans) - Mark Warner of Virginia/Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Al Gore/Barack Obama of Illinois

Losses in 2006: Mark Warner/Gov. Janet Napolitiano or Sen. Evan Bayh/Conservative Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska - the latter would only happen if the Republicans ended up with, say 60 seats in the Senate (i.e. utter disaster in 2006)

Dark Horse Candidates: Barack Obama, Janet Napolitiano, John Edwards, Al Gore

More will come on the other issues when I feel like writing more.

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