Friday, January 4, 2008

Analyzing the First Inning

In keeping with my baseball analogy below, here are a few of my thoughts on the Iowa results.
The high Democratic turnout is a very positive sign. Compared to the relatively sluggish turnout on the Republican side, this is evidence that the motivation for change is real.
When I picked Obama to win Iowa, my hunch was that Obama would win by picking up the majority of "second choice" votes, in a "stop Clinton" move. That was wrong. Edwards got the majority of the "seconds." Which makes Obama's victory more interesting. In Iowa, at least, Obama succeeded in turning out the youth vote, something Democrats have been trying and failing to do ever since JFK. If he can continue to get the youth turnout in other states, it will have a major impact and could carry him to the nomination (emphasis on "if" and "could"). The first inning has shown us that Obama's team knows how to play the game, but scoring first doesn't guarantee victory.
Edwards had a solid showing, but was certainly hoping for better. In a long, three way race, momentum is important. For Edwards, South Carolina and the southern states on super-duper Tuesday become "make or break" time. He needs to be strong in the middle innings, or he'll be crowded out as the three-way turns into a two-way.
Clinton didn't need to win in Iowa. Like the teams of the Yankees dynasties, her political machine is built for the long season. But she did lose some of the aura of inevitability. Given her insider support, money, and name recognition, she's still the one to beat. California and New York on super-duper Tuesday will reveal whether her team is as strong as advertised.
Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have dropped out, which is sad but not surprising. With the current media circus that dominates elections, neither stood a chance of winning. Both are very qualified, but lacked the charisma that modern politics require. Image trumps substance in the era of the 30 second sound bite. Bill Richardson will hang on for a while longer, but the same dynamic will end his campaign fairly soon.
Looking forward, the question becomes "can Obama continue to motivate the youth vote?" If he can, he'll be tough to beat. If not, Edwards will benefit as the "not Hillary" candidate. And if the Democrats can continue to motivate high turnouts, it could be enough to overcome the right-wing media spin machine that has barely begun to attack. The "umpires" aren't done yet.
(BTW, can I be a pundit now?)

1 comment:

cognitorex said...

Thou ar't herestby dubbed a "pundit."