Saturday, January 31, 2015

In that other big game...

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, is the first choice of possible Iowa Republican caucus-goers, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the top choice, by a huge margin, of potential Iowa Democratic caucus-goers. Iowa, of course, holds the first formal presidential contest of the two major parties' presidential nominating processes.

Clinton appears to be a prohibitive favorite there:
Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state and a fixture in national Democratic politics for more than 20 years, is the first choice for 56 percent of poll respondents. That's 40 points ahead of the next potential contender, liberal populist Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is the top choice for 16 percent.
Clinton's numbers seem to be scaring off most potential candidates for president in her party.

Things are quite a bit different among Republicans. Lots of candidates are either committed to or looking at the race. So, Republicans in Iowa haven't made any real choices yet. Walker leads the pack with 15%. But then, there's this:
The Wisconsin governor is...the No. 2 most popular choice for likely caucusgoers who want an establishment candidate, and he's the No. 2 for those who want an anti-establishment candidate.
In other words, people don't know Walker very well yet. He's a blank slate on which potential voters are imposing their own versions of Scott Walker. Surely, voters in Iowa, which shares a border with Wisconsin, know something of Walker who, by virtue of his three statewide runs in Wisconsin--in first election campaign, his recall campaign, and his re-election campaign. But some see him as an establishment (i.e., Bush, Romney) Republican, while others see him as an anti-establishment (i.e., Ted Cruz, Rand Paul) Republican.

This means that Walker has a delicate task ahead of him. As he rolls out his campaign, he has to be careful to portray himself as the anti-establishment establishment candidate, or maybe the establishment anti-establishment candidate. That, of course, is impossible and Walker is going to have to just be himself--or a reasonable version of himself--and let the chips fall where they may. To me, he seems a likely viable contender for the nomination, along with Jeb Bush.

Bush, by the way, needs, I think, to hope that one or two others emerge as viable contenders for the Republican nomination besides Walker and himself so that Walker can't position himself as the new and conservative voice over against Bush as the older establishment candidate. Bush's chances are enhanced, at least through the early primaries and caucuses, by a multitude of anti-establishment types like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Huckabee.

Of course, if Bush fails to win the nomination and the person who garners it has painted their candidacy as distant from Bush's perceived mainstream conservatism, that nominee will have a tough time "re-positioning" in the general election campaign.

In recent history, voters have tended to turn out the party that's been in the White House for eight years. That would suggest that the 2016 race is the Republicans to lose. But, demographics right now give the Democrats an advantage. If they can lock up the coasts and ad a handful of flyover states, they can win routinely, it would seem. These two imperatives will collide in the next election.

Clinton faces her own land mines. As she learned in 2008, being the frontrunner doesn't ensure a candidate of the nomination. She also will be seen by some as a vestige of an unwanted past, even as others see her as a harbinger of a new American future. She will also be assailed for the Benghazi incident during her tenure at the State Department.

Having said all of this, two things:

  • 1. I express no preferences here. If you think that I have, you misunderstand. I've come to believe that pastors shouldn't make political endorsement or get involved with politics. And I'm not doing that here at all. It's just that, against my will, I'm still afflicted with my lifelong interest in the politics of politics. Even when I make my choice about who I vote for in 2016, you won't know it.
  • 2. I wish that presidential campaigns were shorter and that, at least publicly, those in government spent more time governing and less time campaigning. I wrote about that back on January 20, 2007, here. It's worth reading, not so much for what I wrote, but for the interesting conversation that came out of it, either recorded or linked to, there.

Okay, go back to Super Bowl coverage. (Can you tell that I got my sermon finished early today?)

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