Thursday, January 31, 2008

Giuliani and Edwards

Another two candidates have dropped out of the race for the White House. One was expected, the other one a bit of a shock. The expected one first. Giuliani now knows how Al Gore feels. He lost this campaign in large measure because of his strategists. I think there was the sense that, much like Mitt Romney, Giuliani would not go over well in the coffee shops of Iowa and New Hampshire. Running for Mayor of New York involves shockingly little retail politics for a municipal position. Giuliani doesn't know how to do it and frankly wouldn't be good at it. You didn't want a lot of tough questions and intense scrutiny of some of those not so Republican ideas of his. Having said that, Romney is still alive having fought and lost in Iowa and New Hampshire and Giuiliani is done. The lesson here is that even if it hurts (and losing both hurt Romney) you have to campaign in the holy states of American politics. The impact of Giuliani's exit and support for McCain at the polls may be minimal. However, Giuliani was the best fundraiser the Republicans had. McCain had such significant fundraising issues that he had to lay-off his staff in the summer due to insufficient funds. Romney's been paying for this largely from his own savings, something not even he can sustain. Huckabee has been unable to open the church coffers. Paul has had some success but none of the other candidates want any part of Ron Paul or his money. For the first time in at least thirty years the Democrats have a commanding lead in the fundraising department. Clinton's war chest is legendary and Obama keeps churning it out (CNN's reporting 32 million in January alone!). Giuiliani may have been the only candidate able to spend like a Democrat in the national election. The Republicans with 5 senate vacancies to defend and more house vacancies then they want to count are looking for their presidential candidate to rake in some hay. I don't know that either of the remaining front runners have that potential. In other words, the largest beneficiary of the Giuliani loss may be Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Edwards impact is very different. First of all, why he didn't go to the floor and play king maker, I don't know. Perhaps he couldn't pay for it financially. Maybe he decided to spend some time with his wife who is battling cancer yet again (never a good sign) instead of running a hopeless campaign. At any rate, he's out. The question becomes who was supporting John Edwards? Was it a) people looking for change (i.e. not Hillary), b) people looking for policy and experience (i.e. not Obama) or c) people who just liked John Edwards (i.e. will likely now stay home). My guess is that his support is about 50% a, 30% b and 20% c. It's a complete guess. However, if accurate, it would be good news for Obama. The difference between Obama and Clinton in most of the Super Tuesday states is covered by Edwards' support. This changes the dynamic dramatically. A two horse race (apologies to the stubborn Mike Gravel) is a different kettle of fish (if I may mix my metaphors). It allows for a lot more negative campaigning (there's only one other option so criticizing one automatically boosts the other). It also narrows the focus. The PR nature of the Democratic primary selection means that in terms of delegates we will not have a nominee on Super Tuesday. However, if one candidate manages to win a vast majority of the states (irregardless of margin and therefore delegate count), the perception may be enough to name a winner. I'd be surprised if that happens at this point.

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