Monday, February 02, 2004

Mr. Mike's Ratiometric Political Party Predictions -- Update

Back in December, I introduced Mr. Mike's Ratiometric Political Party Predictions. (If the link is bloggered, just scroll down to the first entry for December 5, 2003.) It's time to revisit my predictions for the coming November elections.

Back then, I pegged my chart this way:
Republicans (Bush): 53%
Democrats (open): 37%
Greens (open): 7%
Libertarians (open): 3%
Let's talk and then I'll post my changes.

First, I expected -- along with a lot of others -- that the Howard Dean Fun Machine was rolling to the nomination, which is why I saw the Dems losing so badly. Then Iowa and New Hampshire happened and it's a new ball game. Dean is imploding daily. His campaign is a mess. He's jettisoned the guy who got him all the media buzz and Internet flash (Joe Trippi), the guy who took him from nowhere to political stardom and replaced him with the guy who helped Gore lose a sure bet in 2000. New revelations show that his campaign spent all the Internet-raised money not on ads but on staffing. He's gone from the "feisty outsider" template to the "collapsing candidate" template. That's a tough one to overcome, as it tends to be a terminal designation.

Kerry went from has-been to presumptive front-runner in two weeks. He's now the man to beat. I maintained then, as I do now, that Dean's angry-Left posture was anathema to the hacks and old-timers who control the national machinery. Dean owes no-one, so no-one controls him. Kerry has a long track record in Washington; he's a known and owned quantity, as the recent flap over his special interest fundraising has shown. But despite that, he's precisely the kind of candidate national parties like to present. Right after Iowa, the media suddenly produced a new buzz word for Dems: electability. And it "explained" why Kerry was doing so well when the media has written him off. I suspect he'll continue to do more than well enough to maintain his status as nominee apparent.

Clark? Nut job. Sorry, but his statements since December just prove that. He was nothing more than a Clinton invention and it's rumored they're already abandoning him. I still maintain he was created solely to keep the Clinton machinery trained and ready for Hillary in 2008.

All the others? Not worth more than this mention. Edwards will do well enough across the South and Mid-South to stay in the race a while, hoping to parley his success into a VP slot. I don't think it'll work now. Kerry undoubtedly already has his own choices; his advisors will do their voodoo based on the final analysis of Kerry's weaknesses just before the convention. Sharpton just wants a lot of face-time at the national convention and a say in the platform. Traditional black issues are getting short shrift so far from the Democrats as they pursue moderate whitey. Besides, what else is Sharpton gonna do?

If Kerry gets the nod, I really think Ralph Nader will go for the Green Party nomination. Dean was the far-left factor keeping Nader out. If Dean's out, so is the radical-left tilt he'd bring with him. Kerry is also anti-war left, but not radical-politics left. So many Republicans wanted Dean because they thought he'd drag the party way over to the left. With him gone, so's the pull and the slack leaves a lot of folks hanging. Dean's voters won't have a candidate to support with Kerry; Nader suits them better as does the Green Party versus a Kerry Democratic Party. So, they walk.

Bush, on the Republican side, has troubles of his own now, more so than ever. He's been making a fetish of taking Democratic issues from the Dems in a mirror of the Clinton years and their "triangulation." But it's not working. The common metaphor is Nixon and I think that's very right. Nixon tried hard to buy moderate Dems, but they had a visceral dislike of him that no program could buy. It was an unreasoning, personal hate the same as Bush is experiencing today. Nixon's law-and-order platform resonated in the Seventies in a way the War on Terror won't today for Bush.

And the things Bush has been doing are eroding his conservative base in a way Nixon never saw. The rumblings from the grassroots are strong and constant these days. The prescription drug benefit was nearly the last straw; the Illegal Protection Act is the last straw. Issue by issue, he's alienating the folks he shouldn't even have to think about.

That leads to something I'm seeing that only makes me smirk. As a Libertarian, I'm constantly assaulted by Republicans who accuse me of "costing" them their "rightful" elections during the Clinton years. I was supposed to vote Bush and Dole to "prevent" Clinton from becoming President by default. They sneered at voters like me. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Where are conservatives going to go?

So, the talk is of sitting out the election, as a message to Bush. Like he'd listen. Conservatives are to the Republicans as blacks are to the Democrats: taken for granted. How does that make you feel? Ha, eat that shoe you bastards.

So, where is the Ratiometer today? It's only tweaked a bit:

Republicans (Bush): 51%
Democrats (open): 42%
Greens (open): 5%
Libertarians (open): 2%

Kerry keeps the Democrats viable. Some, but not as many, Dems go to Nader. There are fewer "angry Left" Dems to lose than there are moderate Dems to keep from Bush, which is why their numbers go up so much. Dissatisfied Republicans sit it out instead of going Libertarian, for fear of tilting things too far for the Dems. The race tightens.

I still think this is Bush's election to lose. He has yet to start campaigning. He has a fantastic warchest to spend and that'll hurt Kerry, as the Dems already admit freely. So, his numbers may go up vs. Democrats. But he also has a damaged and volatile base, a potent keg to sit on. And a Kerry is a tougher candidate than a Dean.

Next update probably around mid-March, when I expect the Democratic field to have gotten down to two or three. (Kerry, Edwards and either Clark or Dean still struggling.) No brokered convention this year, sad to say, but a fractious one I'd bet.

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