Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Next President of the United States

Until recently (yesterday morning, actually...), my unwavering prediction has been that Hillary Clinton is going to be the next president of the United States. I've been walking around for a year saying this to anyone who would listen (essentially Desi...).

But I'm now changing my tune and calling for a win by John McCain this fall. I've (perhaps too rashly) come to this conclusion for a couple of reasons.

The main reason is that the election should once again come down to a few key states, like Florida and Ohio, that resemble the United States as a whole in their composition. In other words, the reliably red states will once again be red and the reliably blue states will once again be blue. I don't see too many states shifting enough to change this underlying dynamic of contemporary American politics.

(An important exception could be our next door neighbor, Virginia. Virginia looks less and less like a Southern state and more and more like a "microcosm" state, with blue-leaning center cities and red-leaning country in between. What this does is put another state in play, which is good news for Democrats, both this year and beyond.)

But, you say, what if there is a transformational candidate running for president (read: Barack Obama)? My logic here is based on Clinton winning the Democratic nomination (which I still think is the most likely outcome, even though she appears to be swimming upstream at this very moment).

As I see it, in a year where history and current political realities suggest that events should break in the favor of the Democrats, a McCain-Clinton match up has a lot to offer Republicans:

A Clinton on the ballot will mobilize the Republican base. None of the Republican contenders have managed to do this, that's for sure.

A McCain candidacy may very well appeal to so-called "security moms." McCain has not had to appear "scary" conservative during the Republican primary and much of his record in the Senate plays well among independent-minded voters.

But won't conservatives just stay home, rather than hold their noses and pull the lever for McCain? Not likely (thanks Billary!). I think the real danger for McCain would be a right-wing insurgency campaign, which I just don't see materializing. Who is a credible standard bearer, after all? The reason the Republican candidates are tripping over themselves vying for the Reagan mantle is that none of them can easily claim it. Plain and simply, the conservative wing of the party appears to be leaderless at the moment.

Leaderless at perhaps just the "right" moment for the party as a whole...



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