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Monday, November 20, 2006

Election Analysis--2008 Elections

--posted by Tony Garcia on 11/20/2006

Please don't start '08 until '08--Fatigued and will be pissed

I can see already that this request will fall on deaf ears. But I will make it anyway. Please do not start Campaign '08 until, well, 2008. Since 1999 it has been constant discussion about candidates and running for office. It is fatiguing. I am usually interested in this stuff and I am sick of "elections" and "campaigns". On the air I am putting a moratorium on Election 08 discussion until no earlier than November 2007. I have talked to many people who also (foolishly) were hoping that if they vote Democrat (or anti-incumbent) then the campaigning will stop for a few months at least.

People want a break from it. So please, do not campaign for 2008 until, well, 2008. Look at the candidates in 2006 that started their campaigns in 2005. They turned out to be hamstrung and alienating of their base.

Count how many "exploratory committees" started more than 15 months before an election actually saw that person actually be on the ballot for the targeted election.

For that matter, how many election winners were the "leading candidate" more than 12 months before the election.

Starting that early is the kiss of death. And each one that does it for 2008 I hope for an excruciatingly disappointing end for your campaign as well.
Hard Left wing of 'D' won elections for 'D', and control 'D'

The Hard Left wing of the Democrats won the elections for the Democrats this year. They are the vocal and active minority portion of the Democrat party. Yet they have incredible influence within the Party. If most of the media had to decide which wing they would be a part of, the uber-liberal or the moderate to liberal, most of them would choose the uber-liberal. That gives the Hard Left a louder voice and deceptively stronger influence within the Party.

But they do not have the numbers to support their voice. Worse than that, they believe and behave as if they have the numbers within the Party to control the Party.

A clear example of this is the entire Lieberman saga. Voice enough to not endorse Lieberman, but not enough real numbers when it comes time to actually defeat Lieberman. In between the Democrats are torn between catering to what seems to be the strong presence of the Hard Left or catering to the middle Left which could also put them near the moderates.

This dilemma is what will divide the Democrats unity. Unity was easy when simply being the minority party and running obstruction constantly. They never had to resolve the difference to decide what legislation and solutions to pursue.

Now they must author solutions and that will force confrontations within the Party. The 'scorched Earth' mentality in each aspect of discourse from the Hard Left does not leave room for expectations that these confrontations can be done without damaging the Democrats' majorities.

Compounding this coming division is the ideological position of the country. It is not close to the Hard Left and a habit of spinning facts beyond being factual so they can claim to be representative of the mainstream has fooled them into actually believing that. The newly acquired majorities will slap the Hard Left, put the moderate Left in a difficult position and open the door for a quick snapback to Republican majorities in 2008.

That is unless the GOP continues their own incompetence or takes on the Democrats as minority failure seize opportunities
Pawlenty in the White House

The whispers have been going for a long time and they began to pick up momentum again after Election 2006. Tim Pawlenty in the White Houseā€¦it is possible. Frankly I believe trying to assess the possibility of someone's viability as a Vice Presidential candidate are as solid as assessing the exact score of next year's Super Bowl. But Pawlenty's prospects as a Presidential candidate are worth some light examination.

I believe the chances of Pawlenty's ability to win the nomination for President are dependent on one last thing: his performance during the 2007 session. He has two general options. Go-along to get-along, which would require him to continue his sprint away from the Right, past the middle and into the Left. The other general option is to become the hard conservative.
Go Along to Get Along

In examining this position one must understand the risks of this course of policy and the possibility of Pawlenty taking this course.

Possible...blamed last 2 yrs on slim majority
Is it possible for Pawlenty to run to the Left? Certainly. He started his first term at far Right and by his third year moved to the center. By his fourth year in office Pawlenty was pushing Moderate Left in his fiscal policies. From his comments in the first few days after the election it is clear that Pawlenty's sprint towards the left is not near completion.

Pawlenty blamed his sudden shift on the slim Republican majority in the House coupled with the Democrat majority in the Senate. Essentially Pawlenty was unable to find his bully pulpit, his veto pen or his realm of influence. That was with a divided legislature.

Now that he has to face nearly veto proof Democrat majorities in the Legislature it is hard to believe Pawlenty is capable of finding the will to fight his opposition party at all.

All things considered this option is the most realistic expectation. Pawlenty will yield to the Democrats and spin it as "bi-partisanship". Come early 2008 he will use it as proof that he can "work across the aisle" though the reality will be he is unable to fight for his own beliefs, principle or positions.

Evaporate his support further from fiscals
This portion of the analysis is assuming that one of Pawlenty's eyes is focused on the White House. Assessing the risk of this "Go Along to Get Along" philosophy is necessary. Pawlenty's history shows he mistakenly believes he can win the opposition's support by giving in to their demands repeatedly. Unless he finally learned in 2006 that "giving in" does not win support, he is very likely to believe that "working together" in 2007 will be a resume booster for 2008.

The reality is to the contrary.

By giving in further to the opposition Pawlenty will continue alienating the fiscal conservatives and his support from the wary supporters of 2006 will evaporate as well. Lukewarm support from one's base is a recipe for disaster. Should Pawlenty take this road and still win the nomination I would expect a Dole 96 or Bush 92 showing from Pawlenty. Fiscal conservatives around the country will not be enthusiastic and the ripple effect will be destructive.

Could put as "McCain moderate" in White House hopes
The one thing that may weigh in Pawlenty's favor is the degree of party loyalty. We have seen, especially here in Minnesota, in 2006 a willingness without hesitation of the GOP members to set their principles aside for the sake of party victory...regardless of their candidate's record.

A Pawlenty ticket may evoke some of those tendencies. The success of Pawlenty's White House run after a "Go Along" 2007 session depends heavily on the match-ups. My view is there is too much to overcome if Pawlenty fails to use his veto pen often enough.
Stand hard against legislature (more than first 2 years)

The other road for Pawlenty is to veto, veto and some more veto. Grab hold of the fiscal conservative platform that pushed him into office in 2002.

It is possible for Pawlenty to return to his 2002 campaign promises. Possible, though, is not probable. He had a great record in his first two years. But the reason for his performance and staying true to his campaign promises to his base is simple. There was no risk for him. The House would pass a fiscally conservative bill. Pawlenty could push for a bill that was not as conservative, but still appear conservative enough. The Senate would pass a bill that was liberal in spending, though not as much as they would have like. The compromises between the House and Senate would be "justifiably moderate" and still conservative enough to please the Right.

He had a GOP controlled House to run his cover through.

Now his decisions will be all his own, there will be no cover for Pawlenty in 2007. No one will be able to be blamed for being too conservative, there is no "happy medium" or middle ground for him to stake out for his compromises.

Historically this means Pawlenty will try land somewhere left of center.

Strengthen/re-strengthen support from fiscals
Should Pawlenty miraculously find his veto pen and start standing up for the principles he gives lip service to presently then Pawlenty could be in position for a huge push towards the White House.

Many of the frontrunners of 06 have been knocked out for one reason or another. Those that are still standing are moderates, or at least viewed that way (as in John McCain's case). That leaves the conservatives looking for someone to get behind.

Should Pawlenty move back to his conservative side it will energize the conservative, both fiscal and social, the moderates an the undecided independents. The fiscals will feel they finally have a voice again be can become a highly energetic voice.

This road I believe would make him a strong bet to win the White House in 2008. I would not bet on Pawlenty taking this course of action, though.
The Dark Horse possibility: Bachmann

It pains me to say this, but I think the dark house or long shot bet is Michele Bachmann. This is a fairly simple concept so it will be brief.

Michele has become the darling of the Right across the country. There is no question about her ability to stand in the face of fire while in Congress (though she avoids tough questioning like the plague). These two traits and the latitude to take strong stands in Congress with little risk of her stands actually seeing a vote gives her the power to mold herself as THE top conservative.

Republicans, nervous still about a run by Hilary would love this.

Bachmann is a political campaign machine. No one campaigns better, distorts facts about their opponent in a convincing fashion better, or has the long term organization. Noone is better at manipulating a system, a group or a person for their own gain than Bachmann. Only Keyser Soze may be better at meticulous planning of manipulation. I would not be surprised to find out that strategizing has already begun...formulating which issues to bring up in Congress and which one to avoid all to position herself better.

If you are looking for the long shot with a real chance then Bachmann may be it.

This concludes the election analysis that I am publishing through the blog. It represents about 2/3 of the writing and may be available eventually through other sources. Again, remember that these are the thoughts based on the outline I drafted the morning after Election Day 2006.



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