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Presidential prediction: McCain-Huckabee ticket takes election
Submitted by Kevin Wuzzardo on Mon, 02/25/2008 - 8:51am.
The Presidential election is more than eight months away, and no one has even locked up their party's nomination. But I'm ready to call it. With 0% of precincts reporting (or even set up to cast ballots), I am calling the election for John McCain and his running mate Mike Huckabee. What? You didn't know Mike Huckabee was going to get the Vice Presidential nod from McCain? Surely you jest.
Just so you know, this is not an endorsement of any candidate, ticket, party, platform or agenda. It is merely my prediction 253 days before the election. Now to my rationale.
First of all, it is all but official that McCain will be the Republican nominee. Meanwhile Huckabee, despite limited funding, refuses to get out of the race until McCain officially gets enough delegates. If you think he's just trying to be noble, I have some oceanfront property in Bladen County I'd like to sell you. Huckabee's calculated move is surely to keep favor with conservative voters. When the race is over, McCain, who has struggled to garner support from the right, will beknight Huckabee as his right-hand man to make sure the party stalwarts can say their conservative agenda is being served. In doing so, McCain will tout Huckabee as a worthy adversary on the campaign trail who fought him tooth and nail till the bitter end without giving up. Huckabee then takes the mic and looks into the eyes of conservatives and says, "I never gave up the fight! I stood firm for our values, and I'll make sure they are represented in this administration." Oh, and he's a southerner. That helps, too.
But what about the Democrats? Well, if you can't see the implosion beginning, just wait. Hillary Clinton is desperate. A few months ago, she was the presumptive nominee. Now she's loaning her campaign millions of dollars of personal money, shuffling her staff and attacking rival Barack Obama, who just keeps laughing her off in front of massive crowds. Still, her rantings should do just enough to keep things close. By the way, after March 4 primaries in Texas and Ohio, North Carolina is the second-largest prize (behind Pennsylvania) left on the schedule, so expect to see a lot of the candidates and attack ads in March and April.
So let's assume Obama and Clinton keep things close once the delegate-selection process ends with Puerto Rico's caucus on June 7. If neither of them can grab a majority, two things are going to come into play: Superdelegates and uncounted delegates from Michigan and Florida. Both of those are to the advantage of Clinton, who won the so-called beauty contests in the Wolverine and Sunshine states. She also has a great deal more political capital, including her husband, and favors to cash in than Obama with those Superdelegates. Give her more than two months until the nominating convention August 25-28, and you can likely forget about a legitimate floor fight in Denver to decide the winner. Instead, regardless of how many votes and delegates Obama garners and optimism and hope he stirs in the electorate, count on Hillary to steal the nomination, leaving the "party of the people" as the ultimate disenfrachiser (is that a word?).
OK. So Clinton wins the nomination in late August, immediately polarizing the electorate. A week later the Republicans convene in Minneapolis-St. Paul to annoint McCain-Huckabee. The scheduling allows them to refute everything the Democrats had thrown at them from the DNC (he who laughs last laughs best, after all) and build momentum before the Olympics draw away everyone's attention starting Sept. 6 for a couple weeks.
Post-Olympics, it's all about politics and mudslinging. Again, Clinton polarizes the country, and an endorsement from Obama seems disingenuous and helps little. Count on her, too, picking a southerner (I'm not feeling it will be John Edwards, though) or a midwesterner (Perhaps Obama? Again, there's a disingenuous quality in that, but Ronald Regaan did win with George Bush in 1980 after Bush trashed Reagan during stump speeches in the primaries, so stranger things have happened. Bush, though, could deliver Texas, while Obama's Illinois is already firmly Democratic) as her running mate. That will help build appeal for the ticket in the "fly over" states the Democrats have struggled with the last couple of elections. Unfortunately, she'll lose votes from moderates who were willing to consider Obama over McCain, but are not as likely to swing so far to the left with their vote.
In the meantime, McCain, who already has seemed to put last week's NY Times article questioning his ethics behind him, continues to sell himself as a war hero with the experience to lead. He and Huckabee continue to court a wider spectrum of voters than Clinton and her running mate can.
Like the last couple of elections, I think there's a good chance the final result won't be known until late in the evening, but I think the decisive tally will be in by midnight with McCain winning 53% of the popular vote and a 290-248 edge in the Electoral College. That will help overcome a need to wait for a couple of states (Ohio? Florida?) that will once again be too close to call because of various issues, as we have the last couple of times out. Count on the final electoral map being slightly more of a patchwork than 2004 with Clinton carrying a state or two in the middle of the country, and McCain picking up something unexpected on the coasts (they love him in New Hampshire!).
So there you go. That's my prediction. As far as we know, it could all be a buch of hooey and none of it could come true, though I am confident about McCain winning the Republican nomination at least. As we move through the next eight months, expect some updates, revisions and admissions of egregiously poor predictions on my part. But that's what makes unqualified punditry so fun!
By: Kevin Wuzzardo