Monday, January 28, 2008

Clinton or Obama then?

No, I haven't gone mad. Supporting a Democrat? Hardly. Both big government statists, who think "change" is about the state doing more, taking more money and regulating more. They are central planners, and about as inspiring as a public servant.
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What my point is - which one is more likely to lose against a Republican. Not that the Republican options are inspiring. No.
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Whilst I'd be concerned about Huckabee, being an evangelical, the truth is his campaign is likely to fizzle out after losing Florida. He might pick up a handful of states on Super Dooper Tuesday, but he wont win the nomination (although he could be selected as Vice Presidential running mate).
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Unless Giuliani can bring in a miracle in Florida (even getting second will save him, third is probably too little too late), he's out of the race. He could have been a strong contender, but has misjudged and has no momentum.
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So it's Romney vs. McCain. It will be McCain. Why? Romney has at least two characteristics that are against him:
- He's a mormon, which will kill off evangelical support more than McCain's social liberalism;
- He is a flip flopper. He was liberal in Massachusetts, and now claims to be conservative. He will be eaten alive by either Clinton or Obama, and it will be obvious.
On top of that, his charisma largely comprises a smile.
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McCain for what he is worth has experience, understands foreign policy, is reasonably socially liberal and, well, he's all there is. Not particularly inspiring for one wanting less government, but he should be able to maintain a strong line against Islamism. Most importantly he wont frighten socially liberal voters, and his military record does inspire some admiration.
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So who can McCain beat? That IS the question.
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Clinton is a polarising figure.
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Although she is more mature than Obama, the claims that she is riding on Bill's coattails, that she is cold and calculating remaining married to a misogynist in order to pursue her own ambitions of power, and her tactics against Obama (which indicate a sense of "entitlement" to the Presidency) are likely to ensure a substantial vote for "anyone but Hillary". Stopping Hillary getting elected may encourage enough conservative Republicans to back McCain, whilst McCain himself is socially liberal enough to not scare centrist independents. Quite simply I don't believe Hillary is electable - against McCain.
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However, Obama is something else. He now has the Ted Kennedy endorsement, which while hardly endearing him to 40% or more of voters, does give him some momentum to build upon his crushing win in South Carolina. His strong victory in South Carolina shouldn't be dismissed as "oh well, it's a black state so no wonder", he won with over 55% of the vote, with Hillary getting only 26.5%, more than double of her vote. The media also are giving him a relatively clear run, and has done so for several years now. His talk of conciliation, and avoiding division sounds good - his talk of anything substantial is difficult to see, but it doesn't matter. He is a media darling, and if Florida goes well for him (not that it officially matters, though it will substantively), then he does have a chance of carrying it off. Especially given that the Clinton technique to respond when threatened is to get nasty - which plays into Obama's hands beautifully.
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Obama is no better than Clinton though. In fact given his campaign is subject to scrutiny only superficially, and he can turn attacks into, implicitly, something about race, and turn any attacks as being against his "collegial" style. It's slick, and it avoids substance. Whilst Obama will, inevitably, encourage a racist minority to turn out to vote against him, he wont invoke the hostility of Hillary Clinton. In short, he could beat McCain.
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So, given the choice between a McCain Clinton or a McCain Obama contest, I reluctantly pick the former. I would like to see the Democratic race be close, and bitter. I'd like to see Clinton snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but only just, and having done so alienated enough of the Democratic base that they wont turn out for the cold calculating collectivist that she is. Obama wont, after all that, be a Vice Presidential running mate, but John Edwards might be, giving some geographical balance between east coast and the south. Obama wont be gone for good, but Clinton's true colours will be shown.
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McCain might just win under these circumstances, as Clinton's arrogance in believing in the inevitability of becoming the first female President does not pay off. Of course some will say having a female President would be good, to which I say, it really isn't that important - it could be good, not important or bad. It depends on the person, which is really what this should be about.

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