Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Wisconsin Primary

Today Wisconsin holds a primary for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Also today, Hawaii holds a caucus for Democrats, and Washington State is holding an essentially meaningless primary.

The primary in Washington State is required by state law, but Democratic and Republican rules required caucuses, which were held February 9th. Democrats will ignore the primary results, and Republicans will use the primary results to choose half the state's delegates. Though - interestingly, the Republican caucus in Washington was super close, and McCain was declared by state party officials to be the winner before all the votes were counted, while Huckabee disputes the win. Will Republican primary voters revolt against the caucus results and select Huckabee? Probably. Will it matter? Probably not.

Hawaii will be an overwhelming win for Barack Obama. I predict he will get at least 75% of the vote. Hawaii is a caucus state (favoring Obama), a progressive state (favoring Obama), and Obama was born in the state.

Wisconsin is the real key today. I have been studying the state's primary and it's electorate, and it is a truly enigmatic race. First, I went to the Milwaukee Sentinal-Journal to check out their primary news coverage. Next, I checked out NPR's news coverage. And finally, I looked at US Census Bereau statistics for Wisconsin. This is in addition to my regular patrolling of Politico.com election coverage, which was generic at best.

Analysis - With Wisconsin being an open primary (anyone can choose to vote for either a Republican or Democratic candidate regardless of party affiliation) and with same-day registration, it makes this contest uniquely interesting. With McCain the presumptive nominee for the Republicans, will Republican voters try to influence the Democratic vote? Will Huckabee conservatives come out of the woodworks for him still? Or will they come out against Obama? According to NPR the state is progressive, a sign for Obama. The state is also geographically close to Illinois, with many Wisconsonites commuting into Chicago for work - also good for Obama. The state is primarily white (90%) - not necessarily a telling sign for either Obama or Clinton. Obama has won some of the whitest places in America, but those states held mostly caucuses which have overwhelmingly favor Obama. I'd like to see some stats on the age ranges in Wisconsin. How many universities and college age students? The 65+ crowd in the state (13%) doesn't differ much from national stats. The older crowed will lean towards Clinton, and the younger toward Obama. All polls, except one by the American Research Group (I do not know anything about this group) have Obama winning by comfortable margin. The ARG poll interests me because I wonder how their methodology differed from all other polls.

Polls, conventional wisdom, anecdotal evidence, and even the race momentum strongly supports Obama winning Wisconsin. The certainty of it all is what scares me. I just don't think Clinton can be counted out so easily. This is the scenario that occurred right before New Hampshire, and I predicted incorrectly for Obama to win. Clinton turned up the juice in New Hampshire and pulled out all the stops to win - I think she is capable of the same in Wisconsin.

Conclusions - Clinton wins a nail-biter. In the end it is the "hmmmmm" voters that decide the outcome. The "hmmmm" voters are the ones who know the importance of voting, and make an effort to vote, but have no idea who to vote for. They step in the booth and make their decision last minute. These voters, I believe, overwhelmingly favor Clinton. Obama's campaign is one of passion, and his voters will come on strong, and early. Clinton's voters are steadfast, but her votes come from the casual voter. The casual Democratic voter see both candidates favorably, but leans towards Clinton because of her familiarity and experience. Obama and Clinton will end up with nearly identical delegate totals, but the popular vote win will give Clinton a boost.

Can Huckabee pull out a surprise win? It's a remote possibility, especially if independent/moderate Republicans either stay at home or try to influence the Democratic nominaton. In the end McCain will secure the nomination, and Wisconsin will be Huckabee's final stand.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Potomac Tuesday

Hello Friends!

Turns out I was WRONG on Saturday! Obama swept the Saturday races, including Washington state, and won Maine on Sunday too. Why was I wrong about Washington State? Because Washington held caucuses, and Obama has won nearly every caucus. Why does he do so well??? Obama supporters are fired up and excited about his campaign. It takes real heart to go out in the bitter cold of winter and then stand in line for hours to make sure you are counted; it is much easier to take 10 minutes at lunch-time to make a name on the ballot. The huge turnout for Democrats in all states shows the clear enthusiasm among Democrats for their choices, but the real prize for excitement belongs to Obama.

For the Republicans, Huckabee is still hanging in there. I attribute this to the Republican Party's sharp ideological divide between social conservatives and moderate conservatives, McCain's complacence, and the Media's pre-mature declaration of McCain as the Republican nominee. What reason do McCain supporters have to get out and vote if they think the race is already over? On the other hand, the media bias just fuels the Huckabee grassroots fire, which already had some great kindling.

Today the District of Columbia (DC), Maryland, and Virginia, are all holding primaries (known as the Potomac primary).

Here is how the candidates will do:


1) Obama will sweep all three contest, and pick up the most delegates. The vote will be especially decisive in Maryland and DC, with a much closer margin between Obama and Clinton in Virginia.


2) Huckabee will edge out McCain in Virginia. This will be a big win for Huckabee. Two reasons why this will happen. 1) Virginia has an "open" primary, meaning that reagardless of your party affiliation you can vote either Republican or Democrat. Conventional wisdom says this could benefit McCain, being that he is more moderate, but in reality, the open primary benefits Obama the most. Obama will suck away McCain's independents, and leave the deeply conservative religious voters to come out for Huckabee. 2) There is a sizable number of evangelical Christian voters in Virginia, being that it is the home of Jerry Falwell's church and Liberty University.


3)McCain wins easily in DC, and narrowly edges out Huckabee in Maryland. However; don't be surprised if the Republican voters in Maryland come out for Huckabee - never underestimate the power of the "underdog."

Let's see how it goes!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Early Results out of Kansas

With at least 3/4 of caucus voters counted in Kansas, Huckabee has a commanding lead over McCain, with nearly 62% of the vote. This is just exactly as I predicted. I am interested to see the results of Louisiana and Washington caucus/primaries.

Let-Down Saturday?

After all the hype of "Super-Duper-Cali-Fragi-stic-expe-ali-missouri-ocious" Tuesday, Saturday's contests seem less exciting. I assure you they are not any less important or interesting.


Here are my predictions:


Republicans:

  • Louisiana - Huckabee wins with a substantial percentage of the vote.
  • Kansas - Huckabee wins in a landslide. (see this article for more proof for Huckabee to win Kansas. Huckabee drew an overflow crowd of 4x as many supporters as he was expecting at a rally in Olathe, KS (in the city). While McCain could only manage to get 300 for his rally in Wichita. Huckabee and his supporters are fighting hard, while McCain is starting to let his guard down and act to confident.)
  • Washington - This is a hard one to call. I think McCain will edge out Huckabee. I imagine that Ron Paul will get a heavier than usual vote in Washington.


Democrats:

  • Louisiana - Obama wins big.
  • Nebraska - Obama.
  • Washington - A virtual tie between Clinton and Obama. Clinton will get 1% more of the vote.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Romney Out - Who's In?

Everyone has been asking me - "Jason what do you think of Romney dropping out of the race?" Well, I was just as surprised as you were. I thought for sure he would keep swinging at McCain to try and get the nomination. Why did he do it? I don't know really, but I imagine he wasn't very happy with his Super Tuesday results, and future polling was not in his favor. Plus, I figure he's just saving his money so he can go at it again in 2012 (I read at politico.com that it is rumored he has said he is eyeing 2012).


What does this mean for the Republican Race? I think it helps Mike Huckabee. The conventional wisdom right now is that McCain has it locked up. McCain has somewhere between 714 and 724 delegates (depending on where you look) and needs 1191 delegates to win the nomination; a difference of approximately 472 delegates. This compares to Huckabee who needs at least 525 more delegates than McCain to win.

I have not done all the math, and I don't think it will be easy for Huckabee, but I would not count him out just yet. Huckabee has always been the "true" social conservative in this race, and he has run a very "scrappy" campaign. The hard-core right conservatives, especially the social conservatives, feel McCain is too liberal. Romney was the presumed #1 challenger to McCain, and so Huckabee was largely ignored. If I were McCain I would not get too confident.

Let's look to Kansas as an example of what could happen. Kansas has Republican caucuses tomorrow. I feel positive that Huckabee will win in Kansas. Kansas Republicans had to register as Republican by January 25 to be eligible to caucus. Democrats allowed anyone to register as Democrat on the day of the caucus. At my caucus site there was a line of hundreds out the door in the line for people who needed to re-register. I don't think all those people were first time voters or people who needed to change their addresses. I think they were independents and moderate Republicans changing their party affiliation. In a large part, these people were voting for Obama (as he won 74% to Hillary's 26%). These moderate and independent voters are precisely the voters that McCain needs to win. What you have left is the ultra-conservative base - they will go to Huckabee. If Huckabee gets a strong showing in Kansas and Lousiana (which I think he will), it will inject momentum into his campaign. I don't think Huckabee has as good of a chance in Washington state (also tomorrow), but a surprise upset there would further solidify Huckabee's chances. Huckabee likes being the underdog right now, and McCain isn't comfortable as the front-runner (he's usually the underdog) - so I am not so sure the CW is all-knowing at this point.

I'll be back later with more predictions for tomorrow, including Democrat primaries held tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kansans Line Up to Make History

I wrote in my last blog about the craziness at my Caucus site. My experience was the rule, not the exception, here in Johnson County, Kansas. Check out the video below to see a local news report showing people standing outside, in freezing temperatures, with snow coming down, in lines to vote for their favorite Democratic candidate. The caucus organizers were only expecting 200 to 500 people to show, and overwhelmed when thousands showed! When the reporter says, "Caucus organizers had to take matters into their own hands," this is the understatement of the year. The organizers at my site were making up the ruls for organizing and counting us as they went, and this is what happened everywhere. My dad called me last night saying that he stood outside for more than an hour waiting in line to vote, because they were holding his caucus at a Church that only holds 250. The outpouring of caucus goers in Kansas prompted the Obama campaign to send this text message to Kansans at 7:51pm last night:


62262 (2/5 7:51pm) Everyone has a right to caucus. Tell your friends to STAY IN LINE! Share this msg with all Obama supporters. Major problems contact: 866-675-2008. Yes we can!


This is excellent news for Democracy in America! We Kansans witnessed history in the making last night. Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, realize that after seven years of Bush in the White House, our country is heading in the wrong direction, and fast. Last night we saw record turnouts all across the country, because Americans are hungry for real change.

The historical nature of having a woman candidate and a black candidate, has been a huge factor in the excitement in the Democratic party. Democrats like both options. However, I credit Obama with a real movement that crosses all the lines - racial, party, age, and gender. In Kansas, Obama won with a 3 to 1 advantage over Clinton, often in largely Republican districts. Obama won huge in states in the South and Midwest - places like Kansas, Idaho, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, and even Alaska. Obama has the broadest and most diverse support. Clinton only proved she could win in the traditionally liberal strongholds like California, New York, and the Northeast corridor. If a Democrat expects to win, and have a mandate for change in the White House, they will need to win everywhere - Obama has that potential.

Hillary Clinton is too divisive a figure. I have a few conservative friends who support Obama and would vote for him, but would under no circumsttances vote for Clinton. The Clinton "machine" is too divisive to rally moderates, independents, and conservatives to challenge the Republicans and tackle the tough issues facing America. No doubt the Democratic race will come down to the nominating convention in Denver in August. Clinton is a strong candidate - I am not naive to her appeal and organizational power. I believe firmly that Obama is the best choice for America, and in the end he will be triumphant.

I am interested in others thoughts and reactions, so please comment!


Caucus Crazy Kansas!!!


The Caucuses in Johnson County Kansas were craziness and pandimonium! It was confusing and exhilerating at the same time. My precinct caucus site was held at the Leawood Middle School two miles from my home. Over 1500 people showed! There were 1100 of us Obama supporters crammed into an auditorum that has a limit of 500! The 425 Clinton supporters were in the cafeteria.

It took over an hour just to get inside and get checked in! The lines were out the door. Parking was crazy, and my wheelchair van lift got stuck. I was worried I might not make it, as it took us over 20 minutes of fiddling with the lift to get it unstuck from the mud.

The huge turnout was especially crazy because it was 32 degrees outside with cold winds, cold rain, and heavy snow looming. Additionally, the 1500 of us were in a heavily Republican district - the most expensive homes in the city - who knew there were so many Democrats!!!?

A picture explains everything, and here is my picture. More to come later...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday (Sorry I have nothing more clever)

The early news out of West Virginia is that Mike Huckabee pulled a surprise victory over Mitt Romney (expected to win). This could be good news for Huckabee or bad news for Romney. I think it just means we will be in for lots of surprises tonight.

I was going to write a long detailed prediction with state by state analysis, but it's a cold rainy day today, and I'm saving up all my energy to get to the Caucus tonight.

So here is my quick summary. No Democrat will pull forward. Both Clinton and Obama will win some and lose some, but remember, in the end it is the number of delegates that count. Obama will do well in the smaller states, especially in the South, and he will clean up in his home state of Illinois. Clinton will win a sizable portion of the New York delegates, and win New Jersey and the Northeast along with it. Clinton will squeak by with a popular vote win in California, but Obama will get enough delegates that it will be a virtual tie. In Kansas, Obama will get a clear Caucus win. In Missouri, Obama will win in a very close contest. Overall, Obama will come out with a few more votes and a few more delegates than Clinton. On the whole, expect Obama to get about 52% of the vote to Hillary's 48% (if you averaged the percentages from all states).

As for the Republicans - I'm not so sure McCain has it in the bag. I think Romney will win California, and Huckabee will win a handful of smaller states, especially in his home state of Arkansas and overall in the South. Romney wins in Massachussetts and the Northeast. McCain still comes out ahead, but not with enough delegates to solidify the nomination. I'd look to Kansas on Saturday as an indicator of who the Republicans really want for President.

Hope everyone had a chance to get out and vote today!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Obama in KC

Barack Obama was in Kansas City on Tuesday, January 29, 2008, and I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to hear him speak.

A few days before I heard Obama speak in KC, I was having an e-mail conversation about politics with a friend of mine and he said - "real change will come from the bottom up, not from the top down." I knew this to be true already, and then I heard Obama make it a central theme in his speech, and I knew he was the real deal! He said, "Change will not happen because you elect a new president, change will happen only because all of you decide change will happen."

You can see Barack's entire speech below.

My friend said,"Americans...don't want to have anything to do with real public service." I agree; Obama talked about this subject also. He even had a proposal to give every young American who wants to go to college $4,000/year, and in turn the government will EXPECT that the student give back by volunteering, joining the peace corps, or working in low income hospitals and schools. Not only that, but on the whole, Obama talks about how change will not happen unless we, the American people, take responsibility, and work together. He talks about "hard work and sacrifice."

Another great speech he gave at MLK's church on the day before MLK day - http://my.barackobama.com/page/invite/mlkvideo. In this speech he says that we have to look within our own communities and take responsibility for our problems (he was specifically talking about black communities, but I believe the message can be extrapolated). Change and Hope do make good slogans, but Obama understands what change and hope actually MEAN. He is truly uniting people. I could see this just by the crowd last night. It was very clearly a diverse crowd of people of all cultures and ages - and not just a sprinkling of non-white individuals, it was truly a mixing of people, especially of black and white.

Obama is taking a hold of people's hearts and minds - conservatives, liberals, and independents alike
(I have conservative Republican friends who have expressed a strong interest in Obama). One reason Obama is having such a powerful effect on America, and the reason he is attracting support from everywhere, is because of the dark mood of hopelessness in the current state of American politics (see this NY Times Article). People know that the state of the union is poor (despite what Bush might say), they know that Partisan bickering is leading us nowhere fast, and they know special interests don't represent the people's interests. This year is a historical campaign. The Clinton's will NOT get away with their negative attacks and traditional campaign tactics; it hurt them in South Carolina, and it (especially Bill's lashing out), will hurt them on Feb 5th. Not to say that Clinton won't carry a few states on Feb 5, but Obama will break through. In the general election, if McCain is the Republican nominee, you will see a more civil campaign. The candidate who sounds most partisan, most negative, and most "Washington" will lose.

Also, Obama explains that the reason he chose to run now (as opposed to in 4 or 8 more years as many thought he would) is because of what MLK said is the "fierce urgency of now." Once again, he shows he understands the true state of our union.

I think Obama coming to KC was a smart move. He gets the most populous parts of two February 5th states. He got Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' endorsement, and she is obviously a big star in the Democratic Party now. She is a star because she figured out how to win in the middle of the country, in a very traditionally red state. She represents the hope that a presidential candidate can break through too. Obama went to Colorada, Arizona, and New Mexico. He is obviously planning on getting delegates from all the small states. Clinton will get New York, and probably California. But what if Obama gets the rest of the country??? It shows he can win outside the biggest blue states. It shows he has a diverse coalition of supporters.

I was cynical at first, but I am feeling it now. I think we are in truly unique times. We are at a turning point in history. Our true test is now - can we as American's truly turn our country around, and put it back on the right course? Can we clean up politics, our economy, and our environment? Can we renew our status in the world? This is no easy task, but now is our opportunity. I feel an electricity in the air, a surge of real hope, that surrounds Obama. I figure either his candidacy will stand as a historical moment in history - or we have all been hoodwinked.

I was inspired the first time I heard Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I knew then he was different, but could not foresee the Obama "fever" that is taking hold of America. Real change is coming and his name is Barack Obama.

video

video

Friday, February 01, 2008

True Evil

I read this article about Al Quaeda members strapping bombs to mentally disabled women and remotely triggering the explosion in crowded markets. I was thoroughly astounded at the horrific lengths terrorists will go. It is one thing to strap a bomb to one's self to blow up people - but to trick, coerce, or force an unwilling participant and blowing them up to in-turn kill others, is a whole new level of vile, senseless, and evil killing.

This demonstrates the lengths to which these Islamic radicalists will go to harm the free. We should not let fear control us and erode our privacy, but we should not underestimate those that wish to do us harm.