Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Thursday, January 03, 2008
One prediction is safe to make for the upcoming Iowa/New Hampshire fetes: the big story coming out of one or both will be John McCain's brilliant comeback. That's not because McCain will do extremely well: he might, but it's far from certain. It's because that's the story the the political media are dying to write: McCain does better than expected. And since expectations are such a flexible bar, almost anything will give them an excuse to write it. If Ron Paul wins NH in a landslide and McCain finishes 3rd, the media story coming out will be that McCain did better than expected.

McCain gave another example of his famous straight talk this weekend, absurdly pretending his attack ad on Romney wasn't an attack ad, because he was merely quoting attacks from others, and simultaneously waxing indignant over Romney's (much less nasty and personal) attack ads. (You can see the ad here.)

McCain: I didn't say those words. Those were the Concord Monitor and the Manchester Union Leader's words. They were their words.
Steph (Talking over McCain): Well, wait a second. You paid for people, you paid for people to see those words calling him a phony. Do you think he's a phony?
McCain: No, I paid, I paid for the ad to, that put up the words of the respected newspapers here in the state of New Hampshire and I think that's perfectly appropriate....Frankly, the voters of New Hampshire don't like this kind of negative campaigning, and they reject his negative ads....
Steph: Do you think Mitt Romney's a phony or not?
McCain: No. I think he's a, he's a person who's changed his positions on many issues and the voters know that and they'll decide that. But, that, that's what, I'll continue to quote from respected newspapers if necessary. But I'm not, as I said, we're going to move forward with this campaign.

Huckabee has, quite appropriately, been hammered for his press conference at which he announced he wouldn't run his new negative ads and proceeded to show them. For Saint McCain, naturally, no criticism.

My own guess on Iowa today: the Democratic side will be determined by where the backers of non-viable candidates go in the second round of voting. I think they'll go away from Hillary, giving either Obama or Edwards the victory. The big question will be whether her lead in NH holds. If it does, she's still a prohibitive favorite to take the nomination. If she loses both, she's in very big trouble. If Obama wins both, he's the next president.

On the dark side, I think Huckabee will win Iowa. If Romney does, he may be unstoppable straight through to the convention. I think Huckabee is the most likely winner of the GOP nod, because he's most in synch with what the party is today, but this is still hard to predict.

Note: anyone who really cares to take the time can look in my archives and see my past record on predicting elections. Let's just say, based on precedents, you might be able to make big money betting against my picks. But no guarantees I won't actually be right this time.

Update: Who needs returns? Bob Schieffer on CBS just announced that the McCain surge is the big story from Iowa. How many votes did McCain get? Who knows - Schieffer didn't bother waiting for results to announce the story.

Kos now has results up from about 1/4 of the Repub caucuses. If these early results hold, the actual big story is that McCain is doing below expectations, while Thompson is in 3rd place and doing better. Huckabee has been called by a few networks as the winner.