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Nobody Knows Anything....but, as it happens, no one more so than I.

My predictions tens day out:

The Party of Lincoln:

Romney pulls it out. Huck hangs on for a respectable second place. Fred surprises with a third-place finish and emerges, finally, as a serious candidate.

Wrong. Wrong. Right--kind of, maybe, but--perhaps--not exactly.

Huckabee is much more formidable than I gave him credit for. Note to self: do not underestimate Mike Huckabee again. He has a lot of talent, and he has come to play and not just for the ride. In truth, I don't dislike Huckabee. He is affable and engaging--and those are good qualities. Certainly, he would do no worse as president than Obama or Hillary.

How did he do what he did last night? Christian conservatives helped him greatly in Iowa, where he harnessed a perfect storm of social conservative enthusiasm, personal appeal, and neglect on the part of a field bent on conceding the state to Romney. New Hampshire is not likely to provide the same fertile ground for Huck--but he will undoubtedly receive a bounce there. After New Hampshire, all eyes will turn South, where, like Iowa, he speaks a language God-fearing, America-loving, social conservatives understand. He is likely in this race for the duration.

Having said that, I remain skeptical that he goes all the way. The forces of conservatism are arrayed against him (my previous thoughts on that). This is a tough hill to climb. But no one expected Jimmy Carter to win in 1976 when he faced a similar battle with party regulars and the traditional sources of Democratic orthodoxy. Funny things happen in American politics.

Mitt Romney. He had a lot of money, a great organization, and a great plan--but he had to win Iowa and New Hampshire to generate a groundswell. He did not reach first base. This is extremely problematic for Mitt. He remains viable for a while because of his money and organization, but it is hard to imagine Romney catching fire at this point. Obviously, New Hampshire is do or die for himóbut, even if he wins the Granite State, he faces a hard road from there.

Fred Thompson. He pulled off a surprisingly lackluster and curiously uninspiring third place. He may have, once again, done the minimum to keep himself above water in this race.

One interesting note: if you take Thompson's 13 percent and McCain's 13 percent (as they are, after all, basically the same guy), you get 26 percentónot enough to beat Pastor Mike in "Evangelical-land," but a significant number nevertheless.

What happens to Fred? Beats me. Nothing would surprise me at this point. Amid the rumors circulating that he was planning on withdrawing and joining the "national security senators for McCain" tour, he surged just a bit in Iowa. It is worth noting that his lurch forward occurred while his "ace in the hole," Rush Limbaugh, was on vacation. Rush is on record as extolling Thompson as the only true conservative in the race. This kind of support is not insignificant in the upcoming primaries wherein candidates must court the Republican base, many of whom listen to Rush regularly and admire him greatly. Fred is not deadóbut he continues to need to make his move and show us something. On the other hand, a Thompson-McCain alliance sometime soon certainly would not shock me either.

John McCainís rise from the dead is so remarkable that he deserves his own post--which will be forthcoming. Preview: of the five improbable things that had to happen for McCain to return to viability, two have transpired and, incredibly, the ice seems to be breaking on the other three.

And Rudy illustrates the perils of skipping Iowa. His big-state strategy is not completely dead--but he will be engaged fulltime for the next few weeks making the case that he is still relevant. This is a tough assignment for the former US attorney. As I have written many times in the past, I am a big Rudy fan--but I remain convinced that he is not GOP nominee material. Rudy for AG or DHS.

Bottom Line: The Republican canvass remains a mess. Anything is possible at this point, including a brokered convention and a nominee outside the current contest. We'll see.

But, then again, why would anybody listen to me?
Category: Campaign 2008.8
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Nobody Knows Anything....but, as it happens, no one more so than I.

My predictions tens day out:

The Party of Jackson:

Hillary wins a squeaker. Obama second. Edwards a close but, nevertheless, terminal third.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong--but possibly right in spirit.

This was a huge win for Obama. If there were any doubters left before last night (not me), they are running for the hills today. Barack Obama is big time for real. Most importantly, unlike many past insurgents (Gary Hart, Pat Buchanan, Paul Tsongas to name a few), Obama is in great shape money wise and organizationally to move to the next battle with strength and style. He has plenty of money in the coffers and is likely to out-raise Hillary 3-to-1 during the next few days.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is still Hillary Clinton. As I have written previously, she is unlikely to collapse in the face of disappointment. She is an amazing candidate in her own right, with the best national organization in the first-ever "national primary." She has a whole slew of political assets and big guns in her arsenal. Now that the battle is irrevocably and indisputably joined, I expect to see a primary fight over the next five weeks unlike anything we have ever seen in American politics. Fasten your seatbelts, boys; we're in for a bumpy ride.

As for Edwards, his tie for a distant-second seems terminally impotent. For the man who staked his whole campaign on Iowa and started there with a lot of advantages, a seven-point loss in the Hawkeye State to another insurgent is devastating. He was vying to be the alternative to Clinton--but Obama clearly won that distinction. This remains a two-person race. The recently adopted Huey Long populism appears to be a gimmick that failed.

One quick note before the mythology takes root: many will wonder if Hillary erred in coming to Iowa. My opinion is that she really had no choice. Certainly, she understood that Iowa was not a good fit for her and a tough place in which she did NOT play particularly well. Having said that, she would have looked silly and cowardly, if she had sidestepped the caucus. She came, she ran hard, and she lost; It is a tough blow--but watching from the sidelines likely would have proved even more devastating.

One other Clinton note: Bill must take a back seat. After the loss in New Hampshire for George W. Bush in 2000, the elder Bushes (as popular as they were) went underground. A presidential candidate must be the top dog. Bill talks too much, he exudes self-absorption and self importance. Sit down, Bill, and shut up. Quite frankly, the three generations of Rodham-Clinton women are much more compelling at this stage of the contest than the old silver-tongued he-devil.

One last Clinton note: New Hampshire may or may not be do or die for Hill--but she must play it as if it is. New Hampshire saved the Clintons in 1992. She finds herself with her back against the wall there in 2008. NH is crucial. And while Obama will get a big bounce from his win in Iowa, Hillary still holds some high cards in the Granite State. We'll see.

Two random notes:

1. Zogby International was right on. He captured the steep Clinton drop-off in the waning moments of Iowa (he was also close enough on Huckabee, and he had his pulse on the Thompson surge and slight fade--see next post).

2. Hats-off to the Democrats, who boasted a roster of impressive candidates this time around. With the exception of John Edwards, all of the major Democrats struck me as good Americans who approached this contest with sincerity and noble motives (which is not to say, of course, that I agree with their policy proposals). But it is not surprising to me that Democrats in Iowa caucused in record numbers. Some of that was good weather (it only got down to 24 degrees last night in many parts of Iowa), but serious candidates and enthusiastic campaigning are also a large part of the explanation. Impressive.
I intended to write a post accusing Mike Huckabee of dishonesty and grandstanding when he called a press conference on New Year's Eve to announce that he was not going to go negative on Mitt Romney. Candidate Huckabee went on to explain that Romney deserved to be lambasted by a negative ad and everything he had planned to say in his thirty-second negative spot about Romney was absolutely true. Furthermore, just to prove that this was no publicity stunt, Huckabee went so far as to show the negative ad that he had decided not to show, just to prove that, indeed, he had a negative ad that he had generously chosen to suppress.

I intended to say that this might have been the most ridiculous political moment in my memory, and that Huckabee is either an incompetent flim-flam artist or a sincere bumpkin unfit for the presidency, but I think I am going to hold off of any assertions of that kind for a while.

The ad Huckabee doesn't want you to see via YouTube here.

The press conference (via YouTube here) in which Huckabee explains why he won't go negative and, while plagued with technical difficulties, repeatedly attempts to show the ad he is so adamant about not wanting you to see.

"Jive Talking" via YouTube here.