Monday, June 30, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two Birds With One Stone

1) My laptop adapter is dead, so my laptop is useless unless I can find a new adapter with a universal plug.  Also, my parents and grandparents are here until next Thursday.  Those two events combine to signify that I'll only be posting here when I a) have some rare free time and b) can use Tommy's computer or one at school.  

2) Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, in their new book which I just can't wait to read, seem to argue, as far as I can tell from these reviews and this podcast (sorry to make you go to the National Review), that the Republicans should turn into something between Christian Democrats and Tories in that they want to both play to and alleviate working class anxiety on social, foreign, and economic issues.  Indeed, they take Bush to task for claiming he would build an administration in that vein and utterly failing to follow through.  One argument that Douthat makes on the podcast is largely indicative of what they seem to be getting at.  He claims that no matter what happens in American politics, we'll always have a liberal party that looks out for the economic interests of the very, very poor (who don't have the luxury of worrying about social issues) and the social interests of the elites (who don't have to worry about the pocketbook stuff).  Therefore, it should be the role of a conservative party to look out for all of the interests of the working class, which Douthat and Salam identify as people who are neither college-educated nor destitute.  And if you read the few policy prescriptions in the reviews (although both remark that the list seems rather short), you'll see that they're serious, even on the economic stuff.  Indeed, if a Republican president ever actually proposed wage subsidies for low-paying jobs, the congressional coalition to pass it would almost certainly be led by urban liberals. 

So my question is: assume that in 25 years the issue profile of the GOP reflects Douthat and Salam's thrust; what does the Democratic Party turn into?  If the GOP holds on to it's muscular (if not aggressive) foreign policy, we can anticipate our side drifting to in two directions.  One is isolationism, and the "Iraq syndrome" might lead us there, but I have a heard time seeing bleeding hearts like me (who will stay as long as we're the stalwart defenders of the very, very poor, as Douthat assumes) totally ignoring, say, AIDS and withdrawing entirely from the world.  The other possibility is probably something like a 21st century version of liberal internationalism, as advanced by Matt Yglesias' new book, which I can't wait to read, either. 

But the answers to the social and economic questions aren't obvious, at least not to me.  Since I've raised the Tory analogy, maybe the left's answer is some combination of Democratic Socialist Old Labour, Third Way New Labor, and the Liberal Democrats.  On economics, that would imply either Labour's instincts to promote stale ideas that are better for sounding populist than being of significant help to people (aka, what we've done since the Great Society) or the Lib Dem's emphasis on income redistribution specifically aimed at 1) eradicating extreme poverty and 2) preventing the government from ever redistributing income upwards.  To me it's really a generation question.  The elites of the party would likely head in the Labour direction.  DLCers would obviously love the focus on populist rhetoric (as opposed to honestly populist policies) and the middle class.   And old-school democratic socialists would love adherence to an ideological programme rather than the values that shaped it.  But younger progressives (hell, if you take that label you're virtually guaranteed to be youngish) would likely drift towards the Lib Dems' emphases, all the while at least holding fort with the Tory-right in sustaining a social safety net and doing all of the sort of marginal improvements for the middle class that we can expect out of a third way government.  Essentially, that would look like the Democratic Party today, added a recommitment to actively combating poverty and the imposition of a framework that seeks out any possible way to make the overall fiscal picture more downwardly redistributive.  It would be marginally better than the GOP's posture on substance, but pretty much a wash politically.  

Now social issues are where it gets really interesting.  It's a bit hard to impose the choice-life divide on UK politics since the life side isn't as strong as it is here (and none of the parties have a position on their websites), but the divisions on the abortion related votes of May 19-20 of this year are telling.  If you look through those votes, you'll see that about 3/4 of Tories and a size-able number of Labour and Lib Dem MPs (about 1/4 of each, although the numbers are actually higher for the LDs) support a more restrictive abortion policy that the UK currently has.  That's probably about the same for the numbers if you took a poll of members of the our House on the choice-life question.  However, if the GOP actually undertook the Douthat-Salam transformation, they'd likely boot a large number of our pro-lifers from office, as they tend to represent districts and states with a lot of working class whites, the non-Obama Democrats (in the primaries).  So perhaps a stalwart, almost reactionary liberalism on abortion as preached by NARAL and others might be imposed on the party as a whole from the top down.  That's just my first thought on this area and I don't really have a theory on where we'd go (or where we should go) as a reaction to a hypothetical GOP shift.  

So I want to hear what you think.  How would our party react?  Would it react at all?  How should it react, from an objective standpoint?  How should it react to in order to fashion a new majority?  Finally, if we reacted as you think, or as I do, would you still be a Democrat?  Or would an honest-to-goodness "compassionately conservative" party be better than what we would become?  Or at least good enough that you'd be a swing voter?  

I know this is a strange avenue of thought at a time when our party is looking forward to a landslide victory in a few months, and it's the Republicans who are thinking about reforming themselves.  Yet, it's very possible that the Republicans may turn out to be smart enough to remake themselves and it's very possible that they'll take the path aluded to here.  Indeed, the GOP has probably remade itself 3 times since the New Deal, while I'd argue we haven't done it once.  So, I think it's worth thinking about.   

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day at the Races

The Rothenberg Political Report released updated House ratings today. The changes are as follows:

MS-1 Shifts from Toss-up to Leans Dem
OR-5 Shifts from Leans Dem to Toss-up/Tilt Dem
NY-20 Shifts from Dem Favored to Leans Dem
AK-AL Shifts from Toss-up/Tilt GOP to Toss-up
NY-13 Shifts from GOP Favored to Toss-up
CO-4 Shifts from GOP Favored to Toss-up/Tilt GOP

In my averages, MS-1 shifts from Slight Tilt Dem to Advantage Dem; OR-5 shifts from Advantage Dem to Slight Tilt Dem; NY-13 shifts from Advantage GOP to Pure Tossup; CO-4 shifts from Advantage GOP to Slight Tilt GOP.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Once Again, Rain Leads to Veep Post

It´s pouring outside, and so as much as I´m looking forward to leftover lasagna (you really have no idea) I´d rather not leave the friendly confines of Casa Central until it settles down. So, I guess that means I´m back to my Veep candidate profiles. By popular demand, the first obviously must be KS from KS. So, here we go.

Kathleen Sebelius

1) Good President? One of TIME´s 5 best governors. One of Governing magazine´s best public officials in 2001 (as KS Insurance Commissioner). 8 years as a legislator. A budget balancer, an insurance industry reformer. She would be an awesome president.

2) New face of the party? Hell ya. She´s liberal as hell (raised taxes to boost education funding, vetoed coal plants, vetoed concealed-carry, opposes the death penalty, and gets Ds from the Cato Institute). And at the same time, she´s managed to build a large and diverse coalition of support (in Kansas!, where apparently there isn´t as much the matter as Thomas Frank thinks). She´s also brilliant and clearly knows how to get shit done. What isn´t there to like about the image of our party as progressive, competent and still normal?

3) Other stuff. Does she help the ticket? Well, that I´m not so sure of. I highly doubt we´re gonna win in Kansas (and if we do, their 6 electoral votes won´t be what puts us over). She might help marginally in other midwestern states, but I´m doubtful. And I don´t accept the Mauney thesis that old women will stay home if there´s no woman on the ticket after Clinton´s historic run. Old people do nothing BUT vote. I just don´t see them as the model of disaffected voters. Now, the Cooper thesis (same link) that old women might vote for someone of their generation rather than the young black fella holds some water with me. It´s part of why I was such a big Ted Strickland fan, and still a Joe Biden fan. Now whether Sebelius would be the better agent to bring back those old Democrats, either because most of them are women - for which I have no evidence -, or that the women will be easier to bring back - which is certainly plausible, or that there is something else about her that helps to soften the blow of a young black man more than other could, is something about which we can only speculate. But were I to list the top candidates who could help us with old people based solely on my own intuition, she would be at or near the top of that list. On a related note, Yglesias finds empirical evidence for the Cooper-Mauney thesis. Of course, I also have to mention that she looks younger than her 60 years and having built her lengthy resume entirely in Kansas, bears the clear mark of a D.C. outsider. Both characteristics reinforce Obama´s strengths.

My verdict: He could certainly make a worse pick. I´m not sure that she brings anything concrete to the ticket, but nobody out there really does now that Strickland is gone. Beyond the short-term political stuff, she´s be a good potential president, a great face for the party in 4-8 years, and a great asset to have on hand in the push for universal healthcare. On that last point, if she´s not VP, I really hope either she or Daschle gets HHS. For now, she deserves a spot on the shortest of short lists.

Now, start debating again! Go! Fight!

New Feature 'Round Here

Now that all each of my favorite House race pundits (Cook Political Report, CQPolitics, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, and Rothenberg Political Report) have put out some recent race rankings, I've finally been able to compile all of them for my own race tracking purposes. I've come up with an average of the rankings for each race and placed them into my own categories based on competitiveness. Remember, though, that all of these ratings are based on a compilation from the four above-named sources. They are not my ratings and may not perfectly match my own opinions on each race. But they follow the races more closely than anyone can who isn't paid to do it 24/7, so their rankings should be more open to change as the tides change in a race.

The categories are as follows. Pure Tossup sounds exactly like what it is, there is no breathing room between the candidates. Slight Tilt implies that the race is essentially a tossup, but that there is at least a hair separating the candidates. Advantage signifies that the race is certainly competitive and that the seat could flip parties, but that one party has a significant advantage that the other must overcome. And finally Long Shot Targets are those seats where there are some signs that the race could become very competitive, but for now one party is a pretty sure bet to hold the seat. Some of these races will move up the list for sure, but most of them will stay with the incumbent party.

UPDATE: Cook Political has changed it's ratings on 3 races, shifting AZ-3 and FL-25 from Safe to Likely R, and moving LA-6 from Leans D to Tossup. The first two moves imply that they are now taking Bob Lord and Joe Garcia seriously, but they are not sufficient to move either race out of the Long Shot category on my averages. The LA-6 move likely reflects State Sen. Bill Cassidy's entrance into the race, which makes a repeat of Woody Jenkins as the GOP nominee far less likely. Three of the four race trackers now have the seat as a tossup, which is enough to shift it up into that category of my averages.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

All the News/Punditry/Musings That's Fit to Post

"Nothing but a newspaper can drop the same thought in a thousand minds at the same moment. A newspaper is an advisor who does not require to be sought but who comes of its own accord and talks to you briefly every day without distracting you from your private affairs." -- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Long before the "I bet your mom doesn't know what a blog is" phase of the expansion of the blogosphere (maybe my least favorite word invented in the last ten years) we heard many waxing on about how blogs would democratize the production of information. Suddenly we could hear what anybody, our best friend, our favorite author or baseball player, or even this guy thinks about the events of the day. One no longer had to be an elite to have one's voice heard on whatever topics one wanted, even if one's audience might be rather small. And in the meritocratic, the "world is flat" world of blogs, the more interesting you were, the greater your following. Thus average Joes (or Marcoses and Ariannas) became household names, at least in a good number of households. For more on this, check out Yglesias' recent post.

But since I came across this on how the internet, and blogs in particular, is changing our reading habits, I've been trying to conceive of the possible effects of such a change. I find Douthat's musings on the genre discrimination that the internet age may bring to be plausible, but his latter prediction about long works of philosophy and literature is irrelevant here, and anyway I wonder if that's not just an example of his Burkean fretting. What I do find intriguing on this topic is that his first assertion, that political punditry is getting better, is clearly the case. Look, cable news still sucks, and will probably always suck. But, fortunately we have a vast array of online sources from which to get our political news and thought, from the partisan Ra Ra blogs like Daily Kos, MyDD, Open Left, etc. to the professional political blogs like those on the Politico or the Hotline, to the magazine-style publications transferred to the internet, like Slate, the Atlantic, and the American Prospect. And because there is a lot more talent, often with the freedom to pursue non-Page 1 stories and angles, and with all the space necessary to ponder to their hearts content, we get a whole lot of interesting shit.

For me, one of the more encouraging aspects of this development is the interconnectedness of this great new ideas network. In the old days, our great debates on big ideas took place either in academic journals, dusty old New England monthlies, or between the editorial pages of the major newspapers. Today, one person can make an argument on their elite blog and a cadre of elite bloggers will debate it. The above link to Douthat's post on conservatism is just one of the examples of this that I've seen recently. Whereas debates of this kind used to take place over weeks and might lose their gusto before all of the relevant players have been able to weigh in publicly, today these debates take place in days, or hours even. There are no "relevant players" anymore, because unlike the days when each of the 3 papers had to take a position on something, any one online debate might only attract 5 of the 100 or more writers who make up the sphere of elite political blogging, which means that there could be untold numbers of these debates ongoing at all times.

Most importantly, the debates I'm talking about are really f-ing interesting. All of the best stuff that I find on is the product of a debate between a couple of those guys, plus somebody from another magazine style site, plus an expert, or some other similar combination. After all, two heads are better than one, and when you put two (or three, or four, or...) really friggin' smart heads together, you get some real interesting interplay that makes for edifying reading. That seems to have been the Atlantic's idea in hiring eight bloggers who all right on topics at least tangentially related to politics. And the debates, plus the ease of access to each blogger's entire archive of posts, help one to locate other interesting writers and to quickly come to locate each blogger in an intellectual space. I read Ambinder for really good insight into what's going on within the campaigns. I read the Fix for good inside information. I read Yglesias for his posts on transportation and urban planning. I read Douthat for his contributions to the ongoing debates over what the Republicans ought to do with themselves. And when I just want to find something interesting to read, I check out Andrew Sullivan or Ezra Klein.

And so as time goes on, it appears as though, at least in the narrow field of elite DC-based political blogging, there is developing a community of however many people that is; a community in which each individual has his/her own niche, relationships with others, and followers. It's something that I'd love some group psychologists or sociologists to follow closely. But it also looks like a great improvement in American punditry. What's happened is the equivalent of taking say 20 opinion leaders (who hold their positions through tradition) communicating over telegrams, and increased that group tenfold (and now include hundreds who earned their membership to the club by merit), and put them all in the same room together. And the best part is that we get to watch what happens. We get to respond and go off on our own tangents and carry on these arguments and spread these ideas among our own intellectual circles.

Not only has the internet democratized the creation of news and editorials, it has democratized access to opinion and journalism, especially the really good stuff. I do worry that the echo chamber of that elite class may not yet be big enough, but it doesn't look to be about to stop growing. I worry that the speed of our current debates may make it more difficult to get down a who Social Contract before responding to it. At the same time, I have to wonder if maybe isolating oneself for the time it takes to write a Social Contract doesn't just waste time that could have been spend honing certain elements of one's opus.

What do you think? What role does/should this elite blogosphere play in our civil society? In the blogosphere itself? In political journalism? In academia? How do popular political books (like the stuff by Lakoff, Frank, Woodward, etc.) and works of popular political history (Theodore Rex, Nixonland) relate to this question? What about more rigorous academic work?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Closer Look at My Short List

As I'm trying to spark some more debate here, I thought I'd give some more substantial thoughts on my short list of favorite VP choices and try to get your responses. I probably won't do all of them at once, so as to promote some real debate on each candidate.

First, I need to add some criteria for selecting a VP. Clearly, the criteria I used before are clearly short-term political considerations. That's fine since we do want to win this election and shouldn't leave a potentially winning card on the table. Yet, getting Barack Obama is certainly not the only job a VP will be tasked with (nor that for which a running mate will be most important, unless I'm forgetting about how John Edwards helped Kerry sweep the Carolinas). Obviously, becoming Vice President drastically increases one's odds of later becoming President (at least since 1808-1824, in which every election was one by either the sitting Secretary of State, or an incumbent president who had first been elected as the sitting Secretary of State). So, we should ask ourselves a couple of questions.

The first is obvious, would this person make a good President? That is, of course, the million dollar question with every potential President. It's virtually impossible to know with any appreciable level of certainty. But there are clues in each potential candidate's background and record. The other difficulty is deciding how good of a President we are talking about here. To be fair to these potential candidates, but without setting the bar too low, I'd compare my expectations for each of them to the reality of the Clinton administration. An important note here is that this question is totally devoid of politics. Virtually any Democrat who isn't totally self-obsessed would compared favorably to the Clintons in their potential impact on our politics. Instead I'm just asking, would the country be better off with this person as President, and would that improvement be substantial enough to warrant calling them a better than average President.

The second question is wholly political. Is this the kind of person we would want as the face of the Democratic party in 4 or 8 years or should something happen to Obama? To me, this is a bigger question than that of whether someone could function well as a President. The legacies of FDR, Reagan, and Clinton are largely related to how they reshaped the political landscape and they should be. An administration can set policy for a few years. An electoral coalition does it for a generation.

Jim Webb

1) Good President? Maybe. But I'm not convinced that he would be. For one thing, his Senate record paints him as a bit uninterested in anything non-military. And his populist rants seem to be more of a obsession with social class struggle than any drive to improve the lives of the poor. I'm not saying he isn't with the party on a lot of those things (and he isn't always), but I have a hard time seeing a President Webb push hard enough to get universal health care, for example. He's also a notorious hot head, which doesn't bode well for his abilities to work with more progressive Congressional leaders.

2) The new face of the party? God no. On his strongest suit, his foreign policy credentials, I've yet to see him offer anything that looks like a new Democratic foreign policy. On domestic issues he lacks vision. Sure I have a soft-spot for his inequality-bashing fetish, but it doesn't get us anywhere. Indeed, on domestic issues, Webb reminds me of Bill Clinton cerca early 1992.

3) Other stuff. Does he help in VA? His decent approval rating among Republicans suggests he might. But the 2006 election results show that he won because of NoVA, where Obama is already golden. And for a guy who's hailed as the Reagan Democrats' wet dream, Allen's 2-1 spanking of him among white protestants, and even more striking 4-1 thrashing among white evangelicals, looks rather weak. Webb the man might be more like Appalachia Democrats than anybody else we can get (except Strickland, damn him for not wanting it), but his electoral coalition looks pretty much like Obama's.

My verdict: There's got to be somebody better out there.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chuck Todd Reveals a New Name in the Mix

Plus, notice that Jack Reed and Bill Nelson on the list. I always thought Kerry should have picked Nelson and Joaquin knows how much I love Jack Reed.

While I'm At It

Sam Stein on Sebelius.

Yglesias Gives the Arguments For/Against Biden

In short form.

My Man For the Job

Ted Strickland just removed his name from VP consideration.

I guess Biden is my new favorite. I feel icky about that.

Oh, and since I like nice round numbers, I'm adding Schweitzer to my top 8.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Small-Town Mayor Test, Pt. 2

Since I'm trying not to do my homework (and succeeding famously), I figured I'd go about applying the Small-Town Mayor Test to the 32 candidates listed here. At least a "maybe" is necessary to continue.

Could they be a mid-western small town mayor?

Clinton? Maybe
Casey? Yes
Kerry? No
Vilsack? Yes. In fact, he was.
Rendell? Maybe
Gephardt? Yes
Zinni? Yes. His hometown is tiny.
Strickland? Yes
Edwards? Maybe
Ford, Jr.? Maybe
Schweitzer? Maybe
Bredesen? Yes
Dodd? No
Bayh? Maybe
McCaskill? Yes
Clark? Maybe
Sebelius? Yes
Daschle? Maybe
Kaine? Yes
Hagel? Yes
Lincoln? Yes
Cleland? Yes
Roemer? Maybe
Biden? Maybe
Richardson? Maybe
Bloomberg? No
Napolitano? No
Webb? Yes
Nunn? Maybe
Powell? Maybe
Bradley? No
Gore? Yes

OK, so that knocks out Kerry, Dodd, Sebelius, Bloomberg, Napolitano, and Bradley, a few likely short listers, and a couple of names you'll never see anywhere near the short list. Now, I knock off other names that are simply implausible for one reason or another: Clinton (obvio), Edwards (said no), Ford, Jr. (black and conservative), Hagel (Republican), Nunn (dude'll be 70 by election day), Powell (black and conservative), Gore (obvio).

OK, that leaves us with Sens. Bayh, Biden, Casey, Cleland, Daschle, Lincoln, McCaskill and Webb; Govs. Bredesen, Kaine, Rendell, Richardson, Schweitzer, Sebelius, Strickland, Vilsack; Reps. Gephardt and Roemer; and Gens. Clark and Zinni.

For the next elimination round, they've got to be convincing as potential commanders-in-chief.


Bayh? Yes
Biden? Yes
Casey? No
Cleland? Yes
Daschle? Yes
Lincoln? No
McCaskill? No
Webb? Yes
Bredesen? Maybe
Kaine? Maybe
Rendell? Maybe
Richardson? Yes
Schweitzer? Maybe
Sebelius? Maybe
Strickland? Maybe
Vilsack? Maybe
Gephardt? Yes
Roemer? Yes
Clark? Yes
Zinni? Yes

All 17 who got at least maybes are viable running mates. But to get to the top tier, one needs to have something extra. A state or a region where they help enough to add EVs. A characteristic like foreign policy experience that rounds out the ticket. Something big.

Who's got that something extra? Biden (foreign policy, national security), Cleland (fp-ns), Webb (fp-ns, post-partisanship, maybe VA), Kaine (outsider, maybe VA), Rendell (PA), Richardson (fp-ns, NM), Schweitzer (outsider, maybe helps in NV and CO), Sebelius (woman, outsider), Strickland (OH), Roemer (fp-ns), Clark (fp-ns), Zinni (fp-ns). There's my top 12.

Of the governors who only get in by virtue of being outsiders, I prefer Kaine over Schweitzer, who I'm not sure has any real effect in the West. Of the generals, I prefer Clark over Zinni, for having actually been a candidate before and spending quite a bit of time stumping for Democrats all over the country. Of the former members of Congress who get in for national security, I prefer Roemer over Cleland for his relative youth and progressivism and his 9/11 Commission membership. I'm also knocking off Ed Rendell because his machine politics would conflict with Obama's message and the dude's already gonna do everything he can to win us PA, because he gets off on bragging about it.

So, my 8-member short list would be: Sens. Joe Biden and Jim Webb; Govs. Tim Kaine, Bill Richardson, Kathleen Sebelius, and Ted Strickland; Rep. Tim Roemer, and Gen. Wesley Clark.

The Small-Town Mayor Test

Beyond all of the Hillary or not-Hillary dribble in the news, Hillary's candidacy raises some corollary questions about Obama's VP choice. Does he need to pick a woman? Or will Hillary supporters scoff at a "token" pick? Should he pick someone who was staunchly in the Clinton camp during the primaries? Will anybody remember who was on each side in another month? Should he pick someone who appeals to "Clinton Democrats", the lower middle class rural whites in Appalachia and, to a lesser extent, the Midwest?

I want to raise another set of questions as an offshoot to the final one above. For the sake of argument, let's say that Obama's campaign answers that question affirmatively. My question is: should he pick a pro-lifer? It would seem that such a pick would help moderate the party's image on the issue and assuage the cultural fears of rural voters. And with Tim Kaine, Bill Ritter, Tim Roemer and Sam Nunn among them, there is no dearth of viable pro-life candidates. My fear is taking this avenue could be the biggest slap in the face we as a party could give to women voters, just months after the end of Hillary Clinton's historic (and nearly winning) campaign. Abortion is the greatest tool we have to bring back many disillusioned Clinton supporters who now can't tell the difference between Obama and McCain. Selecting a pro-life nominee could make it even easier for them to abandon their principles and cast revenge votes.

My thesis: The purpose of selecting a pro-lifer, or nominating pro-life candidates in general, is to demonstrate to the voters of a certain region that our party is not wedded to a left-absolutist social program, "abortion on demand," as the Republicans brand it, largely successfully. It demonstrates that we think hard about these complicated issues, that we acknowledge the tragedy of abortion, the tradition of gun ownership and opposite-sex marriage and regular church attendance. We don't have to change our minds on all of these issues, but we're going to make a lot of voters uncomfortable unless they know we understand how torn they feel about them. That said, it seems that it's not necessary to nominate a pro-lifer to achieve that kind of understanding. Indeed, a good number of pro-life voters in Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc., who voted for Clinton in the primaries seemed committed to doing so again in the general, against a pro-life Republican. But her husband has already established a rapport with those voters, placing down a marker that the Clintons could be trusted as normal people.

That's what we need to achieve. As Joaquin has said many times, Republicans are just way more normal than Democrats, at least at the national party level and in the eyes of the voters who get to decide what normal is. In Ted Strickland, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Jim Webb, and others (including John Edwards, who has asked not to be considered) we have a number of pro-choice politicians who have already established, to varying degrees, that kind of rapport with the "normal" voters in their respective states. I have no doubt that any of them would help at least a little bit in the Midwest, the region home to most of the electoral vote-rich swing states.

At the same time, while I buy that a pro-life nominee would make it harder to bring some of Clinton's female supporters back into the fold, I just don't buy that it would be a large number of them. The number one variable in whether there will be a sizable protest defection will be the extent of Clinton's efforts on behalf of Obama. The identity of Obama's running mate might matter, but not tremendously.

Therefore, I would not have a litmus test on abortion in either direction, were I James Johnson.
But I would place a premium on normalcy. With each potential nominee I would ask myself, can I see this guy (or gal) as mayor of a town of 15,000 in south east Ohio, or south west Pennsylvania? If yes, they get on the short list. If no, they'd better be the freakin' Supreme Allied Commander Europe, or something.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tonight, We Have a Winner

I'm talking about Jonathan Cooper, winner of our primary picks pool, of course. Since not everybody sent in picks for these final primaries, and everyone who did made the same picks, and everyone who didn't almost certainly would've done so as well, I see no point in delaying this any further.

Everybody owes JJ $20. Pay up suckers. (Hey, I'm not a ...).

Maybe we can do this again for the General. I'm think we make picks on individual swing states, Senate races, Gov races, and maybe even close House races. Hell, why stop there, we could even add AZ Leg races. And rather than have one big pool, we could each bet like $10 on every category, so we can have multiple winners and, correspondingly fewer outright losers.