The Political "Brief"
Florida Primary, Obama advances...(Camelot 2), Apathy & Energy
We are less than a day away from the (potential) anointing of the Republican nominee for President. Forget Super Tuesday or a primary season that stretches into June. The way the four lead candidates are positioned politically, in the media and monetarily, Florida is of paramount importance. But with all the backbiting in the last week and change, and a Republican party struggling to find cohesion, will Florida decide anything or muddy the waters further?
Giuliani needs to win to stay in the race, or he's effectively out; he is spending a million dollars a week there on ads. Huckabee needs 2nd or he's dead where he stands; there is no money left and he desperately needs to appear relevant. The frontrunners, McCain and Romney, aren't in as great of money woes, though the former could use a cash boost. This primary is essentially a test for McCain to see if he can strike a chord with Republicans - honest-to-God conservatives - the block he's been trailing with throughout the contest. Romney has money, the look and sound bites, but can he wrestle control of the conservative side of things past the economic angle? Ron Paul will not win anything, but may act as a spoiler of sorts in a Republican-only contest.
According to Zogby, the numbers stand at McCain (33%), Romney (30%), Giuliani (14%), Huckabee (11%) and Paul (2%).
Giuliani's number here represents a hovering pattern for the last few rounds of polling (if a round is from primary to primary), and a probable bronze medal. If he wins, the Votemaster at Electoral-Vote.com says pigs will fly, and I have to agree with him. Unless the strife betwixt Romney and McCain overshadows their strong points, leaving Giuliani the only feasible, non-argumentative candidate (Huckabee is the latter, but hardly the former), the vast majority of data points to a loss for the Mayor.
The Democrats aren't counting Florida, as I've said. But they are. Though really...not exactly so, but still keep it on the radar! Their delegates, reinstated, could be vital in August, so pay attention to Hillary as she stumps around there tomorrow night after the voting and see if anyone else visits there after Super Tuesday if the results are evenly split.
The Kennedys - remember them? - are endorsing Barack Obama as the heir to the JFK presidency. To some, this means civil rights progress and social reform, while to other historians (and Republicans), the JFK inheritance is one of a mismanaged administration that was in serious reelection trouble in the fall of '63. The gloss of "Camelot" covers the reality of a troubled presidency, but in a way, this is perfect for Obama. He needs some gloss to mask his deficiencies in foreign policy, defense and a lack of hard numbers-backed plans (though early in the game, to compete these days one needs more than "hope" and "change" to get elected; a few Perot charts could go a long way). The Kennedys provide a sheen to Obama's candidacy, old guard liberal quality epitomized in JFK now reflected in the eyes of Illinois' junior senator.
Though not all of the Massachusetts brood are backing Obama (RFK Jr. backs Hillary, for example), it certainly helps to have JFK's last brother and daughter on your side. Caroline Kennedy sees in Obama the promise of her father, and Ted sees "extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history."
In discussing the Democratic and Republican primaries/caucuses with a friend and Obama campaigner, we touched on the numbers game going on that cold spell, regardless of candidate, a victory for Democrats in the fall. In South Carolina, there were approximately 530,332 votes cast for Democrats. (Only) 442,918 voted for the Republicans. It may not seem like much, but extrapolate that over the country and in areas far less Republican. Is this early apathy on the Republican side indicative of a "wait and see" approach to the convention and declaration of a nominee or of a deep-seated apathy in the Right caused by seven years of difficult legislation, war and factionalizing within the GOP?
Surely the Democrats are suffering from no lack of enthusiasm. Has there been a Democratic competition filled with such electricity thrumming behind every word and idea, with the idea of something at stake, instead of the same old game?
Battered by scandals and an unpopular, though somewhat recovering President, the Republicans have no leaders right now to really gather around, and beyond that, no core message. Is there some immigration package they all gather around? A way to approach Iraq (and in doing so, leave)? What about gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research and other domestic affairs? The divides are sharp and deep in the party of Lincoln. As we move towards what may be the defining moment for McCain or Romney, our thoughts are cast months ahead to November. Can a Republican win in this political climate?
In 2006, the Republicans "went into the wilderness" after a brutal Congressional and gubernatorial defeat and have yet to emerge. While the Democrats have realized that hating Bush isn't a strategy, they can hate the GOP platforms - in all its myriad forms - and march under a banner of "change."