Friday, January 27, 2012

Election 2012: The Winter Of Our Discontent

OK, now we've had one caucus and two elections, and we've had three different candidates win them so far. It's been a wild ride so far, and there's no indication that things will settle down anytime soon. So, let's brush off our crystal ball, and see what it portends. As always, our numbers are courtesy of Intrade, and are current as of this Friday afternoon.

Democratic Party: Seriously, I need to stop doing this. But I am an engineer, and it offends me to leave anything out. Still: all of the important filing dates have passed, and no one worth mentioning has stepped up to try to unseat Barack Obama within his own party. Also, despite the pundits constantly trying to whip up a controversy, Obama's not going to dump Joe Biden as his Vice-Presidential nominee. It's going to be Obama/Biden for the Democrats this fall, unless a crate of bricks falls on either or both. (Which ain't gonna happen.) So I'm not even going to bother looking the numbers up. This one's a lock.

Republican Party: This has truly been a spectacle to behold. Three races, three different winners, with Florida on deck next week. This isn't over yet, not by a long shot. Still, Vegas does have one clear favorite.

Mitt Romney, 86.2%: His polls have been up and down more than a speed freak on a jet-powered pogo stick, but the wagering public still thinks very highly of Romney's chances to win the nomination. But I wonder if he's overpriced at this early date in the process. After all, he does have several serious problems as a candidate. For one, he seems very out of touch economically with the average Republican voter. For another, as I've said before, Obamacare is Romneycare with the serial numbers filed off. And, here's the thing that's really going to hurt him in the South, a lot of evangelical Christians aren't entirely convinced that Mormons are Christians. So, until the campaign swings through several Southern states, it's early days yet to anoint Romney as the inevitable nominee. All that said, he's got funding and organization, and plenty of it. Those will help him out. Especially since one or more of his opponents are liable to have spectacular melt-downs in coming months.

Newt Gingrich, 5.2%: Speaking of melt-downs ... Newt is fueled by emotion, primarily rage. Rage is a useful servant but a perilous master. More than that, without a friendly audience to bounce off of, his debating style is significantly hampered. He got a big bounce off his South Carolina win, and will probably get a significant bounce out of his next Southern win. It'll come. He's got a strong base of support down South. It looks like he's the winner of the "not-Romney" primary, although there are still a few minor contenders for that crown. But I don't think he'll win the nomination. Conservatives like him somewhat, but he's disorganized, prone to rage, and has a propensity for spouting off weird ideas. And speaking of weird ideas...

Ron Paul, 3.0%: Some die-hards are still plugging for the old guy. He had a brief surge a while back. But we all know that the NFL will open an expansion team in Ulan Bator before Dr. Paul comes within shouting distance of the nomination. Which is probably just as well: some of his ideas, like abolishing the Federal Reserve and going back on the Gold Standard, are just plain nuts.

Rick Santorum, 2.5%: After Iowa, I had predicted that Santorum would be the go-to candidate for the social conservatives. This ... hasn't quite turned out to be the case. Santorum looks like he's skipping Florida entirely, and is taking the weekend off. That's probably a prelude to punching out of the campaign entirely, if he fails to find traction in the Bible Belt. He'll probably stick around for Super Tuesday, but may not last much longer than that.

The Rest: No one else is above 1%. Since our last check, we've lost Rick Perry, who endorsed Newt Gingrich. Perry goes back home to Texas, where he pretends to run the state while Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst does all the heavy lifting. In two years' time, we'll see if Rick Perry runs for another term as Governor or not. And in four years' time, we'll see if he reloads for another go at the brass ring in 2016. He just might. He's got four years to undo the damage this goat-rope of a campaign has done. Don't underestimate this man: his political skills are first-rate, he just wasn't ready for the national stage. He will be ready next time.

And the winner is... Intrade gives the Democrats the edge, 53.7% versus 44.3% for the Republicans. The economy is starting to look up, just a little, which makes it harder for a challenger to unseat an incumbent.

Bonus Feature! Our man Newt has big ideas. One of those big ideas is to award a prize for building a Moonbase. Normally, I'd be all over that like a cheap suit, but I don't think we can get there from here just right now. But, just so you can see what sort of swinging pad Newt has in mind, here's a fine bit of television from the 1970s. It's got Barbara Bain in a jumpsuit, so it can't be all bad.

Remember, kids, vote early, and vote often!

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