Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Christmas Present for Republicans

Republicans got an early Christmas present on Friday with the release of a new American Research Group poll showing incumbent Republican Sen. John Sununu (N.H.) leading former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in his quest for reelection next November.

The ARG poll, released over the weekend, shows Sununu leading Shaheen by 11 points and, more important, drawing support from more than 50 percent of those polled. The numbers: Sununu 52 … Shaheen 41 … 7 percent undecided.

Yule Fools

'Tis the day before Christmas, and through the two states,

In New Hampshire and in Iowa, almost no candidates.

Gone Mikey, gone gone Barack, Mitt and Hillary too

Rudolph's away to deal with his "flu."

Soon enough they'll return, though, pursuing their goals,

To spout what they're told to, after reading the polls.

They'll be coming right back, with the journalist scumbugs,

Who report all this doo doo, all the meaningless humbugs.

But Merry Christmas to all, a day off from the hacks,

A break from their hard sell, their nasty attacks.

Yes, it's time for their families and a chance to take note,

Of what really matters. Of course that's your vote.

In Iowa, The Usual Suspects

For those of you scratching around for a primer on the Iowa caucuses, I recommend Grassroots Rules: How the Iowa Caucus Helps Elect American Presidents, by Christopher Hull, which can be found on Amazon.

Hull makes the case that several factors determine the outcome, and so far in the Democratic race those favor — you guessed it — Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.).

While John Edwards has spent years there, never having closed his 2004 Iowa headquarters, he has lost his grip on the state as he has shared it with the two heavyweight candidates and impressive second-tier candidates like Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Hull said. And though he has attracted the largest number of former caucus-goers, Hull points to The Des Moines Register poll which has shown Obama with the supporters most likely to turn out, and Clinton with the most committed and loyal supporters.

The process, which requires a 15 percent viability threshold, is likely to eliminate Biden, Dodd and Richardson since candidates drop an average 7.5 percent in the caucus, Hull explains. Richardson, he said, has the most to lose.

"Richardson is going to come in with 12 percent and get mowed down," said Hull. "He will dramatically underperform his poll numbers through no fault of his own."

Of the top three candidates, Hull said, Obama is best positioned to be the second choice for Biden, Dodd and Richardson supporters, since as Hull put it,  you are either with Clinton or against her." This could help him make up for lost support from the young people now polling as likely caucus-goers who won't end up making the trip. "They don't know what it takes to get out the door when 'Friends' is on," said Hull.

Clinton can take heart in the fact that Iowans, as a rule, place a premium on electability. "What you find is that the voters in Iowa are trading off their ideology for electability," said Hull.

Got that? Ultimately the process could benefit Obama but the Iowa mindset could benefit Hillary. And, don't forget, anything can happen!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Join me Jan. 2 for ASK A.B. on

Ron Paul Will Surprise in Iowa

Here is my first big prediction of the year: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) will come in a clear third place in Iowa and receive a major boost in national fundraising and media.

Current polls show Huckabee and Romney alone at the top in Iowa, with all of the other candidates bunched in single digits together.

The Straight Stuff

The experts have been both perplexed and amazed by the response to Rep. Ron Paul’s candidacy and his ability to raise bags of money from small contributors.

When Joe Trippi partnered with an obscure former Vermont governor four years ago and stimulated a successful Internet organizational and fundraising operation it was the story of the cycle, led to the spectacular rise and fall of Howard Dean and made Trippi something of a celebrity.

This time around, the folks around Ron Paul have built on the methodology Trippi first used so successfully and have achieved results for a very different sort of candidate that no one a year ago would have dreamed possible. In the introduction to a book he wrote after the Dean campaign crashed and burned, Trippi bragged that Dean’s Internet fundraising success enabled him on one occasion to raise $400,000 simply by sending out an e-mail.

The Candidates’ Christmas Ads

It’s a mark of the insanity of this primary season that candidates are juggling campaigning and celebrating Christmas — and in many cases, combining the two. Several candidates have Christmas advertisements running and the content of each says a lot about the field, the promises and the character of the candidates.

The ad for Sen. Barack Obama features his very attractive family and the dialogue hews carefully to his campaign theme of uniting the American people, not dividing them. It’s an uplifting message designed to make voters feel good about the candidate during this most festive of seasons, and he succeeds for the most part. Grade: B.

Mike Bloomberg and Chuck Hagel Can Win in 2008

The great political reality of the 2008 campaign is this: If the negative and personal onslaught of the Clinton campaign against Barack Obama repels and appalls political independents beyond a point of no return, Mike Bloomberg and Chuck Hagel might run, and could win.

There is no need to recapitulate the sludge that is polluting this presidential campaign from various sources, except to highlight this point:

Americans desperately want to turn the page to a higher and nobler form of leadership and Hillary Clinton is systematically alienating the voters who will decide this election, and by doing so, doing grave damage to the Democratic Party’s chances in November.

The Campaign So Far

Here are some things I believe to be true about the campaign so far and some things that are still a mystery to me.

Things I believe:

The Flavor of the Month

Having just returned from Iowa, I can report that the state is as flat, cold and snow-covered as ever. It’s also filled with a lot of political junkies and just plain decent folks who are beginning to focus on the quadrennial role they will play in picking the next president of the United States.

By way of a disclaimer, I was out there supporting Mitt Romney, who I endorsed a couple of weeks ago.

I got there as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s balloon was taking off and left as the air was steadily leaking from it. In fact, his lead of 15 or 20 points has already dropped to five or six and will probably drop a bit more before the caucuses meet. That makes Iowa on the Republican side a two-man race between Huckabee and Romney, with the others — from McCain to Thompson and Giuliani — hoping to pick up whatever crumbs these two might leave for them.