We'll comment further on the midterms if circumstances change dramatically, or, in any case, after the elections. I'm working on a micro-level analysis of some of the House races to identify about 5 more as key races. In the meantime, the Republicans have accurately zeroed in on the Senate races in MO and TN as being the decisive close ones worthy of major centralized dollars. (VA is a firewall, and they may yet have to shore up NV, or they may come out big in NJ or MD if one of them still looks winnable in the last week).
I see the 2008 nomination race in each party as being centered around three coalition centers (each also known as "The Candidate"):
Nomination Strategic Overview and a bunch of numbers
Democrats: it's HRC, and her antithesis, the Clinton Centrist Challenger; and XXX.
The key moment of the campaign will come when these three become two: the one who gets the support of the guy/gal withdrawing will have the edge to the convention and nomination.
The leading candidates for 'XXX' at this point are Feingold, and Gore if he runs. I think that's pretty self-explanatory, Netroots. There will only be one 'XXX' candidate at a time, and that is Feingold for the present.
Warner's dropping out has left the 3-C position up for grabs, but, to put it in horse racing terms, I think Mark clearly saw how difficult that slot by the rail would be coming out of the turn (credit to him!)
Some 'XXX' will stick it out, regardless, but you have to stick with the favorite unless Her Royal Clinton takes a false step. Which is what a lot of the beefing about her so far has been, that she's walking too gingerly. In mile-and-a-quarter racing, she'll make her move to the lead late in the backstretch. Or, at least, that's the idea. Position papers are being prepared.
One has to consider that there's something like a 10% chance she'll be scratched, never make it to the post (so to speak). It's hard to imagine why, but it could happen (maybe something having to do with Bill?)
The dream matchup for the history books is Clinton v. Gore. We'll rhapsodize later on that one, maybe.
Feingold vs. any centrist could be quite interesting from a rhetorical viewpoint, as Russ cuts him/her up. No doubt in an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the nomination.
As a matter of course, all Democratic contenders should be considered theoretically in a matchup one-on-one (or one on two, for that matter, if there's a Republican split) against John McCain (and a Bushite, say, for a three-way race) to ensure their candidacies are viable electorally against the most probable opponent.
As a follow-up, I'll post odds of some kind for each, which I can easily revise. But I'll do so separately, yes!
For now, I should rank order them in probability for the nomination and then, through a comment, for the candidates for 3-C I can think of (Biden, Bayh, Edwards, Richardson, and, improbably, Kerry, as well as a draft for someone like Obama or Schweitzer, or possibly Someone outta the Blue (SOTB).
Clinton 52%, Edwards 16%, Feingold 12%, Biden 8%, Gore 5%, Kerry 3%, the Field (Richardson, Bayh, Vilsack, Wes Clark, Schweitzer/Obama-type Draftee) 3%, Is there anything else? 1%, Kucinich 3 votes. Now, it is a fact that rounded probabilities don't always add to 1.00, but the actual expected probabilities should, and that has guided my selections in the micronumbers, HRC being the proverbial "plug number". Yes, and what a plug number she is--you can say you heard me say that.
The basic theme of the Democratic nomination process will be winning in the early-season Four Corners (of a diamond?): IA, NH, and the recently promoted SC and NV. It seems improbable that anyone but HRC could win all four, but any candidate who doesn't win in SC but does win all the other three should be able to coast home. The SC winner would be the likeliest choice for the 3-C role, while the first XXX leader will be identified before SC. (There could be more than one, someone coming in late and absorbing most of the delegates from an early XXX leader who may falter).
If Hillary doesn't win it early (at least 3 of 4), it should settle into the three-way race, as I started out asserting.
As an assignment, I should look at one of those betting sites and compose the a quote on the odds at a convenient point in time soon.
This one really gets my analytical juices flowing.
The three blocs cluster around:
1) Giuliani (or more correctly, "GPR"*);
2) McCain (as the archetypal anti-Bushite, ABB, or his substitute);
3) a Bushite (or, as the case may be, some other Right-Wing non- or anti-Bushite o/t McCain).
As I said earlier, this is the race which will be most affected by the 2006 Elections outcomes in the two houses of Congress. John McCain's decision whether or not to run should flow naturally from the outcome; if he runs, he will be the early favorite.
Therefore, here, we need to postulate the odds for this election, as follows:
-- Democrats win one house of Congress: 40%. Win both houses: 12%. Probability that single house is "Representatives", 20%; that it's the U.S. Senate, 8%. Probability that the Democrats gain control of one house or other before January, 2009: 55%. Probability that the Republicans have more than a five-vote margin in one house, and control of the other, after the election (the chances of a "Bushite victory"), 5%.
Note: This means 32% chance Dems win H of R this year; 20% chance they win Senate, so that's my guess as of October 15, 2006--
To look at the probabilities dispassionately, we have to focus on that 40% in which the Democrats end up in control of one house or the other as the elections come out of the election. That is the definition of Democratic Victory in the elections. It is highly possible that result will not be clear until December of this year, due to the possibility of runoffs and contested outcomes. If something happens after Congress is sworn in, that's a separate discussion.
The 55% most-likely outcome of the election (excluding the 40%, and the 5% of a Bushite victory), will be what I call "Total Bushite Chaos!" of one kind or another.
To be fair, a lot of the outcomes within the 40% Democratic-victory probability would also end up in TBC! (or TBK! as our "Get Smart" fans would insist). In the scenario's drama, there would be various kinds of Julius Caesar-type plots and counter-plots and some inevitable Ides of March for one of the Aces (that's Rove, Dubya, Cheney, Rumsfeld, in bridge suit rankings order, and similarly in probability). But I digress.
In anything but a Bushite Victory scenario, though (95% probability), McCain will emerge from the elections as the initial party frontrunner. Certainly in the Democratic Victory scenario, and most probably in the Total Bushite Chaos! scenario.
Being the initial party frontrunner is far from having the nomination in the bag, though. McCain's chances clearly have an exponential decay component, the key modeling issues being the rate of decay and from what point you measure: I'd say the logical focus is the New Hampshire primary, whenever it ends up being, and whenever it is, a healthy McCain should top any rival in sheer pull. If he can follow up New Hampshire with a victory in South Carolina, in practical terms it's over. If he doesn't win either, or if he pulls out, even temporarily, and gets less votes than someone in each, it's over for him.
Odds on McCain winning both the NH and SC primaries: 35%. Neither: about 25%. One but not the other: 40%.
(Of the 95% o/t Bushite Victory; his chances after a split remain about 40%, after winning both they go to 90%, and if he wins neither, he drops to 10%.)
The Neither race is really only 10% of McCain running in, and losing, both races; it's more (14%) around McCain not running for one reason or another, but the result downstream will be the same. Such a race should become focused on Giuliani (or GPR*--the guy who's does best in NH) vs. a right-winger (and a possible Bushite). In this case, GPR's chances should be somewhat better than 50-50, as he will go to SC as a winner, and at the same time punch his ticket past SC.
The One but Not the Other race means McCain loses in NH or in SC. In either case, there would be a scramble. McCain would be seriously weakened and have probably no more than 40% chance of holding on to get the nomination.
This scenario is the one in which most of the contenders' probability lies. I see it breaking down as a three-way contest, in much the same way I see the highest probability in the Democratic race as being a three-cornered affair. The race would thus be between a Bushite (or two), GPR, and a weakened McCain.
Frist remains the most probable Bushite candidate (of face cards in the original 52-card pack), and the second-most likely nominee (to the Jack of Diamonds, as I say) is Queen of Clubs Condi Rice. The third-most, Jack of Hearts Jeb, would have an unusually high probability of actually gaining the nomination if the scenario were one calling for a Bushite in a leading role. That, of course, is mostly dependent on the unlikely Bushite Victory, or at least something other than the Democratic Victory. If there's a Democratic Victory, of course, everyone becomes an anti-Bushite, so there's no probability there. Frist, as the Bushite who bailed earliest (Colin Powell and the whole first-term State Dept. don't count as true Bushites), would also have the best chance as a reformed anti-Bushite to make a comeback, and that is a large portion of his probability range.
Democratic Victory: GPR 25%, McCain 40%, anti-Bushite Right-Winger 35%
Total Bushite Chaos!: McCain 50%, GPR 20%, Bushite 15%, anti-Bushite Right-Winger15%.
Bushite Victory: Bushite 25%, non-Bushite Right-Winger 25%, GPR 35%, McCain 15%.
This works out to the following unconditional probabilities:
non- (or anti-) Bushite Right-Winger=(.25*.05)+(.15*.55)+(.35*.4)=.0125+.0825+.14=.2350
I'll definitely go for these, as of now, but just remind the valiant reader trying to figure probabilities for individuals that several Republicans (I have in mind Bill Frist) could appear in more than one category, i.e. both Bushite and anti-Bushite.
The thing that inspires me to battle is the 33% chance the Republicans will nominate either a Bushite or a non-Bushite Right-Winger. The thing that scares me is the 44.25% chance that John McCain will be the nominee.
The bottom line for this episode is that, going into the 2006 Election I see a 52% chance HRC will be the Democratic nominee, and a 44% chance McCain will be the Republican nominee.
Meanwhile, My Own Personal Ten-Point Program
This piece arises above all because of John McCain’s potential candidacy for the Presidency. We can’t just oppose him because he’s a Republican, if he’s a decent and reasonable person, which McCain appears to be. Our evaluation of candidates has to come from an evaluation of their programs and ideas, as compared to something. Here are my ten for national candidates to consider, and I will try to refer to these as reference points for dismissing, disrespecting, and otherwise trashing theirs.
1. Get control of climate-changing gases.
We did it with chloro-fluorocarbons. That was a warmup for the next challenge, carbon dioxide, methane, and other “greenhouse” gases. Our goal is to be able to show a reduction, even a short-term one. Massive reforestation would help, but there is not one fix; we have to do all of the twenty or so things that make sense. Now.
2. Preserve our biosphere.
This one encompasses our water, our agriculture, national parks, zoos, and wildlife refuges, as well as both plant and animal biodiversity. We have the power to destroy; now we have to show that we have the power to preserve successfully, and that means making some difficult decisions.
3. Rebuild our relations with the world.
The top objective is to transform the GWOT into an effort to marginalize Jihadist Fanaticism. Marginalizing the jihadists means getting allies back, showing some comprehension of Islam and how it can work for our objective, living up to our high responsibilities and simultaneously showing some humility. Above all it means recognizing the unity of humanity.
4. Visualize our children’s / grandchildren’s society, and the implications of that vision.
In many ways we live in the “World of Tomorrow” of the 1950’s (except for everyday space flight, I guess). The suburbs, interstates, car aesthetics, primal longings dreamed about in those days are how we live today.
We need to think about things like how our children and grandchildren will retire, how they will educate THEIR children, build homes, make a living (or at least have the means to feed, clothe, and entertain themselves). How does immigration relate to this vision; how does the quantity of unwanted children born in the U.S.?
These visions will inform our long-term domestic investment policies. As one who was born in the fattest part of the pig in the python, I know a few things. For example, I know our generation’s numbers and famed selfishness will take care of us—it’s the ones after us, and those after that, who need to be looked after. I also know that around 2025, when boomers stop being dominant politically, our retirement income tax rate is going to rise.
5. Reform the UN Charter.
Everybody complains about it, but hardly anyone has anything constructive to suggest. Yet the organization proves its value constantly (see last weekend viz. North Korea, the Secretary-General, etc.); similarly, it proves its deficiencies constantly. We need to collect thoughts, have a Charter revision convention, and move past the post-WWII phase of this organization. Two recommendations to chew upon: have a representative assembly, and move the Security Council to Jerusalem.
6. Get control of armaments.
The Nonproliferation Treaty has done a great deal for us all, but it is on its last legs. Changing the metaphor, there are more holes in the dyke than we have fingers. The key to controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons is making it a burden to have them, not a bonus. In that sense, the Security Council resolution regarding North Korea is the best news yet in terms of restraining Iran.
We have to look beyond nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, though. Any arms designed basically for killing other human beings need to be controlled and phased out, even if it takes us centuries to do so. Phased out from governments' stockpiles, as well as from private individuals'; it’s the only humane way to look at it.
7. Establish clearly the political dimensions of privacy and of permissible government intrusions into it.
Unlike many of these issues, for which the “no-brainer” nature of my viewpoints is controversial only because they have been “no-brained” into crises, this one arises from our cleverness and does not have such easy answers.
For now, I’d propose two guidelines which might help us come to consensus on some of the easier cases: 1) No government intrusion in private activities when it has no identifiable benefit. 2) Government intrusion (or, for that matter, government secrecy) needs to make its case before the judicial branch in some way.
It’s hard to imagine that the prevailing point of view in this Administration has been that the Executive branch needs to regain power, that their freedom of action has been too limited. It is also hard to imagine that the next Administration, of either party, will look to give up power that it has gained due to Bushite aggressiveness.
8. Provide health care to our people.
It is obvious that the health care system we have today is a failure. Adopted by default after the collapse of HRC’s legislative initiative in the Clinton administration’s first years, our insurance and treatment costs are out of control. One change since then is that the costs in blood and treasure are now transferred to health-care's paying customers much more efficiently than they used to be.
Health care is now the main economic reason we can not employ all at the levels they need to be employed, or at the levels they want to be employed. For that reason, it is the premier quality of life issue and goes beyond merely staying alive and active.
I would start by making Medicare-level health service available to everyone residing in America, on a fee basis (either monthly, or the more expensive a la carte option). Off the menu, you need to go private. Some people would get their fee refunded or waived—the elderly, children, the poor. Employers could still offer any kind of health care as a benefit, but people would have some viable alternatives, and it wouldn’t need to be compulsory as a cost of doing business, either. Medicare would then offer a variety of services that would change according to what we as a society could afford, but it wouldn’t cost as much, either.
9. Electoral reform.
How can we lead the world into democracy when we can’t get it right ourselves? We need to move toward universal suffrage for adult citizens, with more representative institutions and accurate counting of enhanced electoral decision-making. We want better quality decisions resulting from better information and less waste. And, please, let’s get rid of the stupid Electoral College!
10. End the War on Drugs.
This one is really a corollary of point 7, principle 1): “No government intrusion in private activities when it has no identifiable benefits.” There are benefits in controlling the manufacture and distribution of many harmful substances in society; the problem is that the current methods of trying to maintain Prohibition on many of these are not producing benefits. They’re not controlling anything, they’re just putting lots of people in jail.
At the highest level, it’s just an endless game of cops and robbers. At the micro level, just a lot of poor people getting ground up. There are plenty of remedies that have been proposed, but there is zero momentum behind anything, including “stay the course”. Everyone’s too scared.
I know these are idealistic and broad. I want to try to fit specific initiatives I may hear about into the big picture, and I’m looking for some vision to back up their ideas. I will elaborate on these as the opportunity presents itself. If I can’t fit someone’s thoughts somewhere in here, though, they are not the right ideas, and therefore, the candidate is not the one, for me. You don’t like these, try your own hand.
* GPR is short for Giuliani/Pataki/Romney, and is defined as the guy who the media think "did best" in New Hampshire, which could include the possibility that McCain technically wins there but in a way that disappoints analysts. Probability of GPR's identity is as follows: Giuliani 75%, Pataki 15%, Romney 5%, somebody who randomly becomes darling of the anti-Bushite, anti-Right Winger faction 5% (Joe Lieberman?).