Who was that shotgun really pointed at?

Okay, so Dick Cheney shot and almost (so far, anyway) killed a man. There's something very smelly about the whole affair, but what I'm smelling most strongly from the Bush White House and the Republican leadership is this: it may be that Dick Cheney's days as VP are growing very short.

In the last week or so, we've been reading an awful lot about how Scooter Libby's "immediate superiors," i.e. Dick Cheney and George W Bush, authorized him to 'leak' classified information. High-ranking Republicans have been suggesting, in public, that this might warrant an investigation ... and then the dicey sounding shooting/coverup. It looks to me like "Big Time" is being prepped for a resignation.

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Gore emerging as the un-Hillary for 2008

Sure, strategic vision is a republican polling firm, but Chris Bowers had recently quoted their poll to talk about Rendell's numbers I believe. So, let's look at 5 most recent polls in stratetic vision's series of state polls.

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ARG Polls 2008 Dem Primaries in NH and SC (and others)

American Research Group has the first primary polls for the Democratic nomination in 2008 from New Hampshire and South Carolina (and a few other, less important states). The results are not really surprising:

                    NH     SC
Clinton         32     30
Edwards        9     15
Gore              5      8
Kerry             7      4
Clark             2      7
Warner         2      2
Biden            2      1
Feingold        2      1
Bayh             1      1
Richardson    1      -
Unsure       31     36

What sort of opportunity does a non-Clinton have to emerge?

                     NH    SC
Clinton           32    30
Non-Clinton    37    34
Unsure           31    36

There does appear to be an opportunity for a non-Clinton to emerge. However, such an opportunity is a narrow one, and probably won't happen in a crowded field.

As Scott pointed out on the Republican side, these polls do not tell the entire story. Influential party activists on both sides will go a long way toward reshaping the standings of the field. In particular, it would seem that Feingold, Clark, Warner and Edwards have significant potential for upward movement, considering the esteem in which they are held among the activist base. Gore would have much of the same if he ever made any indication at all that he would run for something in 2008.

Of course, a lot also depends on who runs. Right now, I can't see any possible path for Biden, Kerry and Daschle (and Vilsack). All of the others remain in long-shot status against Clinton, although some are more longshot than others. If Clinton doesn't run, ala Gore not running last time, the field become wide open.

As for the poll, I wish they had done favorable and name recognition numbers instead of trial heats. We would have learned a lot more if the poll had been conducted that way.

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"Governor Nobody"?

To follow up on yesterday's piece on conservatives' love of Virginia Senator George Allen, it's worth noting that there's another Virginian expected to be a part of the 2008 primary scene. Governor Mark Warner (aka Jerome's boss) was profiled in the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Times of London on Sunday. The piece was titled (what else?), "Governor Nobody sneaks up on Hillary." It's an interesting examination of Warner as the emerging anti-Hillary of 2008.

Warner hopes to become America's Tony Blair, running to the right of the Democrat party to win the support of disaffected Republicans and independents.

"The sensible centre is wide open in this country," he said. "There's a lot the Democrats can learn from Tony Blair. He is an extraordinary world leader and a man of great conviction."

For his part, Warner has learnt not to question the decision to invade Iraq. As a former governor, rather than a senator like Clinton, he does not have to explain away any embarrassing votes for or against military intervention.

At a time of war, one of Warner's greatest areas of vulnerability is his lack of foreign policy and national security expertise. He is being coached by several former Clinton White House officials, including Richard Clarke, a former counter-terrorism adviser, and Ivo Daalder, an expert on Europe at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

"I was impressed," said Daalder. "He is a smart guy."

It's worth noting that the author of the article, Sarah Baxter, penned a pretty harsh hit piece in The Times during the 2004 election, explaining why, even though she voted for Labour as a UK resident and is a registered Democrat in the US, she was supporting George W. Bush. Though it may have been believable to British audiences, she hit on too many rightist talking points and shared too many of their linguistic flourishes for me to buy it as 100% honest. Since then, she's written such things as "Democrats also helped themselves to Abramoff's money," that Kofi Annan was "close to quitting" the UN last March, and that "doubts remain about Plame's precise status." She's written very positive things about Mark Warner however, and it's plainly obvious she sees him as a Democrat who can bring her back in the fold. There are quite a few ways to read that.

I think Baxter massively overstates the comparisons between Warner and Blair. For example, I don't really see him as "running to the right of the Democrat party." But then again, I'm not someone you'd catch dead using a phrase like "the Democrat party." There's a section in Warner's standard stump speech, "Why I Am a Democrat," that defines Warner for me as a pragmatic progressive, rather than a Blair-esque triangulator:

You can't move forward if every discussion is about abortion and guns.

Those are all important issues, and we can't ignore them. But they create passion that often distracts us from more fundamental issues.

Will this be an acceptable position to Democratic primary voters in 2008? I honestly don't know. But it's interesting that it seems to win over supposedly wayward Democrats like Baxter. I have a feeling that by the end of Bush's tenure, there are going to be a lot of voters who will want more than anything to feel comfortable with the Democratic nominee. It seems to me that Baxter, for one, thinks Warner's the man for the job. I'll leave it to you to make of that what you will.

Conservatives Nominates Allen

Need proof that public opinion polls about the 2008 race are horribly useless? Well, I'm going to give it to you anyway. In mid-December, data from a Gallup poll was released that indicated a lead for Rudy Giuliani in the race for the 2008 GOP nomination. He wound up with an impressive 30%. In fourth place was Virginia Senator George Allen, who came in with a relatively dismal 7%.

A straw poll was held at this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, that showed some very different results. For those of you unfamiliar with CPAC, it's billed (and I'm not arguing) as "the largest gathering of conservatives nationwide," so it's essentially a who's-who of rightist America. The list of speakers and sponsors reads like Jack Abramoff's Rolodex -- Ann Coulter, Dick Cheney, Rick Santorum, Grover Norquist, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo, Wayne LaPierre, Oliver North, Ken Mehlman, Phyllis Schlafly, George Will, Michelle Malkin, J.D. Hayworth, John Fund, Tony Blankley, Bill Frist, John Bolton, Bob Novak, and so on and so forth. I would consider a straw poll held at this event to be far more credible than anything Gallup can glean from questioning the general public.

In a straw vote for presidential favorites in 2008, Virginia Sen. George Allen received 22 percent of the vote of conference participants. Arizona Sen. John McCain garnered 20 percent, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani 12 percent and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 10 percent, according to results from Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates. [Newt] Gingrich was at 5 percent.

So what does this tell us? The candidacies of George Pataki, Mitt Romney, and Chuck Hagel are likely dead on arrival. The same could probably be said for Mike Huckabee, though I think he could very well be the sleeper of the '08 GOP race. But most of all, it tells us that conservatives who are 'in the know' are not backing the same candidates as your average Republican voter. This is something we're very familiar with as the netroots straw polls show almost always exactly the opposite results as polling of average Democrats.

It also tells us that George Allen is one to watch as 2008 draws near. This makes it incredibly important that we make ourselves very aware of his record and positions. And since he's up for re-election this year, it's also incredibly important that we go out of our way to support Democratic candidates James Webb or Harris Miller in the Virginia Senate race. Picking off Allen's seat won't be easy, but it is possible, especially in light of the fact that he doesn't seem to be doing his job, too busy running for President to actually worry about representing his constituents.

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