As much as I try to avoid the subject of politics on this blog, some things just aren’t meant to be. I always told myself that I’d be responsive to our readers, and since the inception of this blog I have largely made my editorial selections based upon our subscriber’s expressed topics of interest. Since I caved-in and authored my Super Tuesday Analysis post, the e-mails have poured-in soliciting my continued election coverage. I have decided to acquiesce and expand my commentary on the election as it evolves. In today’s post I’ll provide my thoughts on the last night’s Potomac Primary in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC.
You can feel free to listen to the news analysts and pundits hash and rehash daily movements in the polls, but from my perspective the primary election in both parties is all but over…Clean sweeps tonight for Obama and McCain in my opinion seals the deal in both parties. While the Republican party is much easier to call with McCain now only needing a bit more than 200 delegates to clinch the nomination, Obama has all but put a fork in Hillary. In the text that follows I’ll break down my thoughts as to how last night’s primary will impact the balance of both parties campaigns heading into the conventions.
First the Republicans…Huckabee was mathematically out of the race after Super Tuesday, and poses no threat whatsoever to McCain winning the Republican nomination. From this point forward, McCain needs to focus on the following three items in order to continue to build momentum and favorably position himself for the general election:
- Raise More Money: McCain needs to show us the money. General Elections are expensive propositions, especially when his Democratic counterparts are money raising machines. McCain needs to focus on building his warchest to be competitive once the General Election rolls around.
- Focus Forward on the General Election: McCain has the nomination in hand, and that in and of itself will eventually galvanize the Republican Party. The “Straight Talk Express” needs to avoid pandering to the conservative base and maintain its authenticity. The single biggest mistake McCain can make is to compromise his positions at this stage of the game. Rather he should all but ignore Hillary (Obama will take care of her) and he needs to immediately, and aggressively, start positioning himself against Obama. McCain needs to start making his case today as to why he is a better choice for America than Obama. If he does not do this quickly and effectively the general election may be over before it starts.
- Make an Outstanding Choice for a Running Mate: McCain needs to narrow down his choice for a running mate and select a candidate for Vice President that will play well in the general election. In my opinion his selection should be younger and more conservative to give McCain a truly broad and blended appeal. McCain will draw much better from the Blue states than Bush did, and the right running mate would shore-up the South giving McCain a very viable shot at the Oval Office. While the following list is by no means exhaustive, natural choices could be: Mike Huckabee & Mitt Romney will be talked about quite a bit, but are not likely to get the nod; More likely selections would be Governor Hailey Barbour of Mississippi; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas; Former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Former Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma; Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina; Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii; Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska; Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, and; Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. McCain should not make this decision quickly and save the moment for when it will create the biggest advantage. There is no reason to rush to a decision as the landscape will continue to change over the coming weeks and months.
On to the Democrats…Many observers have boiled down the Democratic Primary as Momentum (Obama) vs. The Machine (Clinton). I don’t think there is much doubt at this point that Obama has both the Momentum and the Machine. Hillary Clinton has run one of the worst campaigns I have ever watched, and the wheels have completely fallen off the Clinton Machine. Her constant flip-flopping and pandering to the perceived constituency de-jour have eroded her credibility and given her opponent reason to smile.
In addition to her struggle to match Obama’s fund-raising prowess, Hillary made perhaps her most critical error on Saturday when she replaced her campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle. I’m not necessarily debating the decision to switch jockeys, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Regardless of the true intent behind the move, it appears to even the most casual observer that the switch was made as an attempt to salvage the African American vote that her husband had all but chased away. Even worse, for a candidate who has historically done well with the Hispanic vote, and who is for all intense and purposes making her last stand in Texas, to fire a Latino campaign manager was probably not the brightest move…
The bottom line for the Democrats is that Obama has more money, more momentum, a superior campaign strategy, and has achieved nothing short of Rock Star status. Obama not only made a clean sweep last night, but his victories were decisive. It is likely that by the time the March 4th primaries of Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont roll around Obama will have won 11 straight races and amassed a large delegate lead. Moreover, by the time March 4th arrives Obama will have made huge in-roads in to Texas and Ohio. Unless Hillary gets her act together and hits very hard, very effectively and very quickly in a fashion that undermines Obama’s current status (which she is capable of doing), or Obama makes a critical mistake (which he is prone to doing), he should be the Democratic Nominee.
Obama vs. McCain…Let the race begin, and may the best Republican win.