Election Prediction: Obama v. Romney, No Strong Third Party Challenge
I'll go out on a sturdy limb and, with mixed feelings, predict the following. It will be Romney v. Obama in November. Because both will prove adept in mouthing the necessary platitudes, they will keep their bases in line. As a result, there will not be enough alienated voters to nurture a strong third party challenge from either the right or the left.
Obama will win in a walk both because he is better at platitudes than Romney and because the war will drag down his opponent. If I am wrong and it is McCain v. Hillary, however, look for a very potent third party challenge.
Andrew D. Todd - 1/29/2008
It is probably premature to count Huckabee out. About a fifth of the delegates at the Republican National Convention, nearly five hundred out of 2,380, will be "Bonus Delegates," awarded awarded to states according to how consistently they vote Republican.
The apportionment rules also favor small states, which is to say, rural states, to a considerably greater extent than the rules for the main election (4-1/3 extra electors per state, instead of 2). The early primaries seem to have disproportionately located in areas which are likely to be unreceptive to Huckabee, possibly giving the appearance of a campaign between Romney and McCain. If Huckabee were to acquire a block of 500-800 delegates or so, he would be able to demand concessions sufficiently great that the Republican primary winner would go into the general election with a substantial coloration of "Huckabee-ism." It might even be possible for him to achieve a majority.
Here is a regional tabulation:
figures in brackets reflect penalty for holding an early primary.
dWTA- district level Winner Take All
alWTA-at large Winner Take All
WTA50- Winner Take All if Over 50%
swWTA- State-Wide Winner Take All
Florida 114 
Georgia 72 dWTA-alWTA
Alabama 48 dWTA-alProp
Arkansas 34 dWTA-alWTA50
Tennessee 55 dWTA50-alWTA50
South Carolina 47  dWTA-alWTA
North Carolina 69
Virginia 63 WTA
648 delegates from the Confederate states.
Oklahoma 41 (Confederate, but not a state in 1861)
Missouri 58 swWTA
(Both sentimentally Confederate, but coerced into remaining in the Union by the quick action of U. S. Grant, Billy Sherman, et. al.)
792 delegates from the "Greater Confederacy."
South Dakota 27
North Dakota 26 swWTA
Montana 25 swWTA
Utah 36 swWTA
Arizona 53, swWTA
New Mexico 32
Great Plains/Mountains: 437
The Old North:
New Hampshire 24 
Rhode Island 20
Connecticut 30 swWTA
New England 143
New Jersey 52 swWTA
New York 101 swWTA
Delaware 18 swWTA
Michigan 60 
West Virginia 30
The Old North 781
The Far West
California 173 dWTA-alWTA
Far West: 292
Bill Woolsey - 1/29/2008
I am not sure I can stand another JFK pushing left-liberalism.
Obama's silver tongue will move all of our hearts so that we will work hard to solve all of humanty's problems through big government.
Of course, it won't have that effect on any of us. Still, it is what I fear. (I prefer to hear uplifting sermons at church.)
I much prefer someone like Clinton whose "power mad" antics will bring discredit to her big government ideas.
Personally, I think McCain will do the best in doing something about out-of-control domestic spending. He might even do something to improve the effeciency of defense spending. But, of course, what good will it do if we are mired in many more wars.
I suppose the only value to Romney is that maybe he doesn't believe the hawkish propoganda (double Gitmo Romney) that he says. I suppose it is better than having a true-believer warmonger!
John Kunze - 1/28/2008
We will get some tax increases, a bit more nanny state, and no fundamental change in foreign policy from whoever is elected. The president can do little on his own except start a war. Some sort of health insurance will likely get thru. Everything else will just drift.
David T. Beito - 1/28/2008
I agree that is important argument for Obama, however, if we have to get massive tax increases, a bigger nany state, and no fundamental change in foreign policy (with the possible exception of Iraq) in return, I'm don't think that trade-off is worth it.
John Kunze - 1/28/2008
Obama offers a chance to move America beyond the Jessie Jackson - Al Sharpton era of racial discourse. I don't think there is any argument for any other viable candidate that is as important as this.
Otto M. Kerner - 1/28/2008
I have always thought that the ideal nominations would be Giuliani vs. Hillary Clinton. That distasteful choice would really put voters in the right mood to support a third party alternative. Sadly, while this outcome seemed fairly likely a few months ago, it now seems almost impossible that Giuliani will be nominated, and Clinton's chances are iffy. Come on, primary voters of Florida -- you are Giuliani's last hope!
From the perspective of anything other than encouraging third party candidates, well, none of the potential presidents are any damn good at all, of course. I suppose that McCain and Giuliani are a bit more dangerous on foreign policy than the others, so I can only hope for "anybody but McCain". Also, I think Barack Obama is much more interesting as a person and as a social phenomenon than the other candidates, so I wouldn't mind getting a bit deeper into Obamania. On the other hand, Obama might also have a better chance than the others to get some hard-left economic policies, due to his freakish popularity level among the opinionmakers.
David T. Beito - 1/27/2008
There may be a third party challenge in the case of Romney v. Obama but I just don't think it will be very strong. In my view, neither Obama nor Romney have angered enough people in their parties to drive a large segment away. A lot of conservatives don't like Romney's flip flopping but I don't think that many really hate him. Besides, he's now saying all the right things from their standpoint.
There is a major segment of the GOP, by contrast, which loathes McCain and simply won't vote for him under any circumstances. They loathe him so much that they might vote for a Paul or Gary Johnson.
A lot of antiwar voters feel a high level of distrust (not necessarily loathing) of Hillary and could also bolt. I suspect that these almost all go to Obama because, like Romney, he's telling them mostly what they want to hear.
Of course, I don't think Obama really means it....but it may be good enough for most. By contrast, Hillary's vote for the war, and continuing weak record on this issue, is a deal breaker for many of the Cindy Sheehan types.
I hope I'm wrong in one sense. It would be great if there was a strong antiwar/libertarian leaning ticket to vote for.
Roderick T. Long - 1/27/2008
Obama is (somewhat) less hawkish than Clinton. Plus I feel prety sure that Clinton is ruthless and power-mad; Obama may be as well, but at least I’m not certain that he is. Hence my preference for Obama over Clinton.
Mark Brady - 1/27/2008
David, what sort of third party challenge do you think likely in the event of a Clinton v. McCain contest? Is your argument that Obama would disarm the antiwar left whereas Clinton would encourage support for, say, a Cindy Sheehan? Or that Romney wouldn't alienate Republicans in the way McCain would be likely do? Or both? And if so, wouldn't this make for two third-party challenges, not one? Or are you thinking of a Ron Paul-Cindy Sheehan antiwar ticket?
Mark Brady - 1/27/2008
Romney is certainly preferable to McCain. And I guess Obama is preferable to Clinton, not least because he's likely to be more open to new ideas of a libertarian hue.
Aeon J. Skoble - 1/27/2008
David, I hope you're right. I would really prefer a Obama v. Romney matchup to a McCain v Clinton. Meanwhile, though, I'll be supporting RP in the primary.