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Road to the White House: Part Two

June 25, 2007

Handicapping the Democratic Nomination at this stage

In contrast to the Republican race, the Democrat contest is between Hillary Clinton and the rest of the field. Only the possibility of Al Gore entering the race muddies the water a little bit

Hillary Clinton – Hillary has the name recognition, the money, the support of the Democrat establishment and she leads in the polls. She also has a formidable organisation (including several of the brightest minds in the business). Her response to Obama’s criticism of her position on outsourcing and her call for unity during one of the early debates demonstrates her ability to win the ‘spin wars’. She also has a natural constituency and if she gets the nomination it is to see her getting less than 45% of the vote. However, although her strategy of avoiding the worst of the left wing grandstanding over Iraq is a shrewd electoral strategy it means than many on the left dislike her. At the same time there is a general recognition that she is a divisive character and even if Bush remains unpopular her national support has a natural ceiling of 55%. If she were facing a stronger field her chances would be a lot less but given the field the estimated chance of her winning the nomination is around 60%. Price on Intrade.com 48-50. UNDERPRICED

2. Barack Obama – In many ways Barack Obama is like Gary Hart in 1984 (though obviously without Donna Rice). He is running against an establishment figure with a liberal voting record who doesn’t generate much enthusiasm. Similarly, although he is slightly to the left of Hillary and is light on policy there is the perception that he is ‘a new kind of Democrat’. However, his record makes Hart look experienced and his candidacy seems to be a demonstration of the ‘audacity of hype’. We should also remember than Hart was not able to beat Mondale for the nomination. Expect him to do well enough in the contest to make a convincing case for the vice-presidential spot. Estimated chance of winning is around 20%. Price on Intrade.com 30-31. OVERPRICED

3. Al Gore – If there is one candidate who could upset everything for Hillary it is Gore. Gore has the experience and has the support of the Democrat left for his antiwar and pro-environment stance. He also has a greater appeal to the South than either Obama or Clinton. However, he has stated several times that he doesn’t intend to run (although a late entry would be his best strategy). The only effect that his candidacy might have is on the vice presidential tickets since he would siphon support away from Obama and his presence could deter Joe Lieberman from joining a fusion or ‘national unity’ ticket with the Republican nominee. Estimated chances of winning the nomination is around 10%. Price on Intrade.com 9-10. FAIRLY PRICED

4. John Edwards/Bill Richardson – Although there is certainly place in the Democrat race for a centrist who is willing to address the big issues and stand up for a strong foreign policy both Edwards and Richardson have moved away from the centre. Edwards might have started out addressing the issue of poverty but his decision to use campaigns funds for grooming has undermined his credibility. Richardson might be a savvy choice for the vice presidential spot. Estimated chances of winning the nomination are around 5% each. Price on Intrade.com 5-6 (Edwards) & 2-3 (Richardson) FAIRLY PRICED/UNDERPRICED

5. Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, Gravel et al – The only interesting thing that could change the race is if Mark Warner re-entered the race (which is unfortunately unlikely). Apart from that the fringe candidates can be ignored.

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