Some early predictions about November 2008

July 29, 2007


Some preliminary predictions about likely Presidential match-ups.

Given the fact that the Democratic race is, unless Gore or Warner enters the race, essentially divided between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and the Republican contest is a three way Thompson/Giuliani/McCain affair, it is possible to start handicapping potential head to heads. Of course, this must still be done at a relatively simple level, without consideration of vice-presidential picks or a Bloomberg (or even McCain) third party candidacy. However, it is still possible to make some useful predictions about the following line-ups (in order of likelihood).

Clinton/Thompson – A evenly balanced race. Clinton has a formidable machine while the general unpopularity of the Republican party will be a tremendous asset. At the same time Thompson is extremely charismatic and will have unquestioned support of the Republican base. However, the decisive factor will be that although Thompson, with the exception of Florida, will be able to easily hold the South, he will find the Midwest and the West a different story while it is difficult to see him carrying anywhere in the North. Yet another ‘fourth and inches’ contest can be expected, only with the Democrats holding the advantage. Prediction: Hillary Clinton has a 55% probability of winning.

Clinton/Giuliani – The conventional wisdom is that Giuliani is the most electable of the Republicans, which is presumably the reason why he is currently ahead in the opinion polls. Although he does enjoy stronger support in the North than a generic Republican and stronger support in New York than McCain, he is weak in the Midwest and the West and is still far behind in his home state. My guess is that he might (just) win New Hampshire but he will struggle to retain states like Ohio, Florida, Colorado, New Mexico, Missouri and even Virginia. Let’s also remember that he had to withdraw from his Senate race in 2000 after consistently trailing in Hillary in the polls. Prediction: Hillary Clinton has a 60% probability of winning.

Clinton/McCain – This is the most interesting of the six contests. As stated before, Hillary will have the advantages of a large political machine, an initial lead in the opinion polls and a full campaign war-chest. Clinton will also have enough command of her base to ensure that she gets at least 45% of the vote whatever happens. However, the fact there is no more polarising figure in contemporary politics and her limited appeal in the South and the West will matter much more against the one Republican who appeals the most to the centre appeal. Indeed, provided McCain keeps the faith on Iraq and Immigration and Bush hasn’t started to withdraw troops by the start of the election, he should win comfortably. Indeed, McCain should pick up New Hampshire and Pennsylvania while only Hillary’s strong support among Latino voters makes California in any way marginal. Prediction: McCain has a 65% probability of winning.

Obama/Thompson – If the Democrats choose Barack Obama as their nominee the contest will dramatically different than if Hillary heads the ticket. More specifically, the contest will be more wide-ranging with a greater number of states in play. However, Thompson will neutralise any strength Obama has in the south so the fact that Obama has a (slightly) greater appeal to that region than Clinton will be irrelevant. At the same time Obama’s inexperience and the tendency for candidates in Democrat primaries to pull their punches in the name of ‘unity’ (a practice that makes it harder for dark horse candidates to score an upset) will mean that he will be unprepared for the onslaught that Thompson will unleash against him. My gut feeling is that it will still be close but the advantage will now reside with the GOP. Prediction: Thompson has a 55% probability of winning.

Obama/Giuliani – A contest between the two weakest candidates will be the most interesting and the hardest to predict. Obama’s lack of experience and solidly left wing record will counteract Giuliani’s lack of a base and his mediocre record (9/11 excepted) as mayor of New York. At the same time Obama’s charisma and youth will be matched by Giuliani’s actions during 9//11. This is probably the only match-up which is completely balanced. Prediction: Both candidates have a 50% probability of winning.

Obama/McCain – The easiest of all the match-ups to predict. Although the 49 state landslide that a Survey USA poll predicted in 2006 is unlikely to happen (indeed Obama is currently ahead of McCain in the last published poll) it is still difficult to see how Obama could win, or even come close. McCain should be looking to win New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, Delaware, Wisconsin and New Jersey. Provided McCain doesn’t get complacent or make the mistake of pandering to the base his experience, courage and centrism should be unbeatable. Prediction: McCain has a 80% chance of winning.

Although, as I stated at the start of this article, any predictions will always be extremely premature it seems that John McCain and Hillary Clinton are the strongest candidates while Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani are the two weakest.


One comment

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