The Four Possible Matchups For November

[ Posted Thursday, January 31st, 2008 – 14:58 UTC ]

As the field of candidates from both parties narrows, it is now possible to talk of the November candidate matchups in a single column.

But before I get into this candidate versus that, I would like to point out one more interesting thing about this year's election. It's a footnote, really, but an interesting one nonetheless: there's a large chance that this year will be only the third time Americans have elected a sitting senator. There's been a sort of "curse of the Senate" hanging over presidential candidates ever since JFK became only the second one to ever make this leap. While this isn't as exciting as electing the first black or woman to the White House, it will be one more reason this year's election isn't exactly like the others. By my figuring, there's a 75% chance we'll have a senator moving to the Oval Office next year.

Election trivia aside, let's get right to the four major matchups. Now, purists will fault me for not including Huckabee in these matchups, but even if he pulls off a miracle and gets the Republican nomination, I foresee either Democrat beating him like a drum in November... so I consider it not worth commenting on at length. Which brings us to the much more likely four lineups: Clinton v. Romney; Obama v. Romney; Obama v. McCain; and Clinton v. McCain.


Clinton v. Romney

Hillary Clinton versus Mitt Romney would be a race of triangulation. Both candidates would be open to the "you'll say anything to get elected" charge, as well as be vulnerable to the "flip-flopper" label. The big battle will be for the center, as both will tack back to the middle of the road after gaining the nomination. But Hillary actually has more room to maneuver on this one, because Romney's campaign has been more forcefully pitched to his base than hers. And Hillary actually has more experience with foreign policy and the military (due to her committee work in the Senate), but Romney is much more hawkish on Iraq, and foreign policy in general. Hillary has proven she can motivate first-time voters, while Romney has been relying more on the Republican base. Neither candidate has a base in the South, which means both might choose running mates with a heavy drawl.

My call -- Hillary wins it by a close popular vote, but by a large number of states won in the electoral college. Turnout: fairly large.


Obama v. Romney

Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney will be a race of ideas versus conformity. Obama is already showing glimpses of what his general election campaign will be like, by making himself appealing to independents and non-ideological Republicans. Romney is going to have a much tougher time doing so, because then his flip-flopitude will just become too glaring for everyone to ignore. He was a moderate-to-liberal governor of a very liberal state, and has completely changed all his core beliefs to fit into the conservative Republican mold in an effort to win the party's nomination. For him to abandon the base and try to tap into Obama's appeal to the center may be one flip-flop too far for Romney. He will try to co-opt Obama's "change" message, but that may fall flat against Obama (it's easier for Romney to make the "Washington outsider" claim against someone like McCain, who has been in Washington for eons). Obama will clean Romney's clock on the economy, since for all Romney's talk about his "time in the private sector," he spent a lot of this time "running companies" by laying people off. That's not going to sit too well with the voters if the economy's in the toilet. Obama's message of hope and cheerfulness is going to be a lot more appealing to voters than more war and layoffs. Plus, there's always the racial issue (the Mormons didn't allow blacks full participation in the church until the late 1970s, a subject sure to come up sooner or later in a debate), which will weaken Romney considerably.

My call -- Obama wins it in a landslide. Turnout: huge.


Obama v. McCain

Barack Obama versus John McCain would be the starkest difference of all -- youth and hope against age and experience. Seeing Obama radiating youthful energy on a stage next to McCain's weathered face would be a clear contrast for voters to choose from. On McCain's side of the aisle, he's going to have problems among the mavens of the conservative movement, who are already approaching apoplexy at the thought of "Republican nominee John McCain." Why McCain's sins against the Church of Conservatism are so grievous and Romney's so forgivable is a mystery to those of us who don't listen to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, but right now they're busy savaging McCain with everything they've got. This may mean a very light turnout come November for Republican base voters. McCain will be fighting for the middle-of-the-road vote with Obama, but if the base stays home and just doesn't bother to vote, it could doom McCain's chances.

My call -- Obama wins it, but it'll be close. State-by-state vote-counting will go well into the night. Turnout: moderately large, but not overwhelming.


Clinton v. McCain

Hillary Clinton versus John McCain is going to be the strangest of any of these four matchups, because it will result in the largest number of voters voting while holding their noses. McCain, as discussed above, may fail to excite the conservative base of his party much. Hillary may have the same trouble. There are many hardcore Democrats who are saying "if Clinton is nominated, I'm not going to vote," right now, but they may decide differently come November. Helping McCain will be the frothing-at-the-mouth Anti-Hillary Brigades of Republican voters. Their name is legion. As I said about McCain, I've never been able to figure out exactly why the right-wingers hate Hillary quite so much, but then I've never been able to accurately see their point of view in general, so it's not too surprising. But the fact must be faced: there is a percentage of Republicans who would vote for Satan Mekatrig over Hillary Clinton. And they will vote. Nothing short of being in the hospital is going to stop them from pulling that lever in November. This will counteract McCain's weakness among this same group, to his advantage. But when Democrats start reading poll numbers in late summer and early fall, they're going to realize that for all her flaws, Hillary would be much better than four more Republican years.

My call -- too close to call. I hope Hillary wins, but I just don't know. Turnout: large, but not enormous.


-- Chris Weigant


9 Comments on “The Four Possible Matchups For November”

  1. [1] 
    fstanley wrote:

    I think it's going to be McCain for the GOP but I still am not sure which way it will go for the Dems. I think that you are right about the Dems coming out to vote to stop another Republican from taking the White House.


  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:


    But I think CW hit it on the head when he used the phrase a "hold your nose and vote" election.

    I think that a good portion of Dems would rather see ANYONE in the White House other than Hillary. Even a Republican...

    Hay CW.....

    Hope I am not spoiling a future commentary, but how do you view a Bloomberg or Gore campaign in light of the thinning out of the Dems and the GOP???


  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    I think a Ron Paul Libertarian campaign would be a lot more fun!

    Seriously, though, I don't expect either Bloomberg (for all his noise) or Gore to jump in at this point. Nader has been making noises about it, though....


  4. [4] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    One of the things that I think is most interesting lately about the Democratic campaign is that Hillary has branded herself as "experienced" and has worked to brand her opponent as the opposite. And the public seems to be buying this.

    I don't know if she is or not, but her 8 years in the Senate seems like it's less or similar to Obama's 11 years of government experience (given 8 years were in the Illinois legislature).

    What is even more frustrating than this, however, is that this claim seems like it could be fairly easily researched by the media. All they would have to do is go back through both of their careers and compile a side by side experience chart. Perhaps I have gotten a bit off topic here, but your remarks on Hillary's experience in the Senate Armed Services committee were news to me. So now I'm kind of curious. Who really is more experienced?

    It seems like it might even sell papers by explaining something the public would like to know. I could see the teaser now: Who's More Experienced?

    Ok. I'm done ranting. Temperature dropping. Head cooling :). If I can find the time, maybe I'll take a stab. Any thoughts on where to begin?


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    The problem with Hillary's claim of "experience" is that it is based nearly entirely on her "experience" as First Lady.

    Which kind of brings me back to my point I made earlier.. How is Hillary's "experience" as First Lady going to equal a "change"???

    If anything, it seems that, with Bill as "co-president", it can't be anything BUT same ol same ol.

    A Clinton presidency will be twice the hassles and scandals and half the (dubious) benefits...

    That is why many MANY Dems will "hold their nose" (c)Chris Weigant (:D) and vote GOP...

    Which is why I have been saying for many MANY moons that a Clinton in the General Election will equal a GOP in the presidency for another 4 years at least.

    If the Dems really want the White House this year, then Obama is their only hope..

    "Help me, Obi'ama. You're my only hope." :D


  6. [6] 
    akadjian wrote:

    "The Force can be a strong influence on the weak-minded."

    I couldn't agree with you more Michale. There's been a big discussion going on on the Obama mailing list around here about Hillary/Bill, their tactics, and should we support them if they win.

    Consensus has been to forget this for the time being and focus on helping Barack. I think this is a good thing.

    But while I don't agree with the media villification of Hillary, it does seem to me that Barack is the more inspiring candidate who is drawing people into the Democratic party.

    I think you're asking the right question, how is her experience going to "equal a change"? I think it would equal a change, but a mild change. I think this because of how I've seen her compromise in the past for political reasons. Take her Iraq vote for example. Or her more recent Iran vote.

    Both candidates have similar visions for the country. Or at least they say they do. But I see Barack as more likely to inspire and build the vision than Clinton. Partly, because Hillary will be handcuffed by her past. She will not be able to accomplish much effectively because she is going to have to compromise too much to get anything done. Barack starts from a clean slate. And he's shown he can win over independents and Republicans.

    Judging from the e-mails flying around and several discussions I've had, our group will have trouble voting for Hillary. Many have said they'd rather vote for McCain. I think this ties into the strategy the Republicans have finally settled on: select someone who seems moderate to pull in the independents and fence-sitters, count on the religious right to vote Republican regardless.

    With Hillary as the candidate, I think they can execute on this strategy though she has surprised me before.

    Thanks for the laugh about the Obi-ama, Michale.
    - Dave

    Sidenote: It's interesting to me that the people who seem to have the most power in the election are the people who are willing to change parties. Republicans have decided to merely pander to the religious right once again because they feel they can always win their vote by playing up their hate of the left. Similarly, Democrats seem to count on the minority vote and left-wing vote. It's the independents and party switchers who seem to have the most power. Of course, this may not be true once the primaries are over.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    It's the independents and party switchers who seem to have the most power.

    As CW can attest to, I have been saying this since Sep 2005 when I started out on HuffPo..

    It is the UDVs (Undecided Voters) of this country who wield all the power when it comes to elections. Those voters who are never quite sure who they will vote for until they dimple that chad or make a chad pregnant (FL voter... Can ya tell?? :D)

    I am leaning towards Obama, but I want to see what Defense team he picks..

    One interesting thing... Chelsea spent the Monday before SDTT ( (c}Chris Weigant ) calling up SuperDelegates and telling them that they are not voting for the Clintons, but rather are voting for "my mother".. Yet, just last week, wasn't Bill saying that when you vote for Hillary, you are getting "two Clintons for the price of one"???


  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, while waiting for SDTT returns, I finally have a moment to answer some comments.

    akadjian and Michale -

    I too have been waiting for some media type to ask Hillary "35 years of WHAT?" and get her to back this claim up by going over her resume. Haven't seen it yet...

    If it's Obama v. McCain, this will truly be a battle for the middle of the road -- who can entice enough UDVs or crossovers into voting for them.

    OK, Michale, I got a big laugh out of that Obi'ama comment. That was funny!


  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    I'll be here all year.. Be sure and tip yer waitresses.. :D


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