Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Tie Goes To The Runner
Adam Nagourney raises the possibility that I mentioned a few days ago, namely what happens if after Iowa, New Hampshire and Super Tuesday, neither Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama nor John Edwards can claim a decisive mandate for the Democratic nomination? Iowa's looking like a three-way tie, making New Hampshire impossible to call. Nagourney doesn't attempt an answer, but the implicit suggestion is that the Democrats' unusually strong field of top-tier candidates might come back to haunt them, by creating more confusion than clarity, at least in the short run.
If so, would it be a political confusion or a policy confusion, or both? In other words, is there something about the three candidates themselves that define faultlines in the Democratic Party, the way, for instance, McCain and Huckabee do for the GOP? Judging by the three candidates' images -- Clinton the centrist hawk, Obama the centrist idealist and Edwards the throwback workingman's hero -- there's certainly some suggestion of a broader identity crisis at play.
But everything I've read about their platforms (which I haven't dived into becase I'm a lazy, wonk-averse voter who tends to downplay the significance of campaign white papers) suggests that just the opposite is true. That is, to varying degrees, the three represent a real convergence of Democratic progressivism, due in part to the Party's confidence about its electoral chances this year.
Obviously, ideological convergence can create just as many problems as ideological tension, as the election eventually boils down to a question of style over substance. All of which makes me feel ready for another prediction. Should Obama feel at any time like he can't win the Democratic nomination but that he hasn't really lost it, he'll go ahead and run in the general election as an independent. The question then becoming whether Bloomberg dives in as well, or joins him as his Veep.