Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Handicapping Iowa: The Dems
Since the consensus seems to have converged towards the idea (which I first proposed last week) that we're never really ever going to find out just who the nominees for either party will be, I'm going to limit my predictions for tomorrow's Iowa caucuses to who is most likely to wake up Friday morning a casualty, starting with the Democrats.
Despite the fact that the only votes he's likely to get are a couple of hanging chads, I'm betting that Mike Gravel sticks it out. His campaign expenses amount to his bus ticket and hotel room, plus some chump change for the college techie he pays to do his YouTube mashups. Given that he's charging it all to a credit card company he's sure to burn for the bill, he's in this at least til the weather warms up. (Odds: 7-6 he stays.)
Same goes for Kucinich who, like most ugly men, can't seem to turn down an opportunity to show off his wife's good looks. The fact that she's almost certain to leave him before his withdrawal announcement hits the wires (asking herself as she does whether he was even in yet) makes a long hard slog all the more likely. Kucinich will stick around, if only to keep Dem debates from turning into the political version of Celebrity Death Match, until late spring. Count on a tell-all book from the former-Mrs. Kucinich detailing UFO sightings, vegan potlucks and other unseemly practices just in time to exploit the marketing opportunity of the nominating convention this summer. (Odds: 7-6 he stays.)
Chris Dodd, on the other hand, is back to the Senate come Friday morning. Given his dismal polling numbers in New Hampshire and the fact that he's playing Tweedle-dum to Biden's Tweedle-dee, he'd be hard-pressed to justify his reputation for fiscal responsibility were he to continue to spend the money he's collected for his so-called campaign. (Odds: 7-6 he's out.)
Which leads to the two toughest calls, Biden and Richardson. Biden looks like he could possibly pull enough votes in Iowa to justify a little more time in front of the microphones, and Lord knows, Joe Biden's never met a microphone he didn't like. But with the viability factor, it's possible Biden comes out of the caucuses looking like a redheaded stepchild, and given his anemic numbers in New Hampshire, the writing's more than on the wall. It is the wall. So I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Biden bogarts the spotlight come Friday with news of his withdrawal. (Odds: 7-4 he's out.)
Richardson's another tough call. He's ostensibly running for Secretary of State, and one of the requirements for the job of running American diplomacy is to be, what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, yeah. Diplomatic. And Bill Richardson's insistence on presenting himself as a candidate for President of the United States of America has the effect of making everyone who knows how outlandish such a proposition is uncomfortable. In an undiplomatic sort of way. So by all rights he should drop out, but he's polling as well in NH as he is in Iowa, and he's made it clear that he's not real good at taking a hint, so I'm going to cop out and say this one's too close to call. With a gun to my head I'd say he stays in at least through NH, and then I'd duck. (Odds: Pick 'em.)
So come Friday, Dodd and Biden are both out, with Richardson a definite maybe. Surprisingly, there's one Inconvenient Candidate that no one seems to be mentioning this week. So I'm going to put my bookmaking skills on the line and add an extra special prediction: at least two major newspapers run a feature before the NH primary on what the outcome in Iowa means for the odds of an Inconvenient Announcement.
Update: The GOP "Iowa Death Watch" betting line starts here.