Look for a horse race in primaries

Published 11:03 pm Wednesday, January 2, 2008

By Staff
As we enter the New Year we find ourselves in the midst of a political year in full swing. We are off to the races and in full throttle in the 2008 presidential juggernaut. It will be a horserace for both parties' nomination. It is a wide-open race.
This year's contest is the first time in many years where not only is there no incumbent president for reelection but neither is there an incumbent vice-president waiting in the wings to move up. It is truly open but the obvious frontrunners have emerged over the course of the past year's campaigning. The race has indeed been going on at full speed for at least a year.
On the Democratic side it is a clear two-person race. Sen. Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner, staked out her lead early and has consistently polled twenty points ahead of her rival, Sen. Barack Obama, for the entire year of 2007. However, Obama has made a move in the past month. Polling indicates that Obama has cut into her lead some but Hillary still has a double-digit lead in national polling.
The first contest is this week in Iowa. It is a close call between Clinton, Obama and Edwards in this caucus state that gets the nod as the first contest. John Edwards has campaigned in this small state fulltime for four years in hopes of getting a win and it propelling him to the top of the heap via momentum. He knows most of the Iowa caucus goers on a first name basis but after Iowa Edwards will not be a factor.
It is a two-person race for the democratic nomination between Clinton and Obama. Currently the reason for Hillary's lead among Democrats is that African-Americans who comprise a very significant portion of Democratic primary voters favor Clinton over their fellow African descendant Obama. The perception among these voters is that Obama cannot win and Hillary can. Even our own two predominantly African-American political organizations are split. The older Alabama Democratic Conference has endorsed Hillary Clinton, while the New South Coalition picked Barack Obama.
The republican battle is murkier. This race could go all the way to the convention. The big story in this race is the emergence of the former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. It is clear that evangelical Christians, who comprise the same amount of power in the Republican party that African- Americans do in the Democratic contests, have settled on Huckabee. His surge has been phenomenal.
In late summer, four months ago, Huckabee's support among Republican primary voters was between 0 percent and 3 percent and closer to zero. Now he is currently in second place nationwide with 16 percent and is expected to win the Iowa caucus this week. Huckabee is the choice of white evangelical Protestants. Therefore, Iowa is a good state for him because it is rural and conservative.
Huckabee, who at 52 is the youngest Republican running, is an ordained Southern Baptist minister but besides being the darling of social conservatives he has come across in the early debates as the apparent winner. He is glib, affable, and likable. He speaks calmly in parables and extended metaphors. He will do well in the South and in Iowa but his numbers are low elsewhere in the country, especially in the more populous and more liberal states such as New Hampshire, New York, and California.
See you next week.