Friday, January 04, 2008

2008 Presidential Candidate Stack Ranking - Post Iowa Caucus

The DWSUWF stack ranking has not been updated since last October, possibly because I spent a month in West Africa, possibly because I could not bring myself to watch any more content-free "debates". This morning I heard a rumor that real votes were cast and delegates awarded last night. Sure enough, Iowans caucused in record numbers and kicked the crap out of my stack ranking. Chris Dodd - gone. Joe Biden - gone. Romney - I just can't take it anymore, I dropped him to the bottom of the rank. But Huckabee? Really? Huckabee? I understand that the GOP cannot win without an electoral fusion of Evangelicals and the Libertarians (using Ryan Sager labels), but what happened to the fiscal conservative part? Politico says the Republicans are in disarray, Richard Viguerie thinks Huckabee is a disaster for the GOP, some readers at Ed Morrisey's right of center Captain's Quarters blog do not like any of the GOP candidates (ok, I am one of them), Markos at Daily Kos is crowing and Andrew Sullivan thinks the Republican Party is in the intensive care ward.

So - for the first ranking in the new year, the first ranking after an electoral contest that mattered, and the first ranking since DWSUWF scurried aboard the sinking GOP ship, we present an all new DWSUWF 2008 Presidential Candidate Stack Ranking.

DWSUWF 2008 Presidential Candidate
Stack Ranking v. 3.0

1) Ron Paul (R)
2) Barack Obama (D)
3) Mike Bloomberg (I)/Chuck Hagel (R)/Unity08
4) Hillary Clinton (D)
5) Fred Thompson (R)
6) Bill Richardson (D)
7) John McCain (R)
8) Al Gore (D)
9) Mitt Romney(R)
10) Dennis Kucinich (D)
A reminder - the DWSUWF stack ranking is a preference not a prediction. This list represents the top ten candidates DWSUWF would like to see as President, stack ranked in order of preference. Imposed on this list are two constraints: alternating political party affiliation, and a divided government outcome in 2008.

Changes - Democrat:
As mentioned, two of my top three Democratic candidates have dropped out of the race and the list. Last year at this time, Obama was near the top of my Democrat list (on the strength of his stirring endorsement of the Chicago Bears and his pre-invasion stance on the war). I had to do a little digging to recall why I dropped him below Clinton. It was based purely on their debate performance last April:
"Clinton was presidential. Obama and Edwards were not... Barack drops behind Hillary having failed the "Looks and sounds like a President" test in the debate."
After Iowa, Obama looks like a winner and Clinton does not, so I can go back to my original rationale - Obama was right on the Iraq war before the war, and that's a good reason to put him in the top spot. I'm still betting that when all is said and done, it will be a Clinton/Obama ticket - in that order. Lets see what happens in New Hampshire. With Biden and Dodd out, and Richardson hanging by a thread, this will be the last ranking with 10 candidates listed. I should cut it to six now, but will wait until after the NH primary. Everyone on the list below five is just filling an empty box. What about John Edwards? He is an empty suit, and could not even bring himself to congratulate Obama on his victory last night, or even mention his name in his "concession: speech.

Changes - Republican:
Ron Paul remains our preferred GOP candidate. I have no illusions. Ron Paul is not going to be President, nor will he win the Republican nomination. I support him because he is the only announced GOP candidate who was right on the war, and continues to apply a sorely needed libertarian cattle prod to the GOP posterior. The Paul 10% showing in Iowa was respectable, but the Paul organization needs to learn how to exceed lowered expectations rather than falling short of raised expectations. After Paul, I have a real problem with all of the GOP candidates. Bloomberg speculation is ramping up again, and with a real possibility that the GOP is going to rip itself apart, a Chuck Hagel / Mike Bloomberg / Unity08 independent run is looking feasible and attractive. They are now my second "conservative" choice. After them, I might as well be drawing straws between the remaining Republican candidates. I admire McCain, but his war stance is problematical. I cut Romney some slack in past rankings, pointing to his slick Clintonesque sincere-ish quality, even when explaining 180 degree flip-flops in core conviction. I thought that, like Bill Clinton, he would govern based on the polls and continuous compromise, and that is not a bad thing. With a Democratic majority in Congress in 2009 and 70% of America wanting us out of Iraq, he could be trusted to blow with the wind get us out of Iraq quickly, no matter what he says now to get the nomination. But if Republicans are not buying his act, and Iowa would indicate they are not, he's got nothing.

So what does it all mean? Certainly it is easy to overstate the importance of this one caucus. But the field is thinning and it will become even clearer next week after a real primary.

Next stack rank update - post New Hampshire.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

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