Election Predictions

Is it to early to start making predictions about 2010, 2012 and beyond yet? Probably, but I’ve got a few thoughts anyway.

First, if Obama runs his presidency like he ran his candidacy, he’ll be a great president and will win reelection in a cakewalk. Obviously, there are huge challenges ahead, but I have faith his administration will be able to handle them.

Second, assuming prediction #1 pans out, we’ll see another wide open race in 2016. I’m a big Joe Biden fan, but he’ll be 74 in 2016 – two years older than McCain is now. No way he runs. Hillary Clinton will 69 so I don’t see her running either. Well, maybe they run but I doubt they’d win the nomination. I’m guessing the Democratic nominee in 2016 will be someone who’s not top of mind today – someone who emerges in the next two or four years as “the next Obama”.

Third, we haven’t seen the last of Sarah Palin. I’ve been extremely critical of her, but my libertarian friend recommended I not underestimate her. So I won’t. I think she’ll be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. I know folks are talking about her for 2012, but I think she’d rather take her chances in a wide open race in 2016 than go up against Obama a second time. She’s only 44 now, so she’ll be 52 in 2016 – about perfect for a presidential candidate. Eight years is a long time for her to close the unqualified gap.

In fact, I’d say Ted Stevens apparent reelection is a likely silver lining in otherwise crappy election for the Republicans. Ted Stevens was found guilty on felony corruption charges and faces expulsion from the senate, regardless of his apparent victory yesterday. If he is expelled, there would be a special election to decide his successor. You have to assume Mark Begich, Stevens’ Democratic challenger, would handily win that special election. But what if Palin ran against Begich? She’s taken a hit it her approval ratings since joining the VP ticket, but she’s still very popular in Alaska and probably liked best by Stevens’ supporters. I’m not saying it’s a shoo-in, but I believe she’d have a very good chance to win a special election.

Being a senator for eight years would be long enough to shore up the concerns about her qualifications but short enough not to have much of an attackable voting record. She’d have to win reelection in 2014, but given that Stevens has won seven elections in a row dating back to 1970, I’m guessing getting reelected in 2014 would be no problem.

So my predictions are a fairly easy Obama reelection in 2012, followed by Sen Palin ® vs. “The Next Obama” (D) in 2016. Midterms in 2010 will probably see Dems give back some of their recent gains, but not enough to lose control of either house of Congress. 2014 is to far out to predict, much less who wins in 2016. But looking at voting trends among minorities, party ID advantages, etc, I like Democrats chances for the foreseeable future.

Finally, I wonder if this is the “end of identity politics” as some have suggested. One election is not a trend, so I tend to think that Obama was immune to such attacks more than those attacks no longer viable. We may need to wait until 2016 to find out. When Palin does run again, will she still be a pitbull with lipstick? I like to think identity politics is toast, but I’m guessing the Republicans will go back to that well a few more times before giving up on it. Democrats, on the other hand, have all the proof they need that they can win against identity politics: President-Elect Obama.

Comments:

The one thing I'll give you is that Gov. Palin will be back, but I do hope it's not through the Senate. Fortunately for us ;) Senators don't make long lasting Presidents. Bush, Clinton, Reagan, FDR, Wilson were all two+ term Presidents who came from the Governor's office. You have to go back to 1837 when the last former Senator finished a 2nd term. And even then, both Jackson and Monroe were Governors after their Senate service. Clinton got a pass with the .com bubble, a weakend Russia and Mr. Newt. Obama faces a world more like 1976 and we know what happened to Carter. Some tickets I think will handly beat OB'12, Palin-Crist, Jindal-Crist, Romney-Huckabee, Romney-Pawlenty, Palin-Fiorina. Oh, this is funny, we'll have Barack Obama & Biden, BOB, in the Whitehouse. Snicker, snicker.
Very well stated, oh husband of mine.....I am proud of you and your predictions and do not argue with them - except I would truly wish for a better representative of my "team" for the first American Woman President. Though as you state, 8 years or so will give her the opportunity to learn the things she needs to to lead. Here's hoping, when her crowd started chanting her name all I could think of was Eva Peron and I had chills (not the good kind). But underestimate her? How could anyone underestimate her? You never turn your back on the ocean, or a crocodile, or a shark and she is worse them all those :)
@BigJ You're entitled to your own predicitions, though I think you're off your rocker. Tell you what, why don't you put your real name on your prediction so we can circle back in four years and see who was right? @Julie Yeah, I wish for a better representative of your "team" than Palin as well. BTW, to be clear I don't think Palin can "learn the things she needs to to lead" in 8 years or a lifetime for that matter - leadership is one of those things you have or you don't. Not to say she doesn't have it - I haven't seen enough of her to make a decision one way or the other. Certainly, she can excite the Republican base, but that's not leadership. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if she can appeal to voters outside the wack-job core.
I'm not sure I believe that Palin will have the sense to wait for 2016 -- if she runs in 2012 I would expect her to go down in flames, although of course it depends on how the Obama administration fares. As you say, he ran an unbelievably well-organized campaign in two difficult elections, so I'm optimistic. I'm guessing the Republicans' best hope in 2016 is Bobby Jindal, but they won't go for it. As for the Democrats, I imagine you're right about "the next Obama" emerging later. People have pointed at Newark mayor Cory Booker. Not that the next Obama needs to be black. A woman would of course be great. Your anonymous correspondent above doesn't necessarily deserve to be rebutted point-by-point, but I do think the idea that Senators can't be two-term presidents is nonsense. The only Senator to be elected to the Presidency in the modern era was JFK, and I think he would certainly have been reelected had he survived his first term. Besides, Truman was a Senator, and essentially served two terms as President (having assumed the Presidency after only a few weeks as VP).
My point was simply that history is not on his side for re-election. 15 former Senators have been elected Presisident. Of these, only 3 won a second term. Of those 3, two were also previously governors. The only Senator to win a second term without a governorship is...drumroll please...Richard Nixon. Just to clarify, 5 modern (since 1900 at least) Senators have won an election: Nixon, LBJ, JFK, Truman and Harding. Larger point being that I believe Governors make better Presidents. Yes, McCain was in the same boat. I apologize for the pseudonym. It won't happen again.
Hey! It was great seeing you again at the PDC. The predictions are right on track. If Obama runs his presidency like he ran his campaign, he will get another four years. Miguel.