South Carolina: Game Day
By: Mark W Adams

As we await the verdict from South Carolina on the new direction for the free world (if that doesn't scare you, nothing will), I'm pondering the inescapable conclusion that the dynamics of this election season utterly defy traditional political analysis despite more people than ever before weighing in on the results.

A veritable army of "newsy" types are covering every aspect of this race, and no doubt more than four years ago. New cross-over organizations like Politico.com have emerged that appear with equal frequency on the net and on network TV. And traditional sources are providing so much in the way of detailed information they've had no choice but to supplement their coverage by referring to their internet presence for even more information and analysis.

The political Blogosphere has grown dramatically and since more of it is diversified. Instead of seeing a large section of the progressive 'sphere dedicated to this year's Howard Dean they have spread their activism and analysis in several directions -- painting a broader picture than before.

There are more polling outfits taking more polls. There are more places that analyze all the polls. There is more participation in the open platform political blogs like KOS, MyDD, BooMan Tribune, and new sites for the advanced political junkie like Open Left. Local and regional open platform political blogs are more prevalent and more sophisticated as well, and often compete for the same readership.

The candidates all have a much more impressive internet presence, giving access to the minutiae of policy positions to more people than has ever been possible. And driving so much of this interest in the media and blogosphere of course is the fact that there are more viable candidates on each side of the aisle than anyone can remember at this stage of the game.

This is all translating to massive interest and more importantly, unheard of voter turnout. The fact that all of this is turning conventional wisdom on it's ear should be no surprise, and the catastrophic failure of the punditocracy to even come close in calling the New Hampshire primary has made this thing even more interesting.

Suddenly, this thing wasn't the ninth inning with one side having a massive lead, but tied up in the 10th, and the rules have changed. Now it's more like tennis where you at least have to win by two, and only can score when you're serving into your opponent's home court. We're at "deuce," and Hillary is serving in South Carolina. Obama will get no points (but the lead in elected delegates) for winning in what has become his home turf unless he wins by double digits.

And the real home team, John Edwards, throws this analogy out the window since a strong showing by him in the state where he was born, a state he won in '04, a State where the economic chasm could hardly be more tailor made to his populist message would be "surprising."

The Republican are also defying traditional logic. John McCain was through, a has-been and broke last summer. Huckabee was a nobody that came surging out of his Iowa win and suddenly money didn't matter, it was message and momentum. The same things that made John McCain unviable were now being ignored going into New Hampshire on Mike Huckabee's coattails since he could take Iowa without cash and a big staff and the blessing of the party bosses. More than we'll ever know, John McCain's frontrunning position is due to Mike Huckabee's early success.

And the GOP still has a race, a tight one with bigger stakes at each stage since so many of their contests are winner-take-all. Rudy 9iu11iani is making a Custer-like stand in Florida and is finally a factor (less of one than he'd like) in the GOP selection process. However, it has increased interest for no other reason that even though there are fewer official candidates than just a few days ago, it's more competitive than ever.

Florida is even getting some play for the Democrats, even though it's not the contest the Florida Democratic Party had hoped for when they broke the rules and moved up their date. But for the Republicans, the winner will most likely get only about one-fourth of the votes and win by just a point or two.

I await with baited breath the demands for a recount of the Florida Republican Primary. It's close enough there to require a new word for the sense of irony to fully ferment this eight-year-old "whine."

And by the way, I confess. It was me who started the rumors that if John Edwards' destiny does not include living in the White House, he would be the best Attorney General in our lifetime.

1 Comment:

Mark W Adams said...

And typically, given all the things I listed, all the media can talk about as they analyze Obama's win and Hillary just barely beating out John Edwards -- is race and gender. Sucks to be the white guy when the media is this lazy.