2008 Analysis: It’s Wide Open On The Republican Side

Although 2008 is a long way away and no one can truly predict what will happen in politics that far out, the race for the presidency is already starting to vaguely take shape.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton already looks to be all but unstoppable. HC is polling well ahead of Kerry and Edwards and the word on the street (passed along by Chris Matthews) is that Al Gore isn’t running.

Furthermore, with the Dems still slowly but surely sliding to the left, candidates like Bill Richardson and Mark Warner, who would be tougher opponents for the GOP than Hillary, have little chance of winning. In fact, barring unforeseen events, it’s likely that the only thing that can stop Hillary from taking the nomination in 2008 would be if she drives the left wing of the Democratic Party to coalesce around a Howard Dean simulacrum (or possibly even Dean himself) by moving too far to the center. Even then, the smart money would probably still be on Hillary.

On the other hand, on the GOP side, not only is there no 800 pound gorilla in the race, it’s entirely possible that none of the current top 4 candidates will even get the nomination. According to a Marist poll:

Giuliani receives the support nationwide of 25% of Republicans and Republican leaning Independents and McCain has 21%. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice follows with 14% and Florida Governor Jeb Bush receives 7%.

But, if you take a hard look at these candidates, you have to wonder if any of them has what it takes to grab the brass ring.

Rudy Giuliani: “America’s mayor” is popular with the base right now but very few of them know that he’s pro-abortion, in favor of gun control & gay marriage, and has a “Clintonesque” personal life. Once Rudy’s flaws become as well known as his strengths, his stock will drop faster than Enron.

John McCain: While McCain does have a small, enthusiastic group of supporters in the GOP, I’d estimate that there are 2-3 Republicans who hate his guts for every fan he has. Furthermore, the right side of the blogosphere and a lot of big name conservative opinion makers (Rush Limbaugh in particular) absolutely loathe McCain and will go after him wilth everything they have in the primaries. McCain is the Lieberman of the GOP. He might have name recognition and a few fans, but he’s not going anywhere.

Condi Rice: There’s a lot of talk about a Condi Rice run at the presidency. But, Condi is pro-abortion, hasn’t been married at 50, and has never run for office before. If she were to run — and that’s a big if — she’d be hit with savage attacks on her personal life (she could expect to be portrayed either as a lesbian or strange by the left) and her inexperience would be a huge minus in a run at the presidency. It’s possible that Condi could be the nominee in 2008, but she’s a much weaker candidate that most people think.

Jeb Bush: Although the Bush name would be a negative to some voters who would rather the GOP select someone from outside the Bush family for 2008, it may not be more than a glancing blow to Jeb’s chances if another Clinton (Hillary) is running as well. Furthermore, Bush could put together the kind of organization he needs to win, raise money, guarantee Florida, & generally please the base. In fact, were he running, I’d say Jeb would have a 50% or better chance of taking the nomination. However, Bush says he’s not running for the Presidency in 2008.

What it all comes down to is that for Republicans, it’s going to be wide open in 2008…

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