Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's almost over?

In order to maintain some perspective on this primary race, it is worthwhile to note where we are actually standing as we come into South Carolina.

First, we’ve only completed two states that matter for each side (Republicans were more concerned about New Hampshire and Michigan than Iowa, Democrats about Iowa and New Hampshire over Michigan), three states that the media has cared about (combine above list), and four states total to have voted (Wyoming, we hardly knew ye).

And yet, out of all of that activity, after waiting all this time, we still don’t have a clear front-runner. Four states that clearly are the lifeblood of all 300,000,000 of us have not been able to give a resounding answer to who the rest of us should fall in line and vote for.

"This the definition of a hard-fought race," pollster John Zogby said.

In comparison to an easy-fought race, which I presume would be something like an incumbent waiting to be re-elected, this three way tie for the dems and four way tie for the ‘pubs is like the race to the World Series: politician edition. Every news outlet has been burned at least once this election, if not multiple times, and yet they keep trying to convince us that it’s okay if they put their hand on the stove because it’s no longer hot. And we allow them, even believe that it’s cooled down a little bit. The public gets a sick pleasure from the media being dead wrong in their evaluations and predictions, we feel righteous in our indignation over their audacity. We assume that they are right but want them to be wrong.

I will grant them that South Carolina will be an important state on either side, but they want to coat each step with a layer of finality. If they can’t predict which politician will jump ahead, they’ll try picking which state is the final nail in the coffin. That way, they can look back and say, “see, we knew it all along.” With arguments full of neglected holes and statistics riddled with mathematical errors, they convince us that they know just what’s going on. Apparently, the last five primary decisions in South Carolina have resulted in a winner who just so happened to be the nation’s choice as well. However, looking at the story behind each of those decisions reveals that it started with Regan and each subsequent candidate has been some sort of mini- or quasi-Regan. Even if five calls in a row meant that South Carolina had some sort of mystical predictive power that allows them to foreshadow the Republican candidate for president, it apparently rubs off by the time they vote for the actual president.

To sum it up: What are we actually asking for from the media? Do we want this play by play of a large scale game of chinese checkers, or do we really want to know and pin down what these candidates stand for based on their voting history and what they have said in the past. Thank god for the Associated Press, if nothing else, for really digging into our candidates records. You know you’re reading from a good source when their comment on the status of the race so far is:
THE DEMOCRATS: The top Democratic candidates — Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards — campaign in Nevada. Obama heads later in the day to an economic roundtable in Van Nuys, Calif.
THE REPUBLICANS: Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Fred Thompson campaign in South Carolina. Rudy Giuliani campaigns in Florida.

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