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What the heck.  The debates leading up to the Iowa caucus are over,'s time for a prediction.  

Events this week have made it increasingly clear what the outcome will be--clearer on one side than on the other, but clear nonetheless.

While big media pundits pat themselves on the back for identifying 'change' as the the 'theme' of the 2008 election (duh--'change' is

the theme for every election) Americans now see a much more decisive picture.

Here's what we know for sure:  none of the candidates--Democrats nor Republicans--have campaigns organized around a single core issue (e.g., Iraq, Health, Education, Immigration, etc.).  Instead, they have all framed their bids for the White House through distinct answers to a big question:

How will we achieve our future?

No single candidate asks or answers that question explicitly, but each one is, nonetheless, betting the house on it--the White House.  How each answers that question is the key to seeing not only how they are different, but who will be the most likely to win in Iowa.

Republicans:  Violence, Faith and Pragmatism
Ignoring the polls (Who needs 'em? Not me!), the candidates with the best shot at winning the Iowa and the nomination are: Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee.  

Romney and Giuliani are locked in competition to convince voters that America's future depends on increased violence in foreign policy and domestic security.  Romney in particular has argued that the future depends not only on more military violence in Iraq, but on initiating violence in Iran.  To this vision of the future, Romney has also added a dramatic increase in secret prisons where violent interrogations and torture take place.  

Giuliani adds his own violence to the future by promising to transform his vision of urban police work (e.g., shoot first, ask questions never) to a vision of national security at home.  Giuliani has promised to achieve America's future through mandatory national security papers and round-up lists--bringing with them an American future filled with hobnail boots kicking down doors at midnight to drag away the suspected.  

John McCain leaves domestic violence  aside, but argues that our future depends on digging deeper and deeper into  military operations abroad.  McCain has not gained much traction, but his vision has stayed the same.  Despite pressure from Tancredo--who promises to achieve our future by cleansing America of undocumented workers--McCain has promised only that the future depends on winning the war.  

Romney, Giuliani and McCain have all argued that they will achieve America's future with violence--tough guys who all promise to take us down a tough path.

Mike Huckabee has also bought into the Republican line on more violence, but he has broken from the pack by saying that he will achieve our future with faith and pragmatism.  Huckabee has been painfully vague in his policy proposals and, as such, it is hard to know if that is really what he believes at this stage, since we know so little about him--but based on what he has said so far.  Still, he is telling America that there is no problem too great that it cannot be solved by bringing them inside his faith and pragmatism.  

Democrats: Intellect, Politics, Service and Revolution

Again ignoring the polls (Ptew! Polls!), the Democratic candidates with the most interesting and compelling campaigns are Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton,  Chris Dodd, and John Edwards.

Barack Obama has put forward a compelling vision of intellectual leadership.  He has said over and over that we have been unable to solve problems in this country because the infighting in Washington has blocked our ability to face the complexity of our problems--Iraq, healthcare, whatever--and then to assemble the expertise to solve those problems. To achieve Obama's future, he promises that he will clear away the political obstacles to the intellectual work of government. There is no problem in America that cannot be solved by extending his mind around them, and the challenge we face is simply working to eliminate the obstacles to allowing that happen.

Hillary has argued that America's future can only be achieved by assembling the coalitions necessary to accomplish great tasks.  She has said repeatedly that she has learned from her past political mistakes as to how important it is to patiently and deliberately gather competing interests together and focus them on the accomplishment of goals.  In Clinton's vision,  there is no problem in American that cannot be solved by bringing it within her political skills.  The challenge we face as a nation is to do the political groundwork that we failed to do in the past, but that she now knows how to carry out.

Chris Dodd has argued that America's future depends on the re-engagement in civic life from this point forward of the majority of Americans.  Rooted in his own vision of service in the military and the Peace Corps, Dodd has rooted his campaign in the most fundamental ideal of Jeffersonian democracy:  participation.  No problem is too great, says Dodd, that we cannot solve it by bringing the next generation more fully into the daily life of citizenship.  The challenge we face is to construct service programs that will transform the nation, but having experienced it in the 1960s, Dodd knows how to do it again.

John Edwards has argued that America's future can be achieved by a fundamental shift in the distribution of power in society:  from the wealthy owners of capital to middle class Americans.  Rooted in his own experience as an advocate for individuals abused by industry,  Edwards has repeatedly sketched out a path to the future that involves reigning in the power of large, public corporations. No problem is too great, says Edwards, that it cannot be solved by restoring the fair distribution of political power in this country.  The challenge we face is twofold, according to Edwards:  those without power must be willing to stand up and be heard, and those elected to office must be willing to hold their ground against the massive forces of capital swelling to oppose them.

Huckabee Wins
For the Republicans, the winner in Iowa is easy to predict: Huckabee.  Why?   Violence fatigue.   Despite what appears from the outside as a groundswell of anger against immigrants,  Republican voters are finally getting tired of violence.   This is somewhat of a surprise because right-wing pundits and the Bush administration are still going strong with it.

Huckabee's vision brings a return to a Republican vision of a future that is, ultimately, simple and Protestant as many Republicans believe it was in the past.   That is:  an America where faith, family and hard work are the magic formula for an ideal future.

As positive as Huckabee's message may be, it is important to see that he is still a negative choice:  voters support him because they do not want the other Republican candidates.  It is an irony that everyone should pay attention to, as big media pundits will take some time to catch up to it.

There is, however, another element:  a growing awareness amongst voters that the violent path has not achieved anything in the past 7 years--except more violence, debt, catastrophe, death and shame. The lure of pragmatism is incredibly strong in the country.  People want to get things done again.  America is the country that gets it done.  Huckabee seems to have the 'gets it done' mantle for now.  How long he will hold onto it depends,  largely, on how much money Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney are going to spend to convince the country that Huckabee is a child-molesting, drug addicted, advocate for rapists and terrorists.  However much they spend, it will be a lot and it will  have an impact. But Huckabee will still win--in Iowa, and likely everywhere else.

Clinton Wins
The Democratic side of the contest is much, much harder to predict because in all honestly, the top candidates all have incredibly compelling visions of the future.  Somehow--despite a lobotomized generation of big media political pundits--the Democratic field of presidential hopefuls has managed to generate a truly interesting conversation.  What is the best way to solve our problems?  Intellect, politics, service--revolution!  They are not only good answers, they are history's big answers.  And each candidate has spoken to them remarkably well.  

While Obama seems to have the most momentum this week, ultimately, Iowa voters will decide that Clinton's path to achieving America's future makes sense.  The reason is not any doubt in Barack Obama's abilities or shortcomings in his charisma--both of which are immense.  Rather, Iowans will see that Clinton's great strength is what the country has lacked after two terms of George W. Bush.  Despite the smear of Hillary Clinton as a divisive figure, Iowans will believe in her ability build exactly what she says she can:  political coalitions that can serve as a foundation for achievement.  After 8 years of political defeat, what Democrats crave is eight years of political success.

While neither Edwards nor Dodd will win in Iowa, their campaigns will have had a far greater influence on the general election and on the future of the country than any others.   In the same way that the Dean campaign transformed politics in America, the Edwards campaign will finally usher in a new era of muckraking--a long-awaited reigning in of the era of corporate baroque that weighs down American optimism.  And the Dodd campaign will be responsible for the triumphant return of American dedication to service.   While both campaigns will dissipate after the race, their influence will be lasting.   The Obama campaign, on the other hand, will not disband nor will the optimism that drove him to the top of the pile.  There will still be plenty of big problems for Obama solve when it's time to caucus in Iowa eight years from now.

(cross posted from Frameshop)

Originally posted to Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:14 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My disclaimers (24+ / 0-)

    I don't work for anyone!!!!  Believe it.  Not one thin dime from any campaign.

    I have not endorsed anyone!!!

    So, please...give me the benefit of the doubt and engage this diary without attacking me on spurious claims about covert support for this or that candidate.

    I meant what I wrote:  our candidates have generated an incredibly interesting discussion.  The GOP crop?  Beh...they got what they deserved.

    Frameshop needs your love to survive! Click through to support the site...

    by Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:15:43 AM PST

  •  Great diary (5+ / 0-)

    Of course you are totally wrong about Hillary winning.  Obama will blow her out of the water!  :-)

  •  I disagree (10+ / 0-)

    Clinton is part of the entrenched interests problem.  And Edwards has been hammering this home.  

    Edwards will win because no matter how you set the frame, it has to do with trust and if the candidate comes across authentically.  That's not Clinton's strong suit in Iowa.

  •  I agree Obama won't win Iowa (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but I'm not sure if it will be Clinton or Edwards. Will not be Dodd, I think his campaign has received too much slack for not having the sigs to make it to the New York primary ballot (an extreme loss of potential delegates). I've talked to so many mid-west voters in recent weeks. And its interesting, and shallow, but a lot of people are reluctant to vote for Obama because his name.

    Iowa is something like 97% white I've been told. I've met a lot of white Democratic voters who can't relate to a guy named Barack Obama, it gives an unfair disadvantage to a really nice guy, but its true. The polls we see now with him winning, represent less than half of caucus goers that have made up their mind. The ones on the fence will ask themselves who they relate with, and the name Barack Obama isn't a sound they are too acquainted with.

    I hope it doesn't work out like that, but my encounters with lots of Democrats have indicated this.

    •  yeah, I don't think Dodd will end up on top, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think their campaign will have an impact far beyond their numbers because of the way they framed their campaign.  Service will be a big issue in the general, I'm convinced of it...

      Frameshop needs your love to survive! Click through to support the site...

      by Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:27:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't agree w/that either (0+ / 0-)

        Dodd's message is more about his experience and his legislation to help families to have more quality time. He's also seen as one with integrity.

        I'm wondering if the diarist is interjecting NE values when Iowan values are completely different.  NE frames are about the framing, the intellect, whereas Iowans, which are very rural and a little more down to earth, tend to go with their hearts and guts and how someone is going to help them right away.

  •  Lord, I hope you are correct about Huckster (4+ / 0-)

    What I wouldn't give to see him take the nomination.  Turns out this guy may have more problems than even Rudy.  

    Dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails instead of their tongues. -Anonymous

    by gloryous1 on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:22:04 AM PST

  •  hillary wins iowa. i agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oysterface, Jeffrey Feldman

    iowans are smart.

    those were good times, as far as we knew --colbert

    by AmericanHope on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:23:20 AM PST

  •  Is turnout important? n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  Silly diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MontanaMaven, iowabosox, Stroszek

    That was the most subjective attempt at a prediction I've ever read.  "After 8 years of political defeat, what Democrats crave is eight years of political success."  You put this obvious truth out there and make the claim that this implies we'll go with Hillary.  Well, here's one Iowan telling you that's exactly why I strongly OPPOSE her nomination and will caucus for Barack Obama.  

    Ah, I'm reading it over and this is just tiresome.  To put it simply, that was an endorsement, not a prediction.  You predicted what other people would decide based on what you yourself think about Clinton.  I'm an Iowan who thinks very differently about her and the longer this campaign has gone on, more and more Iowans agree with me.  

    You might not have intended it, but framing this endorsement as a prediction is actually kind of dishonest.  

    The whisper campaigns and building up 'negatives' of your opponent any way possible is a failure of politics, not the fun of politics.

    by Sun dog on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:28:32 AM PST

  •  Faith-Based Prognostication: Bad Framing (7+ / 0-)

    While Obama seems to have the most momentum this week, ultimately, Iowa voters will decide that Clinton's path to achieving America's future makes sense.  The reason is not any doubt in Barack Obama's abilities or shortcomings in his charisma--both of which are immense.  Rather, Iowans will see that Clinton's great strength is what the country has lacked after two terms of George W. Bush.  Despite the smear of Hillary Clinton as a divisive figure, Iowans will believe in her ability build exactly what she says she can:  political coalitions that can serve as a foundation for achievement.  After 8 years of political defeat, what Democrats crave is eight years of political success.

    Sorry, I have to call bullshit.  Not bullshit that Hillary Clinton won't or can't win.  But there's no argument here, just declarations.  Declarations which, btw, run contrary to most of the empirical evidence currently available.  

    This doesn't read like much more than wish-fulfillment.  

    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

    by Dana Houle on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:33:07 AM PST

    •  but I already got my wish for Chanukah (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and my iPhone was worth every penny...

      Frameshop needs your love to survive! Click through to support the site...

      by Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:40:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  serious question (0+ / 0-)

      if hillary does go on to win iowa, what would the acceptable argument have been?

      This primary can't end soon enough. Too many stupid people saying stupid things. - kos

      by Marlboro Lite on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:58:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry, that question seems nonsensical to me.  

        The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

        by Dana Houle on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 04:02:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  sorry, let me rephrase it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          you said:

          But there's no argument here, just declarations.

          The diarist wrote a prediction diary and said why he thought she would win. You said This doesn't read like much more than wish-fulfillment.

          So basically, if she does win, it will be because of: [please fill in blank with acceptable argument/reason]

          The reason I am asking is because if four years ago someone has asked me to argue why John Kerry would go on to win that state, I wouldn't have been able to provide an answer.

          P.S. You seem to follow voting trends pretty closely, that's why I directed the question at you. If you don't know the answer that's fine, too.

          This primary can't end soon enough. Too many stupid people saying stupid things. - kos

          by Marlboro Lite on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 04:48:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Probably right on Huckabee (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    x, Jeffrey Feldman

    The NIE on Iran deflated the neocon ability to sell more violence in the name of bringing peace to the Middle East.  As grateful as I am the sabre-rattling campaigns of Rudy and Mitty have become undone, Huckabee is no gift to humanity.  

    As for Obama and Edwards, I hope you are wrong, but mostly because what they are saying resonates with me.  Obama has the intangible advantage in charisma.  I am betting the charm factor counts for something only because I remember a former governor with a strangely familiar name that used his ample charisma to blow open the 1992 race.  

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. - John F. Kennedy

    by DWG on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:33:52 AM PST

  •  My prediction (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrymir, benny05, cka, Newzie, Funphil


    Edwards 36%
    Obama 28%
    Hillary 26%
    Biden: 4%
    Richardson 3%
    Kucinich: 3%
    Dodd: 0%.

  •  You've convinced me. I'm voting for a Democrat. (13+ / 0-)

    The sound of several slobbering horses scarfing up sticky rotting persimmons is fairly disgusting! klk

    by flumptytail on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 10:38:22 AM PST

  •  Wha? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    iowabosox, benny05, Newzie, Stroszek

    You give a good reason for Huckabee winning, but no reason for Clinton winning.

    In fact, your main driver of this election (SERIOUS CHANGE) favors Edwards.

  •  they really are great, our dems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they are by far and away the best group of dems I've had the chance to choose among. I am so proud of them.

    Also, I think you are bang on about both outcomes. In a different year the dems would choose the abstract promises of Obama or the revolutionary promises of Edwards. But this year, they have a viable, attractive, practical alternative. When push comes to shove, we will pick pragmatic.

    •  I think that's it, basically (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oysterface, benny05

      'Pragmatic' seems to be order of the day.  It's clearer to see on the GOP side because they're all a bunch of crazies.  But I think pragmatic will ultimately win out  on our side, too--but as a result of that, the top concerns of several other visions will end up being woven into the final product.

      I understand why many people around here do not see Clinton as a pragmatic choice--but the mistake is to see my reading as advocacy.  It's not.  That is the frame she is using, versus the frame from Obama and Edwards--both of which are compelling.  I just don't think they are the ones that will hold in Iowa.

      But this is just one attempt at a crystal ball. If something changes significantly over the next few weeks that leads me to rework my prediction--then I'll do it at that time.

      Frameshop needs your love to survive! Click through to support the site...

      by Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 11:03:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This Is Iowa (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jeffrey Feldman, Newzie


        These folks looks pretty pragmatic to me.  Look at the poster.  No glitz.  Iowans are not interested in glitz.

        Jeffrey, I was going to do a separate diary a few days ago about framing, but I think I'll post my argument in another comment on your diary.  Otherwise, this comment will be too long as it is.

        •  great picture (0+ / 0-)

          Which person in the photo is benny05?

          Frameshop needs your love to survive! Click through to support the site...

          by Jeffrey Feldman on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 11:10:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not in the pic (0+ / 0-)

            It's from the campaign.

            I re-looked at my argument, and it's too long to post here.  It's really more of a diary.

            So, instead, I will provide a link to an opinion piece in the DMR today by former Congressman Berkley Bedell:


            Let's remove big money from campaigns

            I represented Iowa in Congress for 12 years and have closely followed politics for another 30 years, and I've yet to hear anyone running for office say, "I'm the candidate who'll keep Washington running just the way it is now."

            Not once. But I've heard hundreds of candidates who said they were running to "change business as usual in Washington." In fact, this presidential race has at least 15 candidates running for "change."

            What's wrong with Washington? Why does it always appear ripe for a change? I served in the U.S. House of Representatives for six terms, so I've been on the inside. I know that most elected officials want to serve the public's best interest, but the results don't always show it.

            That's because big money rules politics. Those of us on the outside know when our voices aren't heard. We've seen too many common-sense notions - providing affordable health care for all Americans, addressing global warming, creating sensible tax policy - fall flat in the face of powerful campaign contributors and their lobbyists, who are out for their own interests, not the common good of the American people.

  •  Started out alright, but then went down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benny05, NCDem Amy

    Clinton ain't gonna win Iowa. She'll be lucky to even come in second. Third place is my guess.

  •  On second thought, the reason you listed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, benny05, NCDem Amy

    for Hillary's victory is Iowan's belief in "political coalitions".

    I see no evidence of that belief.  

    Rather, I think Iowans have rightfully concluded that any form of political negotiation always seems to work against their interests, and that the only way to win is to elect a fighter who will take on the entrenched interests.

  •  Impatience. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Americans are getting sick of slogging through this Republican swamp.

    People want to get things done again.

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 11:04:43 AM PST

  •  Predictions based on LttE in newspapers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeffrey Feldman

    I've been doing a little experiment since about the end of November.  I've been counting the number of PRO candidate letters to the editor in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  I am not counting any letters trashing a particular candidate, just letters boosting the candidate.  I don't know what it will predict or if there will be any correlation to the eventual outcome for Linn county or Iowa as a whole.

    For the curious, here is what I have so far, from 11/24 to 12/15, in no particular order.

    Edwards: 9
    Richardson: 12
    Dodd: 2
    Biden: 7
    Obama: 6
    Clinton:  4

    Paul: 3
    Romney: 1
    McCain: 2
    Thompson: 1
    All others: 0

    A few things jumped out at me.

    -- For a right leaning paper (the Gazette has never endorsed a Democrat for president) the number of pro Republican letters seemed really low, 7 to 39.

    -- Richardson had a lot of letter writers.

    -- Clinton had very few letter writers.

    I don't know what that means; we'll find out in a few weeks.  It could mean that people who feel their candidate is going to win don't feel the need to write letters and people with a "weak" candidate are more likely to write in.  Or the letters could be an accurate sampling of candidate and party support.  Iowa conservatives do tend to be of the crotchety old farmer type with a libertarian streak, although the religious zealots are gaining ground.  

    And Iowa liberals probably see Edwards and Richardson as more Iowan in background.  Not because of race but because of background.  Edwards has that nice small, rural state background.  Richardson always looks like he isn't comfortable wearing that suit and Iowans can relate to that. :)  

    The numbers are so small that the battle for second place Dem is really a 3 way tie though.

    We'll see what happens in January.

  •  Your work is greatly appreciated, always. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    sign the petition at

    by DrKate on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 12:01:44 PM PST

  •  How will we NOT achieve our future? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry, but does the question at the center of this diary mean anything at all? Maybe I'm dumb, but it sounds like unintentional political doubletalk to me.

    breaking news in little bits since 1981

    by mswaine on Sat Dec 15, 2007 at 12:19:29 PM PST

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