DOUBLES AND SNAKE-EYES
Following on the heels of yesterday's results in the South Carolina Democratic primary, and as we all get ready for "Super Tuesday" on February 5th, this simple conclusion is becoming more clear than ever, for supporters of both major parties.
And that is if the majorities of both parties, (aka "the Base") go with their gut instincts, as they likely are to do, they're likely to hand the Presidency to the opposing party in the General Elections in November.
The New York Times' Frank Rich explains this from the Democratic perspective, in an op-ed titled "The Billary Road to Republican Victory". It's a very readable piece, with one of the punch lines being obviously that a Hillary nomination would be much easier for the Republicans to counter in the General Election, especially if they had John McCain as their nominee.
Ironically, the Republicans are likely to fall in the same trap as the Democrats, given that their majority (base), is likely to vote for Mitt Romney, who would be a much easier opponent for the Democrats to counter with Hillary Clinton as their nominee.
But amazingly enough, each party also has a strong "aspirational" candidate this election, that can also draw votes from Independents and moderate members of the opposing party. Of course that'd be Obama for the Democrats and McCain for the Republicans.
So here are the predicted outcomes given the possible scenarios,
Base vs. aspirational from each party:
1. Clinton vs. McCain: good for Republicans.
2. Romney vs. Obama: good for Democrats.
Aspirational vs. Aspirational
3. Obama vs. McCain: tough for both Base and Independents. The Base in both parties have two unpalatable choices, and Independents and Moderates have two pretty palatable ones.
But the most likely scenario given that mainstream, majority voters from each party are likely to be short-sighted and vote their embedded inclinations gives us this outcome,
Base vs. Base
4. Clinton vs. Romney, bad for Independents and moderates from both parties.
Of course each of these four scenarios could look change a lot as they're paired up with various running mates to season and off-set the perceived negatives of each candidate to their base and Independent/moderate voters.
But it really is ironic that in one of the most interesting Presidential races in recent times, voting for the candidate that most appeals to the base of a given party is likely to be a positive for the opposing party.
I'm an optimist in most things, but as a moderate voter, I'm girding myself for the most likely scenario after the primaries and nominations are done, i.e., the last scenario above.
Especially during tough, unsettled times, when human nature is likely to drive voters more by fear than hope.
P.S. This analysis obviously precludes other "out-of-the-blue" scenarios like potentially Al Gore and/or Michael Bloomberg joining the race.