31 January, 2008

US Primaries and the West Wing

American politics have become a big deal again in this household as we have started to follow the US primaries closely and as we bought the entire West Wing series as a present for Christmas. We have watched 52 episodes in 3 weeks, which might be too many, but really there is nothing else on tv.

I was introduced to the US politics by my Politics A level in 1992-4 and got hooked. Maybe it was because I won a bill clinton key fob for my uncannily accurate predictions of the 1992 general election. Whatever, we are into it and loving the race.

Key points we have learned so far...
  • The democrat race is all about demographics, change is coming, but it's generational change as the baby boomers make way for a more generation x leadership. Same thing is happening with British politics as we are post-Blair but probably pre-Cameron. Only question is, can Obama motivate the youth of America enough to vote for him? If he can, he wins.
  • The republican race is much more interesting because it's deeper. The republican coalition of military voters, low-tax economic voters and values voters is fragile. As the West Wing correctly analysed 2 years ago, the problem facing any Republican candidate is that it is virtually impossible to appeal to both the base of the party and to the wider public. Bush's incompetence has shrunk the base so that you can't win with just them, you have to reach out and it becomes a catch 22. Especially as McCain, Romney and Huckabee all represent different sections of the coalition and are virtually guaranteed to be a disappointment to at least a third of republican voters, whoever wins the primary.

To follow the race, the best statistical coverage is on the CNN politics site and the funniest commentary is on the Daily Show. Bring on Super Tuesday next week.

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