Fans of corrupt, divisive, and dishonest (i.e. typical) politicians may want to look away come November. The 2008 race has a chance to be an historic contest between a Democrat and Republican that, amazingly, are not loathed by Republicans and Democrats, respectively. It is not a certainty, of course (though it may be, come next Tuesday), but pitting John McCain against Barack Obama would appear to be a mighty fine choice amongst those average voters fed up with politics as usual.

Now that McCain has won Florida, he is the clear Republican frontrunner, and Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement will only help. Mitt Romney could still win, but his flip-flopping makes his ultra-conservative platform troublesome for both parties, and a Mike Huckabee nomination may only serve to divide the righteous from the wicked. On the other side of the aisle, no one is more divisive (read disliked) than Hillary Clinton; you may recall that she easily topped the list of candidates that voters would never consider voting for, with an astounding 48%. Obama has the momentum, the early lead in votes, and the cash, having raked in $32m in January.

A Hillary/Huckabee battle would no doubt send voters fleeing to Canada and Mexico, but a McCain-Obama match-up would offer a choice between two respected, admired, and uncynical individuals – and that would make for a rare, if not extinct, ballot.

Here is everything you ever wanted...all it cost you is everything you have.  What a deal!Hillary Clinton has a gift for you, everything you ever wanted.

Aside from admitting that “combating” the global warming myth will require slowing our economy in a time of an allegedly slowing economy (and shouldn’t the “downturn” make the left happy? Why attempt to stimulate something that needs to stagnate so it doesn’t kill us?) , Bill Clinton made the following statement about Senator Clinton’s miracle energy cure-all:

“And guess what? The only places in the world today in rich countries where you have rising wages and declining inequality are places that have generated more jobs than rich countries because they made a commitment we didn’t. They got serious about a clean, efficient, green, independent energy future… If you want that in America, if you want the millions of jobs that will come from it, if you would like to see a new energy trust fund to finance solar energy and wind energy and biomass and responsible bio-fuels and electric hybrid plug-in vehicles that will soon get 100 miles a gallon, if you want every facility in this country to be made maximally energy efficient that will create millions and millions and millions of jobs, vote for her. She’ll give it to you. She’s got the right energy plan.”

There you have it, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has the cure-all energy plan that will save us from ourselves and every problem we face. All you have to do to get it is vote for her. Want a 100 mile per gallon car? Gotta vote Hillary. Never mind the fact that she’s a United States Senator and could have been pushing her miracle bill for the last 7 years.

This is a blatant election ploy that is even a new low for a Clinton. What’s next? A chicken in every pot? A donor organ for everyone who needs one? A $600 check for all? Wait, scratch that last one, Bush is already pushing that one.

With just days remaining until the battle royal across the nation that is Tsunami Tuesday, Barack Obama has apparently gone, dare I say, en fuego in the fundraising wars by scooping up an absolutely filthy $32 million in just the month of January.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the campaign attracted 170,000 new donors for a total of 650,000 donors overall. The $32 million raised in one month matches the campaign’s best three-month fundraising period in 2007, when the campaign raised $30 million in primary money and $2 million for the general. The money raised in January was all for the primaries.

Just how does this translate for his campaign? Here’s some information:

Obama is now advertising in 20 of the 22 states in play for next week’s Super Tuesday and plans to begin advertising in seven more states that hold primaries or caucuses later in February.

The only two Feb. 5 states Obama is not advertising in are Oklahoma and his home state of Illinois. Plouffe said the campaign also is set to begin radio and television ads Friday in states with contests between Feb. 9 and Feb. 12, including Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska, Maine, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

That is one big load of cash.

I was in the midst of a riveting, emotionally moving recap and analysis of last night’s GOP debate when I stumbled across this piece from Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard. Why reinvent the blogowheel; Hayes says precisely what I thought as I turned off the set last night and moved the rabbit ears to the upstairs TV.

HAYES: THERE WAS GOOD news and bad news for Mitt Romney from the debate last night in California: He probably won, but it’s not likely to matter.

Amen, brother. Romney looked strong, and certainly more presidential and commanding next to Senator Snark. But every second spent generally on Iraq or specifically on the Surge is a second lost for Romney. The governor can’t win on that issue, never will. These issues are in McCain’s proverbial wheelhouse. Romney was very effective on every other issue, but it was the Iraq exchange(s) that dominated the post-debate debate.

Last night Romney looked better, sounded better, explained his positions better and had much better hair and skin tone, but he won’t win the nomination unless McCain has the greatest five day collapse in history.

Mac

Tune to one of the news channels, kids, Rudy is dropping out and endorsing Johnny Mac!

Huck

By now everyone knows that John Edwards has returned to New Orleans, the site of his hyped launch, to bow out of the race. This despite pledging to fight on to the convention after losses in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Remember this?

“The race to the nomination is a marathon and not a sprint, and were committed to making sure the voices of all the voters in the remaining 47 states are heard,” he said. “The nomination won’t be decided by win-loss records, but by delegates, and were ready to fight for every delegate. Saving the middle class is going to be an epic battle, and that’s a fight John Edwards is ready for.”

That was Edwards 10 days ago.

Why the change of heart? Or better yet, what took Edwards so long to hear what democrats and most pundits were saying? (We won’t wag fingers, but there have been past and present contributors to this site who maintained Edwards was viable long after he was, well, viable.)

Interesting note, here’s what we had to say about Edwards in the oldest edition of the rankings available at PD. (several editions were lost during the redesign)

Date: November 6, 2006 – Ranking: 3) “As one reader told us, Edwards problem isn’t just that he’s an empty suit, he’s an empty $3,000 hand-made Italian suit talking about poverty when the issue is barely a blip on voters’ minds. His one advantage? He polls well, and for that he stays in the lead pack.”

For a slightly more in depth analysis of why Edwards never caught on, read this fine piece from Time.

So what’s your take? Was it the haircuts? (Which fueled some of my best jokes on Fox.) Was is the emergence of Obama from nowhere? Certainly J-Ed thought his chief competitor would be Hillary. Or was it the perception that he’d been rejected once by democrats, (and general election voters as VP) and he’d not given them any reason to allow him another shot?

Time to chime.

I tend to shy away from picking on one candidate too much, in fact I like to consider myself an equal opportunity offender, but when I opened my email this morning, I saw a message from Hillary Clinton to her mailing list trumpeting her “victory” in Florida yesterday. Here’s the opening salvo:

I know I told you our campaign journey would be filled with high-stakes twists and turns. But I never knew it would be quite as dramatic as this. And last night we celebrated another big moment in this campaign with our resounding victory in Florida.

Dramatic? Big moment? Are you freaking kidding me?

The delegate issue aside, the candidates pledged not to campaign there, which Hillary promptly got around by holding two “fundraisers” down there. So she has what should be meaningless wins in delegate deprived Michigan and Florida.

But wait, will it be meaningless?

Crusader Clinton to the rescue:

“I could not come here in person to ask you for your votes, but I am here to thank you for your votes today,” she said. “This has been a record turnout because Floridians wanted their voices to be heard. I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure not only are Florida’s Democratic delegates seated but Florida is in the winning column for the Democrats in 2008.”

Michigan also violated party rules by moving its primary to Jan. 15, and party leaders voted to strip the state of its 156 delegates as punishment. Clinton has also made a plea for Michigan delegates to be seated at the convention

A show of hands – how many of you think Hillary would be saying that if Obama had won those states?

That’s what I thought.

And to think she has a nearly 50% negativity rating. Go figure.

Anyway, since we’re on the topic of being shameless, I thought I would act that way as well with pointing out two things I said in recent posts about John McCain and the turnout in Florida.

Every once in a while a blind squirrel finds a nut. Or two.

Fox and others have called the race for McCain. What does this mean?

-Say hello to John McCain as your GOP nominee. He’s passed the “closed primary test” – long thought to be his greatest hurdle.

-Say goodbye to a brokered convention, GOP junkies.

-Say goodbye to Rudy, he looked almost relieved in his concession speech.

More tomorrow from me and our stellar contributors.

UPDATE @ 8:53 PM, EST The gap is inching wider again, McCain now leading by almost 40K votes with nearly half the votes in. Now comes word from Time that Rudy is set to endorse McCain as early as tomorrow. If the McCain lead holds, and he picks up the Rudy endorsement (though weakened, of course) McCain will be the GOP nominee.

UPDATE: (source CNN)

John McCain has long had trouble courting the most conservative members of his party, and exit polls of Florida Republican primary voters show a sizeable number continue not to support him.

According to the exit polls, 62 percent of primary voters identified themselves as conservative and 37 percent of them voted for Mitt Romney, compared to the 27 percent who went for McCain.

But McCain is the overwhelming favorite among the 28 percent of Republican voters who identified themselves as moderate, and the 11 percent who said they were liberal. The Arizona senator beats Romney among moderates 40-22 percent, and among liberals 46 percent to 25 percent.

UPDATE: FoxNews is reporting that McCain did better than expected with registered republicans, staying within 3 points of Romney. Romney is crushing McCain among conservatives. But the real news is that Romney is losing to McCain among economic voters.

UPDATE: Actual vote totals are picking up steam (12% in) and McCain has opened a bit of a lead. (3%, about 14K votes). Early voting and absentee not yet dumped into the totals.

EARLY EXITS: (source: ABC)

The economy is by far the top issue — just about half said so in these preliminary results. That’s double the next highest priorities, terrorism and illegal immigration. Though more than six in 10 expressed positive feelings about President Bush, about as many said the nation’s economy is not going well.

EARLY EXITS (source: Drudge): McCain 34.3%, Romney 32.6%, Giuliani 15.3%, Huckabee 12%

EARLY EXITS (source: FoxNews):

-1 in 5 voters made up their minds in the last 24 hours, they split evenly between Mitt and Mac.
-6 in 10 called themselves conservatives.
-Seniors and hispanics are two-to-one going with Mac.
-Conservatives and those naming illegal immigration going for Mitt.

I did some number crunching, and just how much of a role the early balloting could be in Florida is complected, but it really does appear it will be a major factor.

It all comes down to turnout. With heavy turnout expected, we could see as many as 2 million votes cast for today’s primary and if that number is reached, nearly a quarter of that number would have voted early.

There are approximately 3.8 million registered Republicans in the Sunshine State. There were a reported 474,000 or so early/absentee ballots cast by registered Republicans. How much of a role these play all comes down to the turnout among the rest of those GOPers who had not cast a vote yet.

So what kind of turnout should we expect?

The last time there was a contested GOP primary in Florida was 2000 and turnout was 25%. Turnout in New Hampshire and South Carolina in 2008 was 53% and 40% respectively. With the state being so vital, and the campaigns running amok in the state, I would say turnout of 50 to 55% is in the cards.

That is roughly 2 million votes, and nearly 25% of them have been cast, some well before the official primary today.

It is going to be VERY interesting this evening.

Nothing going on up here.John Edwards wants to be a player in Democratic politics, but there’s a problem with that – the voters don’t like him. Part of being elected to something is getting people to support you…That is not John Edwards’ strong suit. What exactly his strong suit is remains to be seen, which is why he’s relegated to also-ran status in this year’s primaries.

But the truth won’t stand in John’s way, at least not as long at there are federal matching funds available to him, so he presses on.

Now this story in The Hill about how Edwards seems to be positioning himself as player in a brokered convention, if all goes according to his plan. Since Edwards isn’t know for formulating and executing a successful plan, we don’t put much stock in this, but it would be interesting to see.

A Democratic nominee beholden to John Edwards would almost be worse than the Democratic Party we have now beholden to MorOn.org, er, MoveOn.org. In other words, we hope like hell that this works out!

Alright. First I have to admit that I’m a terrible blogger. I don’t keep up with my posts when I’m out of town – and I’m out of town a lot. It’s hard to write blog posts on a blackberry. I’m surprised that you all let me stay around here but I suppose that it’s prestigious to have someone who got beaten by a Kennedy on your blog roll… really it is.

I’m so behind the curve that I have to comment on something that happened weeks ago: the disappearance of one Congressman Duncan Hunter from the list of contenders. Yes, Duncan Hunter was in the race… Well, sort of… I guess. Of course, I believe in ghosts and terrorists and other things that liberals tell me don’t exist, too.

So I believe in Duncan Hunter.

I more than believed in him, in fact. I took a number of those tests that you can find online. You answer questions about your policy beliefs and it spits out the name of the contender that you have a symbiosis with; your political soul mate, if you will. It’s sorta like e-harmony for registered voters. I don’t want to pimp one over the others but you can search for them – probably in your in-box, because all of your friends have, no doubt, emailed them to you, at some point.

Well, they all paired me with my new sweetie: Congressman Duncan Hunter. I’ve met DH and had a conversation with him and, though I like him, I don’t “like him – like him” and we won’t be going to the prom (or wherever you go after e-harmony matches you). I disagree with him on trade issues, which never get factored in to those quizzes, but that’s not why I didn’t support him. If e-politics says that we’re the perfect match, why aren’t we still together? Why did I ignore his “wink” and his “nudge” and all of the other inane metaphors that I can make up for this dating site analogy?

The talk has been about why the Reagan conservatives can’t choose but I am a Reagan conservative and, if those tests work, then why didn’t we find our guy in Hunter? Is it because the media downplayed the guy from day one? I mean, what gets a guy like Huckabee into the first-tier and leaves the Gentleman from California trapped in an elevator in the sub sub-basement? He was not a bad candidate and had the policies to attract defense conservatives, economic conservatives, and social conservatives because, in the end, no one really votes based on trade policies (yawn). Yet here we are; effectively down to two on each side and Hunter is bouncing the grandkids on his knee while his son (also Duncan Hunter) runs for his Congressional seat.

I can’t be the only one who matched with candidates who are back in the barn. Why is it that we scream about ideas and ideology and we lend lip service to “taking control of our government” but we always choose “clean and articulate” over “man of substance”? Why do we let the media and the money choose the acceptable and get left with a decision between the lesser of two evils?

There’s always next cycle, I suppose. In 2012 I want a candidate who I can relate to. Memo to those thinking about the run:

Single White Registered Voter (SWRV) seeks Principled Reagan Conservative Candidate (PRCC) for long in-depth policy discussions and a better America. I like free markets, and the rights of the individual. You be good on taxes, babies, and guns. Together we can make beautiful small government.

Much Love

It’s hard to imagine that not long ago Mitt Romney’s “kindling” campaign strategy was charred after losses in Iowa and New Hampshire. Today for the first time he finds himself in the lead in a national poll. (Rasmussen, 28%-26% over McCain) It’s just one survey, of course, but it ain’t exactly a high school straw poll. Still, for the record, Mitt still trails McCain in the national averages 26%-20%.

So what about Florida? Many pundits predict the winner of Florida’s primary will go on to win the nomination. I agree. If McCain wins a closed primary in the south, coupled with leads in places like NY and CA, he’ll be the nominee.

If Romney wins Florida he’ll have a tougher road because so much of the GOP establishment still backs McCain and he’ll be very tough to bury, but Mitt will have undeniable momentum headed into February 5th and McCain doubters will come out in full force.

Isn’t it ironic that a very tight race in Florida, perhaps decided by just a few percentage points (32%-30%?), could be the difference-maker?

So what’s your prediction? Who wins Florida and what’s the breakdown? I’ll send the winner (Cheesy self-promotion alert!) a signed book to make things interesting.

After Saturday’s two-to-one beating in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton suffered another blow today when the brother and daughter of her husband’s (still with me?) hero endorsed her opponent.

Teddy and Caroline Kennedy threw their support behind Barack Obama today at American University in DC. Here’s how Politico reported it.
Here’s how the site’s Roger Simon interpreted it:

It was not just an endorsement, it was a rebuke.

Ted Kennedy didn’t just back Barack Obama for president Monday.

Kennedy reprimanded Bill and Hillary Clinton and criticized the campaign they have been running.

“When so many others were silent or simply went along, from the beginning, he opposed the war in Iraq,” Kennedy said of Obama.

Kennedy then thundered: “And let no one deny that truth!”

No one like Bill Clinton, who recently dismissed Obama’s opposition to the war as “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.”

Don’t cry for Floooorida, the truth I shouldn’t be here.Senator Clinton must have been really shaken up by having her ass handed to her in South Carolina Saturday because she’s going to spend time campaigning in Florida where the Democratic primary matters as much as straw poll of you and your friends at the bar as far as delegates go. So why would Senator Clinton waste time and money in a state where it won’t matter? Because she needs some sort of victory to help her recover from South Carolina.

A “victory” in Florida will be spun by her campaign the same way they attempted to spin her “victory” in Michigan, as something she earned by winning the trust of the voters. What her press releases and speeches mentioning her winning Michigan won’t mention is she was the only major candidate on the ballot and barely edged out uncommitted in vote totals. And she caught some flack for it, too.

Think we’re being a little hard on poor Hillary? Here’s what the Associated Press says;

Like her rivals, Clinton has agreed to a pledge imposed by national party leaders not to publicly campaign in the state. But after South Carolina, Clinton was skating up against the edge of that agreement and trying to lend some credibility to the outcome Tuesday.

Watch for her to start adding Florida to the list of primaries she’s “won.” In fact, don’t be surprised to see a speech by her Tuesday night claiming victory. How they cover this “win” will be a test of just how in the bag the mainstream media is for the Clintons and the intelligence of the American people. We have more faith in one than the other.

Again a dominating victory for the gold medalist in synchronized spinning, with a close race between the silver and bronze winnners.

Here is a recap of the results:

Gold Medal

Hillary Clinton (20 points)

Silver Medal

Barack Obama (12 points)

Bronze Medal

Mitt Romney (10 points)

For our fourth event, which I am dubbing the “Push-Poll Vault”, I want your top three choices for who has slung the most mud thus far in the contests.

Hillary