The Road to 2008

March 27, 2007

Is Hillary electable in 2008? Is John McCain’s campaign in danger of derailing? Could Mitt Romney emerge as the Republican party standard-bearer? Could John Edwards wind up heading the Democratic ticket?

Ron Hayduk, an associate professor of political science, has never been reticent about expressing his views of the American political scene. As co-founder of the Immigrant Voting Project and the author of several books on the electoral process, he is interviewed often on TV and radio and in major newspapers across the nation. He recently shared his perspectives on the next presidential race with InsideBMCC.

Let’s cut to the chase: Who do you predict will be the major party candidates for president in 2008?Clearly, Clinton and Obama have the jump on the Democratic side, and Giuliani and McCain are the Republican front-runners for now. But the first primaries won’t take place for another year. A lot can happen till then.

Such as?Any number of things – a scandal, a misstep by a leading candidate, or another terrorist attack – could tilt the playing field dramatically. If that happens, a lesser-known candidate who’s staked out a position that resonates with the voters could wind up doing surprisingly well in the primaries. So it’s too early to dismiss candidates like Edwards and Richardson.

The larger states, including New York, New Jersey and California, have moved their primaries ahead by several months. What impact will that have?For one thing, it will make what happens in places like New Hampshire and Iowa less important. For another, funding is likely to dry up quickly for candidates who don’t score early victories, making it difficult for them to sustain any momentum. So, by the end of next March, we should know pretty well who the nominees will be. In any event, the big states tend to favor liberals, which means that moving up those primaries will likely give an early bump to left-of-center candidates.

Including Rudy Giuliani?Yes. Initially, a lot of people thought he was a long shot because his views – especially on abortion, gay rights and immigration – are more liberal than those of the Republican mainstream. But with the big states in the mix so early, he could do very well. Up until recently, everyone figured McCain as the one to beat. But Giuliani, and even some of the other announced Republican candidates, could give McCain a run for his money.

Last question: Do you think Hillary is electable?On balance, yes. But she’ll have a long and arduous path to travel. Historically, this country has not been willing to elect anyone to the presidency other than white males, so Hillary has that tradition against her. There is also resentment of her on non-gender-related grounds, such as her vote to authorize the war in Iraq. But she is well-funded and has great name recognition. She is definitely electable.

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