by Max Brantley
TO THE CLINTON SCHOOL POLITICAL ANIMALS CAUCUS:
Election Day Predictions:
Barack Obama will be elected President of the United States and by a comfortable margin. My final electoral count is 338-200 giving Obama the toss up states of Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. He could make it 339 with a win in one of Nebraska's Congressoinal Districts. John McCain will carry Arkansas. I also give him North Carolna, though it could go Senator Obama's way in a landslide. In fairness to Senator McCain,--- the fact that 90 percent of the American people think the country is headed in the wrong direction and President George W. Bush is more unpopular than President Richard Nixon the night before he resigned to avoid impeachment-- the odds have been against him from the beginning. President Bush even voted absentee to avoid the publicity of casting a public vote, and Vice President Cheney's Wymong endorsement of Senator McCain quickly turned into a television ad for Senator Obama. That was not the closing argument Senator McCain had hoped for and respectfully, the Vice President should have stayed in Washington and away from the cameras.
Senator McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate temporarily ignited the Republican conservative base, but the excitement was short-lived and other than drawing larger crowds than Senator McCain, Governor Palin ended up hurting more than helping. Large majorities believe she is not qualified to be President.
The best line of the 2008 campaign came in late August from Clinton School student Nicholas Hall: "I'm impressed. It took John McCain only one interview to pick a Vice President. It took me three interviews to get a server's job at Ruby Tuesday." .
Governor Palin's inexperience further highlighted concerns associated with Senator McCain's age and health..
The economic crisis also aided Senator Obama. Senator McCain's bizarre decision to suspend his campaign and return to Washington to supposedly orchestrate bailout legislation proved to be a fatal political error. Senator Obama never again lost the lead in the polls.
Senator Obama's big win actually was in the semifinals when he defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Had she won the Democratic nomination, Senator Clinton no doubt would have defeated Senator McCain too--probably by an even larger margin than Senator Obama will Tuesday. She certainly deserves praise for her dedicated efforts for Senator Obama.
In addition to the Presidential campaign, I'm following an Arkansas issue with great interest.
I cast my ballot on the first day of early voting. and I voted for the Arkansas lottery--the proceeds of which will go to higher education scholarships. Since Arkansans are already flocking in large numbers to border states to purchase lottery tickets, I believe we should establish our own form of Hope Scholarships like those created by the highly successful Georgia state lottery. I have favored a lottery for college scholarships for many years because Arkansas, unfortunately, ranks 50th in the number of bachelor degrees and 50th in the number of master degrees. Student loan debt is a major contributor to these low numbers and more scholarships are needed. They've certainly made a big difference in Georgia. These new Arkansas scholarships should be made available to some medical school and law school students too.
There is a debate over how much money an Arkansas lottery will generate. Estimates range from $60 million to $100 million annually. Whatever the actual number turns out to be, millions of new dollars every year will be designated for college scholarships and that's positive. Lt. Governor Bill Halter deserves credit for leading the initative and Halter's Little Rock Catholic High School football coach, George Loss, wins for the most effective television campaign commercial with his pro lottery message. I'm cautiously optimistic it will pass.
As I try to do every four years, I plan to watch Presidential election returns at home and be accessible by email. Virginia's polls close at 6 p.m..CST folowed by Ohio at 6:30 p.m. and Florida/Pennsvlvania at 7 p.m. If my predictions are right, it could be over early. Election night parties can be fun, but I will also be following local, state and national results, and that's much easier to do at home rather than among large crowds.
If you're interested in the White County Judge's race; who made the runoff for Mayor in Fayetteville and Jonesboro; whether a 27 year old Republican will be elected to Congress from Illinois or whether a 26 year old Democrat will be elected to Congress from Indiana, I'll be following them and many more. Think what the United States Senate will be like with Al Franken and look for the Republicans to gain state legislative seats in Arkansas. Keep an eye on the number of votes Green candidate Rebekah Kennedy receives against United States Senator Mark Pryor.
I must admit I've broken my "election night at home" rule twice. In 1992, as I was standing in front of the Old State House in downtown Little Rock watching President elect Clinton's acceptance speech, the late attorney Herschel Friday came up to me and said, "Tomorrow, we've got to start thinking about the Presidential Library." I didn't know what a Presidential Library was, but I soon learned. Four years later in 1996, I was back downtown to celebrate once again with a Presidential Library high on my list.
If the 1992 Clinton War Room changed the way campaigns were run, so has the 2008 Obama technology. Time Magazine most likely will name Senator Obama as its 2008 Personality of the Year. Facebook, You Tube and text messaging should get runners up.
I'll see those of you in Arkansas Tuesday morning at the River Market for the Political Animals Caucus. Others please email your electoral college predictions to Sara Himelfarb.
Get ready for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in 2009 and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana running in 2012. Let the speculation begin.
-- Skip Rutherford