Four theories to explain Hillary's stunner.

A mostly political Weblog.
Jan. 9 2008 5:04 AM

Hillary Stuns--Four Theories

Bonus 5th Theory just added!

(Continued from Page 45)

Brendan Nyhan  on the Carteresque silliness of Obama's idea of providing (in the NYT's description) "live Internet feeds of all executive branch department and agency meetings." ... For a good example of how idealistic "open meeting" laws can gum up government by forcing officials to endure hours of for-show public meetings with grandstanding interest groups before actually getting down to business, read Lynn and Whitman's terrific account of Carter's welfare-reform failure. ... P.S.: How about live internet feeds of all Obama staff meetings? The voters of Iowa deserve no less! ... 11;42 A.M.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

I hesitate to bring this up, but isn't the unremarked-on wild card in the debate over Social Security's solvency ... immigration? I've always been told by defenders of the system that one of the main safety valves, should it begin to look insolvent, was the ability to let in more immigrants-- increasing the crucial worker-to-retiree ratio. But to the extent the current immigration debate unexpectedly chases FICA-paying illegal immigrants away, and discourages admitting more legal immigrants, mightn't it by the same token make Social Security less solvent than currently projected? ... kf's solutions:a) If the number of illegals actually falls dramatically, that's what will make it possible to eventually get public support for a reasonable increase in quotas for legals; b) Find other ways to make the system solvent--like reducing the benefits of the affluent. If we have to raise taxes or cut benefits a bit more to make up for controlling the borders, it's worth it. ...

Why we love Matt Welch: You raise an issue that maybe cuts against your side, and all of a sudden you're a "goalpost-shifting ... restrictionist weathervane."  And I've pledged $100 for this guy's going away party? Worth every penny! ... 8: 28 P.M.

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The Feiler Faster Thesis in action, as applied by Steven Stark of RCP:

Obama's mini-surge has come awfully early, giving his opponents ample time to answer back. John Kerry and John Edwards surged later in Iowa last time - and that was ages ago technology-wise, in a year when the race was not nearly as intensely covered as now and few had Blackberries.

It's not that Obama won't win Iowa. It's that to do so, he's going to need a second and a third act. In the early days of television, Bob Hope complained "in the old days you could do one sketch for five years. But if you use that sketch on TV, in one night it's used up." The same principle applies to this year's process, which is the first real campaign of the internet age. [E.A.]

Right, Because people--I'd say voters as well as reporters--are comfortable processing information at a faster pace, there is plenty of time for Obama and Huckabee to wear out their welcome and fade. There is time for them to fade and come back. And fade again. ...

P.S.: There's also effectively more time between the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus and the Jan. 8 New Hampshire primary than there was during the equivalent 5 day period in, say, 1984. ...

P.P.S.: Stark's point seems different than the argument** that by surging so soon a candidate like Huckabee has ironically raised the expectation that he will win Iowa, making a fading second place a bit of a defeat. But if Huckabee fades in the polls, why shouldn't "expectations" about him ebb and flow as quickly as his numbers?  Maybe there is a ratchet for expectations--once you are in the top tier that might win you're expected to win. But how then to explain McCain, who was top tier but fell out and now has low expectations--so he'll be a big winner if he finishes third in Iowa? ... Clearly there are things you can do to "reset" expectations, like firing your campaign staff. ...