However, the water gets a lot murkier when the question of "who else" arises. Iowans may vote for their own Tom Vilsack, but then America would just write off the Iowa Caucus. Moderate Democrats see their hopes circling the drain with the withdrawal of Mark Warner, and leftist Dems might make Russ Feingold a candidate, but they aren't numerous enough to make him a winner.
Wanted: a non-extreme Democrat who is electable (in November), likable (to donors), and tolerable (to enough primary-voting Dems). The only solution Global Review can find is Barack Obama, whose star will never be higher than it is now. TIME magazine's new issue has the senator's serious face beaming forth light and goodness from its cover, and speaks with the voice of a historian describing the rise of Caesar.
Obama wanders into a casual disquisition about the sluggish nature of democracy. The answer is not even remotely a standard, pretaped political response. He moves through some fairly arcane turf, talking about how political gerrymandering has led to a generation of politicians who come from safe districts where they don't have to consider the other side of the debate, which has made compromise--and therefore legislative progress--more difficult. "That's why I favored Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal last year, a nonpartisan commission to draw the congressional-district maps in California. Too bad it lost." The crowd is keeping up with Obama, listening closely as he segues into a detailed discussion of the federal budget. Eventually, he realizes he has been filibustering and apologizes to the crowd for "making a speech." No one seems to care, since Obama is doing something pretty rare in latter-day American politics: he is respecting their intelligence.While one could accuse TIME's editors of anointing "The Next President" (yes, that's in boldface next to Obama's pic on the cover), it's hard to argue with the choice. The caveat of his new-ness in Washington is already wearing out, having been so early and often invoked. By the time most people begin paying attention in late 2007, Obama's new-ness will be old news.
Obama's personal appeal is made manifest when he steps down from the podium and is swarmed by well-wishers of all ages and hues, although the difference in reaction between whites and blacks is subtly striking. The African Americans tend to be fairly reserved--quiet pride, knowing nods and be-careful-now looks. The white people, by contrast, are out of control. A nurse named Greta, just off a 12-hour shift, tentatively reaches out to touch the Senator's sleeve. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I just touched a future President! I can't believe it!"Global Review isn't yet convinced that Obama can pull Hillary's support, which he'll have to do to win. But we'll watch Deval Patrick's margins in Massachusetts as compared to the pre-election polls; that could give a good indicator of just how much being black helps or hurts a candidate in an old-liberal electorate (the new-liberal electorate of the primary fell all over itself voting for Patrick).
It's hard to infer much from this month's rankings. All candidates were up save Hagel; even the purged Daschle and Tancredo posted gains. Additionally, the upcoming midterm elections overstate candidates running for reelection, including Allen and Clinton.
The monthly prediction...
Oct '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Sep '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Aug '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Jul '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Jun '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
May '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Apr '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Mar '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice
Feb '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice
|R.1||Sen. John McCain||1,910||0|
|R.2||Sen. Bill Frist||1,360||+2|
|R.3||Sen. George Allen||1,300||0|
|R.4||Gov. Mitt Romney||1,140||-2|
|R.5||Secy. Condoleezza Rice||604||+1|
|R.7||Gov. George Pataki||376||0|
|R.8||Gov. Jeb Bush||333||+1|
|R.10||Gov. Mike Huckabee||232||-2|
|R.11||Sen. Sam Brownback||153||+1|
|R.12||Sen. Chuck Hagel||52||-1|
|D.1||Sen. Hillary Clinton||2,710||0|
|D.2||Sen. John Kerry||2,200||0|
|D.3||Gov. Mark Warner||1,120||+2|
|D.4||Sen. John Edwards||1,010||0|
|D.5||Sen. Barack Obama||932||+1|
|D.7||Sen. Harry Reid||553||+5|
|D.9||Sen. Evan Bayh||488||-1|
|D.10||Gov. Bill Richardson||479||-2|
|D.11||Sen. Russ Feingold||436||0|
|D.12||Gov. Tom Vilsack||418||+1|
|D.13||Sen. Joseph Biden||385||-3|
|D.14||Sen. Christopher Dodd||354||+1*|
Notes: The Chatter Rankings are created by searching each candidate's name plus "2008" in the Google News database. Tom Tancredo and Tom Daschle have been purged after several months of low results. However, they are still fringe candidates in the sense that the rising tide brought them both up to about 50 chatter as compared to 20 last month. Senator Christopher Dodd qualifies this month for the first time. Last month he was tested and did not qualify as "Chris Dodd", but that was my error: like Giuliani, Feingold, and Biden, he is commonly known by his given name as well as a nickname. My solution, since all of these have unique surnames, is to search without a first name. This overstates them relative to other candidates by 2-3% (this number is derived by searching the other candidates by last only and comparing with first+last).
See graphs of the past Chatter Rankings plus Chatter Rankings from September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, December, August, July, June, and May.