Russ Feingold, Democratic US Senator from Wisconsin, has announced he will not seek the democratic nod for president in 2008.
Amidst the stunned silence of liberals across the country one could hear distinctly the lyrics of Donna Fargo emanating from Chappaqua, NY.
Why? Because Feingold’s w/d puts Hillary that much closer to an early nomination win in 2008.
Feingold is a true liberal, and his presence in the race was at present the only liberal presence in the field. In a 11.12.2006 article handicapping the field Joe Trippi called Feingold “The One to Watch” ,
“Perhaps the most authentic candidate, the senator from Wisconsin has a deep connection to the grass roots and is a favorite of the party’s progressive wing. If President Bush stays stubborn on Iraq and the rest of the field plays it safe, Feingold could get very hot”.
But not now…
What was most telling about the article and the field is that there is no one in his list of ten likely candidates who is clearly and obviously to the left of Hillary C. Such a candidate could potentially force her to move to the left on some issues, which would move her away from the critical center. Meanwhile, everyone else who is at present a reasonable contender is no more liberal than Senator Clinton, and many are more conservative.
So what, you might say?
There are two key factors that make the Feingold withdrawal important:
1. A massively front end loaded Democratic nominating process, and
2. Bwana’s Champions Theory of Nominations
The first item is self explanatory…the more front end loaded the process, the less time and opportunity exists for a candidate to develop recognition and support and gradually build momentum. Instead, a huge edge goes to the candidate who comes into the race with the big rep and big resources. Edge: Hillary
The second is where Bwana’s Theory comes into play.
Last June I explained my Champions Theory. While not as complex as a Stephen Hawkings Unified Theory, it is perhaps more understandable. My theory is:
in any nominating contest there are ultimately two factions who choose a representative, and the final contest for the nomination is between the two champions. Each faction may have multiple sub-factions, in which case the process takes longer as each sub-faction chooses a winner, then those winners duke it out to see who goes to the finals.
The sooner a champion is chosen, the more time that individual has to campaign beyond the base and maximize their chances of winning.
Yes, I am sure there is a better term than this used in the realm of Game Theory, and if anyone knows that term please let me know.
This theory originally worked to Hillary’s detriment. When Mark Warner left the race, it removed a strong candidate from the moderate conservative faction, making it more likely that the final champion would be found faster, and that person would be the first to be able to expand beyond their faction’s base.
Now, it works in her favor.
If Hillary has no opposition to her left, then she can readily claim the center/left of center turf without serious opposition. The faster she does this, with the built in advantages of money and contacts, etc., plus the front end loaded schedule, the more likely she is to be able to wrap up the nomination before serious opposition to her right has a chance to coalesce behind a moderate-conservative alternative…and that is why the Feingold withdrawal has Hillary humming a Donna F tune.
I suspect that both GOP and Democrats will choose their nominee fairly early in 2008, and that in the absence of another liberal/progressive force joining the Dem field, Feingold’s withdrawal may ultimately prove to be the critical stone in nailing down the nomination for Senator Hillary Clinton.