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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dogs That Didn’t Bark

It’s traditional on the last day of the year to compose lists of notable political developments or personages; J.P. Green’s list of those who deserve a New Year’s toast is a good example, as is Mike Thomasky’s “Worst Americans” list.
I thought it might be interesting to list some widely expected political developments of 2008 that didn’t happen. I’ve had some advice from friends on this subject, which I greatly appreciate.
In roughly chronological order, Dogs That Didn’t Bark included, among others:
Barack Obama is a media-driven flash-in-the-pan whose presidential candidacy will be quickly crushed by Hillary Clinton.
Republicans are desperate enough to remain in power that they will toss social conservatives under the bus and go with a presidential nominee like Rudy Giuliani (or, later on, a vice-presidential nominee like Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge or Condi Rice).
John Edwards’ big head start in Iowa, his netroots support, his “southernness,” and his careful positioning to the left of Clinton and Obama will enable him to emerge as the “true progressive” candidate and benefit from doubts about his rivals.
The “front-loading” of the primary/caucus schedule means you don’t have to win IA or NH anymore.
Ron Paul’s internet-based “revolution” will be the surprise story of the Republican nominating contest.
Al Gore will eventually be drawn into the 2008 race.
Once Hillary Clinton loses a contest, her “inevitability” will vanish and her candidacy will quickly collapse.
Barack Obama’s loss in New Hampshire will send his candidacy into a death-spiral.
The “Bradley Effect” means that Barack Obama will always underperform expectations.
The Democratic nomination will be determined on Super Duper Tuesday.
Democratic “superdelegates” will eventually win the nomination for Hillary Clinton.
Obama’s “wine-track Democrat” profile makes him a sure loser like Adlai and Gene and Bill Bradley.
John McCain’s support among independents is his electoral ace-in-the-hole.
Obama can’t overcome the Jeremiah Wright “scandal” (or the “elitism scandal”).
Angry pro-Clinton PUMAs will throw the general election to McCain.
The Clintons will find a way to undermine Obama and throw the general election to McCain, preserving HRC’s ability to run in 2012.
The “success” of the “surge” will throw the general election to McCain.
Obama’s FISA vote will destroy his netroots support and discourage the Democratic base.
Obama’s candidacy will implode if he chooses a running-mate who supported the Iraq War.
McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running-mate is a “game changer” that will attract PUMAs and white-working-class voters to the Republican ticket.
The “expanded battlefield” strategy of the Obama campaign is a hoax or failure; it will all come down again to Ohio (or Florida, or Pennsylvania).
The Iraq War will prove to be the dominant issue in the general election.
The financial crisis will help McCain by making worried voters focus on experience.
The financial crisis and the first big bailout have absorbed all the federal revenues that might have been available to do anything else.
The general election is guaranteed to “tighten up” in the home stretch.
Polls are meaningless.
Hispanics won’t vote for an African-American, particularly against a southwestern Republican who fought for “comprehensive immigration reform.”
There are too many “Appalachian whites” in Virginia and North Carolina for Obama to win either state.
There’s a tape of Michelle Obama ranting against “whitey” that will eventually doom her husband’s candidacy.
Polls are not capturing the vast and unprecedented size of the “youth vote.”
As Obama’s election grows more certain, there will be a backlash against Democratic congressional candidates out of a popular desire for divided government.
Obama can’t overcome the destructive power of being associated with the “L word” (liberal) or “S word” (socialism).
The electorate that elected Obama president just wanted “change” and is as conservative as ever; his support will drop rapidly during the transition.

I’m sure there are many others I am missing, but even this list shows how often real events confound expectations and expert analysis. That will undoubtedly be true in 2009 as well.

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