Evan Bayh versus Dick Cheney for president in 2008? Political scientist Larry Sabato speculated along those lines in an entertaining look at politics he delivered on April 29 in Lincoln, Neb. Sabato is often quoted in the national media; learn more about him at www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/.
Bayh, a moderate Democrat, is the Indiana senator with a “squeaky clean” background. Sabato notes that Indiana’s electoral votes went to Bush in 2004. With Bayh as the candidate, those 11 votes would likely switch to the Democrat tally. Ohio, the neighboring state that determined the outcome of the 2004 election, would be dramatically influenced to go with Bayh, Sabato speculated.
Bayh is a better candidate than New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who Sabato said carries too much baggage and is too liberal for much of the country. Sabato predicted, however, that the primaries in 2008 leading up to the Democratic national convention will feature a contest between Clinton and Bayh.
Vice President Cheney has said he won’t run for president, but Sabato described a scenario in which Cheney declares his candidacy based on a request from President Bush who says ‘there is still work to be done.’ “If he does that, he clears the Republican field. It’s over,” said Sabato. “Cheney’s the nominee. Doesn’t matter that he now is saying he doesn’t want to run.”
Sabato said all presidential elections are decided according to four factors: war, the economy, scandal, and hot-button social issues. In 2004, the war, the economy and the social issues all worked in favor of President Bush.
Although he won by nearly 3 million votes, Sabato pointed out that it was an extremely close election. “If 58,000 votes in Ohio had gone the other way, John Kerry would be our president today,” he said. “Only Woodrow Wilson in 1916 had a closer re-election in the electoral college. On the popular vote, no president who ever has been re-elected has been re-elected by this narrow of a margin.”
Sabato offered the following list for 2008 presidential candidates:
George Allen, Senator from Virginia
Chuck Hagel, Senator from Nebraska
Sam Brownback, Senator from Kansas
Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York
Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas
New Gingrich, former Congressman from Georgia
John McCain, Senator from Arizona
Bill Frist, Senator from Tennessee
George Pataki, Governor of New York
Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts
Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York
Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico
Evan Bayh, Senator from Indiana
Mark Warner, Governor of Virginia
Al Gore, former vice president
Gen. Wesley Clark
Joe Biden, Senator from Delaware
John Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts
Tom Vilsack, Governor of Iowa
Phil Bredesen, Governor of Tennessee
Russ Feingold, Senator from Wisconsin
Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont
John Edwards, former senator from North Carolina
Sabato predicted that mid-term elections in 2006 will be hard on the Republicans. The administration usually suffers during the election conducted in the sixth year of an eight-year two-term administration, he said. Sabato said Harry Truman in 1950, Dwight Eisenhower in 1958, Lyndon Johnson of the Kennedy-Johnson presidency in 1966, Gerald Ford of the Nixon-Ford administration in 1974, and Ronald Reagan in 1986 all suffered party losses in Congress. Sabato noted Bill Clinton as the exception in 1998, but attributed that to a voter backlash against Republican impeachment tactics.
Sabato also predicted Democrats will make gains in governorships across the country in 2006.
tMichaelB is the web site for Tom Bengtson, who writes about business, religion, family and politics.
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