No sooner will 2007 end than we will be right in the middle of the 2008 campaign. Iowa cornfields will still be frozen over when the caucuses convene on Jan. 3, kicking off the most front-loaded primary schedule in history.
Though this proves to be a uniquely unpredictable election cycle, I dare take this opportunity to offer a few predictions for the 2008 political year.
The continued success of the surge in Iraq will further isolate the radical left who have long claimed America’s defeat. The proponents of surrender on the far left will continue to not allow the facts to get in the way of a good argument. The success of the new strategy in Iraq, with its centerpiece “surge,” is undeniable to all but a few. Iraq dominated much of the 2006 campaign because many voters believed that whatever we were doing wasn’t working. Continued military victories combined with an insurgency on the run will continue to result in the fizzling of anti-war sentiment among Americans.
The movement for national reform of our primary process will gain momentum following the 2008 election. This year’s trend of states climbing over each other to hold earlier and earlier primaries reverses the post-World War II trend of greater predictability in the outcomes of the national conventions. This, combined with the five-state penalization by the Republican National Committee for holding primaries or caucuses prior to the date set by national party rules, will lead to more pressure for a national solution for the next national campaign, lest we hold the 2012 primaries before Thanksgiving 2011.
Democrats in Washington and Sacramento will continue to push for tax increases, even in an election year. It’s been said that you can put lipstick on a pig, and you still have a pig. All the lipstick in the world won’t cover up the numerous tax increases that Democrats, particularly in the House, will push for in 2008. The Democrats’ failure to fix the glaring and unfair problems in the Alternative Minimum Tax demonstrates that the majority party in Washington has little sympathy for taxpayers, even when a tax has gone so awry from its original intent, as the AMT has done.
Governor Schwarzenegger will continue to champion solutions in policy areas traditionally dominated by Democrats, including education and environmental protection. This governor is fearless about charging into issues where the other team has traditionally run the show, challenging the conventional wisdom in Sacramento. He’s also someone who has sacrificed a great deal in the private sector to take on a role in government, leaving him motivated to take on the big issues of our time.
Technology will continue to spur change in the ways campaigns are waged, particularly in California. Phone banks will have diminishing impact as the number of voters relying on their home phones continues to drop. Internet-based sources of candidate information will continue to displace traditional mail. The proportion of voters casting ballots in person will continue to fall. All of these changes, spurred at least in part by changes in the availability and forms of communications technology, will give an advantage to the campaigns best capable of adapting to the changing ways voters receive and process information prior to making their voting decisions.
The blogosphere will exert increased influence on what appears in more traditional media outlets. Diminished newsroom budgets and staffing will continue to drive print and broadcast reporters to rely more heavily on the blogosphere and other Internet-based outlets for tips and information for their stories. Because many of these sources are biased and anonymous, traditional reporters will continue to be subjected to new forms of influence that they may not yet be accustomed to.
Some things change, some stay the same. Even in the unique political circumstances surrounding 2008, a few things remain lucid going into the New Year. The GOP has an exceptional field of presidential candidates, each of which would be far superior to any Democrat securing their party’s nomination; Democrats in Sacramento and Washington will not waiver in their resolve to raise your taxes and expand government; and a Democrat party that continues to define itself against everything rather than for anything will have little to stand on going into the 2008 elections.