Mood-swing votes

By STEVEN STARK  |  October 31, 2007

More important, in this new atmosphere, Huckabee and McCain, outsider candidates who were once written off, could actually win their party’s nomination and the presidency. Huckabee is the Jimmy Carter of 2008: an unknown, small-state, Southern governor with a religious background. (People often forget that it was Carter who first courted evangelicals; his autobiography, Why Not the Best?, was released by a religious publisher.) Like Carter, Huckabee doesn’t bill himself as a conventional politician (he even plays in a rock band!), and propounds common-sense, often nonpartisan, solutions. And, like Carter, he has the potential to use the Iowa caucus as a launching pad to national recognition.

Then there’s McCain. The Arizona senator ran in 2000 as a kind of “saner Perot,” appealing to a similar strain of independent voters. As were his two outsider predecessors, McCain is a graduate of the Naval Academy and promises to bring the same kind of apolitical-management approach to government.

But 2000 was the wrong time for a rebirth of Perotism. For a while, it looked as if this year would be, too. The winds are shifting, though, and the maverick McCain may well be standing in the right place at the right time.

Both Huckabee and McCain face formidable obstacles. If they are to win, they’ll have to do it without much money. And their biggest problem is likely to be that the types of voters who are increasingly alienated from politics as usual don’t tend to vote in primaries. Instead, primaries are often controlled by increasingly smaller numbers of activist voters, whose predilections differ markedly from the more alienated electorate at-large.

Still, what’s clear is that a large part of the political community may be misreading the tenor of the times. Many students of American history know that, when the British surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown, the band struck up “The World Turned Upside Down.” Next year, when real voters actually join the process, that may be the theme song of Campaign 2008.

THE FIELD
REPUBLICANS

RUDY GIULIANI
Odds: 5-3 | past week: 2-1
MITT ROMNEY
Odds: 7-2 | same
FRED THOMPSON
Odds: 5-1 | 7-2
JOHN MCCAIN
Odds: 6-1 | 5-1
MIKE HUCKABEE
Odds: 11-1 | 15-1
RON PAUL
Odds: 500-1 | 5,000-1
DUNCAN HUNTER
Odds: 200,000-1 | same
TOM TANCREDO
Odds: 250,000-1 | same
ALAN KEYES
Odds: 3 million-1 | same

DEMOCRATS
HILLARY CLINTON
Odds: 3-5 | past week: same
BARACK OBAMA
Odds: 3-1 | 3-2
JOHN EDWARDS
Odds: 9-1 | 10-1
JOE BIDEN
Odds: 75-1 | 200-1
BILL RICHARDSON
Odds: 100-1 | same
CHRIS DODD
Odds: 250-1 | same
DENNIS KUCINICH
Odds: 100,000-1 | same
MIKE GRAVEL
Odds: 16 million-1 | same

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