Imagine questioning some of the best in Republican and Democratic strategists at this point in the campaign cycle. For a political professional or political junkie it’s a dream come true. WaPo has done the deed for us with a very insightful article published today.
Here are the 7 Questions and the first portion of the answers:
Q: Is the Clinton campaign a true juggernaut — or is that just what she wants everyone to believe?
A: Not a juggernaut, but it is the best campaign on the block right now. That’s a view widely shared among Democratic strategists and emphatically asserted by some veteran Republicans sizing up the race.
Q: Is there a Republican front-runner?
A: Yes. Two actually, depending on how you read the race and history: Giuliani and Romney.
Q: Is anyone on either side positioned to break into the top tier?
A: There was a near-unanimous view that, among Republicans, only Huckabee has the potential to do so. But there was an equally strong view that it will be awfully difficult. [Dem’s discussed in the article.]
Q: Does the new, turbo- charged calendar make Iowa and New Hampshire more important — or less?
A: More important, unless they aren’t — and that’s not as odd as it sounds.
Q: Is it too late for Al Gore or Newt Gingrich to get into the race?
A: In a word, yes. Not that they couldn’t jump in. But the prospects do not look bright for either. “It’s not too late for Al Gore and Newt to get in, but it’s certainly too late for either of them to win,” Newhouse said.
Q: Do ideas matter in this election?
[I found the next answer very interesting.]
A: Yes, but no candidate has yet seized the mantle of the ideas candidate — though Edwards has certainly tried.
“Ideas do matter,” a GOP strategist said. “The American people are sick of the nonsense. They’re cynical. They’re angry, they’re sick of the status quo. . . . They’re looking for someone to call them to action. . . . I don’t think anyone has effectively done that so far.”
Q: When do I really need to start paying attention, and should I trust the polls?
A: Many strategists are skeptical of all polls right now. Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) was at 9 percent in a Gallup poll of Democrats in January 2004, before the Iowa caucuses. By early February, after a string of victories, he was at 52 percent.
If you value knowing both sides of the political landscape this is an article worth reading.