Charlie Cook's Political Outlook for 2008

10/10/2007 12:00 am EST

Focus: MARKETS

Charlie Cook

Editor & Publisher, The Cook Political Report

Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report said 2008 may be an uphill battle for Republicans, whom he thinks have a 40% shot of holding onto the White House.

On the Democratic side, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama leveled out at the beginning of April. Polls show he does really well with young people and the best educated, but only has a 10% chance because of his youthful appearance (he is 46 but looks 35, said Cook), and he is not receiving enough credit for his stint as a senator. Sen. Hillary Clinton still dominates in popularity overall and has an 80%-85% chance of winning the Democratic nomination, according to Cook. Most Democrats believe that she can win the general election.

He thinks that the Republicans are looking for a candidate who doesn’t have clear ties to the war in Iraq. Also, the passion in the Republican Party is on the anti-immigration side, and he seriously doubts anyone that is pro-amnesty will win with the Republicans.

Sen. John McCain was the early front-runner, but Cook said the contradiction of his campaign personality has harmed his popularity. He originally presented himself as a maverick, but he learned that mavericks don’t win so he changed his tactics and became a team player. This change backfired, and now neither the team players nor the mavericks trust him.

Cook noted that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is the most talented campaigner, but without the funds and backing of a national organization, it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a Harvard law degree and a business degree. Cook said in the business world he is very impressive, and he is improving politically. Although being Mormon does present an issue, Romney’s biggest obstacle is flip-flopping. Originally he was fairly liberal on the cultural issues, but he is becoming more conservative.

Mr. Cook said that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is perfectly positioned to win a Democratic nomination. Unfortunately, he is a Republican candidate. He is pro-choice, pro-gun-control, and pro-gay-rights which, according to Cook, is heresy in the Republican realm. Also, he has a “colorful” personal life, which Cook said will most likely hinder his chances.

He said the winner of the Republican nomination will be the person who has the smartest, most experienced team of campaign professionals with a clearly defined plan that is executed well and time tested.

Cook said it might be Rudy Giuliani, but if he had to bet today, Mitt Romney has the advantage.

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