A year from now, we’ll be analyzing who won and why. So here’s my crystal ball:
America has its first woman President. And Hillary’s running mate, Evan Bayh, is poised to become in 2016 the first President in 24 years not named Bush or Clinton.
Giuliani’s choice of Fred Thompson for VP turned disastrous, as the two were barely on speaking terms by Election Day.
Iowa was decisive in the Democratic race. Obama’s third-place finish doomed him. When Clinton nosed out Edwards for first, the media declared the race over. Edwards battled on, but his pledge to honor federal spending limits handicapped him on Super Duper Tuesday, February 5.
For Republicans, the story was the split in the Religious Right. No candidate could get the traction there to overcome Rudy’s 9/11 image. In the fall, Gary Bauer’s third-party campaign stole votes from Giuliani in Virginia, giving that state to Clinton-Bayh. Ron Paul’s fourth-party bid hurt the GOP in Western states. And Rudy lost valuable time and energy convincing billionaire Michael Bloomberg not to run.
Richard Moore easily rolled to victory over Fred Smith. Moore won the Democratic primary with steady attacks on Beverly Perdue – and a massive infusion of family money for TV ads, in which Moore shone. Hard feelings lingered, but Smith never mounted a serious general election challenge. He couldn’t escape the far-right box that Moore put him in with an onslaught of attack ads immediately after the primaries.
Bob Orr, realizing after the primary that the GOP had become a party hostile to public schools, quietly switched his registration to Democratic. He is courted immediately as a candidate for Chief Justice.
North Carolina faces the happy prospect of, all told, 24 consecutive years of Jim Hunt-style governors.
In retrospect, Kay Hagan’s late start enabled Elizabeth Dole to barely hang on to her seat. Hagan had faced a steep learning curve, and a late fundraising start limited her TV buy. By fall she had Dole on the defensive, but ran out of time. Hagan’s strong showing makes her the Democratic favorite to challenge Richard Burr in two years.
The media openly speculates on whether Dole, who looked tired and sounded shrill in the debates, will be seen publicly in North Carolina ever again.
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