Handicapping the derby

“Who do you think: Barack or Hillary?”

I’ve heard that question at least a dozen times since the Democratic senators officially joined the presidential derby.

“Who will win?” My answer hasn’t been too popular, with left- and right-leaners.


And the reason pains me.

Before I elaborate, let me say upfront that I have a degree in history, not political science, so I’m not a certified expert on electioneering. Only once in a primary have I voted for a winning nominee—and that was Bill Clinton for re-election. I’ve never won an election pool or football forecast; the closest I’ve come to clairvoyance is a friendly wager over last year’s Oscars, when I went six for six in the major categories, but all that got me was candy and a soda.

What I’m saying is I don’t have the best track record when it comes to handicapping. In this case, I may well be wrong … but I fear that I’m not.

Many people harbor prejudices, and those tend to manifest themselves on Election Day. In the privacy of a voting booth, or at home with an absentee ballot, even some of the most “enlightened” Americans make decisions that run contrary to political correctness. I think of California as one of the more progressive states, yet I remain surprised by the wide support garnered by anti-immigrant initiatives (Prop 187, denying social services to undocumented aliens, and Prop 227, prohibiting bilingual education).

So is this country likely to elect a woman (Hillary Clinton) or a black man (Barack Obama) president in 2008? Or a Latino (Bill Richardson)? I would like to think so—I just don’t. Attack ads and mailings remain successful campaign tactics. Indirectly pandering to base instincts still produces the “desired” effect.

My forecast for a winning ticket: John Edwards for president, Obama for vice president—defeating John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. For whatever that’s worth …

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Congratulations: CN&R contributor Mandy Feder placed ninth out of 101 entrants in the Hearst Journalism Awards’ in-depth writing competition. She got recognized for “The Third Sex,” our Nov. 16 cover story about a Chico State student who is Middle Eastern, Muslim … and a transsexual. Feder, a recent graduate of Chico State, won $500 for herself and $500 for the Journalism Department.

PSA: Soroptimist International Bidwell Rancho—one of Chico’s two groups of Soroptimists—is fielding grant requests from local non-profit organizations. For information or an application for funds, contact Cori Ong (<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript"> </script>, with “Grant Application Request” in the subject line; 897-6370, ext. 201) before the Feb. 28 deadline.