First off, I'm editing my Mike Huckabee review to add a second vote-killer: theocracy.
"[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards."
Um, that oughta do it, fuck you very much Mike.
Second, a Federal district court has ruled that the Texas Democratic Party has a right to control the membership of their party and to conduct its internal affairs as it sees fit. It's very debatable whether or not a primary election that the state forces them to hold, under laws that effectively make political parties departments of the government itself, is an internal affair. The upshot, though, is that Dennis Kucinich is not going to be on the Texas ballot. Furthermore, Mike Gravel won't be on the Texas ballot either, so unless someone requests him I'm not going to run the numbers on him. (Nor will I crunch numbers for Alan Keyes, unless requested.)
(And as I type this, Kucinich loses another court case: the Nevada Supreme Court rules that NBC News has a right to exclude him from tonight's Nevada debate. Considering he was in all debates up to now, and considering he has virtually no support despite this, I have to call this fair; he's out of the race, except for chasing stray delegates to get him a speaking slot at the convention.)
Finally, I've done a bit of self-education on the primary delegate issue. The Democrats don't have any winner-take-all states: national party rules require proportional representation with a 15% floor (that is, candidates polling below that don't get any delegates). The Republicans do have winner-take-all states, but some of them are less winner-take-all than others, and many of them aren't at all.
At this point I don't see the Republican race turning on WTA strategies: there's just too much difference from state to state, and too many candidates who only appeal to a limited constituency in each state. Huckabee is going to focus his efforts on the deep South, Romney on the urban states, and McCain on states where large numbers of independents will turn out; the other candidates will struggle, likely in vain, to find a win in any state that looks likely.
On the Democrat side, with WTA not an option, the key division point is whether or not the states allow independents and crossover voting. Hillary, who wins the party machine vote (for the moment) will focus her efforts on big states and closed primary states. Obama, on the other hand, will focus on states where crossover voting is permitted. Both candidates will fight tooth and nail for California, the big prize of Tsunami Tuesday, which allows crossover voting for all parties.
As for John Edwards, who gets his turn on the scorecard today? Edwards is within the statistical margin of error in Nevada, but he's still third. He's losing support nationally. Barring a very large gaffe on both Clinton's and Obama's parts, he is out of the running. That obviously hasn't stopped me from voting for candidates in the past, though- I voted Perot in 1992, Browne in 1996 and 2000, and Badnarik in 2004. I might as well give him a good look-over, according to the issues you probably know I support by now.
WAR: Gradual withdrawal from Iraq. Opposes war in Iran. Famously called the War on Terror "a campaign slogan". Supports UN/NATO/US invasion of Sudan to end Darfur genocide. Proposes "restructuring" of military, limiting size and cutting wasteful projects. 20%.
SEPARATION OF POWERS: Dismantling of the imperial Presidency. No domestic spying. Transparency in government. Right of Congress to oversee the executive branch upheld. 100%.
HEALTHCARE: Universal health care plan based on employer mandates, forcing employers to provide it to all employees, offering tax credits to offset (but not eliminate) cost, followed by eventual individual mandates. 0%.
TAXATION AND BUDGET: His idea of "simplified income tax" is Form 1, i. e. trust the IRS to tell the poor taxpayer how much he or she owes. Multitude of new tax credits, deductions, etc. proposed. Higher capital gains, corporate taxes. Silent on government borrowing, balanced budget. Opposes corporate lobbying, but silent on corporate welfare. 0%.
CIVIL LIBERTIES: Voted for McCain-Feingold, "fairness doctrine", other acts to censor political speech. Supports net neutrality. Supports censorship of electronic media. Would restore habeas corpus. Supports end to torture, closure of Guantanamo and black sites. 75%.
IMPEACHMENT: Opposes. 0%.
IMMIGRATION: Path to citizenship after paying fines. Vague statements about "stronger border enforcement."Favors immigration reform to reunite families, cut red tape and background checks for persons already in USA. 66%.
TRADE: Decries, but does not call for repeal of, NAFTA, GATT, WTO. Calls for "smart trade"; prosecuting violations of trade agreements, seeking protection for workers of other nations, balancing tariffs against foreign subsidy, etc. No special emphasis on China except for currency manipulation. 50%.
ENERGY: Supports mandating renewable-resource energy (25% of all electricity produced by 2016), 40 MPG fuel efficiency mandate. Corporate welfare handouts to car companies to encourage them to build alt-fuel vehicles. Supports expanding subsidized ethanol and bio-diesel production. Supports funding public transportation expansion. Opposes expanding actual energy production. Supports clean coal. 20%.
ENVIRONMENT: Supports "cap and trade" system, government-enforced conservation, individual mandates to buy more efficient and cleaner products... or else. Supports expanded government spending to refit poor family homes for energy efficiency. Supports carbon sequestration, methane sequestration. 40%.
TORT REFORM: Former trial lawyer. 0%.
AVERAGE SCORE: 33.7%
GUNS: Voted in the Senate to force background checks and licensing of gun-show and private gun sales, mandate locks on guns. Claims to support Second Amendment:
"I think, first and foremost, that we need a president who actually believes in the Second Amendment and in the individual right to own firearms. And, the importance in that, both for hunting and for protection, and I do. I think part of it is the way of life that I grew up with, and the culture of which I grew up in. It’s been with me my entire life."
... yet, on another occasion, said, "Owning a handgun is a privilege, not a right.". (Source for quotes: Blue Steel Democrats.
DRAFT: “One of the things we ought to be thinking about is some level of mandatory service to our country,” said Edwards in a recent interview, “so that everybody in America not just the poor kids who get sent to war are serving this country.” (Source: George Phillies for President campaign.)
RANKINGS TO DATE
Candidates in italics are not in consideration due to vote-killer positions.
Dennis Kucinich - 40.9%
John Edwards - 33.7%
John McCain - 33.6%
Ron Paul - 28.2%
Rudy Giuliani - 22.3%
Mike Huckabee - 16.9%
Mitt Romney - 14.8%
Duncan Hunter - 11.8%
Fred Thompson - 11.1%
Hillary Clinton - 8.5%
Next time: the last candidate, barring third-party or independent developments, the one I've leaned towards pretty much since the beginning of this process, Barack Obama...
(... and if what I've heard is true, Obama was a gun-grabber in the Illinois State Senate, which would mean a clean sweep on the big-party candidates being unsuitable. That said, gun control is the vote-killer item I'd be quickest to drop, since it's extremely unlikely that any president could ram tighter gun control through Congress, even the heavily Democrat Congress that seems inevitable at this point. What's more, eliminating gun control as an issue would bring only Kucinich back into consideration among the already examined candidates... and he's not going to be on the Texas ballot.)