Michael Barone

There is some irony here. Bill Clinton came to the presidency after a campaign that appealed most to the upscale faction. But the two candidates who ran as, in some sense, his heirs, Gore and Hillary Clinton, have appealed to the other side. The Clintons' theme song in 1992 was "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow." Their theme song this year might turn out to be "Yesterday."

The Republicans have more factions and more live candidates. Mike Huckabee is, so far, the candidate of religious conservatives and almost no one else. He got only 14 percent among the non-"born-again" in Iowa and only 11 percent in secular New Hampshire. Still, his faction is much bigger in other states, and his charm and vaguely populist and dovish policies may enable him to extend his base.

Competing for that and for the Southern-accented vote is Fred Thompson, who must move up in South Carolina on Jan. 19 to be viable. John McCain appeals to a different faction, the remnants and descendants of the historic Protestant Yankee base of the party, among whom his departures from current party orthodoxy are a plus. He scored best in the same parts of New Hampshire as Barack Obama.

Rudy Giuliani, with his liberal positions on cultural issues, would seem to appeal to the same base. But polls suggest that his base vote is ethnic and metropolitan. His bad luck is that no such state votes until Florida on Jan. 29 and then the big states on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5. Mitt Romney's appeal seems to be strongest among economic conservatives, impressed perhaps by his business record and untroubled by his switches on cultural issues. He carried southeast New Hampshire, where abhorrence of Taxachusetts is strong.

Even though Democratic Party rules favor proportional representation in delegate allocation, the Democratic race is likely to be decided, if not by Feb. 5, then in the succeeding primaries, because there are only two viable candidates. The Republican race, in which there seem to be four or five identifiable factions, could go on much longer. But it could take even longer to unify these two parties, as their factions clash over the next few weeks.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM