Today’s post by kos on the seeming inevitability of Barack Obama winning the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination inspires me to dredge up yet another episode from Grassroots, Sen. George McGovern’s 1977 autobiography. He starts out Chapter 8. THE NOMINATION [p. 155], with a chart:
In the opening days of 1971 “Jimmy the Greek” Snyder, the nation’s most celebrated odds-maker, announced that the odds against George McGovern winning the Democratic presidential nomination were 200 to 1. A year later, early in 1972, Jimmy listed the odds as follows:
ED MUSKIE 2 to 5 HUBERT HUMPHREY 4 to 1 HENRY JACKSON 5 to 1 TED KENNEDY 20 to 1 GEORGE MCGOVERN 50 to 1 JOHN LINDSAY 50 to 1 GEORGE WALLACE 50 to 1 WILBUR MILLS 50 to 1 EUGENE MCCARTHY 200 to 1 VANCE HARTKE 200 to 1 SAM YORTY 500 to 1 SHIRLEY CHISOLM 500 to 1 DARK HORSE 50 to 1
Thus, after a year of campaigning I had moved from 200 to 1 to 50 to 1–the same odds assigned to John Lindsay, George Wallace and a possible “dark horse.”
Muskie (better than even odds, according to the Greek and most everyone else at the time) had been Humphrey’s VP candidate in ’68. Humphrey had been Johnson’s VP for the run-up of the Vietnam War. ‘Scoop’ Jackson was the Senator from Boeing, the guy Peter Beinart says Joe Lieberman sprang forth from, ideologically, of course. They were all Vietnam War supporters, even in 1972, after eight years of war.