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The 2008 primary season

by Alex Miller-Mignone

Probably the simplest and most dramatic factor to be considered in any analysis of the 2008 primary season is Pluto. The recently demoted dwarf planet is about to make an important shift from fiery, idealistic Sagittarius to pragmatic, calculating Capricorn. This shift takes place on January 25 (though there will be one brief retreat into Sagittarius next summer before Pluto makes its final entrance into Capricorn in November). This is a date strategically placed to wreak the most havoc on the primary process, coming as it does well after the initial contests have been settled in Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan, but just before the electoral tidal wave of the aptly dubbed “Tsunami Tuesday” on February 5.  The important South Carolina primary, which is the first in the South and the first with significant populations of both radical evangelicals and blacks, falls on January 26, just as Pluto’s sea change is taking place, and may well prove the most important indicator of how the rest of the cycle will trend.

Voters in these first contests, while Pluto is still in Sagittarius, will be more likely to go for an idealistic, hopeful candidate; perhaps a more exotic candidate, one whose passion and elan are so infectious that they override all other concerns.  Voters in these states will be looking to make a dramatic statement, feel themselves a part of something greater than themselves, and will be willing to be swept up in a political love affair, favoring heart over head.

But when Pluto moves on to Capricorn, reality comes crashing down.  Voters from this point on will be more practical, more interested in a candidate’s resume and what he or she can bring to the table in terms of prior accomplishments and a proven record.  No pie in the sky for these voters; Pluto in Capricorn signals a willingness to get down to brass tacks, make an informed decision based not on emotion but on concrete evidence, and, perhaps most significant of all, they want to back a winner.  Choosing the candidate deemed to have the best chance of winning the general election in November will be far more important to these voters than falling in love with their choice, or even how much they agree with his or her views.

And make no mistake—there will be a lot of these folks.  On February 5 voters will mark their ballots in heavy-hitters California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey, as well as a host of other states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.  All told, 3104 delegates will be up for grabs on this day alone, roughly 45% of the total of some 6800 for both parties.

The accelerated, frontloaded calendar for 2008 is the first time we’ve dealt with this new schedule, and in light of how open and uncertain both parties’ races still are, just hours before voting begins, we may not be certain even by Tsunami Tuesday’s end just who will be the nominees.  In the past, a more stately, sedate progress through the electoral map pertained, and the common wisdom that Iowa and New Hampshire set the pace and were make-or-break venues usually held true.  But with the deluge of electoral votes coming just a month later, in behemoth states like New York and California, whose populations are unlikely to be overly influenced by heartland or Yankee voters’ prior choices, it’s quite possible that the common wisdom on electoral strategy may be worthless. 

Rudy GiulianiCertainly the Giuliani campaign thought so, banking that his lack of appeal in Iowa and South Carolina would be offset by huge gains from more culturally liberal bicoastal Republicans.  But as the old year ended, Giuliani saw his poll numbers plummet in Florida, whose January 29 contest was to be his breakout venue, setting the stage for a February 5 rout of his rivals.

Hillary Clinton has also seen her South Carolina firewall crumble, even as tenuous leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, states where she was once solidly the frontrunner, slip through her fingers. Tsunami Tuesday is poised to either irrevocably alter American primary dynamics for a generation, or to confirm the traditional importance of early contest states.

Iowa has always been the first battle, a rural, heartland state that is 96% white, and their caucus has traditionally been held the third week of January, with libertarian-inclined New Hampshire, the nation’s first primary, following about a week later. But a virtual stampede of states moving their caucuses and primaries earlier in the calendar to elicit more candidate attention caused Iowa and New Hampshire in turn to move up their elections.  At one point, it seemed as though the first votes for the 2008 primary season might be cast in December of 2007, but wiser heads prevailed, and Iowa finally settled on January 3, with New Hampshire moving up to the 8th.  Wyoming, Michigan, Nevada and Florida all breached the prior February 1 barrier in moving their primaries and caucuses to January, even at the cost of rejection of their convention delegates by the national parties, whose rules they violated in doing so.  And the 2007 rush to join an already crowded field on the first Tuesday in February was truly staggering, with no less than 15 states opting to enter the fray on that date.

But first, Iowa.  One unintended consequence of Iowa’s move to January 3 was that candidates will now feel the need to campaign right through the Christmas and New Year holiday season, a period when traditionally such efforts were frowned upon. Candidates will need to strike a delicate balance between offending voters’ sensibilities and allowing the competition to monopolize the news cycle. Most of the candidates approved holiday-themed commercials, from John McCain’s recollections of a Christmas spent in the Hanoi Hilton, to Mike Huckabee’s shameless playing of the Baby Jesus card.

Galactically, January 3 seems poised to offer some upsets. Indeed, in a contest as variable and unfocused as this one is, on both sides, it seems inevitable that whatever happens, it will be viewed as an upset by some. The Sun at 12 Capricorn is tightly squared the Black Hole at 13 Libra, and Mercury at 21 Capricorn conjoins another Black Hole at 19. Together these suggest more than a few surprises, with voters largely unpredictable, even undecided, right up until caucus time. Last minute reversals are likely.  With Venus exactly conjunct the Black Hole at 4 Sagittarius, women have a disproportionately large say in the outcome, and with Jupiter at 3 Capricorn conjunct yet another Black Hole at 5 Capricorn, the punditry is likely to be caught unawares by the results.

Again, with scenarios of all stripes hurtling through the airways like straws in a tornado, nothing can be quite unexpected, nor can anything be confidently anticipated.  On the Democratic side, the contest is clear: Obama’s Sun at 12 Leo conjoins Clinton’s Mars/Pluto pairing at 14 Leo—the battle is on. All these points are inconjunct the transit Sun for the day, but Obama’s is exact. Additionally, that Sun squares Clinton’s Neptune at 11 Libra, suggesting a possible disappointment for her that day. Both candidates may have to scratch for votes; Clinton’s Saturn at 21 Leo is exactly inconjunct the day’s 21 Capricorn Mercury, which is also moving to conjoin Obama’s Saturn at 25 Capricorn.

Mitt RomneyFor the GOP, Romney had been the frontrunner in Iowa until Huckabee swept in out of nowhere in November, supplanting him by energizing the evangelical vote.  Romney’s 21 Pisces Sun is exactly sextile the day’s Mercury, and his 14 Pisces Mercury is sextile the transit Sun, which is also tightly inconjunct his 11 Leo Pluto.  Huckabee is not so well connected for the day, with just a broad inconjunct from the Sun to his 15 Leo Jupiter and a sextile to his 15 Scorpio Saturn; his luster may well wear thin. McCain, who received the endorsement of the Des Moines Register but has been polling unreliably, has a good shot, with an exact inconjunct from the Sun to his 12 Leo Mars, and a trine to his 16 Virgo Neptune. Transit Mercury is also tightly sextile his 20 Pisces Saturn and trine his Venus at 22 Virgo.

By New Hampshire’s primary on January 8, the Sun has moved to 17 Capricorn, conjunct the same Black Hole activated by Mercury in Iowa. Mercury has moved to 0 Aquarius, opposing the Black Hole at 3 Leo. Venus at 10 Sagittarius is once again exactly conjoined a Black Hole, further underscoring the importance of female voters, and Jupiter is still conjunct the Black Hole at 5 Capricorn, leaving pundits as mystified as ever. 

ObamaThe shift again favors Obama in the Democratic primary, with Mercury now conjunct his 0 Aquarius Jupiter and opposed his natal Mercury at 1 Leo. Clinton receives a tight square from Mercury to her natal Sun at 2 Scorpio, and a sextile to her 0 Sagittarius Jupiter. The transit Sun is also sextile her 16 Scorpio Venus, so women could put her over the top in the Granite State, but that Jupiter/Mercury pairing for Obama is tough to beat in attracting votes.

For the Republicans, Romney receives an exact inconjunct from the transit Sun to his 17 Gemini Uranus, but the shock that elicits may not be a pleasant one.  Giuliani becomes viable, with transit Mercury opposed his 3 Leo Mars and trine his 1 Libra Neptune; there is also an inconjunct from the transit Sun to his 20 Leo Jupiter.  McCain is again looking strong, with transit Mercury trine his natal Mercury at 2 Libra, and the transit Sun sextile his 14 Scorpio Jupiter and 20 Pisces Saturn, and tightly trine his 16 Virgo Neptune; McCain also received the endorsement of the Boston Globe, influential in southern New Hampshire.  For cultural reasons, Huckabee is unlikely to take the state, but a strong showing here could shore up his chances of a VP slot. He has support, with transit Mercury opposed his 0 Leo Uranus and inconjunct his natal Sun at 0 Virgo, and the transit Sun exactly trine natal Mercury at 17 Virgo as well as inconjunct Jupiter at 15 Leo and sextile Saturn at 15 Scorpio.

By Tsunami Tuesday on February 5, atmospherics have irrevocably altered with Pluto’s shift into Capricorn, and what has gone before may not act as prelude to what follows. The Sun at 15 Aquarius that day is in a particularly dynamic Grand Cross configuration, conjunct a Black Hole at 13 Aquarius and the newsworthy Pulsar at 16 Aquarius, exactly squared a second Pulsar at 15 Scorpio, squared a Black Hole at 16 Taurus and opposed the volatile Maser at 13 Leo. Another day of upsets is indicated, with more than one important story to come out of the contests strung all across the nation. With the Maser activation, expect controversy with the vote tallies in some states. Mercury at 19 Aquarius still squares the 16 Taurus Black Hole, and Venus at 14 Capricorn squares another at 13 Libra. Once again, women and young people may be significant constituencies that day, both hard to predict in advance. Jupiter at 10 Capricorn in exact square to the 10 Aries Quasar suggests a large voter turn-out, while Saturn at 6 Virgo, conjoined the 7 Virgo Black Hole and exactly opposed the 6 Pisces Quasar, could indicate that we do indeed have both parties’ nominees confirmed by day’s end.

Hillary ClintonClinton would seem to have the edge this day for the Democrats, with the transit Sun opposed her Mars/Pluto pairing at 14 Leo, and also square natal Venus at 16 Scorpio, inaugurating a potent T-Square.  If her gender is going to come through for her, today is the day. Obama is not as tapped in to the day’s energies, with only an opposition to his 12 Leo Sun, no match for the Clinton Mars/Pluto which it conjoins. 

Mike HuckabeeOn the GOP side, McCain is again looking solid, with the transit Sun opposed his 12 Leo Mars, sextile his 15 Sagittarius Jupiter, and inconjunct his 16 Virgo Neptune.  Romney shows a broad opposition to natal Pluto at 11 Leo and a trine to the 17 Gemini Uranus. Giuliani may see his hopes of a Tsunami Tuesday sweep dashed, with just a square to natal Mercury at 12 Taurus. Huckabee also shows well, with the transit Sun exactly opposed natal Jupiter at 15 Leo and squared natal Saturn at 15 Scorpio, bringing out a powerful T-Square; Mercury at 17 Virgo is also inconjunct, so he should not be counted out in the day’s victors.

The 2008 primary season promises to be the most eventful, suspenseful in recent memory. For political junkies, a treat; for astrologers, a unique opportunity for research. For everyone else, it may be a very long season indeed.

Alex Miller-Mignone, photo
Alex Miller-Mignone is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book and The Urban Wicca, former editor of "The Galactic Calendar," and past president of The Philadelphia Astrological Society.

His pioneering work with Black Holes in astrological interpretation began in 1991, when his progressed Sun unwittingly fell into one. Alex can be reached for comment or services at