While Brownback and Obama may seem like long-shots right now, the two front-running senators (Hillary Clinton and John McCain) have some serious problems that will cripple their bid for the Whitehouse within a year.
Senator Hillary Clinton is not generally well liked in most parts of the country, even within her own party. She voted in favor of the resolution authorizing the current president to take us to war in Iraq. Though initially saying she had no regrets about the decision, she later reversed that and said it was a mistake. That kind of flip-flopping isn't going to help her when the new Democratic Congress fails to deliver the hard left-wing agenda the party base is demanding. Since her election to the Senate in 2000, Clinton has tried to play to the political center while simultaneously pandering to her liberal base. It's a tightrope act that has simultaneously enraged her liberal base, while providing ample political fodder for Republican attack ads. Besides all this, Hillary has another problem, and this one is sure to finish her off on the national campaign trail. The problem is her personality. The woman has only two modes of speaking: shrill and monotone. It's either one extreme or the other, and anything between seems to escape her. Ironically, the one demographic group MOST hostile to her are suburban housewives -- particularly those of a church going nature. Senator Clinton has done well for herself in the liberal State of New York, and will probably do well gaining support in the New England states and West Coast, but her political capital stops there. She is not likely to gain any significant support in the Old South or Midwestern states.
Personally, I refer to Senator McCain as "the man who will never be president." Why is this? Because he's hacked off virtually every major coalition in the Republican Party. The religious right can't stand him. The neoconservatives despise him. Fiscal conservatives and civil libertarians are frustrated by him. It seems the only Republican demographic that even remotely likes him is the RINO ("Republican In Name Only") coalition. McCain publicly opposes abortion, but favors fetal tissue research. Pro-lifers perceive McCain as "squishy" on this most important issue, and will soon find themselves searching the horizon for a new Republican presidential candidate once McCain hits the mainstream. When they do, Senator Sam Brownback will be standing out among the rest.
Sam Brownback is a Libertarian-Leaning Conservative.
Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.
Conservatives tend to favor economic freedom, but frequently support laws to restrict personal behavior that violates "traditional values." They oppose excessive government control of business, while endorsing government action to defend morality and the traditional family structure. Conservatives usually support a strong military, oppose bureaucracy and high taxes, favor a free-market economy, and endorse strong law enforcement.
read Brownback's full political scorecard here
Barack Obama is a Populist-Leaning Liberal.
Populists want government to have a great deal of power over the economy and individual behavior. They frequently doubt whether economic liberty and individual freedom are practical options in today's world. Populists tend to distrust the free market, support high taxes and centralized planning of the economy, oppose diverse lifestyles, and question the importance of civil liberties.
Liberals usually embrace freedom of choice in personal matters, but tend to support significant government control of the economy. They generally support a government-funded "safety net" to help the disadvantaged, and advocate strict regulation of business. Liberals tend to favor environmental regulations, defend civil liberties and free expression, support government action to promote equality, and tolerate diverse lifestyles.
read Obama's full political scorecard here