January 25 2004
ELECTION 2004 - IOWA REVERBERATIONS: It
is becoming increasingly clear as the week has progressed that
Dean was not the only loser coming out of Iowa. On
Wednesday I had suggested that Clark was running in second
place in terms of who was likely to be the eventual Democratic
nominee. However, the strategic rationale for how Clark was going
to actually win the nomination appears to have depended on Kerry's
demise and Clark's ability to be the sole anti-Dean candidate
available to Democrats. With the inverse taking place in Iowa,
in Dean's demise and Kerry's rise, Clark's appeal to Democrats
seems to decline with every passing day. His debate performance
on Thursday did little to change that dynamic, and in fact appears
to have further marginalized his campaign.
Kerry's miraculous comeback for a second, Edwards appears to be
the real surprise candidate here in the race. I had not given
Edwards much of realistic chance of winning the nomination, primarily
because of his youth, relative inexperience and boyish looks.
All issues that might have been less significant in 1992, 1996
or 2000, but factors that I thought would be rather important
in the first presidential election post 9/11.
in the latest ARG
tracking poll Edwards continues to show momentum and is only
two points out of second place. Now granted most of the other
polls show Edwards further behind, but after his performance
in Iowa I would not dismiss the possibility of him pulling out
a strong third or even another upset second place finish.
to have handled his pathetic showing in Iowa and his "scream"
debacle about as well as possible, and looks to have bottomed
out and may in fact be turning it around, Zogby
has him only trailing Kerry by seven points, 30% - 23%. However,
most of the other
polls show a much bigger lead for Senator Kerry.
prognostication has been rather dangerous these last three weeks,
but the odds seem to favor a Kerry win on Tuesday, with the potential
"surprises" being: 1) Dean makes it a lot closer than
the current polls indicate and 2) Edwards pulls out another strong
performance. I would not rule out either one, or both, of these
scenarios occurring on Tuesday.
campaign has always been hopeless, and New Hampshire's final results
should make that clear to the Senator himself. Clark looks to
be stalled and I would think a fourth or fifth place finish will
be the end of any legitimate chance he might have had. However,
given his potential appeal in the South and his money, he can't
totally be written off.
At some point
one has to think that with a win in Iowa, and a win in New Hampshire
John Kerry is going to be awfully hard to derail. Had Dean had
more than a week to regroup in New Hampshire I suspect he could
have come back and beaten Kerry. But while he may be able to make
it close and thus keep his candidacy alive, second is not going
to be enough to stop Kerry's momentum. Unlike Bill Clinton in
1992, Dean is not moving on to states that are more favorably
disposed to him. It would be a different story if he was the former
Governor of Georgia or Colorado.
At this stage,
Edwards appears to be in the strongest position to provide the
only real challenge to Kerry. So today I would rate Kerry as 60%
likely to get the nomination, Edwards 25%, Dean 10% and Clark
5%. And you would have to think that the most likely ticket right
now is Kerry/Edwards or Kerry/Gephardt.
and Clark are the obvious losers post-Iowa, the other loser is
President Bush. Had Iowa been just three weeks earlier and Dean
won and then gone on to win in New Hampshire, Dean probably would
have been unstoppable and George Bush would have been a lock to
win a second term. There is no question that Kerry is going to
be a much more formidable challenger to Bush, and it his perceived
electability and Dean's perceived unelectablity that is in fact
the driving force behind the seismic shift in the race for this
House obviously would have preferred Dean, but they can deal with
John Kerry and they have a pretty standard and probably effective
playbook they can run against him. The wild card here is John
Edwards. I'm not suggesting that Edwards would necessarily beat
President Bush, only that in many ways he could be the biggest
obstacle for Karl Rove and a Bush win.
Iowa appears to have been good news for Kerry, Edwards and the
Democratic Party and bad news for Dean, Clark and President Bush.
We'll see what New Hampshire brings on Tuesday. J. McIntyre
Link | Email
January 23 2004
NEW HAMPSHIRE POLL MADNESS: There are now
6 overnight tracking polls in New Hampshire. That's right,
six. And that doesn't include the Boston Herald/RKM poll which
is now coming out weekly. It's absolute madness. If I were a voter
in New Hampshire, I'd probably unplug my phone and my television
for the next week until the storm blows over.
go any further, a few quick words on tracking polls. They are
extremely volatile, use small sample sizes, and have large margins
of error. One of the reasons we like to average the latest polling
data is that it helps smooth out some of the up and down swings
that show up in various polls.
all those caveats, it's clear there is a sea change going on in
New Hampshire. Right now Kerry
leads Dean by an average of 6.6% and it's going to get worse
today as four more of the tracking polls coming out this morning
will have samples that fully register Dean's "rebel yell"
in Des Moines on Monday night.
UPDATE: ARG & Zogby added, Kerry lead now
8.3%. ARG has Dean dropping into 3rd place behind Clark.
UPDATE: CNN/USAT/Gallup added, Kerry lead now 9.3%.
I know voters
in New Hampshire are notoriously independent, but it's hard to
see where the surprise is going to come from. Kerry is moving
up while Dean is sinking and Clark is static. Edwards is the only
other candidate on the rise, but it seems unlikely he'll be able
to surge 20 points in 4 days to catch Kerry. And Lieberman? Sorry,
Joe. Nice guys always finish last.
HAMPSHIRE DEBATE MADNESS: I've never seen Al Sharpton
flail like that before. He looked like a boxer who'd
just been hit with a Mike Tyson upper cut. Give Peter Jennings
credit for asking a question that forced Sharpton completely outside
of his race-baiting comfort zone. The result was not pretty.
of the debate was, well, pretty much like all the other debates
- minus Gephardt and Braun. Everyone wanted to see whether Dean
could pull a rabbit out of his hat and salvage his sinking candidacy.
I don't think he did. Nor was he
able to effectively challenge Kerry, who waltzed through the debate
without taking so much as a single serious blow.
THE LEAD: Dean is now left hoping that Kerry suffers his own
"Muskie Moment" in the next four days. It's probably
not going to happen. Kerry is an experienced politician and even
though it took him a long, long time to get going and to find
his voice, he's smart enough and disciplined enough to protect
absolute opposite of Dean. Dean found his voice early and roared
ahead, but his campaign completely lost its moorings when faced
with the prospect of being the frontrunner and protecting a lead.
The message fell apart and Dean proved to be simply too inexperienced
and too undisciplined of a candidate down the stretch in Iowa.
beginning, everyone had the impression that Howard Dean was one
sentence away from disaster. It was part of his attraction, part
of the fun. For many voters it's not so fun any more.
get even the slightest hint of that from Kerry. He's a model of
stability. In fact, the danger for Kerry, should he win the nomination,
is that he's too stable and too boring to win in November.
problem for Dean is that he's now fighting to win back voters
he originally took from John Kerry last year. Like a spouse returning
to her husband after a nine month affair, New Hampshire Democrats
and Independents are going home to Kerry. How does Howard Dean
convince these voters in four days to have another fling? -
T. Bevan 7:51 am | Link
January 21 2004
DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION: Two
weeks ago my rough odds on who would get the Democratic nomination
were 65% Dean, 25% Clark, 5% Kerry, 4% Gephardt and 1% Edwards.
Well, two weeks is a long time in politics.
with which the Dean campaign has fallen apart is truly astonishing.
While there is no question the capture of Saddam Hussein took
a great deal of punch out of Dean's attack on the war, his melt
down can not solely be pinned on Hussein's capture.
At the time
Hussein was captured the Dean campaign had already reached a point
where most of the good news was" priced in", so to speak.
The inevitable nature of the process was going to create a closing
effect as the Iowa caucuses approached.
three powerful forces working against him. First, when it comes
to elections the media always wants a contest and not a coronation.
They had a stake in playing up a close race and not a Dean runaway.
Second, the liberal elements in the press who want to see President
Bush and Republicans lose this fall had never completely bought
in to Howard Dean. They were (and remain) very skeptical of his
ability to beat the President and worried of the damage he might
do to the Democrats in the fall. Third, the most powerful force
in the Democratic Party, the Clintons, were against him.
and the consistent drip, drip, drip of public gaffes finally reached
a tipping point where many Democrats in Iowa who were leaning
toward Dean decided to take a hard second look. It's as if they
got three-quarters of the way down the aisle and decided that
this marriage might not work out after all. More than anything,
I suspect the electability issue is what drove Kerry's rise and
Dean's decline among most voters.
as a combative New Yorker and liberal New Englander wasn't compatible
with the nice Midwestern state of Iowa and worked to his disadvantage.
Dean's negative commercials in the final ten days helped move
people away from him and towards Kerry and Edwards. There was
also the mixed message of how he was the outsider running against
the "Washington establishment" while standing at event
after event with another member of the establishment.
things, combined with Gephardt's utter collapse, are the cocktail
that produced Kerry 38%, Edwards 32% and Dean 18%. To add the
final exclamation point to one of the worst months any political
candidate has ever had, Dean finished off his total flame out
with his completely un-presidential soundbite on election night.
It is not an overstatement to suggest that could very well slam
the door shut on his national political career. Quite simply,
people in both parties don't want a President who acts like that.
volatility of the last two weeks and the surprising nature of
this entire Democratic campaign, it would be a mistake to write
Dean off completely. But quite frankly, I just don't see how he
comes back from this debacle. Anything less than a win in New
Hampshire and he is finished, and right now I don't see him winning
odds today on who would win the Democrat nomination are Kerry
40%, Clark 30%, Dean 15%, and Edwards 15%. We'll see how much
that changes after New Hampshire next week.
OF THE UNION: Maybe it was because I wasn't that fired up
for the President's speech last night or wasn't expecting that
much, but I quite liked President
Bush's State of the Union address. Fred Barnes seemed to pan
it last night on FOX and Andrew Sullivan describes it as Bush's
worst State of the Union to date.
I guess if
you've given four SOTU's, one of them has to be the "worst,"
but I thought the speech was just fine and in many ways, the perfect
opening salvo for this year's election:
greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American
people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th,
2001 -- over two years without an attack on American soil. And
it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us.....
I came to this rostrum on September the 20th, 2001, I brought
the police shield of a fallen officer, my reminder of lives
that ended, and a task that does not end. I gave to you and
to all Americans my complete commitment to securing our country
and defeating our enemies. And this pledge, given by one, has
been kept by many.
in the Congress have provided the resources for our defense,
and cast the difficult votes of war and peace. Our closest allies
have been unwavering. America's intelligence personnel and diplomats
have been skilled and tireless. And the men and women of the
American military -- they have taken the hardest duty. We've
seen their skill and their courage in armored charges and midnight
raids, and lonely hours on faithful watch. We have seen the
joy when they return, and felt the sorrow when one is lost.
I've had the honor of meeting our servicemen and women at many
posts, from the deck of a carrier in the Pacific to a mess hall
of our troops are listening tonight. And I want you and your
families to know: America is proud of you. And my administration,
and this Congress, will give you the resources you need to fight
and win the war on terror.
that some people question if America is really in a war at all.
They view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved
mainly with law enforcement and indictments. After the World
Trade Center was first attacked in 1993, some of the guilty
were indicted and tried and convicted, and sent to prison. But
the matter was not settled. The terrorists were still training
and plotting in other nations, and drawing up more ambitious
plans. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it
is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists
and their supporters declared war on the United States, and
war is what they got.
This is why
President Bush is going to be very hard to beat in November.
- J. McIntrye 6:53 am | Link
January 20 2004
CHARLIE'S TAKE: Charlie
Cook reports on Iowa:
Edwards "demonstrated raw political talent that obviously
made up for what his operation lacked."
Kerry's "operation appeared to be quite solid, though his
own performance on the stump was pretty uneven, and generally
less impressive than either Edwards or Dean."
"peaked too soon" and "didn't take a punch well."
regarding Dick Gephardt, Cook writes:
few observers expected Gephardt to win in the closing days of
the caucus campaign, virtually all were stunned by his poor
finish. In the convention center press room, as reporters were
gathered around television monitors watching Gephardt address
his supporters, there seemed to be a genuine, heartfelt sadness
that his career ended on this note. The biggest losers of the
night were members of organized labor, many of whom turned their
backs on Gephardt, one of their best friends on Capitol Hill,
and allowed their support to be split between Gephardt and Dean,
ensuring that neither would win."
rather liked Gephardt. Even though I don't agree with his politics
and I sometimes cringed at the rhetoric he used, Gephardt has
shown himself to be an honorable guy, a decent public servant,
and, above all, a real patriot. - T. Bevan 1:33 pm | Link
WHO IS BILL'S MAN?: From Doug
Waller's piece in Time:
turnaround began largely unnoticed back in mid-November. With
advice from outsiders like former President Bill Clinton,
Kerry had sharpened his populist message on the stump, delivering
shorter, less rambling speeches with snappier bight lines that
connected with audiences."
Clark Clinton's man? So why on earth would Bill be giving advice
to Kerry, whose revitalized campaign now represents the most serious
threat to Clark in New Hampshire? Just asking....
IN PLAY: The biggest and most obvious consequence of Gephardt's
withdrawal is that Missouri
is now in play. Eighty-eight delegates just went up for grabs,
making the Show-Me state the prime prize on February 3.
Edwards have already deployed significant resources in South Carolina.
John Kerry, on the other hand, still has the flexibility (we'll
have to wait and see about the resources part) to make a bold
move into Missouri. Who knows what Howard Dean may do.
in the game, with no one having spent any time or effort in Missouri,
a Gephardt endorsement will make all the difference in the world.
Will he give it? To whom? - T. Bevan 12:40 pm | Link
IOWA POSTMORTEM: So what did we learn last night, other than
the obvious lesson of never trying to predict the unpredictable?
learned that in the end Howard Dean literally scared
the pants off of Iowa voters. When it came time to line up
there were simply too many questions left about Dean's anger,
inexperience, and electability for caucus goers to stomach. They
the defeat on Gephardt:
happened here is that we got in a dogfight with Dick Gephardt.
Dick Gephardt was in a fight for his life in Iowa. We got out
there and got in his way, by getting into a lead, and they just
hammered the living daylights out of us … while John Kerry and
John Edwards just floated up, the only guys with positive messages."
a good deal of truth to this, but it also oversimplifies the dynamic
that led to a defeat for Dean pretty much across the board. He
lost the youth vote to Kerry. He even lost to Kerry among the
75% of voters who opposed the war.
out there might still be - at least in Iowa - a sensible
center to the Democratic party. Okay, maybe not sensible,
but at least pragmatic.
ominously for Dean, even the hard left wing of the Democratic
party seem to have arrived at the caucuses last night somewhat
disenchanted with his siren song:
on Political Issues
of Democrat voters remain rabid George W. Bush haters. But it's
as if many of these voters looked in the mirror over the past
few days at the hatred and anger embodied by Dean and recognized
just how poorly this would play among the general public. David
Yepsen captured the sentiments of one of these voters in today's
in a hell of mess. As you know, I have been with Dean from from
the start . . . but I have come to look upon Kerry and Edwards
as possible winners over Bush. I hate Bush so bad that I will
hate myself for the rest of my life if I pick the wrong guy."
By the look
of his speech in Des Moines last night, Dean doesn't get it. At
least not yet. As one
political analyst put it:
he may have done in the end was reaffirm some of the concerns
that people have had with him. . . . People don't expect a real
president to do that."
the kind of imagery you want splashed all over the place as you
head into what has now become a make-or-break primary for your
campaign - especially when there are only seven days to turn things
IN BUSHLAND: I'm sure the White House wasn't thrilled with
last night's outcome either. John Kerry or John Edwards would
pose more of a serious threat than Dean in the general election.
Washington Post has new numbers on the President as he prepares
to deliver a very important SOTU address tonight.
ALERT: For all you RCP fans in the New York City area, I'll
be on The Kevin McCullough show today at 2:20pm Eastern to talk
about Iowa. There's no stream via the Internet but you can catch
it on the dial at WMCA
I will be on Milt Rosenberg's program, Extension
720, from 10-12pm Eastern to provide analysis of President
Bush's State of the Union address. You can listen
to the program live by clicking here. - T. Bevan 8:56 am
January 19 2004
CAUCUS SURPRISE: Well, well. The results out of Iowa
are surprising to say the least. No one expected Kerry
to do as well as he did tonight, winning not just a squeaker
but a decisive victory. His surge
in the polls - as well John Edwards' - was real and he didn't
suffer at all from what most considered to be an inferior ground
bigger story lies more in the losers than the winners. The collapse
of Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt have totally changed the dynamic
of this race. Gephardt's embarassing finish leaves his presidential
bid in tatters and his political career effectively finished.
(Egad, in the midst of this short entry I've just learned that
Dick Gephardt has already dropped out of the race altogether.
Talk about your Feiler
will soldier on in New Hampshire, but he's already losing steam.
out of the last four polls taken Dean has slipped below 30%.
One month ago nearly every poll had him in the mid-40's. You can
almost bet the next poll out of New Hampshire will have Kerry
at or very near the top, probably ahead of Clark and maybe ahead
is how Dean will react. How will he retool his campaign and his
message? What lessons will he learn from Iowa and how fast will
he learn them.
start by taking a quick
scan at the exit polls. The number that should get his attention
is this one:
ONE candidate quality mattered most in deciding whom to support
about people like me
a strong stand on the issues
the right experience
beat George Bush
eight days to figure out how to convince voters in New Hampshire
that he has more to offer than just anger. Another drubbing in
the Granite State by Kerry and/or Clark would leave Dean reeling,
and facing an even bleaker situation on February 3. - T. Bevan
10:51 pm | Link
HEY, HEY IT'S CAUCUS DAY: Finally. Since we're home for fellow
political junkies all around the country I know I'm probably not
supposed to admit this, but all I can say is "Thank God
it's almost over." I think I would keel over if I had
to read another "Gephardt
Relies on Union Support for Last
Stand" story or another "John
Edwards is Mr.
Nice Guy" profile.
On the other
hand, the good news is that we've
got some race on our hands. People have asked what our predictions
are for the caucuses and I can tell you this morning that we don't
have any. Not officially. Trying to speculate on how things will
shake out today is a fool's errand. It's just too close.
been accused of being a fool before, so if you put a gun to my
head I'll say that I suspect the Deaniacs are going to come through
on the ground and that Kerry's rise
in the polls among undecideds isn't going to translate into
enough hard support tonight.
the result, it's likely to be close and that means Kerry will
ultimately leave Iowa the biggest winner. He continues to rise
in New Hampshire and even with a close second or third-place
finish tonight he's right back in the thick of things. Not bad
for a guy who was left for dead a few short weeks ago.
REDUX: I ripped
Carol Moseley-Braun pretty hard last Friday for being a suck-up
and a sellout for her last minute endorsement of front-runner
Howard Dean. That afternoon I had a few post-blog pangs of regret:
Had I been too harsh? Would people take it the wrong way? After
all, I came within a hair's breadth of calling Braun a political
I may have been too kind. The
Chicago Tribune reported on Sunday:
on CNN, Trippi denied as "absolutely ridiculous" reports that
the Dean campaign was paying former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley
Braun a salary following her announcement Thursday that she
was dropping out of the contest and endorsing Dean.
said the campaign had budgeted $20,000 a month for travel expenses
for Braun and a staff aide in her role as a surrogate for Dean
in future state contests. While he said no deal was made to
retire her campaign debt, Trippi said a "huge unity dinner"
would be held after the nomination is decided to pay off the
debts of unsuccessful contenders.
to see how any right-minded person doesn't view this as a quid
pro quo. Political endorsements (especially ones of this magnitude)
don't just "happen", they're carefully planned and negotiated
events between two parties. Clearly there was a deal in the works
for some time and Braun's endorsement was contingent upon the
parties coming to some sort of agreement as to when, where and
how it would occur.
if you suspend disbelief and accept the premise that Braun's receipts
will be scrupulously audited and she won't receive a penny more
than what it will cost her and an aide to travel each month, the
deal still looms an act of gross incompetence on the part of the
Dean campaign for not recognizing the appearance of impropriety.
can't receive an endorsement one day, then turn around the next
and essentially put that person on staff at the rate of a quarter
million dollars per annum - not to mention the promise of a "unity
dinner" (wink, wink) to pay off campaign debts - and not
set red flags waving over ethics.
Need we even
ask what Democrats would say if the Bush campaign openly bought
the endorsement of a prominent African-American in the same way?
GLENN REYNOLDS BE PRESIDENT?: No, probably not. I'm not sure
he's given any indication he wants to be President, either. But
it's an interesting thought experiment on how blogs - and by this
I mean real opinion blogs - could serve as a tool to launch political
heard endless stories about the potency of Howard Dean's blog
and how he's used it to efficiently mobilize support and raise
money across the country. But if you take a look at NZ
Bear's traffic rankings, you'll see that Instapundit
gets almost three times the number of visitors that Blog for America
gets on a daily basis.
caveats: It's tough to tell whether these numbers represent "unique"
visitors on a daily basis or not (I probably visit Instapundit
three times a day and therefore may be registered as either 1
"unique" visit or 3 total visits). Either way, the numbers
we're looking at are apples to apples.
though, the types of visitors to the two sites are different.
The vast majority of people visiting Blog
for America are fervent Deaniacs looking for their marching
orders, while Glenn's visitors are probably much more casual and
less motivated by any sort of personal allegiance.
be willing to bet the majority of Glenn's audience is pretty loyal.
Blogging is a very personal medium and the best bloggers are able
to establish a dialogue with readers that connects on a personal
(and in some cases almost intimate) level. Glenn is no exception,
which is why his audience continues to grow.
to practical politics. Howard Dean's campaign started from scratch.
His internet effort took nearly two years to build. Many bloggers
have also been steadily building their own audiences over the
past two years, some faster than others.
As it happens,
Glenn is someone who has built
a huge, loyal visitor base and also garnered a modestly high profile
in the media from blogging that could give him an automatic advantage
as a political candidate.
If he were
to announce a run for, say, Governor of Tennessee, it's not unthinkable
that he'd be able to harness the power of his blog to raise a
sizable amount of money from all over the country as well as generate
a decent grassroots campaign effort that would make him a legitimate
candidate, probably as a third-party Independent (I'm just guessing).
What am I
saying, you ask? That bloggers are going to rule the world? Chaos
theory reigns! Kevin
Drum, Governor of California! Dan
Drezner, Senator from Illinois!
Bill Hobbs, Congressman from Tennessee!
Not at all.
I'm just observing the trends. If blogs simultaneously continue
to become more popular as outlets for personal opinions and more
effective as political weapons for raising money and organizing
volunteers - and there is every reason to expect both of these
things to happen - I wouldn't be surprised to hear of some blogger
making a run for something in the not so distant future. -
T. Bevan 10:10 am | Link