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Thursday, July 03, 2003

If you've been following the news at all, you know this already, but Howard Dean had the best fundraising total of the Democratic candidates for the second quarter of 2003, with $7.5 million dollars from 59,000 contributors. Kerry came in second with about $6 million, while Lieberman and Edwards had about $5 million each. Gephardt, still the front-runner in Iowa, raised about $4.5 million for a fifth place finish. Bush beat all the Democrats as individuals, and came in slightly ahead of their combined totals, with $34.2 million. These numbers are all estimates, and nothing will be official until July 15th, when the official report to the Federal Elections Commission is due.

Yes, yes, I know, in the media and the "blogosphere," this is old news. I will post some more comments about the fundraising totals later.
--Posted at 7:05 PM | link

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

TNR Primary has deemed John Edwards to be the winner for the month of June.

Now, ask yourself, do you really think that John Edwards was the strongest candidate in the month of June? By any standard that I can think of--strength of message, fundraising, media coverage, poll results--he hasn't been very strong this month. To me, this result is just another demonstration of the pointlessness of TNR Primary (as an evaluation method for the candidates, not as a source of political commentary).

After all, look at the way they were graded. Dean was graded 14 times, and Kerry was graded 9 times. This heavy coverage from TNR Primary reflects these candidates' visibility. Edwards, who has done almost nothing to advance his candidacy this month, received 4 grades in the entire month of June--fewer than any other candidate and 10 fewer than Dean. Three of these grades were in "Domestic Policy" (and one was in "Political Courage" for supporting the war in Iraq). The way to win the TNR Primary, apparently, is to do and say little.

I blog about TNR Primary a lot. It's a pretty good source to read about what the candidates are saying in their speeches. But it's a terrible way to choose "winners."

Hesiod also has comments on this.
--Posted at 10:33 AM | link

For the first time since the start of the war, a majority of Americans believe that Bush "stretched the truth" or lied about WMD's. And 56 percent believe that the government stretched the truth or lied about Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda.

This is a very slim majority, but the numbers will surely continue to grow if nothing is found that can be plausibly labelled a "weapon of mass destruction." These increasing doubts can only help the Democrats who have criticized the war. But a belief that Bush "stretched the truth" does not automatically lead to a vote against Bush. "Well, maybe he did lie about the war, but I don't care" is still a common argument. The Democrats have to make the case that not only did Bush stretch the truth about WMD's, but he stretches it about many other things also. Voters hate a liar, but they also hated Saddam, and many won't get too upset about exaggerations used to topple him. But if Bush is shown to be a "serial exaggerator"--well, we all remember what happened in 2000.
--Posted at 9:53 AM | link

Monday, June 30, 2003

Nader. He says he's seriously thinking of running in 2004. If this happens, it's sure to delight Republicans, anger loyal Democrats, and put those who lean toward the left in a very difficult position.

He says that he'll decide early next year whether to run. By this time, some of the primaries might have already happened (Iowa is January 19th, New Hampshire is January 27th, and a bunch are on February 3rd). Perhaps he's waiting to see if a Democrat suitable to him is winning the primaries.
--Posted at 10:36 PM | link

Today is the end of the "second quarter" of fundraising for presidential candidates. The fundraising figures given by the campaigns for this quarter will be an important sign of which ones are strong and which are weak. This article summarizes the current estimates.

On the Democratic side, Dean's story is the most amazing. As TNR's Jonathan Cohn reports, Dean has raised more than $6 million in the second quarter, with half of it coming in the week after his widely criticized Meet the Press performance (which was also the week of his "official" announcement speech and his victory in the primary). Cohn also notes that Dean will probably have the lowest average donation rate--showing that his supporters might not be contributing much, but there are a lot of them. Dean is expanding his online campaign even further, with an "Adopt an Iowan" campaign.

Republicans have a lot to be happy about, as far as fundraising in concerned. George W. Bush is still easily ahead of any of his Democratic rivals, with about $30 million to show for his fundraising in the second quarter.
--Posted at 6:13 PM | link

Mark Shields of CNN's The Capital Gang discusses the possible obstacles to Bush's re-election. One potential problem is that there are some small murmurs of dissent on the Republican side about Bush's honesty.
But here is the respected Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, just back from a visit to war-torn Iraq, publicly telling President Bush and his administration to " level" with the American people about the commitment in time, money and sacrifice it will take to rebuild that troubled country.

Lugar added: "This idea that we will be in just as long as we need to and 'not a day more' -- we've got to get over that rhetoric! It is rubbish! We're going to be there a long time."

Just to set the record straight, on February 26, 2003, a black-tie dinner at the American Enterprise Institute was the first to hear from a high-ranking government official what would become the official mantra for any postwar occupation by the United States, "We will remain in Iraq as long as necessary and not a day more."

The official who first uttered that phrase -- which Lugar now condemns as " rubbish" -- was President George W. Bush. When a loyal Republican leader in Congress like Dick Lugar summons his Republican president to " level" with the country about the price and the pain of building a new Iraq, we remember that straight-shooters always " level."

If Republicans start questioning Bush's honesty and openness, then Democrats can use these issues against Bush without appearing "partisan." Of course, one can assume that the Bush administration will do everything possible to mute such criticism, at least until after the election.

--Posted at 5:22 PM | link

Kucinich's spokesman is claiming that the real winner of the primary was Kucinich himself.

"We're peeling the grassroots of the party away from other candidates," he said. "We connect to the base of the Democratic Party. That base is largely anti-war, anti-corporate trade deals, pro-cuts in military spending. . . . This is the first of many upsets."

Now, earlier I had put a more pessimistic spin on events, saying that what Kucinich really needed was to win this primary or be a very close second. I still stand by the claim that it will be extremely difficult for Kucinich to break into the so-called "top tier" of candidates. But as the #2 choice in the primary, Kucinich might have a chance to replace Dean as the "progressive" choice if anything happens to hurt Dean's standing. This could come in the form of a scandal, or an injury, or an ill-advised comment that essentially disqualifies Dean from the White House. Some of Dean's supporters might defect to a more "centrist" candidate, such as Kerry, but many would undoubtedly support Kucinich. I'm not expecting or hoping for Dean to get knocked out of the race, but I imagine that something would have to happen to alienate Dean's supporters for Kucinich to have a chance.

Then again, the claim that Dean is really a centrist is being repeated often, and this alone might help Kucinich gain progressive support. As Hesiod points out, even the right-wing pundit Laura Ingraham is saying that Dean's record is not as liberal as it seems. The effect of this sort of talk might be to drive a wedge between those progressives who prioritize picking a possible winner (and thus settle on Dean) and those who want a candidate without a "centrist" streak (and who would find Kucinich more appealing). Still, Dean is doing well, and it will take a dramatic shift in support to give Kucinich a realistic shot at the nomination.
--Posted at 12:51 PM | link

TNR's Franklin Foer gives Lieberman a 'D' for Intellectual Honesty, for implying that he voted for the Senate's prescription-drug bill when he was in fact campaigning elsewhere. Any bets on how long it will be before Lieberman's campaign sends another angry letter defending their candidate?
--Posted at 10:11 AM | link

The nine Democratic candidates have agreed to participate in a series of six televised debates.
--Posted at 9:47 AM | link

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