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Friday, July 25, 2003

Joseph Lieberman has slipped in the New Hampshire polls from 11 percent in June to 6 percent. This poll came on the heels of another poll that showed Lieberman in the lead nationally, followed closely by Dick Gephardt. Lieberman's success in the national poll is largely due to name recognition. After all, forty-eight percent of those polled said that they would support Hillary Clinton above other Democrats if she entered the race, with Lieberman getting 11 percent and everyone else scoring even lower. In New Hampshire, people are probably following the campaigns more closely, given their state's privileged status in the primary season.

John Kerry got 25 percent support in the New Hampshire poll mentioned above. The other numbers: Dean (19%), Gephardt (10%), Lieberman (6%), Edwards (2%), Graham (2%), Clark (2%). The rest got 1 percent or lower.
--Posted at 5:34 PM | link

Bush raised $7 million in a weekend trip to Texas, bringing his total up to $41 million. As the article notes, that's more than $635,000 a day since Bush started raising money on May 16.
--Posted at 5:21 PM | link

Thursday, July 24, 2003

The Green Party is still trying to decide whether to wage a strong campaign in 2004. As this article notes, Green voters are not very impressed with "liberal" candidate Howard Dean:

Most Greens scoff at the man who has stirred excitement among Democrats, former Vermont governor Howard Dean.

Referring to those once-alienated people who Dean claims to be bringing back into politics, [potential Green presidential candidate Carol] Miller said, “I feel sorry for those people when they learn who the real Howard Dean is. Look at his very quick willingness to attack Dennis Kucinich. And Dean doesn’t think we should cut the defense budget. The state of Vermont doesn’t have universal health care, even for children, because they have a shortage of health care providers. I think he will play out as very mainstream, middle-of-the-road Democrat in the general election. Those (Dean) people are at great risk of being alienated.”

Some Greens want to run a strong campaign no matter what (although I suspect that they'd react differently if Kucinich were nominated). Others are saying that their efforts should depend on the Democratic nominee.

If Sen. Joe Lieberman were the Democratic candidate, then would-be Green presidential candidate Cobb said he’d run aggressively in “swing” states such as Iowa and Oregon, hoping to draw votes away from Lieberman and prevent him from winning the election.

“Lieberman represents the worst elements of neo-liberal economic policy,” Cobb said, ticking off some of Lieberman’s objectionable stands: support for the Iraq war, opposition to a “living wage,” and opposition to taxpayer-funded elections.

Many rank-and-file Democrats are still furious at the Green party for preventing a clear Gore victory in Florida. But they should nonetheless listen carefully to what Greens are saying about the various Democratic candidates. Despite all the scorn heaped on Dean for being insufficiently "progressive," I suspect that many Greens would vote for him in order to topple Bush. Liberal Democrats who are frustrated with their party would have less incentive to defect if Dean were nominated. And the Green Party might not run a candidate at all if Dean wins--or if they do, they might only campaign in solidly Democratic states. A Dean victory in the primaries wouldn't eliminate the chance of a Green challenge to the Democrats, but it would make it much less likely.

With the other candidates, however, it's a different story. Among the "major" candidates, Lieberman is generally considered to be the farthest "right" and Dean the farthest "left," with the rest falling somewhere in the middle. Lieberman tends to generate far more complaints than the other candidates because he is perceived to be almost a Republican in everything but official party affiliation. When progressive Democrats complain that their party is too conservative, Lieberman is almost inevitably the first example they give. Thus, a Lieberman candidacy would be a disaster for the Democrats, unless he could pick up enough centrist votes to offset the defections on the left. And the conventional wisdom is that this wouldn't happen. "Centrists" will probably vote for Bush if they can't tell the difference between his positions on most issues and Lieberman's.

Edwards, Gephardt, and Kerry are somewhere between Dean and Lieberman on the political spectrum. Their pro-war stances will make it hard for them to win over potential Green voters, but they don't seem to annoy progressives as much as Lieberman does. My guess is that a strong Green campaign is guaranteed if Lieberman is nominated, but it's only a chance if the other candidates are nominated. I never hear people saying, "oh, I can't stand Edwards....he's just the same as Bush," but I hear this all the time about Lieberman. This may be just because Lieberman is much better-known that Edwards or Gephardt. But the impression that he's a Bush clone is already deeply planted in the minds of liberal voters, whereas Edwards or Gephardt might have a chance to reframe themselves as tolerably liberal.
--Posted at 2:37 PM | link

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Bill Clinton, of all people, said that Bush's statement about uranium from Africa was an understandable mistake, and that people should move on.

"You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president," he said. "I mean, you can't make as many calls as you have to without messing up once in a while. The thing we ought to be focused on is what is the right thing to do now."

Clinton said ending tensions in Iraq should be the priority now — another echo of the current White House's talking points. "We should be pulling for America on this. We should be pulling for the people of Iraq."

To Democrats who have been criticizing Bush for his State of the Union statement, this has to feel like a stab in the back. I can already tell that "Even Clinton" will be a common sentence-starter among right-wing pundits (as in "Even Clinton said that we need to move on, yet people keep discussing the issue!")

Meanwhile, the White House and congressional Republicans are launching an aggressive damage-control campaign to remove the perception of scandal that has been created in recent weeks. They're also trying to shift the focus away from the search for weapons of mass destruction, with Wolfowitz saying that they are "not of immediate consequence."
--Posted at 6:09 PM | link

This is why we're not going to see a major candidate openly supporting homosexual marriage anytime soon.
--Posted at 4:32 PM | link

While Dean and Kerry battle for New Hampshire and Gephardt continues to lead in Iowa, John Edwards is at work building support in the south. According to this AP article, Edwards has raised more money than his eight Democratic opponents combined in South Carolina, site of the first southern primary. Combined with his impressive cash total, he could still be a major factor in the Democratic primaries. But his campaign isn't doing very much to get media attention right now, compared to Kerry and Dean. I think that Edwards still has a shot, but he has to do something to get people outside South Carolina interested in him.
--Posted at 4:27 PM | link

Harold Meyerson writes in the Washington Post that Dean resembles Eugene McCarthy in 1968 more than George McGovern in 1972. Dean is nowhere near as liberal as McGovern, Meyerson says, but he does tap into frustration with the Democratic establishment, like McCarthy. Meyerson suggests that Kerry is the best Democratic choice, since his position on Iraq (a vote for the war combined with heavy criticism of it) makes him acceptable to most segments of the Democratic party. If Democrats nominate a pro-war candidate, they will lose the support of Democratic liberals just as Humphrey did.
--Posted at 4:13 PM | link

A new poll puts Dean in the lead among Democrats in California.

Okay, well, his lead isn't statistically significant. Dean has 16 percent, against 15 percent for Kerry and 14 percent for Lieberman, with a third of Democrats undecided. But this is quite a jump from the 7 percent that Dean had in California in April. Lieberman led in the April poll, with 22 percent.

Meanwhile, the same poll shows that 40 percent of Californians would support a Democrat, and 39 percent would support Bush. Again, this isn't a statistically significant lead, but Bush's support has dropped from 45 percent in April. The margin of error is +/- 3.8-5 percentage points.
--Posted at 3:58 PM | link

Blogger Ezra Klein writes that the main effect of a Joe Biden candidacy would be to destroy John Kerry and help Howard Dean. Klein writes:

Dean is beating up on Kerry in NH. His momentum isn't slowing down, it's increasing, and Kerry's is not. Kerry is going to go all out to win NH, relying on Dean's liberal persona, Dean's dovish credentials, and Kerry's national security credentials/resume to win. If Biden enters the race, Kerry is no longer the only Democrat with name recognition, national security credentials, and a beltway pedigree in the race. Add in the immediate storm of press a Biden entry will generate, and you see that the exact same people supporting Kerry are going to support Biden. The actual breakdown is immaterial, whether Biden leaches 5%, 20%, or 80% from Kerry, that is a percentage Kerry can't afford to lose. It's too close of a race with Dean, and for Kerry to lose support will hand Dean New Hampshire and kill Kerry.

Klein thinks that Biden would lose in the end, because he'll split the vote with other "establishment candidates" and hand the nomination to Dean.
--Posted at 3:50 PM | link

Some of the Democratic candidates have responded to the news that Saddam Hussein's sons were killed by U.S. forces in Iraq:

Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), another Democrat who supported the resolution authorizing the Iraq war, called the killing of Hussein's sons "good news" that could dampen militia action aimed at U.S. forces, but he noted that there is still chaos in Iraq.


Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who has been sharply critical of both Bush and the four Democratic candidates who supported the congressional resolution on the war, said, "I applaud the elimination Saddam's sons," but he added that the "major question still has to be asked: Why are we in Iraq?"

The killing of Hussein's sons will give a slight boost to Bush now. But unless Republican predictions come true (killing them will weaken the Iraqi resistance; killing them will make Iraqis feel free to reveal the locations of WMD's), it won't provide much relief for Bush in the long term. Uday and Qusay have little to do with the questions that are being raised about the war.
--Posted at 3:39 PM | link

This article says that Republicans are starting to worry about Bush's re-election chances for the first time since September 11. Republicans worry that Bush's credibility has been hurt by the State of the Union affair, for which Bush still refuses to take any blame. Along with the weak economy and the rising death toll in Iraq, this has caused a dip in Bush's approval rating. Daily Kos has some comments on the article.

If Bush's statements about WMD continue to be discredited with a lot of publicity, Republicans might have to choose between supporting the president and adhering to principle, as this article notes. Granted, we're still far away from that point, and we might never reach it. But with Republicans beginning to worry about the Bush's popularity, it's not out of the question for some of them to start questioning the president in order to save their own credibility.
--Posted at 10:31 AM | link

Monday, July 21, 2003

Bush's support among Arab-Americans has dropped significantly since the 2000 election, according to a Zogby poll. In 2000, Bush won 45.5% of the Arab-American vote, versus 38% for Gore. Now, only 33.5% of Arab-Americans support the president's re-election. Arab-American Muslims (who, according to Zogby, are only about 20% of the total Arab-American population) voted 58.5% to 22.5% in favor of Bush in 2000. Now, they are 52 to 10 in favor of a Democrat.

(Link via Daily Kos. Kos' post mixes up the numbers a bit, confusing Arab-Americans with Arab-American Muslims. However, it makes the point that these numbers will hurt Bush in Michigan, which has a sizable Arab-American population.)
--Posted at 9:38 PM | link

Haven't decided which candidate to support yet? Try taking this quiz, which asks your opinion on a variety of issues and tells you which candidates share your views. Yeah, I know it's just another online quiz and has no scientific validity, but it might be fun.
--Posted at 3:37 PM | link

Orrin Hatch is backing a constitutional amendment that would allow foreign-born people who have been naturalized U.S. citizens for 20 years to run for president. This would allow Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger, a friend of Hatch's, to run for president someday. But a spokesman for Hatch says that the amendment is not designed specifically for Ah-nold. In a statement introducing the legislation, he named people from both parties:

"These include former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright; current Cabinet members Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez; as well as Jennifer Granholm, the governor of Michigan and bright young star of the Democratic Party," he said.

This will not have any effect on the 2004 election, unless the amendment passes much more quickly than I'd expect, but it would create some new potential candidates for 2008 and beyond, including possibly Schwarzenegger himself.

Also, here's an article on one of the people that Hatch mentioned: Jennifer Granholm.

(Both links via Counterspin.)

--Posted at 2:38 PM | link

Democrats are planning to run a television ad that attacks Bush for his "uranium from Africa" statement in the State of the Union address. Republicans are urging broadcasters not to show the ad, calling it "delibrately false and misleading." Why? Because the ad cuts out the words "The British government has learned that," which they say makes the statement technically true.

It would be pretty easy for Democrats to put the missing words back in, and rephrase the rest so that their ad is as strong as the current version. But this doesn't change the fact that the Republican attack on the ad is pretty weak. "Misleading" is not a term that the Republicans want to be tossing around right now, at least in relation to the State of the Union.
--Posted at 2:22 PM |

The Washington Post's Dan Balz describes the current state of the Democratic field of candidates. He writes that there is still no front-runner, and it's almost impossible to predict what will happen in the primaries.

The field has essentially been narrowed to five candidates--Dean, Edwards, Gephardt, Kerry, Lieberman. I'm going to count Graham out for now, because of his poor fundraising totals, but I suppose that a comeback is possible if he can make use of the emerging WMD scandals. Wesley Clark and Joe Biden are both possible late additions that could drastically change the race. Of the two, however, I think that only Clark could take the nomination. He seems to have more supporters and greater name recognition than Biden, and he could give Democrats that all-important appearance of strength on national security. Kucinich, Sharpton, and Moseley Braun are hopeless longshots, and this isn't likely to change. Kucinich has been gaining some ground lately, but at most he'll be able to divide the "progressive" vote with Dean. His chances of winning the nomination remain poor.

"Frontrunner" or not, Dean is generating more enthusiasm and getting more attention than the other candidates. But the other four "major" candidates have advantages that make it impossible to relegate them to a lower tier. Lieberman still leads in national polls, probably because of name-recognition, and his fundraising isn't terrible. Kerry has the most cash on hand and the second greatest Q2 fundraising totals, and still has an aura of "frontrunner" around him. Gephardt is probably the weakest of the five major candidates, thanks to "disappointing" fundraising, but he still leads in Iowa. Edwards has a lot of cash, and he still elicits favorable media comparisons to Clinton. It's a five-man race, and it could still expand to more if Clark or Biden join, or if Graham recovers. All of this makes things very messy for Democrats, who are no doubt watching jealously as Republican attention and fundraising is focused entirely on George W. Bush.
--Posted at 11:23 AM | link

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