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Saturday, January 24, 2004

Bryan Keefer of Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk examines the media's developing interpretation of Dean's post-Iowa speech.
--Posted at 4:54 PM | link

There wasn't much movement for anyone in the Zogby NH poll today (numbers in parentheses are yesterday's):

Kerry - 31 (30)
Dean - 22 (22)
Clark - 14 (14)
Edwards - 8 (7)
Lieberman - 7 (6)

Edwards and Clark are both lagging a lot more in this poll than in ARG's. In the Suffolk tracking poll, the top three candidates are bunched together:

Kerry - 23 (30)
Dean - 22 (17)
Clark - 18 (16)
Edwards - 7 (7)
Lieberman - 5 (5)

The polls seem to be unanimous on one issue: Kerry is in the lead. But the size of his lead, the positions of Dean and Clark, and the strength of Edwards vary dramatically from poll to poll. New Hampshire's results might be as hard to predict as Iowa's turned out to be.
--Posted at 4:52 PM | link

Here are 1/21-1/23 ARG poll numbers for New Hampshire:

Kerry - 34%
Clark - 19%
Dean - 15%
Edwards - 13%
Lieberman - 6%

Kerry's numbers are looking like, well, Dean's a few weeks ago. Dean is dangerously close to fourth place behind Edwards. What I said yesterday about Edwards' lack of movement in New Hampshire might turn out not to be true. In two days, he has risen from 9% to 13%. In yesterday's Zogby poll, however, Edwards' numbers weren't looking so impressive.

ARG suggests that Dean might finally be recovering from his slide in popularity, but Kerry and Edwards continue to rise:

Today's tracking gives some hints about debate performance on Thursday and the impact of Howard Dean's Primetime interview. The trends suggest that (1) Howard Dean's slide in ballot preference has stopped (Dean's 3-day favorable has increased to 35% from 31% and his unfavorable has decreased to 37% from 42%), (2) Wesley Clark has dropped to his lowest single-day ballot preference since January 4, and (3) John Kerry and John Edwards continue to gain support (Kerry began his upward trend on January 15). As Kerry's lead continues to grow, Clark, Dean, and Edwards are battling for second place, but remain 20 percentage points behind Kerry. Ballot preference for Joe Lieberman remains in the single digits.
With only a few days left before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, these must be depressing numbers for Dean. He didn't get a lot of time to recover from the Iowa disaster. His realistic goal is the same as Clark's: a second-place finish that is as close to Kerry and as far ahead of the rest as possible. Kerry is expected to win first place, obviously, so he just needs to meet these expectations. Edwards can survive placing fourth, although higher is better, of course. If Clark or Dean places fourth, that candidate will be in serious trouble, but both of them have the money and support to fight on at least until February 3rd, so they probably will. I don't think we'll see any dropouts immediately after New Hampshire, because nobody is letting everything rest on the outcome the way Gephardt did with Iowa.
--Posted at 12:43 AM | link

Friday, January 23, 2004

Howard Dean said that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has become too political and should be replaced:
"I think Alan Greenspan has become too political," Dean said in response to a question from the audience at a town hall meeting.

"If he lacks the political courage to criticize the (budget) deficits, if he was foolish enough -- and he's not a foolish man -- to support the outrageous tax cuts that George Bush put through, then he has become too political and we need a new chairman of the Federal Reserve," he added.

"Greenspan has been an excellent chief, and yet in the last couple of years, I've been deeply troubled by his willingness to accede to positions that I don't think are in the best interest of the country," Dean later told reporters.

"I'm troubled by his willingness to bend in political winds. That's something a Fed chief should never do."
But Dean apparently will not get the chance to replace Greenspan.

While Greenspan's term at the helm of the central bank expires on June 20, Bush said last April the 77-year-old chairman should get another four-year term and Greenspan said he would serve if nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

But even if Greenspan is renamed to the post this year, the winner of the November presidential election will almost certainly need to name a new chairman.

That is because Greenspan's separate term as a member of the Fed's board ends on Jan. 31, 2006, and he cannot be renominated since he would have already served the one full 14-year term permitted. When he first took office as Fed chairman in 1987, he filled an unexpired term, before being appointed to the full term.
Thus, of more importance than Dean's opinion of Greenspan is his opinion about who should replace him. Dean isn't naming any names, but he said that he would look for someone with a resume like Greenspan's or his predecessor's. So he has no major changes in mind.
--Posted at 5:23 PM | link

Mark Kleiman examines the claim that Wesley Clark insulted John Kerry's military service by pointing out his lower rank.
--Posted at 5:15 PM | link

Nice headline, CNN.

Dean: 'I have all kinds of warts'

Yes, it's an actual quotation from Dean, but he's talking about the fact that he has flaws, that he's not perfect. Quoting it in a headline like that makes it seem like he's swarming with STD's. The people running that site must think they're quite amusing.
--Posted at 2:52 PM | link

Last night when I posted, only a partial transcript of the New Hampshire debate was available. The full transcript is now online.
--Posted at 2:43 PM | link

It seems a bit odd to me that Kerry would emerge as the replacement for Dean. Kerry is enjoying great popularity right now because of his victory in Iowa, but I wonder if it will last. Kerry and Dean are similar in some ways. They're both northeasterners with privileged backgrounds, and a reputation for being liberal. If Dean's Vermont background is considered a liability in some parts of the country, Massachusetts is even worse. Kerry sometimes comes off as a centrist when compared to Dean, but Republicans are going to do their best to destroy that impression. (FOX News has an article stressing the similarity of Kerry's voting record to Ted Kennedy's, and a quotation saying that Kerry is "as liberal as you can get." This is probably a preview of things to come.) Kerry's best piece of evidence that he is less "liberal" than Dean is the fact that he supported the war. But it's unclear whether this in itself will attract enough prowar voters (who already have one prowar candidate) to make up for the loss of enthusiasm among antiwar voters.

There are also personal differences between the candidates. Kerry has that Vietnam experience to brag about, which could put him in a better position than Dean to "prove" his patriotism and courage. But we know from experience that veterans can lose easily to non-veterans (remember Max Cleland), so Kerry's military background should not be viewed as a magic spell that can defeat all Republican attacks on his patriotism. Also, Kerry is seen as calmer than Dean, who was being attacked for being "angry" and "unbalanced" even before he made that scream. The problem is that Kerry is calmer almost to a fault; his enemies can label him the same way that they labelled Al Gore: stiff, boring, uncaring, arrogant, and aloof. Both candidates will be attacked for their personalities; the question is which attack will be more damaging. With the Iowa speech available, Dean is more vulnerable, but you never know if Kerry will roll his eyes at a debate or something and get pounded relentlessly by the media for weeks.

In short, Kerry is doing well because some voters see him as a better candidate than Dean, but it's not clear that he actually is better (at least in the "more electable" sense), and even less clear that he's the "most electable" candidate in the field. My guess is that some voters, disillusioned with Dean after the Iowa debacle, are looking for an anti-Dean at the moment, and the Iowa winner seems like the most logical choice regardless of his other weaknesses. We'll see in the next few weeks if Kerry holds onto this role, or gets replaced by one of his rivals.
--Posted at 2:36 PM | link

Today's ARG New Hampshire tracking poll looks like this:

Kerry - 31
Clark - 20
Dean - 18
Edwards - 11
Lieberman - 7

These are post-Iowa results, and they show the extent of the damage Dean has suffered. Several factors are probably at work here--the Iowa loss itself, the infamous speech that followed it, and the accumulation of doubts about Dean in the past few weeks. Kerry's sudden popularity is also a factor, but that alone cannot account for Dean's collapse to third-place. According to ARG, Dean's "unfavorable" rating in New Hampshire is now alarmingly high, while Kerry's "favorable" rating is through the roof:

Howard Dean’s favorable is now at 31%, his unfavorable is 42%, and 27% are aware of Dean but undecided. Yesterday, Dean’s favorable was 33%, his unfavorable was 30%, and 37% were undecided. Of the 31% with a favorable opinion of Dean, 28% say they will vote for Dean and 32% say they will vote for John Kerry.

Kerry’s favorable is 77%, his unfavorable is 14%, and 9% are undecided. Wesley Clark’s favorable is 49%, his unfavorable is 19%, and 32% are undecided. John Edward’s favorable is 56%, his unfavorable is 14%, and 30% are undecided. Joe Lieberman’s favorable is 49%, his unfavorable is 30%, and 21% are undecided.
Other polls show Dean in second-place. Below are Zogby's numbers:

Kerry - 30
Dean - 22
Clark - 14
Edwards - 7
Lieberman - 6

In this poll, unlike ARG's, Dean has a solid lead over Clark, but he still has reason to worry about a third-place finish.

What about Edwards? In the Zogby poll, he hasn't budged; he's still barely ahead of Lieberman. In the ARG poll, his numbers have moved up a little bit, from 8 percent before Iowa to 11 percent today. It's looking less likely every day that Edwards can make New Hampshire a four-man race. Perhaps he can pull off a double-digit fourth-place finish. Anything more would be another great boost for him. Anything less would seem a little anticlimactic after Iowa, but it would hardly be fatal.
--Posted at 1:43 PM | link

Dick Gephardt has told his "superdelegates" that they can pick another candidate, but he declined to give an endorsement. He said that he would not endorse anyone until after the February 3rd primaries. He probably wants to see who is doing well by February 3 before he attaches his name to someone else.
--Posted at 1:12 PM | link

The Democrats held their last pre-New Hampshire debate on Thursday night. Here is the partial transcript (don't know where the rest can be found), and some writeups from the AP, Reuters, and CNN. The blogs Calpundit and Pandagon did running commentary.
--Posted at 1:04 AM | link

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Howard Dean will be making fun of his infamous caucus-night speech by delivering a Top Ten list on David Letterman. This is the sort of thing he needs to do. The speech struck me as a little odd (especially that yell), but I don't think that it was as terrible as some people say it was. Dean did at least look around and laugh after his yell, which is consistent with his claim that he was just trying to have some fun and cheer up his supporters. He needs to stick to this line--something like "yeah, it was over the top, but I have a sense of humor about it and everybody needs to lighten up."

He also needs to avoid saying things like this:

Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean, struggling to recover from his politically damaging Iowa speech, said Thursday that his bellowing was fueled by emotions, "in other words, I lead with my heart and not my head."
Ordinarily, leading with your heart could be considered a virtue. But when your critics are trying to portray you as crazy, you don't want to produce quotations like this.
--Posted at 7:44 PM | link

Kerry is now ahead of Dean in all of the New Hampshire tracking polls. Some of these are polls taken over several days that contain some pre-Iowa results, so Kerry's real lead might be even larger than it appears now. Edwards' numbers aren't moving, so I guess we can forget about a four-man race in New Hampshire. Clark is in third place in each of these polls, but in some he's getting close to Dean. There's a real possibility now that Dean could come in third place in New Hampshire.

It's not just Kerry's post-Iowa popularity in New Hampshire that's hurting Dean. It's also Dean's increasing unpopularity. The ARG includes the following comments with its tracking poll:

As the results for January 21 indicate, Howard Dean continues to lose support. This trend may continue as Dean's favorable continued to drop on January 21. In the 3-day sample ending January 19, 57% of likely Democratic primary voters had a favorable opinion of Dean, 19% had an unfavorable opinion of Dean, and 24% were aware of Dean but undecided. In the January 20 sample, 39% had a favorable opinion of Dean, 30% had an unfavorable opinion of Dean, and 31% were undecided. In the January 21 sample, 33% had a favorable opinion of Dean, 30% had an unfavorable opinion of Dean, and 37% were undecided. The movement from favorable to undecided signals a continuing drop in ballot preference for Dean.
Not long ago, I noted Dean's double-digit lead over Kerry and Clark, and said that he would probably have to maintain a significant lead to meet expectations. Now, thanks to Iowa's surprising results, expectations have changed. To keep his candidacy strong, Dean has to win New Hampshire, but the margin of victory is no longer significant. If Dean loses to Kerry, he'll be at a serious disadvantage going into the February 3rd primaries. If Dean loses to Kerry and Clark, he might choose to continue his candidacy, but it will be a difficult, uphill battle.
--Posted at 5:56 PM | link

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A post-Iowa Boston Herald poll shows Kerry in the lead in New Hampshire:

Kerry - 31
Dean - 21
Clark - 16
Edwards - 11

This is apparently the first poll taken entirely after Iowa (the ARG and Zogby polls below were taken over several days, starting before Iowa). I wonder if this is a taste of things to come, or a fluke. The previous Boston Herald poll (last week) had Dean in first place with 29 percent, Clark in second with 20 percent, and Kerry in third with 15 percent.
--Posted at 7:47 PM | link

Today's ARG poll shows Dean only two points ahead of Kerry (28-26), with Clark at 18 percent. A Zogby poll has Dean at 25, Kerry at 23, and Clark at 16. Edwards doesn't seem to be benefitting too much in these polls.
--Posted at 2:47 PM | link

Apparently, Kerry has been doing pretty well with donations in the days since his Iowa win. A campaign aide says that he has received $250,000 in donations from his web site after Iowa.
--Posted at 2:41 PM | link

I didn't see anything earth-shattering in the State of the Union speech. Most of it was just what people expected--unapologetic support for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, and the tax cuts, with a positive spin on the economy, and proposals for a few new programs. There was nothing about the Mars mission; I guess that it wasn't popular enough to highlight. I also didn't see anything about spending $1.5 million to "promote marriage". Bush threatened that if judges continued "redefining" marriage, "the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process." That's not quite explicit support for a constitutional amendment, but he's leaving the possibility open without committing himself to support anything before Election Day.

The SOTU is a preview of what Bush will emphasize throughout the campaign season, so Democrats should start refining their responses as soon as possible. Most of them had comments soon after the speech, primarily about Bush's portrayal of the economy but also about his statements on security, foreign policy, and other issues.
--Posted at 1:26 AM | link

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Although Iowa's caucus is much more than a mere distributor of delegates, here's what the count looks like:

Kerry - 20
Edwards - 18
Dean - 7

Everybody else, including Gephardt, got zero. These totals don't include the "superdelegates"--prominent Democrats who are not committed to vote for any candidate as a result of a primary or caucus. As of January 17, CBS News put those totals as follows:

Dean - 137
Gephardt - 74
Kerry - 64
Clark - 40
Edwards - 28
Lieberman - 27
Shartpton - 3
Kucinich - 2
Moseley Braun - 1
Undecided - 258

These superdelegates are free to chance their mind, and this count is based on a noncomprehensive telephone survey. CBS explains its method:

Overall, interviews were conducted with delegates representing 636 votes. Of those, 378 superdelegates expressed a preference, 258 were undecided. A further 21 refused to be interviewed, and the remaining 62 could not be reached. In addition, 82 superdelegate votes have not yet been assigned to delegates and will be selected by state parties closer to the convention.

The delegates are not bound and can always change their minds. If their original choice does poorly or drops out they are free to pick another candidate. CBS News will be monitoring switches as the process moves along.
The "superdelegates" (about one-sixth of the total number of delegates) only becomes relevant in a close race in which no candidate dominates the delegate count. At this point it's hard to tell how close the race will be, but it's looking a lot closer than it did a week ago.
--Posted at 4:34 PM | link

Kerry and Dean are trying to keep expectations low for themselves in New Hampshire:

I am an underdog in New Hampshire," John Kerry said in words echoed by Howard Dean as the race moved eastward.

...

"I used to be the front-runner when I went out to Iowa, but I'm not the front-runner any more," Dean said at Portsmouth, N.H., after making the traditional overnight flight from Iowa to the Granite State. "But New Hampshire has a great tradition of supporting the underdog. So guess what? Let's go get them."


Now, Kerry and Dean can't both be underdogs, unless we are to believe that Clark or Edwards is dominating the NH race. But it is true that neither one is the clear frontrunner. Kerry and Dean have both gotten burned during the campaign by letting expectations get too high, so their desire to exaggerate the other's strength is understandable.

Meanwhile, the White House is happy with the Iowa results, becaue it increases the likelihood of a long, bitter fight among equally strong candidates:

"They have 17 contests over the next five weeks," White House communications director Dan Bartlett said without a hint of regret. "So it looks like the roller coaster is just beginning,"
The Democratic Party as a whole would still benefit from a relatively early decision, so that it can concentrate as soon as possible on targeting George W. Bush. How likely is this? New Hampshire probably won't knock anybody out of the race. If any candidate remains without even one victory after February 3rd, this could be a cue for that candidate to drop out. But there will still be several strong candidates in the field for a while, no matter what happens, unless one or two candidates manage to sweep New Hampshire and February 3rd.
--Posted at 4:10 PM | link

Gephardt is now out of the race, officially.
--Posted at 2:17 PM | link

Everybody else is making predictions based on Iowa's results, so why shouldn't I? Here my rough, quick assessment of how the results will affect each candidate:

Gephardt - He's finished. It's not official yet, but he has basically admitted
as much. This probably would have happened even if he finished second, but being a distant fourth made his decision very easy.

Dean - Morale must be low among Dean supporters right now. Despite his frontrunner status, his cash, and endorsements from influential politicians and unions, he lost Iowa by a sizable margin to candidates whose campaigns looked barely alive a month ago. But the dual Kerry/Edwards victory might have an upside for him. He has an interest in keeping the number of strong candidates high for now, so that they'll split the "anti-Dean" vote among themselves. In the near future, Kerry might grab some votes from Dean in New Hampshire, and he could also take enough from Clark to challenge Dean's lead. Who knows--maybe Edwards has a chance in New Hampshire now too. Even if Dean loses New Hampshire, he can recover if he makes a strong impact on February 3rd (and no other candidate makes a strong impact). I still predict that Dean will win New Hampshire, but it will be much closer than anyone would have assumed a few weeks ago.

Kerry - He actually has a shot of winning New Hampshire now, which would put him in a very good position for the primaries that follow. Even if he doesn't win NH, his Iowa victory gives him something to brag about in the later primaries. The most important thing about Iowa is that it injected some hope into his campaign, but he still has a lot of work to do.

Edwards - Not long ago, I had assumed that Edwards' only hope was a strong performance in South Carolina, and that even this wouldn't be enough to keep him going for long. Things are different now that he's won Iowa, but how different? He still needs to do well in South Carolina and other early primaries, and in particular he has to do better than Kerry to prove that he is the "real" winner of Iowa. Like Kerry, Edwards has received a huge boost in Iowa, but he has a long way to go before the nomination.

Clark - He's in a tough spot now. Kerry will almost certainly pass him in New Hampshire in the next few days, and Edwards has at least a chance of doing the same. I don't think that first or second place in NH is impossible for Clark, but he has strong competition now, and his candidacy will probably have to rely on a good February 3rd showing. Like Dean, he has money, so he can hang around a little longer in the face of defeat than some of the others.

Lieberman - Perhaps Lieberman had been hoping that Kerry and Edwards would tank in Iowa, allowing him to play the "anti-Dean" role alone (or with Clark) in later primaries. So much for that. Lieberman's strategy is unchanged, but his competition is stiffer.
--Posted at 2:32 AM | link

Monday, January 19, 2004

Here are the Iowa results (with 93% of precincts reporting):

1. John Kerry - 38%
2. John Edwards - 32%
3. Howard Dean - 18%
4. Dick Gephardt - 11%
5. Dennis Kucinich - 1%

This is fantastic for Kerry, good for Edwards, lousy for Dean, and disastrous for Gephardt. CNN is reporting that Gephardt plans to drop out of the race tomorrow.
--Posted at 10:23 PM | link

Kos has a summary of the latest Iowa poll results from various polling organizations. These will be the last polling numbers from Iowa that we'll see before the final results tonight. Final results are supposed to be released by 10 PM Central.
--Posted at 12:51 PM | link

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The NYT discusses New Hampshire, Iowa, and the campaigns in general. They also mention this:

General Clark was expected to receive the endorsement of George S. McGovern, the vehemently antiwar Democrat who suffered a landslide defeat to Richard M. Nixon in the 1972 presidential election. Aides to General Clark said that Mr. McGovern would endorse him on Sunday.
Dean is probably lucky that he didn't get this endorsement. He has been compared to McGovern so many times that an endorsement would only reinforce the connection in people's minds. Attached to Clark, the endorsement is pretty harmless.
--Posted at 12:55 AM | link

ARG's daily tracking poll has Dean at 28 percent, Clark at 20 percent, and Kerry at 19 percent. Thus, Dean holds onto his lead, but things have changed since his 36-19 lead over Clark on January 11 (with Kerry then nearly out of the picture with 10 percent). The more important numbers are those indicating strength of support:

Dean: 28 (total), 23 (committed), 5 (available)
Clark: 20 (total), 11 (committed), 9 (available)
Kerry: 19 (total), 10 (committed), 9 (available)

Dean is still in the strongest position, but anything can happen. A strong Kerry performance in Iowa might give him the votes he needs to overcome Dean (or place a very close second, which is nearly as good from an "expectations" point of view). If Kerry performs poorly in Iowa, Clark might be the beneficiary in New Hampshire. Dean still has the best chance, but the remarkable thing is that his victory in NH is in doubt at all. He had been in the high-30 range for so long that I began to view the NH primary as a race for a distant second.
--Posted at 12:48 AM | link

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