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Saturday, January 31, 2004

John Kerry got some endorsements in Michigan today:

Adding to his momentum, Kerry picked up still more backing. Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and Lt. Gov. John Cherry endorsed him Saturday, as did Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.
Michigan is one of the states that Dean hopes to win instead of the February 3rd primaries, so this seems like a setback for him. Then again, the fate of Dean's own campaign shows us that endorsements aren't always worth very much.


--Posted at 8:36 PM | link

Not many pollsters seem to be interested in what's going on in the other February 3rd primary states--New Mexico, North Dakota, and Delaware. One poll shows Kerry with a 31-15 point lead over second-place Wesley Clark in North Dakota. A poll of Delaware voters shows Kerry with 27%, Lieberman with 16%, and Dean with 14%. I haven't been able to find a recent New Mexico poll. According to an AP article, party leaders think that Kerry has the edge there also.
--Posted at 1:07 PM | link

Here are today's Zogby polls for four primary states (yesterday's numbers in parentheses):

South Carolina

Edwards - 26 (25)
Kerry - 22 (24)
Dean - 9 (9)
Clark - 8 (8)
Sharpton - 6 (5)
Lieberman - 4 (5)
Kucinich - 0.1 (0)

Missouri

Kerry - 46 (45)
Edwards - 13 (11)
Dean - 8 (9)
Clark - 4 (3)
Lieberman - 4 (4)
Sharpton - 2 (2)
Kucinich - 1 (1)

Oklahoma

Clark - 25 (27)
Kerry - 22 (19)
Edwards - 16 (17)
Dean - 8 (9)
Lieberman - 6 (5)
Kucinich - 1 (1)
Sharpton - 1 (1)

Arizona

Kerry - 36 (38)
Clark - 20 (17)
Dean - 12 (12)
Lieberman - 7 (6)
Edwards - 6 (6)
Kucinich - 3 (2)
Sharpton - 0.1 (1)

Edwards' lead in South Carolina has increased a bit in this poll, although not enough to give him the 12-point lead that he has in a CBS poll. Kerry and Clark are now nearly tied in Oklahoma. Everything else has remained roughly the same since yesterday. Kerry could take all four of these states, and even if he doesn't, he's in a very good position for close seconds in Oklahoma and South Carolina.
--Posted at 12:42 PM | link

Friday, January 30, 2004

A University of Connecticut poll presents some bad news for Lieberman:

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has a big lead over Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut senator's home state, according to a University of Connecticut poll released Friday.

Forty-three percent of those who said they are likely to vote in the state's March 2 presidential primary said they would vote for Kerry. Lieberman had the support of 18 percent of those surveyed.

...

The two New England senators are followed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, with 8 percent; North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, with 6 percent; and retired General Wesley Clark, with 4 percent.

Twenty-one percent of those surveyed said they are undecided.

...

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Connecticut Democrats said they believe it is time for Lieberman to drop out of the race.
It's not so much that Connecticut voters hate Lieberman. Rather, it's that they think he can't beat Bush.

According to the poll, 58 percent of registered Democrats say that Kerry has the best chance of beating Bush, compared to 6 percent who say Dean, 5 percent who say Edwards and 4 percent who say Lieberman.
To some extent, Connecticut Democrats are just following the momentum (does anyone really think that Kerry is that much more electable against Bush than all of his rivals?) But this is yet another sign of the poor state of Lieberman's campaign.
--Posted at 5:54 PM | link

Zogby has some polls (taken January 27-29) from the February 3rd states:

South Carolina

Edwards - 25
Kerry - 24
Dean - 9
Clark - 8
Lieberman - 5
Sharpton - 5
Kucinich - 0

Missouri

Kerry - 45
Edwards - 11
Dean - 9
Lieberman - 4
Clark - 3
Sharpton - 2
Kucinich - 1

Oklahoma

Clark - 27
Kerry - 19
Edwards - 17
Dean - 9
Lieberman - 5
Kucinich - 1
Sharpton - 1

Arizona

Kerry - 38
Clark - 17
Dean - 12
Edwards - 6
Lieberman - 6
Kucinich - 2
Sharpton - 1

Kerry should have no trouble winning Missouri and probably Arizona. Clark is doing pretty well in Oklahoma. Edwards is in a precarious position; he needs to win South Carolina, and right now he's tied with Kerry. Dean's weakness in these states is painfully evident, since he isn't placing higher than third in any of them. Perhaps he was correct to assume that he can't win any of these states, and that he's better off betting on a Michigan or Washington victory. But that would probably require a strong second somewhere, and it doesn't look like Dean is even getting that.
--Posted at 2:40 PM | link

Bush is planning to increase the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts by 15 percent, which is the largest increase in two decades. Conservative Republicans, like Rush Limbaugh and the National Review bloggers, are outraged and confused. The NEA has been a punching bag for Republicans for years. They have portrayed it as government funding for pornography and anti-religious, anti-American propaganda. Along with other big spending proposed by Bush recently, this is likely to turn off conservative voters, and perhaps induce them to stay home on Election Day. It's not likely to attract liberal or moderate voters to Bush either. Liberal voters have plenty of other grievances that would prevent them from ever voting for Bush. Moderates and independents--and, I would wager, most Democrats--aren't really that interested in the NEA either. Maybe they think it's sort of a good idea, or sort of a bad idea, but it's not likely to determine their vote.

So what is Bush thinking? Perhaps this is all part of a plan to make himself seem like a moderate who gets attacked from the Left and the Right. But I don't think that the gamble is worth it. Bush's father got attacked from the Right pretty heavily, and it didn't help him much. Any Democrat who supported a major funding increase for the NEA would be immediately labeled a "liberal" by conservatives. Bush won't be labeled a "liberal," because he isn't one, but he might eventually be labeled someone who will try anything to get elected. And that won't help him among liberals, conservatives, or moderates.
--Posted at 2:41 AM | link

The Republicans are starting to plan for a campaign against John Kerry instead of Howard Dean. They're finding that they don't have to change their strategy much. Both Kerry and Dean can be stuck with the "tax-and-spend Northeastern liberal" label. Kerry's vote for the war will spare him from the "if it were up to you, Saddam would still be in power" line, but Bush will still try to pound him for his later doubts about the war. For now, the Bush people are keeping the "angry and negative" theme to use against Kerry, but they might decide to revert back to their attacks on Gore--aloof, boring, out of touch, and so on.

Bush campaigners are taking credit for the destruction of Dean, and some say that they are worried about destroying Kerry too early, because this could lead to the rise of Edwards:

Knocking down Kerry now, they say, could help ignite the candidacy of a Democrat some Bush campaign officials fear even more: Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who finished a strong second in Iowa but slumped to fourth place in New Hampshire, just behind retired Gen. Wesley Clark, his other Southern rival. A recent poll showed Edwards with a slight lead in South Carolina's critical primary next Tuesday, and he holds a strong appeal elsewhere in the South, which was Bush Country in 2000.

Some Bush campaign advisers worry that Edwards' promise to end what the candidate charges are the "two Americas" — one for the wealthy and privileged and the other for working people and the poor — could have broad appeal. Bush operatives are also mindful that in Edwards' 1998 election, about six in 10 women backed him, and black voters supported him by a 9-to-1 margin.
Edwards would have some disadvantages of his own against Bush, but "Northeastern liberal" won't work against him. If nothing else, he'd force the Bush people to come up with a new strategy. In any case, I don't think that the Republicans have the power to destroy Kerry, at least not in time to save Edwards. Dean withstood months of relentless attacks before his campaign finally collapsed--and even that wouldn't have happened if not for the whims of Iowa caucus voters. Then again, I don't think that Democrats aren't as fixed on Kerry as they were on Dean, so a quick wave of bad press could drive some supporters away. It would be a less dramatic fall than Dean's, but it could happen nonetheless.
--Posted at 2:06 AM | link

Salon tells us more about what happened to Joe Trippi and all of Dean's money.
--Posted at 1:40 AM | link

Howard Dean's new campaign manager Roy Neel introduces himself on the Dean blog.
--Posted at 1:31 AM | link

This is interesting, although I admit I'm not quite sure how they created these. Apparently, Yahoo is able to track searches for candidate names originating from different states, and they have graphs to show the frequency of searches over the last 30 days. Some states have huge peaks, with virtually no interest in between. Others show a relatively steady trend upward for all candidates. I don't know if searches mean anything for primary results, but Kerry dominates all of the states recently, followed in most by Dean and Edwards.
--Posted at 1:27 AM | link

Now that Dean has been damaged perhaps beyond repair by media coverage of "the scream," some in the media are having some remorse:

CBS News: "Individually we may feel okay about our network, but the cumulative effect for viewers with 24-hour cable coverage is -- it may have been overplayed and, in fact, a disservice to Dean and the viewers."
-- Andrew Heyward, President - CBS News

ABC News: "It's always a danger that we'll use good video too much."
-- David Westin, President - ABC News

CNN: "We've all been wrestling with this. If we had it to do over again, we'd probably pull ourselves back."
-- Princell Hair, General Manager - CNN

Fox News: "It got overplayed a bit, and the public clearly thought that, too, and kept him alive for another round."
-- Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO - Fox News
Of course, this raises the question of why they focused so much on the scream in the first place. Some would argue that the media were out to get Dean for political reasons, and are just covering their tracks with these statements of regret. But I think it got overdone primarily because the media wanted a good story, and "Democratic frontrunner loses primary, goes nuts" seemed to work. As odd as the video seemed, it wasn't nearly as bad as the media framed it to be. (Some CBS guy called it "eerie" on the evening news. Give me a break.) Anyway, this is all history now; the heat is off Dean unless he makes some sort of comeback.
--Posted at 1:19 AM | link

Get yer debate transcript, right here.

It was a typical Democratic debate, covering national security, Iraq, civil liberties, jobs, NAFTA, Medicare, and race. Of course, there was also the usual campaign strategy and electability talk. Kerry had to explain away some comments that he had made about excessive Democratic focus on the South, and he did a respectable job of defending himself against some criticism from Dean. Edwards emphasized his Southern roots, which makes sense given that this was a debate in South Carolina in preparation for a primary in South Carolina. Overall, Kerry and Edwards seemed to do the best job. The others didn't do much to hurt themselves, but they also did little to push themselves ahead. Dean tried to score some points against Kerry but didn't really pull it off. Lieberman's strategy is still to be as unapologetically hawkish as possible. Clark's performance was average, without much that could help or hurt him. Kucinich basically said that his only hope is a brokered convention, which may or may not be a nightmare for the Democrats. Sharpton had to clarify for Tom Brokaw that the "Nation of Islam" and "Islamic nations" are different things.
--Posted at 1:07 AM | link

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Dean has decided not to air ads in any of the February 3rd primary states, so that he can focus on winning Michigan and Washington state on February 7th, and Wisconsin on February 17th. This is similar to Trippi's strategy, which Dean had apparently disliked because he wanted to compete everywhere. Dean will not, however, skip the states completely; he plans to visit at least four of them. The Dean campaign admits that the plan is a gamble, but it is necessary due to low funds:

Dean runs the risk of falling off the political map with seven defeats Tuesday, the officials acknowledged. Dean is gambling that he can pick up delegates with second- and third-place finishes while rivals John Edwards and Wesley Clark spend themselves out of the race.

Officials hope that Dean emerges later in February as an alternative to front-runner John Kerry and engages in "guerrilla warfare" until he wins the nomination or is mathematically eliminated.
My initial reaction to this was to think that Dean can't survive without a February 3rd win. He would have little momentum going into the primaries a few days later, and would probably lose those states to one of the big winners of February 3rd. But I suppose it's possible that there would be no frontrunner(s) after February 3rd. Clark, Edwards, and Kerry (and maybe Lieberman) could divide the states among themselves, weakening Kerry's claim to frontrunner status but putting no one in a clear leading position. Then Dean, who will have been focusing on Michigan and Washington the whole time, will benefit from this division. It's possible, but there's also another scenario--one or two candidates sweep the February 3rd states and use this momentum to bury Dean in Michigan and Washington. Dean is already at a disadvantage, at least in Michigan:

Dean had an early advantage in Michigan. The state is allowing caucus-goers to cast their ballots on the Internet, an option tailor-made for Dean's web-based organization.

But after Dean's loss in Iowa, Kerry opened a double-digit lead in the Michigan polls and Gov. Jennifer Granholm plans to endorse Kerry. The Massachusetts senator also has several other leading Michigan Democrats on his side.
If Kerry gets shut out on February 3rd, all these endorsements could count for nothing, and Dean could take the state. But if he grabs even one or two states, Kerry would probably have the advantage. Dean has to hope that February 3rd will knock Kerry off of his frontrunner pedestal without putting anyone in his place.
--Posted at 12:04 PM | link

The Blog for America website has official statements from Howard Dean and Joe Trippi about Trippi's replacement.
--Posted at 1:47 AM | link

From Political Wire:

This item is buried in a Wall Street Journal story on yesterday's primary: "The major Democratic contenders all have nearly exhausted their campaign treasuries; advisers say that even Mr. Dean, who raised an unmatched $40 million in 2003, has less than $5 million left. That leaves all the candidates largely dependent on attention from the news media to reach voters as they move from small venues and intensive personal campaigning to far-flung contests that play out almost entirely on television screens."
I guess that explains the deferred paychecks. If Dean is really going to compete in all of the February 3rd primaries, he'll need every cent of this $5 million. The more I read about this, the more Trippi's idea (skipping most of February 3rd's primaries) seems to make sense.
--Posted at 12:09 AM | link

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Jonathan Chait has suspended his "Diary of a Dean-o-phobe" blog that he had been publishing on the New Republic's website. He declares that his work is done, because Dean's campaign is essentially finished (although he promises that he will restart if Dean becomes a contender again). Chait goes on to say that Kerry is almost as bad as Dean, if not worse. Is "Diary of a Kerry-o-phobe" next?
--Posted at 11:32 PM | link

Dean will replace his well-known campaign manager Joe Trippi with Roy Neel, an associate of Al Gore. Trippi basically created the Dean phenomenon, so the fact that he's getting dumped says a lot about how unhappy the Dean camp is with its recent performance.

This seems to be part of the reason:

Trippi had been part of the staff faction that had urged Dean to focus on a few upcoming states that could be won, skipping all or most of the seven Feb. 3 contests in favor of Michigan, Washington state and Wisconsin. Dean said he wanted to continue to compete everywhere, although he said he would have a special focus on the delegate-rich states that come after Feb. 3, such as Michigan.
Skipping all of the February 3rd primaries might have been a mistake, in my opinion. Dean won't look very good if he allows nine primaries to go by without a single victory. But skipping most of them might have been a good plan. If he makes an effort to win a primary and loses, that's much worse than if he had made no effort at all. Maybe if he could be reasonably confident that he could win Michigan or Washington, he could get away with skipping all of them. In any case, if this was the main reason for firing Trippi, it might have been a bad move.

Also, despite his extraordinary fundraising efforts over the past few months, Dean doesn't appear to be doing well financially:

In a further sign of distress, the one-time front-runner implemented cost-cutting measures as he looked ahead to a series of costly primaries and caucuses, asking staff to defer their paychecks for two weeks.
Perhaps the fact that Dean has the money to fight in all of these states means that he's in a better position financially than some of his rivals. Still, he's evidently in trouble, and will have to get some momentum back soon to avoid falling out of the race due to lack of money.
--Posted at 6:16 PM | link

If your job is to smear Democratic presidential candidates, you might want to double-check to make sure you have the right guy:

Yesterday, Republican pundit Brian S. Wise, who writes for the Web site intellectualconservative.com, widened the battle by slamming Vietnam vet Kerry for opposing the war in Southeast Asia even though he helped kill "21 innocent Vietnamese" civilians as a Navy SEAL.

Unfortunately for Wise, whose column was touted on yesterday's Rush Limbaugh radio show, he got it wrong - and badly. The long-ago incident involved former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner who today is president of Manhattan's New School University.
(Via Wonkette.)
--Posted at 5:21 PM | link

You can make an argument that all of the candidates were losers in New Hampshire, except Kerry. Watch:

Clark - Despite skipping Iowa in order to devote all his time to New Hampshire, he placed third behind two candidates who campaigned in Iowa, and beat another one only by a very narrow margin. He once was a strong candidate for second place in New Hampshire, maybe first, but instead he fell over 25 points behind one candidate and over 10 points behind another.

Dean - He was beaten by double-digits in a state where he once was dominant, proving that he never recovered from the Iowa disaster. He blew his "inevitable" status, his momentum is gone, and he has an uphill battle in the states ahead.

Edwards - Despite his second-place showing in Iowa, he only managed to place fourth in New Hampshire, and is now forced to bet everything on a single state--South Carolina.

Lieberman - He placed fifth in a field of five serious candidates, with a single digit percentage total. Need I say more?

Now, I'm being too negative here on purpose. Is anyone seriously arguing that Kerry is inevitable at this point? If not, that means that at least some of the other candidates have a chance. In fact, I think that Clark, Dean, Edwards, and Kerry could all do well on February 3rd. I'm excluding Lieberman, since his candidacy really does seem to be going nowhere, but I suppose that he could surprise us. Each of the others has something to brag about--Kerry's two victories, Edwards' surprise second in Iowa, Clark's cash, and Dean's cash and endorsements. After some post-New Hampshire polls come out, we'll have a better idea of how strong each candidate is now.
--Posted at 3:59 PM |
link

There's a debate among pundits and Democratic-leaning bloggers over whether a long primary season--and even a brokered convention--is good for the Democrats. The conventional wisdom seems to be that picking a candidate as early as possible is good, because the Democrats can then speak with a unified voice, send all of their contributions to a single candidate, and focus on beating George W. Bush instead of each other. But several bloggers (e.g. Atrios, Hesiod, and Digby), and a Reuters article contend that a long primary fight would be good, because it keeps media attention off Bush and on the Democrats. Arguably, we saw this effect last week, when Bush's State of the Union was expected to eclipse the Democratic race, and instead the opposite seemed to happen. And all the attention on Kerry helped him beat George W. Bush in a Newsweek poll last week. If the Democrats can keep the spotlight on themselves and off of Bush, the argument goes, they'll benefit in the real election. Also, they'll force the Republicans to attack several different candidates instead of concentrating on one. The attention on Dean gave the Republicans plenty of time to find the best attacks to use on him (largely invented and first used by other Democrats), but they haven't had such a clear focus after Iowa.

It's an interesting argument, but I'm not persuaded. One problem is that a lot of the media attention is likely to be more negative as time goes on. News reports will sound like: "It's July, and the Democrats are still fighting among themselves, unable to decide how to beat George W. Bush." The Democratic candidates will continue to criticize each other, and these criticisms will probably become more bitter as the battle becomes more desperate, perhaps leaving wounds that cannot heal by Election Day. Hesiod argues that this won't happen because most Democrats are focused on the overriding goal of beating George W. Bush. But if the Democrats haven't rallied behind a single candidate before the convention, I think it's going to be hard to put aside whatever differences are dividing them, especially if they're divided by a touchy issue like the Iraq war. Also, a divided Democratic convention is going to look bad compared to the Republican convention, which, being scheduled in New York around September 11, will inevitable focus on themes like "unity" and "transcending petty differences for the good of America." I might be willing to go so far as to say that a late choice might be beneficial for the media attention alone, as long as the contest remains relatively polite. But if this extends into the convention, there's a lot of potential for negative press and harmful contrast with the confident and unified Republicans. Finally, there's the risk that the Democrats might blow all of their money fighting each other, and not be able to raise enough to run an effective campaign against Bush.
--Posted at 3:33 PM | link

John Kerry picked up the endorsement of Jim Clyburn, six-term Democratic representative from South Carolina and the most important black politician in his state. This hurts Edwards, who have previously held a narrow lead over Kerry in South Carolina, and it can't be good for anyone who had planned to win that primary. Al Sharpton had 15% of the total vote, and 27% percent of the black vote in South Carolina as of January 24. Clyburn's endorsement might dent these numbers a bit.

Kerry also got the endorsement of Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, not that he really needs it at this point. Still, it could help him in neighboring Missouri. Former Missouri senators Jean Carnahan and Thomas Eagleton are expected to endorse Kerry also.
--Posted at 11:52 AM | link

All precincts have reported. Edwards didn't catch up with Clark, and Sharpton trails the non-candidate Gephardt by 53 votes. So that's presumably the final count as we move toward the next round of primaries.

Kerry got 13 delegates out of this, and Dean got 9. Like Iowa's delegate totals, these numbers are nearly meaningless compared to New Hampshire's importance as a test, but they're there anyway as a small part of the 2,161 needed to win. CNN has the full delegate count so far, including "superdelegates."
--Posted at 11:37 AM | link

By Wednesday morning, 292 out of 301 precincts have reported. There are some minor revisions to the results.

1. John Kerry - 38.5% (82,594 votes)
2. Howard Dean - 26.3% (56,353 votes)
3. Wesley Clark - 12.4% (26,554 votes)
4. John Edwards - 12.1% (25,849 votes)
5. Joe Lieberman - 8.6% (18,392 votes)
6. Dennis Kucinich - 1.4% (3,015 votes)
7. Dick Gephardt - 0.2% (388 votes)
8. Al Sharpton - 0.2% (342 votes)

Apparently there was some miscounting last night that put one of the unknown candidates ahead of Sharpton. But he's still losing to Dick Gephardt by 46 votes, which is still somewhat embarrassing. Clark and Edwards are separated by less than 1000 votes. I'd bet that Clark is feeling a little nervous now, fearing that Edwards could still catch him as the rest of the results are counted.

Kerry is now on his way to Missouri, which offers the largest number of delegates of all the primary states. Dean will be campaigning in a number of states, including South Carolina despite the advice of some of his advisors that he can't win there. Clark and Edwards are both heading to South Carolina, and Edwards says that he must win there. Lieberman's next stop is Oklahoma, where he'll face some competition from Clark.
--Posted at 8:42 AM | link

Of the 301 precincts, 286 have reported. Here's what the results look like now (I'm listing only the "major" candidates, anyone who beat a "major" candidate in his own party, and anyone else of interest):

Democrats

1. John Kerry - 38.6%
2. Howard Dean - 25.9%
3. Wesley Clark - 12.5%
4. John Edwards - 12.0%
5. Joe Lieberman - 8.7%
6. Dennis Kucinich - 1.4%
7. Dick Gephardt - 0.2% (380 votes)
8. Randy Crow - 0.2% (358 votes)
9. Al Sharpton - 0.2% (335 votes)
11. George W. Bush - 0% (write-in, 103 votes)
13. Carol Moseley Braun - 0% (75 votes)
16. Lyndon LaRouche - 0% (71 votes)
17. Hillary Clinton - 0% (write-in, 53 votes)

Republicans

1. George W. Bush - 85.5%
2. John Kerry - 2.3% (write-in)
3. Howard Dean - 1.5% (write-in)
4. Wesley Clark - 1.4% (write-in)
7. John Edwards - 1.3% (write-in)
10. Joe Lieberman - 0.8% (write-in)

So what do the Democratic results mean?

Some people are convinced that Dean is finished. Dean says that he will stay in the race, spinning his second place finish as a "solid second." Kerry has a double digit lead, and it's doubtful that the rest of the precincts can narrow it to single digits. Those who were expecting Dean to do much worse (over 20 points behind) can view this as beating expectations, whereas those who saw him creeping up in the polls over the past few days will probably be disappointed. In any case, Dean will move on to February 3rd without much momentum, but with the resources to continue for a while. It doesn't seem like there's a consensus among media types about whether his candidacy is doomed. The Democratic-leaning blogs are divided too--Kos says he's through; Atrios doesn't agree. As for me, I honestly don't know. I think that Dean at least has a chance of making a comeback, but he has to do it soon (i.e. pick at least one state on February 3rd and win it). He can't linger on without a victory somewhere. But take my judgments with a grain of salt; after all, I also didn't think that the post-Iowa speech would hurt Dean as much as it did.

It looks like Clark got third place, though only by about a thousand votes. Even though third place gets no delegates and his lead over Edwards was narrow, it's important for him to be able to say that he was third. Even if he had beaten Edwards by only a dozen votes, there's a big psychological difference between third and fourth. Edwards can survive with fourth place, although it's a bit of a letdown for him. His real test is not New Hampshire but rather South Carolina.

Lieberman was a weak fifth place, and the calls for him to drop out are becoming more frequent. He's trying to spin it as a three-way split between himself, Clark, and Edwards, but this probably isn't going to give him the momentum he needs. Although he's less than four percent behind them, he's in single digits, and they're in doubles, which has a psychological impact. Still, he's going to at least make a stand next week before he decides to quit.

Dick Gephardt and some guy named Randy Crow managed to beat Al Sharpton (although it's close enough that more precinct results could put Sharpton ahead of them). Sharpton was never expected to do well in New Hampshire, but a guy with his visibility should not be doing this poorly against a dropout and an unknown.

Now the candidates have a week to spin the New Hampshire outcome in a way that helps them in the February 3rd primary states. Kerry has it easy, but things will be more difficult for the others, who are all arguably weakened in some way--or at least not helped much--by these results.
--Posted at 12:48 AM | link

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Now Kerry is being declared the winner, by CNN at least. He's way ahead of Dean (39%-24%), while Clark, Edwards, and Lieberman are fighting for third place. More realistically, it's Clark and Edwards, because Lieberman's gap is likely to grow.

For additional comments (at least for the next fifteen minutes or so), I'm just going to edit this post instead of making a new one.

Gephardt is beating Sharpton. If Sharpton loses to a guy who dropped out, will he drop out too? I doubt it.

John Kerry is fifth in the Republican race as a write-in candidate (150 votes). Were people trying to make some sort of statement, or did they just get confused? Clark and Dean are seventh and eighth, respectively, and every other Democrat except Gephardt has placed on the Republican list. Bush got three write-in votes on the Democratic list.

Hillary Clinton has only three write-in votes on the Democratic list. There won't be any support for the "Hillary is planning to run" theory here.

Clark and Edwards are very close, separated by about 200 votes. Clark really needs to get third place, even if it is very close. A fourth place that's almost a tie won't cut it.

Gotta go for now. More thoughts later.
--Posted at 8:29 PM | link

With 42 of 301 precincts reporting, George W. Bush is being declared the winner of the Republican primary. Who would have guessed? He has 6,508 votes so far, or 92.7% of the total. I do wonder why people bother to vote for an incumbent in a primary that is effectively uncontested. I guess Bush supporters have to make some minimum effort to get out the vote so that they don't lose to one of the nobodies.

Meanwhile, Kerry's lead over Dean (with 48 out of 301 precincts reporting) looks formidable--37.9% to 24.0%. But this could easily change.
--Posted at 8:22 PM | link

Results are beginning to come in, although only about 10% of the precincts have reported. There are plenty of sites where you can check the results. I'm watching the AP's results via Yahoo because they list all the candidates--Republicans, write-ins, minor candidates, everything. But they might not be the most up-to-date.
--Posted at 8:05 PM | link

Calpundit has a collection of exit polls from New Hampshire. I'm not exactly sure where he got all of the numbers; some of them are attributed to known sources, like the AP and CBS, while others are attributed to "Not sure," "Probably ABC," and "who knows where, supposedly a network."

If the exit polls can be trusted, then it looks like Kerry is doing well, with Dean pretty close behind him. But the Washington Post reminded us a few days ago that exit polls can be wrong:

Exit pollsters aren't immune. In 1992, Voter Research and Surveys' exit poll showed George H.W. Bush beating Buchanan by a relatively narrow 6 percentage points, only to have Bush finish 16 points ahead on election night.
We'll see what happens when the real votes are counted.
--Posted at 6:13 PM | link

Apparently there are some exit polls floating around showing mid-day results. Since the voting doesn't end in New Hampshire until 8 PM EST, I'm not putting too much weight on these.
--Posted at 3:33 PM | link

The National Review's blog seems obsessed with any link between a Democratic candidate anything vaguely related to something French. Yesterday, the big story was a rumor that John Kerry spoke French to someone after a rally (see here, here, and here). Today, they reported that a car with Quebec license plates was seen near some Dean supporters.
--Posted at 3:28 PM | link

An MSNBC gossip columnist claims that a "well-placed" source says that Bush will drop Cheney from the ticket and replace him with Rudy Giuliani. Although Giuliani (with his September 11th connections) might seem to be a stronger VP candidate than Cheney, I think that Giuliani's pro-choice views would keep him off the Republican ticket. Besides, Cheney has already said that he plans to be on the ticket. Kicking him off now (even for "health" reasons) would seem like an admission that he has become a liability. I'm treating this as an isolated rumor unless I see more evidence.

Here's more on Cheney's not-exactly-minor role in the Bush administration, which makes it seem very unlikely that he'll leave the ticket.

UPDATE: Ezra Klein of Pandagon argues that we ought to take this rumor seriously.
--Posted at 11:57 AM | link

Wesley Clark wins....by eight votes in the tiny New Hampshire town of Dixville Notch. This town has a four-decade long tradition of opening its polls at midnight on primary day, and closing them a few minutes later. They have 26 registered voters and no registered Democrats, but Clark was the only candidate to visit the town at the time of the balloting, so he did well among independents.

As Kent Brockman might say, I guess you could say this barely qualifies as news. But maybe the mere fact that Clark won something will swing a few votes his way.
--Posted at 11:11 AM | link

Today is the day. Voters of a small, northeastern state will decide the fate of the five major Democratic candidates. The polls today are just as inconsistent as they have been for several days.

Yesterday's numbers are in parentheses.

American Research Group

Kerry - 35 (38)
Dean - 25 (20)
Edwards - 15 (16)
Clark - 13 (15)
Lieberman - 6 (5)

Zogby (leaners included in totals)

Kerry - 37 (31)
Dean - 24 (28)
Clark - 9 (13)
Edwards - 12 (12)
Lieberman - 9 (9)

Boston Globe

Kerry - 37 (37)
Dean - 20 (17)
Edwards - 12 (12)
Clark - 8 (11)
Lieberman - 7 (7)

I won't even try to make sense out of these numbers. We'll know the real results soon enough.
--Posted at 8:31 AM | link

Monday, January 26, 2004

A look at the New Hampshire tracking polls today (yesterday's numbers in parentheses):

American Research Group

Kerry - 38 (38)
Dean - 20 (16)
Edwards - 16 (15)
Clark - 15 (17)
Lieberman - 5 (5)

Zogby

Kerry - 31 (30)
Dean - 28 (23)
Clark - 13 (13)
Edwards - 12 (9)
Lieberman - 9 (9)

Boston Globe

Kerry - 37 (38)
Dean - 17 (15)
Edwards - 12 (12)
Clark - 11 (14)
Lieberman - 7 (7)

CNN/USA Today/Gallup

Kerry - 36 (38)
Dean - 25 (25)
Clark - 13 (10)
Lieberman - 10 (12)
Edwards - 10 (9)

Surely there are other polls out there, but these show the general trends. Clark, Lieberman and Edwards are fighting for third place, with Lieberman generally lagging behind. Dean seems to be either holding steady or making a small recovery. Zogby has him virtually tied with Kerry, while others show him in a weaker position. Kerry continues to be the leader in most polls, but the size of his lead varies widely from poll to poll.

UPDATE: I didn't notice this at first, but Zogby included "leaners"--voters who are undecided but lean in a certain direction--in its candidate totals today. Thus, today's Zogby results don't necessarily reflect a genuine shift in opinion.
--Posted at 8:33 AM | link

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The New York Times says that Al Sharpton has been getting advice from a political consultant named Roger Stone. Stone describes himself as a Reagan Republican who is supporting George W. Bush, and has done a lot of work for Republicans in the past:

Mr. Stone acknowledges that when he was a teenager he recruited a mole to infiltrate George S. McGovern's campaign, among other tasks for the Nixon camp. He also worked on campaigns for Mr. Reagan and Mr. Bush, tried to rehabilitate Mr. Nixon's reputation just before his death, and went to Florida in 2000 to help Mr. Bush win the state. He also has done a lot of corporate lobbying.
So why would a Republican consultant be helping Al Sharpton, apparently for free? The article suggests some explanations:

Tucker Carlson, the conservative co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" and another unlikely friend of Mr. Sharpton's, says he thinks it is because he, Mr. Stone and Mr. Sharpton all have "disdain for white liberals." In his first autobiography, Mr. Sharpton expressed delight at holding street protests in New York because: "Their facade is exposed. The great Northeastern liberals aren't so liberal anymore."

Others say the explanation is that Mr. Stone just enjoys the rough-and-tumble of politics. He has been accused more than once of dirty tricks and, some political strategists believe, is enjoying egging on Mr. Sharpton, not necessarily to advance Mr. Stone's political agenda, but to satisfy his appetite for throwing a monkey-wrench.
Could another explanation be that Stone (and possibly Sharpton) are trying to prevent a Democratic victory in 2004? This seems plausible for Stone, but somewhat less plausible for Sharpton. Stone says, however, that this is not the case:

Mr. Stone said that by helping Mr. Sharpton attack Dr. Dean, and attack the Democratic Party leadership, he was actually doing the Democrats a favor.

"If his party doesn't produce a nominee and a platform that has appeal among the single most important part of the Democratic base, i.e., black and Latino voters, then they don't have a chance," Mr. Stone said. "I think he is doing his party a service."
Some Democrats don't seem to agree. Reporter and professor Tom Schaller wants Sharpton out of the race as soon as possible, calling him an embarrassment to the African-American political class with no hope of victory and no policy platform. Other Democrats seem to like Sharpton as comic relief, but their views may change if Sharpton's candidacy lingers on for too long, or if he does serious damage to a likely nominee.
--Posted at 3:25 PM | link

The Washington Post discusses the past failure of New Hampshire tracking polls to predict the primary results, and points out that several polling organizations cut corners to get their numbers.
--Posted at 2:49 PM | link

The New Hampshire tracking polls continue to show Kerry on top, but their results for the rest of the candidates aren't consistent. The ARG daily poll shows a huge lead for Kerry and what is essentially a three-way tie for second place (yesterday's numbers in parentheses):

Kerry - 38 (34)
Clark - 17 (19)
Dean - 16 (15)
Edwards - 15 (13)
Lieberman - 5 (6)

The Boston Globe's latest results are similar to ARG's.

Kerry - 38 (35)
Dean - 15 (15)
Clark - 14 (15)
Edwards - 12 (12)
Lieberman - 7 (5)

But Zogby's poll shows very different numbers:

Kerry - 30 (31)
Dean - 23 (22)
Clark - 13 (14)
Edwards - 9 (8)
Lieberman - 9 (7)

The Boston Herald's latest results are closer to Zogby's.

Kerry - 35
Dean - 23
Edwards - 14
Clark - 12
Lieberman - 5

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll is similar to Zogby's and the Boston Herald's, but with Lieberman in third place:

Kerry - 38 (35)
Dean - 25 (23)
Lieberman - 12 (10)
Clark - 10 (14)
Edwards - 9 (11)

I have no idea which poll is closest to the real state of opinion in New Hampshire. All we really know for sure is that Kerry is in the lead and expected to win. It's not clear if Dean is comfortably in second place or in danger of fourth place. Lieberman, generally considered to be doomed to fifth place in New Hampshire, may or may not be in a position to pull off an expectations-defying third or fourth place, depending on which poll you trust.
--Posted at 10:22 AM | link

It's probably just the recent media attention, but John Kerry is suddenly doing well against George W. Bush in polls of registered voters nationwide. A Newsweek poll shows the following numbers for a poll taken 1/22-1/23 (1/8-1/9 numbers in parentheses):

Bush - 46 (52)
Kerry - 49 (41)

Bush - 49 (54)
Edwards - 46 (38)

Bush - 50 (51)
Dean - 45 (43)

Bush - 48 (50)
Clark - 47 (41)

Bush - 49 (52)
Lieberman - 45 (41)

A FOX News poll conducted 1/21-1/22 shows better numbers for Bush than the Newsweek poll, but Kerry is coming closer than any of his rivals (1/7-1/8 numbers in parentheses where available):

Bush - 49 (54)
Kerry - 42 (32)

Bush - 51
Edwards - 39

Bush - 54 (54)
Dean - 34 (33)

Bush - 51 (52)
Clark - 37 (32)

And, because it's FOX, of course this is included:

Bush - 52 (52)
Hillary Clinton - 39 (38)

The only definite trend visible in these two polls is a rise in Kerry's popularity compared to Bush's. But we can't draw any conclusions about "electability" based on this; it probably has more to do with the sudden media attention devoted to Kerry. Many voters are just discovering--or rediscovering--Kerry at this point, because he has been largely ignored for months. Apparently, they like what they're seeing initially, but this doesn't tell us what their impressions will be after Kerry has been in the spotlight for a few weeks.

Bush's numbers are trending downward across the board in the Newsweek poll (which also indicates that 52% of voters don't want to see him re-elected, whereas only 44% do), but they seem to be holding steady in FOX's poll. I would have expected him to get a small boost from the State of the Union coverage, but perhaps the news from the Democratic side is dominant in voters' minds.
--Posted at 12:02 AM | link

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