Saturday, August 30, 2003

Kerry, Dean, and Clark

I love logic puzzles. I can't help it. My mom got me into them when I was little and it's been downhill ever since. For the uninitiated, here's an example:

Amy is taller than Kim and Christine is shorter than Kim. Is Christine shorter than Amy?

Yes. Shortest to tallest, it's Christine, Kim, and Amy. That's a really simple one, but you get the point.

So here's another one for you, DemWatch style:

Howard Dean has been waffling on the issues.
John Kerry's campaign is in a downward spiral.
Wesley Clark reportedly wants to run for President.

So what's the answer? Well, let's do it the way my mother taught me. Break down each piece of information individually.

The Dean bubble is beginning to burst. Misunderstood by some of his staunchest liberal supporters, Dean is bound to disappoint. As The Washington Post reports, he's run from right to center on raising the Social Security retirement age, from left to center on Cuba policy, and from left to right on campaign finance. For other candidates, these would not be huge problems. But Dean is supposed to be the Democrats' Mr. Straight-Talk. Many of his current supporters could jump ship. That is, if they had an alternative.

As Ryan Lizza reports in The New Republic, the Kerry campaign is in trouble. His numbers--in polls and in fundraising--have plummeted as Dean's have skyrocketed. Kerry can't seem to get his head above the media water and does not seem poised to do so any time soon. That's Lizza's take, though I look at his upcoming official announcement of candidacy, his "exclusive" appearance on Meet the Press this Sunday, and his lay-out of his economic plan as proof that Kerry is slowly climbing his way up the attention ladder.

But will Kerry's climb be fast enough to outpace General Wesley Clark's rise to the top of the hype heap? The Minneapolis Star Tribune is reporting that Clark wants to run, but only if he can win. The most recent Zogby poll gave voters a short bio of Clark and asked them to choose between Clark and Bush. The results? Clark wins, 49-to-40%. So simple deduction says that Clark will enter the race. He's giving a speech in Iowa on September 19th, in which many expect him to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. A Clark announcement two to three weeks after Kerry's media blitz could hand the Kerry campaign a blow it might not be able to recover from.

So, long-term, what's my answer to this logic puzzle?

Dean beats Kerry, Clark beats Kerry, Clark beats Dean.

posted by Scott | 8/30/2003 | |

Friday, August 29, 2003

The Morons at WSJ Get it Wrong. Again.

Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger takes a hard look at Blue State/Red State migration and comes to the wrong conclusion. The Blue States--Democratic states, in post Election 2000 lingo--are losing young residents in record numbers. It turns out they're moving to the Red--Republican--states, where the cost of living is much lower and the wages are still comparable. Henninger blames Blue State liberalism for the problem. And he sees this spelling electoral trouble for the Democrats. But I think he's wrong.

But what authority do I have on the subject? Well, it just so happens that my wife and I are young Blue State liberal Democrats moving to a Red State. The states in question are New Jersey (Blue) and Texas (Reddest of the Red). Does this mean we're going to arrive in Texas and start voting Republican? Hell no! We're both proud that we're going to be able to start rooting for our new home team the Killer D's!

Some partisans--on both sides of the coin--love to look at every little shift and trend and see something much more political than is really there. I think this is Henninger's problem. I'm in the middle of driving around the Red States on a cross-country roadtrip. The most striking thing I have noticed--aside from the beauty of our national parks--is that these states are EMPTY! I mean, I knew Wyoming wasn't quite as heavily populated as New Jersey, but I had no idea you could drop Jersey right in the middle of Wyoming and not even bother anyone!

This demographic shift is simply a matter of the nation expanding. Generation X and Generation Y telecommute, keep in touch with nationwide cellphone calling plans, and shop at cookie cutter stores like Target, the Body Shop, and Barnes and Noble. Of course they're willing to move to the middle of nowhere for a good deal on real estate.

My partisan prediction? Small communities are going to start popping up around the Red States... AND THEY'RE GOING TO BE FULL OF LIBERAL BLUE STATERS!!! Remember all those hippies who moved to Vermont in the sixties and seventies? I wonder what ever happened to them. I wonder how conservative Bernie Sanders and Howard Dean became once they moved to a Republican state. Hmmm...

posted by Scott | 8/29/2003 | |

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Dean v Clark

Note that there is no link above. This is not a story about two candidates getting into a fracas over insulting comments, stolen rhetoric, or dueling ideologies. This is a story about two men, one an officially and one likely to soon be officially running for the highest office in our land, who both seem to have The Big Mo.

There are two recent pieces floating around the political news world that play off each other nicely. I didn't say that they fit together nicely. I said they played off each other nicely. It's a subtle but important distinction.

1. Josh Micah Marshall on Wesley Clark

JMM takes a look at the hows and whys of a seemingly inevitable Wesley Clark candidacy. He's hearing a lot of people ask why Clark should run and this is his attempt to answer. Essentially, he still sees current front-runner Howard Dean as the insurgent outsider (see also: John McCain). The typical party reaction to an insurgent outsider is to rally around the most palatable insider (see also: George W. Bush). The problem with that dichotomy is that the party doesn't really have a very palatable insiders running. (Perhaps because everyone's looking to be the next John McCain in one way or another.) So there's plenty of room--as JMM sees it--for Wes Clark to jump in and fill the role of palatable insider. HOWEVER...

2. Fred Hiatt on Howard Dean in The Washington Post

It seems that Fred's been paying a little bit more attention to Howard Dean of late. He's discovered that Dean's not quite so much the insurgent outsider as once believed. Perhaps, the further into the campaign Dean gets, the more he becomes the palatable insider JMM thinks he needs to be in order to win not only the nomination, but also the White House.

There still seems to be plenty of room for Clark, as Fred Hiatt's among a small minority that is waking up the fact that Dean is NOT quite so liberal as his detractors--and supporters--would have us believe.

posted by Scott | 8/26/2003 | |

Monday, August 25, 2003

Latest MeetUp Numbers

DailyKos has pointed out that, while Howard Dean is the King of All Meetups with over 90,000 members, the new second-place holder is none other than undeclared dark horse Wesley Clark.

This is great news for Clark, of course, essentially proving that he's got "The Big Mo" amongst the grassroots. It's not such great news, Kos notes, for the former second-place holder John Kerry. It seems that JFK II is also about to lose his new third-place status to no-chance candidate Dennis the K.

So to recap, Clark-up, Kerry-down, Kucinich-up (only not in the real world), and Dean-safe... for now.

posted by Scott | 8/25/2003 | |

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Team W in Trouble

A new Newsweek poll finds that President Bush's handling of the Iraq war--and damn near everything else--is finally beginning to cost him. Here are the numbers:

Percentage of Americans who do NOT want Bush reelected: 49%
Percentage of Americans who do: 44%

Percentage of Americans who think the Democrats have the best plan for the economy: 45%
Percentage of Americans who think Bush does: 36%

Percentage of Americans who think the Democrats have the best health care plan: 47%
Percentage of Americans who think Bush does: 31%

Percentage of Americans who think the Democrats have the best plan for education: 43%
Percentage of Americans who think Bush does: 39%

Percentage of Americans who think the Democrats have the best plan for Social Security: 45%
Percentage of Americans who think Bush does: 32%

Percentage of Americans who think the Democrats have the best plan for the environment: 53%
Percentage of Americans who think Bush does: 29%

Percentage of Americans who think the Democrats have the best energy plan: 42%
Percentage of Americans who think Bush does: 33%

These numbers are outstanding for the Democrats, but not totally rosy. For example, Bush still leads the Democrats on foreign policy, 48% to 37%. The Dems also trail Bush "in finding and defeating terrorists abroad," 57% to 21%. And 61% still believe that going to war with Iraq was the right thing to do.

So what do these numbers mean for the Dems running for President? At first glance, they seem to be good for the pro-war Dems and bad for the anti. It may not be so simple, however. For example, thoughtful antiwar candidates like Wesley Clark or Howard Dean should probably be able to articulate their cases well enough to overcome the criticism that they were reflexively antiwar--a charge that candidates like Kucinich and Sharpton will not be able to avoid.

This should also hold true for John Kerry. While the pro- and anti- crowds have blasted Kerry as being wishy-washy on his stance on the war (voting for it in the Senate, criticizing it later), his stance is consistent with what many voters seem to be thinking about the issue. They agree that Hussein should have been dealt with, but they aren't crazy about the way Bush went about it.

No matter how you read it, these poll numbers are definitely good news for the Dems.

posted by Scott | 8/24/2003 | |
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