Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Weird Numbers Out Of Quinnipiac Poll

A new national poll out of Quinnipiac University contains some very strange numbers indeed. Howard Dean leads among the Democrats with 22%. He's followed -- though not closely by Joe Lieberman with 13% and Wesley Clark at 12%. Behind this top tier are Dick Gephardt with 9% and John Kerry and Al Sharpton tied with 8% each.

So why do I find this so weird? After all, as national polls go, these are pretty standard numbers nowadays.

When you look at the 'Bush versus' numbers, Dean is not in the lead. In fact, he's tied with Lieberman at 51% / 40% and he trails Clark with 51% / 41%. Clearly these numbers come from two different pools of respondents. One is likely Democratic primary voters and one is likely general election voters. But as the field winnows down, it should help Clark that he has the best chance of all the Democrats in the race at beating Bush in 2004.

Again, all the evidence says this race could likely come down to Dean and Clark as the anti-Dean candidate.

posted by Scott | 12/10/2003 | |

Strong Endorsement For Gephardt In South Carolina

South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn has endorsed Dick Gephardt for the Democratic nomination. Clyburn is extremely popular in the state, especially among black voters -- a key demographic to win in the SC primary. Clyburn is the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Gephardt is currently running television spots in South Carolina, but has not been polling strongly. The most recent ARG poll of the state put Gephardt at 7%, behind Wesley Clark (15%), John Edwards (12%), Howard Dean (9%), Joe Lieberman (9%), and Al Sharpton (9%).

Coupled with the ad campaign, the Clyburn endorsement could move Gephardt up to the front of the pack. After all, the real leader in the SC polling is still 'undecided' at 32%.

Another little DemWatch indulgence here... Wouldn't it be funny if Gephardt actually won Iowa and then South Carolina? Yeah, I don't think it's going to happen either, but wouldn't it be funny?

posted by Scott | 12/10/2003 | |

Monday, December 08, 2003

Al Gore To Endorse Howard Dean

For all of the writing I've been doing over the better part of the last year, I think it's time to call it. Howard Dean will -- barring a massive, as-yet-unforseen development in the Democratic primary race -- be the Democratic Party's nominee for President in 2004.

Gore will be appearing with Dean in Harlem tomorrow morning before the two head to Iowa for an official endorsement. This absolutely blows the doors off the Democratic primary in a way that only the announcement of a Hillary Clinton candidacy could rival. While Dean has been criticized as unelectable by many Democratic Party insiders, Gore -- two-term Vice President, founding member of the Democratic Leadership Council, winner of a greater share of the 2000 popular vote than the sitting President -- the insider. Party strategist Dean Strother calls it "game, set, and match." I tend to agree.

I can't just end DemWatch right here and now, though, so here's two other thoughts to mull over while we wait for the convention in Boston.

1. It is now Dean and Clark. I've said it before and, oddly, I think this development makes it more likely. Here's why. Kerry is falling, Edwards is faltering -- this is not going to help. Gore has picked Dean over Lieberman -- his own VP candidate. That is the ultimate vote of no confidence. The same is also probably true of Gephardt. He's another DC veteran, just like Gore. But Gore picked someone else. It doesn't look good. Gore's endorsement may be the cue for any number of the candidates to drop out of the race and save a little face.

The anti-Dean forces will soon come to realize that they need to coalesce behind one candidate if they want any chance at stopping Dean. That candidate will need to be someone who shows as much promise and momentum as Dean. The only answer is Wesley Clark.

2. Here's a little conspiracy theory for you. Al Gore has hinted that he might like to run for President again in 2008. The night of the 2000 election, he famously mused to his staff that by the time of the 2008 election, he would be the same age Richard Nixon was when he ran for President the second time in 1968. He probably won't run, however, if there's a sitting Democratic President at the time. Perhaps Gore is looking at his future prospects?

Nah, I don't buy it either. But palace intrigue is just so much fun...

posted by Scott | 12/08/2003 | |

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Spitzer As VP?

Wesley Clark seems to like the idea. On Wednesday, Clark made the comment that he would "put smart guys like Eliot Spitzer in positions where they can make a big impact in this country."

For those of you who don't know, Eliot Spitzer is New York State's wildly popular Attorney General and, in general, the scourge of Wall Street hustlers and white collar crooks everywhere. He's single-handedly taken on crooked mutual funds and led multi-state fights against the Bush administration on the environment.

Would Eliot Spitzer make a good VP candidate? Absolutely.

But Spitzer is looking at a run at New York's Governor's seat in 2006, so I don't think it's likely. But after a few terms as Governor, who knows? Spitzer may have his sights set on Washington after all.

posted by Scott | 12/07/2003 | |

Update On Clark's Possible Rise To The (Almost) Top

One of the things I love about politics also happens to be one of the things I hate. Anything can turn on a dime. The piece I posted yesterday contained a lot of evidence that Wes Clark is well on his way to becoming the 'anti-Dean' candidate. I still stand by everything I wrote, but it seems only fair for me to mention some news that complicate matters a bit for the Clark campaign.

A new Zogby poll now has Howard Dean in the lead in South Carolina at 11%, closely followed by Clark and Joe Lieberman at 9%. South Carolina, however, seems to be giving pollsters trouble this fall. American Research Group's polling put Clark on top in October and November, beating Edwards by 7% and 3% and Dean by 10% and 6% in each of those months, respectively.

The one thing that really bothers me about the Zogby poll is how Zogby spun it. The headline of the press release reads, "Dean Edges Past Edwards for Slight Lead." As you probably noticed above, Dean has a 2% advantage over Lieberman and Clark with Edwards, Al Sharpton, and Dick Gephardt tied for third place at 7%. It hardly seems that Dean "edged past" Edwards for the lead. If anything, he edged past Lieberman and Clark, who edged past Edwards, Sharpton, and Gephardt.

The real story here seems to be that South Carolina is definitely in play and can no longer be ignored by the candidates going after Iowa and New Hampshire voters. Lieberman and Clark hold a clear advantage here by skipping Iowa. Edwards and Clark have an edge in that they've been running ads and campaigning heavily in the state. Dean and Gephardt are about to jump in the SC advertising fray as well.

But the news isn't all a downer for the Clark campaign. Via Political Wire, the latest Democratic Insiders Poll from National Journal says that Clark is "movin' on up," moving him from fourth place to third. He knocked out -- who else -- John Kerry and is led by -- again, who else -- Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. There were some pretty heavy warnings for Dean and Gephardt, though. "Dean needs to start behaving in a more presidential manner" said one insider. Another warned that for Gephardt, "[e]verything depends on Iowa," though it isn't looking good. And on Clark, they basically said the same thing I did: February 3 is key.

Also via Political Wire (thanks, Taegan) comes news out of the Wall Street Journal that while Dean is looking at a Q4 total that does not meet his Q3 take of $15 million, "Clark, the foe Dean fears most, could collect more than $10 million."

The news that the Clark campaign is on target to raise such a massive amount of money fits perfectly into the scenario that Will Saletan laid out the other day wherein Clark's high Q4 numbers coupled with solid performance in the February 3 primary states ignites a "flock-to-Clark" movement among anti-Dean Democrats who have lost hope in their other preferred candidates.

The last chapter is far from being written on the 2004 Democratic Presidential primary and this thing looks like, finally, it's about to start narrowing down and getting interesting.

posted by Scott | 12/07/2003 | |
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