Friday, January 16, 2004

No More Polls 'Til Iowa

As you may have noticed today, I posted no tracking poll results for Iowa. Why? Because it's getting silly. Today's results find Kerry up, Dean and Gephardt down, and Edwards holding on tight to fourth. What are the exact numbers? Respectively, it's 24%, 19%, 19%, and 17% for Iowa's Fab Four.

If any other numbers come out before Monday morning, you will not find them at DemWatch. Kerry's lead and Edwards' surge mean nothing. Well, they mean something, but not everything. Dean's and Gephardt's organizations still represent an advantage. And both candidates have moved to pull their attack ads in the state, smartly reading the blowback in the poll numbers.

Another factor in Iowa is Wesley Clark. No, no, no. I'm not so biased that I'm claiming Clark is going to make some sort of last-minute jump that puts him in the running in Iowa. But who is going to get his votes at the caucuses? Everyone but Dean's people are going to make the case to the Clark people that if they support a non-Clark candidate at the caucuses, Dean will lose, hurting his chances in New Hampshire. So if Clark's supporters jump ship--and there is a sturdy 3% of them which could tilt the balance in any one candidate's direction--who are they likely to support? To support Kerry would not be wise, as a win in Iowa for Kerry could give him momentum going into New Hampshire. The same is true of Edwards, substituting South Carolina for New Hampshire. Which leaves Dick Gephardt. So if Gephardt's backers make the case wisely to Clark's people, look for a strong showing for Dick on Monday.

posted by Scott | 1/16/2004 | |

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Dean Support Dropping In NH

According to the latest ARG tracking poll numbers, support in New Hampshire for Howard Dean is steadily diminishing. While Dean is still in the lead with 29%, Wesley Clark is hot on his heels at 24% and is seemingly rising. Just a few days ago, Dean led Clark by 17%. John Kerry and John Edwards also posted gains during the same time period, from 10% to 15% and 3% to 5%, respectively. Dick Gephardt has run a steady 4% in NH and Joe Lieberman has, like Dean, lost support steadily over the past few days.

With most of the attention on Iowa, some are still questioning Clark's decision to skip the caucuses and instead focus on New Hampshire. It's true that he isn't getting all of the media attention Dean & Co. are enjoying in Iowa, but one wonders if he'd really want it anyway, with its focus on inter-candidate sniping and 'gotcha' politics.

Clark's dogged determination to post good numbers in the New Hampshire primary really seems to be paying off. In all likelihood, Clark will perform miserably in the Iowa caucuses and then place second in New Hampshire. While he will have no wins under his belt at this point, he will have recent history on his side. Skipping Iowa and then placing second in New Hampshire is exactly what Bill Clinton did in 1992.

I wonder how that strategy worked out for Clinton...

posted by Scott | 1/15/2004 | |

Four-Way Tie In Iowa

... Statistically speaking, that is.

Here are the latest Zogby numbers: John Kerry's now leading with 21.6%, Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt are tied at 20.9%, and John Edwards is pulling up the still-within-the-margin-of-error rear with 17.1%. Funny how this thing has gotten so close that we've thrown decimal points into the mix, huh?

So Iowa is now anyone's game. This confirms what we've all been hearing from the Kerry and Edwards camps, who have been insisting for the past few months that their candidates are poised to make a big splash on caucus day. Carol Moseley Braun's withdrawal from the race should not really make too much of an impact on the Iowa results, seeing as how her support had fallen to 1%.

These results, while being nerve-wracking for the candidates (especially Dean and Gepardt), are very good for the Democratic Party. Why? People love a horse race and this thing has turned into quite the derby. And anything that gets a good chunk of the news-watching, voting public paying attention to the Democratic candidates and their platforms is, as Martha might say, a very good thing.

posted by Scott | 1/15/2004 | |

Moseley Braun To Drop Out, Back Dean

Carol Moseley Braun, the former Illinois Senator and Ambassador to New Zealand, is closing the curtain on her run for the Democratic nomination. She has yet to make an official announcement, but MSNBC is reporting that she will make a joint appearance with Howard Dean in Carroll, Iowa tomorrow at which she will endorse Dean.

What does this mean for the eight remaining candidates? If you look at Moseley Braun's poll numbers, it means very little. There is not much to be gained in picking up her supporters and not all of them (though probably most of them) will reflexively support Dean. Some will undoubtedly move to the sole African American in the race, Al Sharpton.

The MSNBC reports speculates on the impact of Moseley Braun's withdrawal on the South Carolina primary, where upwards of 40% of the likely voters are black. The line of thinking here says that Sharpton's got a tight hold on that market. But I don't buy it. Anyone who was going to vote along strictly racial lines had probably made their mind up already to support Sharpton, based on the SC polling I've seen. Though if the media puts increased attention on Sharpton (as it seems they might), his attacks against Dean may hurt him among as-yet undecided voters.

posted by Scott | 1/15/2004 | |

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Carter For Dean? Clinton and Jackson For Clark?

If there's one thing I hate, it's non-endorsement endorsements.

Yesterday, Jesse Jackson made an appearance at a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition event in New York City with Wesley Clark. Jackson said that the Democratic slate was suffering from "mad Dean disease" in their relentless attacks against Howard Dean. He apparently made no direct comments about Clark's candidacy, though one can infer that if he's appearing with Clark and criticizing as "too hostile and too bloody" those who have been attacking Dean, then he probably doesn't lump Clark in that group. So will Jackson endorse Clark?

On Sunday, Dean will be spending some time with President Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia, sitting in on one of the President's Sunday School classes and attending church with him. Dean worked on Carter's campaigns and Carter's son is now with the Dean campaign. The President and Dr. Dean have had a number of conversations since the beginning of Dean's campaign and Carter has had nothing but nice things to say about Dean. So will Carter endorse Dean?

Many stories have surfaced over the past few months suggesting that President Bill Clinton is secretly behind the candidacy of Wesley Clark. I don't buy it, but I think it's possible that Clinton does harbor some support (perhaps not so secret) for the Clark campaign. The most recent of these stories have been the most compelling. Typically, I'm loathe to accept anything reported in the ultra conservative New York Post, but this story names names rather than relying on "top Democrats" and "party insiders." Jess Hay, a former finance chair for the DNC told Post reporters that Clinton began lobbying her to support Clark late last year. Hay was careful to clarify that Clinton "didn't endorse him, but said that [Clark] was a very able and smart man." While Clinton's people say that the President will not endorse a candidate until there is a clear winner, it certainly seems that actions speak louder than words. So will Clinton endorse Clark?

The answer to all of these questions is probably not. Major figures like Clinton, Carter, and Jackson want to be seen as 'above the fray' of politics during this campaign. But for my money, if they really want to stay above the fray, they ought to stay out of the fray altogether. Otherwise, just make a damn endorsement already!

posted by Scott | 1/14/2004 | |

Dean Wins DC Primary

Yeah, it's non-binding, carries no delegates, had low voter turnout, and only four candidates were on the ballot, but at least actual people actually got to vote!

I kind of expected Al Sharpton to win, but I knew that there was a good shot Dean would take it. Sharpton wound up with 34% of the vote for second place to Dean's 43%, first place finish. Carol Moseley Braun came in third at 12% and Dennis Kucinich rounded out the top four at 8%. Lyndon LaRouche, whose platform I've been trying to comprehend since childhood, finished with a thankfully dismal 1%.

posted by Scott | 1/14/2004 | |

New Zogby Numbers: Three Man Race In Iowa

Well isn't this a surprise?

The results of the Iowa caucus had been thought all figured out. Howard Dean was going to win, Dick Gephardt was going to finish second, and either John Kerry or John Edwards (more likely Kerry) was set to pull up the rear in third place. But now, with the caucus just five days away, a new pattern has emerged in the latest Zogby tracking poll that finds Dean barely holding on to the lead with 24% and Gephardt and Kerry tied at 21% for second, both within striking distance of Dean.

The two obvious front-runners, Dean and Gephardt both showed a significant downward slide in the past few days, with Kerry and Edwards picking up some of the slack. The number of undecided voters, which has stayed relatively steady over the last week or so and at the current 13%, should prove to be the deciding factor on Monday. With this many candidates bunched together right at the top, the candidate who pulls the most undecideds into his camp will win it.

posted by Scott | 1/14/2004 | |

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Clark Takes Lead In Arizona

A new Survey USA poll of Arizonans "certain" to vote in their state's Democratic primary finds that Wesley Clark has a 39% to 32% lead over second place Howard Dean.

The Arizona primary is one of the now-mythic February 3 primaries that form the crux of the 'can win' argument for Clark, Edwards, Lieberman, and (should he win Iowa) Gephardt. In other words, with no other candidate besides Dean and Clark rising into the double digits, the Democratic primary is now officially a two-man race.

Dean shrugged of the Arizona poll numbers, saying that "Clark has spent a lot of time on television" while the Dean campaign has been focused on other states. That's true enough, but it says a lot to the Arizona voters that Clark is aggressively pursuing their support.

How accurate is the Survey USA polling, especially since they are tracking "certain" rather than "likely" voters? I have absolutely no idea. Kos doesn't like the fact that they're automated, and I can see both sides of that argument. Their own Interactive Election Scorecard (I'm warning you, the file is HUGE) shows mixed results. This week, however, Clark fans are bound to love SUSA.

posted by Scott | 1/13/2004 | |

Dean Falls, Clark Gains In NH Tracking Poll

While he still has a firm grasp on the lead in the New Hampshire primary, Howard Dean has continued his downward slide in the latest ARG tracking poll. At the same time, Wesley Clark's performance continues to improve. At the start of the tracking poll in late December, Clark hovered at 12-13%. However, since January 4, he has gained an impressive 8% to put him in the number two spot. That had been considered safe territory for John Kerry, who is now virtually tied for third with Joe Lieberman (11% and 9%, respectively, with a margin of error of 4%).

This race, as with all of the primaries, is still very fluid.

posted by Scott | 1/13/2004 | |

Edwards picks up Des Moines Register Endorsement

I've held off posting this one because, well, first of all, I'm sure you all know about it already, but also because I've been waiting to see the floodgate of support open for John Edwards in Iowa. As the latest MSNBC tracking poll ended the day Edwards got the endorsement, it seems I'm out of luck.

So anyway, the Register's endorsement is bound to impact Edward's performance in the Iowa caucuses, if not launching him into first or second place, at least putting him in the running for third and possibly making an impact on the final outcome of the first tier candidates like Gephardt and Kerry, or maybe even Dean.

The endorsement calls Edwards and George W. Bush "polar opposites." But it also--as so many endorsements seem to be doing these days--highlights the differences between Edwards and Howard Dean. While it is Dean who rallies huge crowds to "take our country back," the Register writes that "it is Edwards who most eloquently and believably expresses this point of view, with his trial-lawyer skill for distilling arguments into compelling language that moves a jury of ordinary people."

The paper also writes up Edwards' biography in glowing terms, pointing out how his life experiences has taken him to where he is today, advocating the policies that he has proposed. Edwards should not be seen as an inexperienced lightweight in the race, the paper writes, as he and Bush have roughly the same amount of experience in government. And perhaps most importantly, while the other candidates run their campaigns with fire and vitriol directed at the President, Edwards' campaign is "positive" and "optimistic."

Look for Edwards to quickly move up in the Iowa polls, and perhaps make a big splash on Monday. I'm not saying he's going to win, but this endorsement is sure to impact the race.

posted by Scott | 1/13/2004 | |
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