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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Saturday | May 03, 2003

Is it to late for Clark or Hart?

[The CW states that it's either too late for Wesley Clark or Gary Hart enter the race, or that they better announce SOON as their window of opportunity is closing. This is a modified cross post from Draft Clark. ]

An astute commenter a few days ago on this site recognized the futility in determining the 2004 outcome based on the current outlook. With only Paul Tsongas having declared his candidacy at this point in 1991, here's how the Gallup (national) poll from April 25, 1991 looked:

Mario Cuomo - 23%
Jesse Jackson - 14
Lloyd Bentsen - 9
Richard Gephardt - 11
Albert Gore - 9
George McGovern - 8
Charles Robb - 4
Douglas Wilder - 3
George Mitchell - 3
Paul Tsongas - 1
Bill Clinton - 1
Stephen Solarz - 1
Dave McCurdy - 0
Clinton formed an exploratory committee in August of 1991, then declared his candidacy on October 3. As Roger Simon notes, the way that the 2004 campaign has started, with the first debate due on May 3rd, is much more similar to 1988's election, than it is to 1992-- at this point anyway. It's really hard to compare, but it seems rather early to say it's too late. Here's a Gallup poll from December, 1991, two months after Clinton declared:
Mario Cuomo - 33%
Jerry Brown - 15
Douglas Wilder - 9
Bob Kerrey - 8
Tom Harkin - 7
Bill Clinton - 6
Paul Tsongas - 4
Undecided/Others - 18
So when is it too late for Clark or Hart to enter the fray for the Democratic nomination? Well, sticking with the polls, nearly 50% are still undecided in South Carolina, home to an early primary, and in New Hampshire's latest poll, Clark is tied with Edwards, who leads in fund-raising among the announced Democratic candidates.

Tonight's debate will be telling -- if none of the candidates shine, or if only one or two stand out, there may be a clamour for additional choices. Clark and Hart may have the opportunity to fill that void. To reiterate, Clinton didn't unofficially launch his effort until August 1991 -- which would theoretically give the two unannounced potential candidates some breathing room on any potential decision.

So if history is any guide, there's nothing to indicate the field is set in stone.

Posted May 03, 2003 08:33 AM | Comments (49)


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