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

Monday | October 13, 2003

State of the Democratic Race

Just some quick thoughts on the primary race:

He's under attack by every other serious candidate. Dean rode such criticism to the top dog position, and Clark can benefit equally. However, he's got to eliminate the niggling distractions (paid speaking gigs, etc). Individually, those might not be big deals, but you add up enough of them, and negative patterns emerge. Also, the primary electorate is far more informed than the general electorate. Clark has to start providing specifics.

And fact is, Clark is faring poorly in the first seven primary states. There's a real question about Clark's chances if he can't pull off a victory the first month of the election season, despite whatever the national polls might say.

Gephardt must win Iowa. Kerry must win NH. Expect Dean, who is leading in both those states, to get hit by a barrage of ads from both those opponents. Dean has the money to respond, but the collateral damage may bring him down anyway as other candidates stay "above the fray".

Early signs are that Dean will go negative on Clark. I would let Edwards and Lieberman take on Clark (they are more directly affected by Clark's candidacy at this point), but I've never run a national presidential race before. So what do I know?

He needs to win Iowa. Period. As such, he'll probably take what cash he has and go nuclear on Dean. Expect the ads to start running anytime now.

The problem with Gep is that even an Iowa victory leaves him with little else. He survives to fight another day, but he'd be left broke and facing a hostile calendar strong competition in the following states (against candidates with geographical advantages like Clark and Gephardt).

A Gep Iowa victory might resemble McCain's 2000 New Hampshire victory.

Forays into South Carolina have all but ended thanks to his weak poll numbers, Edward's surge, and Clark's entrance in the race. He's back to Plan A -- winning New Hampshire.

However, Dean has solidified his lead in the Granite State. So expect Kerry to spend a significant portion of his sizeable cash hoarde to try and take down Dean. This should go negative, as Kerry will go for broke.

Given his low poll ratings, the rest of the candidates have ignored him thus far. But as he rises, he'll garner new attention. Witness Clark's campaign announcement, timed to steal Edwards' own announcement thunder. Edwards won't be able to stay above the fray much longer.

Edwards has made SC his firewall, but Clark needs SC as well. So does Lieberman. Things will get rough.

Thus Edwards, more so than any other candidate in the race, has an interest in brining down Clark as soon as possible. The others may want to weaken him in expectation that it will be become a Clark and anti-Clark race. But for Edwards, the road to the nominantion runs straight through Clark.

The others
None of the other candidates, Lieberman included, are players in this race. It'll come down to the five above.

Posted October 13, 2003 09:16 AM | Comments (472)


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