January 31, 2004
Not Over Yet
Zogby has good news for John Edwards this morning. The South Carolina tracking poll shows a 4-point lead for Edwards over Kerry-- just inside the +/-4.1% margin for error, but trending toward Edwards since yesterday. Perhaps the effect on the black vote of Jim Clyburn's endorsement of Kerry is partially neutralized by Wes Clark's attack from the left on affirmative action, yet another issue that John Kerry has been on both sides of.
Speaking of Clark, the General's lead in Oklahoma is narrowing, which may also be good for Edwards. As I wrote yesterday, Edwards is in better shape in a two-man race against Kerry, which won't emerge if Clark gets through Mini-Tuesday with a win. Kerry's grip on the probably nomination is looking less firm than it did 24 hours ago. [If you were Mickey Kaus, you might well invoke the "Feiler Faster Thesis" here.-ed. If I were Mickey Kaus, I would be known for the "-ed" schtick. I'm not. Scram.]
As for Dean, it's possible that he could get through Tuesday without picking up new delegates, which makes convention-floor mischief much less likely.
We'll see tomorrow if these trends hold. (Besides the new Zogby tracking tomorrow morning, we'll also get an ARG update in the afternoon.) I should have new poll analysis here every day through Tuesday.
January 30, 2004
A raft of polls suggest next week will bring a good Mini-Tuesday for John Kerry.
First among equals, of course, is Zogby, who shows insurmountable leads for Kerry in both Arizona and Missouri; the Missouri results match those of Survey USA and American Research Group. ARG also shows Zogby leading in Delaware, and a local outfit shows him set to win the North Dakota caucuses.
Wes Clark leads Kerry in Oklahoma, according to Zogby, by 8 points, and Kerry's in a dead heat-- 24% to 25%-- with John Edwards in South Carolina. My sense is that Edwards is the only one who can possibly stop Kerry at this point, unless Clark suddenly and magically grows significantly as a candidate. Edwards, by his own admission, needs to win in South Carolina to continue. If Edwards pulls that off-- and it's a big if, given that Jim Clyburn's endorsement of Kerry is not fully factored into the three-day Zogby poll-- he's arguably enough in better shape if Kerry wins Oklahoma: A three man race heading into Super Tuesday between Edwards, Clark, and Kerry favors Kerry more heavily than a two-man race between Kerry and Edwards.
The one X-factor is the delegate race: Dean appears to be trying to force a brokered convention. A plausible fight for the nomination is unlikely to come down to the convention floor, though some trouble-making by the Deanies is quite possible.
Any way you slice it, though, Kerry is probably going to top the Democrats' ticket. I'd say the likelyhood of a non-Kerry nominee is down to about 1 in 5.
January 28, 2004
The Race that Everyone Won
Lieberman: "Based on the returns that we've seen tonight, thanks to the people of New Hampshire, we are in a three-way split decision for third place. [He's actually several points behind Clark and Edwards, who really are deadlocked for third, but who's counting?] Now, you and I both know that the national pundits didn't expect this, did they?"
Edwards: "...and look at what we've done. This momentum is extraordinary. And now we're going to take this energy and momentum that we saw in Iowa, this extraordinary energy and momentum that we have seen in New Hampshire, and we're going to take it right through February 3rd, and we're going to see great victories on February 3rd, yes we are."
Clark: "But four months ago -- four months ago -- we weren't even in this race. We had no money. We had no staff. We had no office. All we had was hope and a vision for a better America. Four months later, we came into New Hampshire as one of the elite eight. Tonight, we leave New Hampshire as one of the final four."
Dean: "Thank you. My goodness. Thank you. Wow. Thank you. Well, that was - Michael - we really are going to win this nomination, aren't we? You are amazing. You are amazing."
Kerry: "Well, I love New Hampshire. And I love Iowa, too. And I hope, with your help, to have the blessings and the opportunity to love a lot of other states in the days to come. Thank you."
Congratulations to all of the candidates' spin doctors for a victorious night.
January 27, 2004
Predictions for New Hampshire
I can do no better than to say that, as far as I know, the polls are right: Kerry will win, followed by Dean and then Edwards. I'm somewhat surprised that Edwards hasn't surged faster in the polls-- which is to say that I won't be terribly surprised if he finishes stronger than expected. As I've written before, thrid place, contrary to form, will matter this year; Edwards is capable of riding a third place showing to at least one or two Mini-Tuesday victories next week. (He's already polling in first place in South Carolina.)
January 22, 2004
New Hampshire Snooze-fest
Not the most exciting of debates, but it still may move things in New Hampshire. Here are some quick reactions to each of the candidates:
John Kerry didn't do a whole lot, but he didn't screw anything up terribly-- important for the front runner. That the whole field is spooked after Iowa away from negative campaigning was a real boon to Kerry.
Dean was a bit of zombie for much of the debate, clearly spooked by the "YEEEEAGHH"-round-the-world. Has his hair gotten whiter in the past two days?
Lieberman was inspiring on foreign policy but not to a lot of Democrats. He may have picked up a few pro-war independents tonight, though; the conventional wisdom is that Lieberman will be the next to drop out, but I can see him possibly sticking it out though Super Tuesday as a niche candidate for the Scoop Jackson wing of the party.
Clark did fair at fending off the are-you-a-Republican questions, but failing to distance himself from Michael Moore adequately showed vulnerability. It would not surprise me to see Clark finish New Hampshire in forth.
Edwards handled the first question beautifully, plausibly explaining his vote against funding the troops as a signal to Bush demanding more oversight (rather than, you know, a vote against funding the troops). He really needs to bone up on issues like the Defense of Marriage Act; it may not be costly in the short term, but more answers like that and he'll look especially callow, something which, given his youthful looks, is already a potential liability.
Kucinich remains Kucinich. Given that Dean is both toned down and no longer the frontrunner, I would not be surprised to see Kucinich's numbers tick up as true-believers desert Dean for their first choice.
You know the shot of the future in The Matrix, where rows and rows of power-generating towers are bristling with little pods, each containing a human being? Al Sharpton's performance was kind of like that, except instead of people, the pods contain B.S.
An Edwards Weak Spot?
Anybody doing opposition research on Edwards should get a video of his appearance on the "Charlie Rose Show" on the night of 9/11/2001. I've never seen a top professional politician make himself look more inane and lightweight at a crucial moment. The debate between author Tom Clancy and Edwards over whether the U.S. needed to do something in response to 9/11 was jawdropping. Clancy: Yes vs. Edwards: Oh, well, maybe, perhaps we should study the situation ...
...The show still exists somewhere on videotape. Edwards' enemies could just put it out on the Web and do him serious damage.
Hmm. I can't find a transcript anywhere, but the Video Monitoring Services of America summary of the show is in the Lexis-Nexis database. Here are all the mentions of Edwards:
Interview - Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, says things changed today in Washington. He says over the course of the day people were very angry. He says something will have to done. He says they are thoughtful of the next step.
Interview - Sen. John Edwards, says they have not heard from the administration yet. He says he has heard some of the discussion. He says this is the greatest threat we face today in this nation. He says American people should recognize what an enourmous importance this will be.
Interview - Sen. John Edwards, says there will a demand from Americans to do something.
Nothing particularly damning there, but maybe Sailer remembers something that didn't make the summary. Something to keep an eye out for, in any case.
Incidentally, Wesley Clark was on the same program. His statements, according to the summary, were likewise unremarkable.
Today's News Yesterday
"The tension between Bush and Leviathan Wranglers is nothing new, but the criticism from the right of Republicans' fiscal policy has reached a crescendo," I wrote yesterday. Today, it's on the front page of the New York Times.
This must mean that my column yesterday was either a sharp anticipation of the CW or a mundane statement of the blindingly obvious. Or both!
January 21, 2004
Changing the Tone
My reaction to the State of the Union address is up at the American Spectator online.
January 19, 2004
Dean's Hype-Management Failure
Dean's people were saying that he was being underpolled. The rumor (later confirmed) was that Dean's "hard-count"-- the names the campaign had collected of their confirmed supporters-- was quite large, and 65% new caucusgoers (thus hard to poll). That's why I predicted a Dean victory-- if the Deanies weren't confident, why would they take the risk of raising expectations?
It turns out their confidence was misplaced. Kerry's hard-count was just as big (they were both around 40,000, if I heard correctly on TV), and he did well among first-time caucusgoers.
Dean wasn't acting disappointed at his speech tonight. He was acting like a pro wrestler-- screaming like a madman that they won't give up in any state. He may be serious. The Deanies have made clear that, to a large extent, they believe their own hype.
John F. Lazarus
Kerry is leading both in entrance polling and in early precinct reporting. Michael Crowley's profile of uber-organizer Michael Whouley is now a must-read for anyone trying to make sense of this.
UPDATE: Kerry wins. Whouley's name has been mentioned repeatedly on TV tonight.
Don't miss Mickey Kaus today; he's got lots on the Iowa caucuses, and their inherrent absurdity.
Predictions? A narrow Dean victory, credited heavily to first-time caucus-goers. I have very low confidence in this prediction. I won't even take a stab at second, third, and forth; I expect the bunching to be very close, at least at the beginning of the night (i.e., in the entrance poll taken by the National Election Pool. There may be a breakaway in the final tally.
It's worth noting that Dean is the only one who will retain a shot at the nomination even without a surprisingly strong finish in Iowa. By surprisingly strong, I mean, for Kerry, first or second, and for Edwards, strong third or higher. Gephardt must come in first to continue.
As you can see in the comments below (any of them), I've been deluged. Anyone know how to delete over 500 comments from over 500 posts in Moveable Type without going one by one?
January 13, 2004
Reconsider or Not
Slate is running a conversation among liberals who favored the Iraq war, specifically Jacob Weisberg, Ken Pollack, Tom Friedman, Paul Berman, George Packer, Christopher Hitchens, and Fred Kaplan, with Fareed Zakaria set to add an entry soon. The title, "Liberal Hawks Reconsider the Iraq War," is a bit misleading: Reconsider they do, in the sense of "consider again," but stripped of the connotation "especially with intent to alter or modify a previous decision" (as the American Heritage Dictionary puts it); So far only Kaplan is willing to say unequivocally that the war should be regretted, and, as he points out, he'd turned dovish before the fighting even started.
Still, the exchange, scheduled to run through the week, is well worth reading.
January 09, 2004
We Like the Moon
So the President is set to announce a plan for a permanent human presence on the moon, as a prelude to a manned mission to Mars in a decade.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, we're four years into the 21st century-- it's about time we had a moon colony, no? On the other hand, I'd like to see this kind of thing funded less by taxpayers and more by investors who believe it could be profitable.
Regardless, a link to the Spongemonkeys is warranted.
Give Us Your Tired...
I'm predisposed to agree with the Wall Street Journal's cheerleading for the President's immigration proposal, though I haven't studied it closely enough to have a strong opinion. The plan is complicated enough to make an assessment of its practical effects quite difficult, which I admit makes me uneasy.