Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The Morning After the Night Before
Here's a trip around the blogosphere for Iowa analysis, with my own two cents thrown in for good measure:

Best of the Blogs, which is openly Dean and Clark friendly, has two lengthy posts that offer slightly different perspectives. Groom Lake suggests that the fall race will still revolve around the economy, stupid and that Howard Dean needs to roll out his economic message pronto. Groom also says that in New Hampshire, the mud will be slung between Kerry and Clark. (If what happened in Iowa happens in NH, the candidates who stay above the fray may benefit. This time, that might be Dean, and also Edwards, who will need every iota of momentum to get off his most recent five percent showing up there.) Josh Hammond sees Dean staying on his message, even though his message, anti-war and anti-Democratic establishment, didn't resonate with Iowa voters, and some retooling seems necessary.

Tom Schaller on Daily Kos observes that at the caucus he attended, Dean had lots of troops on the ground, but the organization in the room once the give-and-take began was superficial and ineffective. Kerry brought in Michael Whouley, who's considered something of an organizational legend in Democratic circles, to run his ground game, and it clearly paid off. Schaller reports what might be the most nauseating quote of the night, from CNN's Tucker Carlson, who told him: "Rooting for Dean is fun, it's exciting, but in a way that adultery and drunk driving are fun and exciting--the next day, you're like, 'What was I thinking?'"

This morning on the way back from the bagel shop, I tried to imagine how the news must look this morning to somebody who hasn't been following the Democratic race for nearly a year. Tapped pointed the way to a post by Mark Schmitt on the Decembrist, in which Schmitt imagines it, too, saying voters coming into the race at this moment want a substantive candidate and not just somebody who hates Bush. To that end, he says Howard Dean is done, comparing his rise and fall to a stock bubble.

Liberal Oasis echoes some of the other posts (Dean's organizational weakness, the likelihood of Kerry vs. Clark sniping in New Hampshire). In addition, LO suggests that Dean's blowups under pressure this past week were not unlike John McCain's in 2000, and raises another point that occurred to me as I heard John Edwards on NPR this morning. Edwards (nicknamed "Johnny Sunshine" by a contributor to Daily Kos) yammered on and on about his positive campaign--but is he willing to fight back when it's necessary, either in the nominating campaign or in the general election struggle against Bush?

Josh Marshall says that Dean's collection of high-profile endorsements in the past few weeks--Gore, Bill Bradley, Harkin, Carter--seemed to have bogged him down. In the end, the endorsements seemed odd for a guy who claimed to be running against the establishment. (Something I read somewhere last night suggested that had Iowa gone for Dean, Tom Harkin might have had a shot at being Dean's running mate.)

And so, up they go to New Hampshire. The stars are aligned so that the fight will likely continue for a month or more--in fact, the Wisconsin primary on February 17 looms large and potentially decisive. Purely as spectator sport, this is going to be fun.

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