January 30 2004
BOB SHRUM'S ONE-TRICK PONY: Democratic uberconsultant Bob
Shrum finally has John Kerry all programmed up with the "people
vs. the powerful" shtick. The only problem is, well, John
quest for the White House, Sen. John Kerry is casting himself
as a Washington outsider, one committed to sweeping out the
"special interests" he claims are trying to manipulate federal
laws and policies.
the Massachusetts lawmaker and Democratic presidential front-runner
is among Congress' top recipients of money that many would say
comes from special interests – lawyers, investment firms, real
estate interests and contractors, to name a few.
he has been criticized for intervening in a Coast Guard rulemaking
process that affected a foreign cable manufacturer – then taking
campaign money from the lobbying firm that represented the cable
spokesman Michael Meehan said the senator is only running against
"the big companies that the Republicans have brought inside
the White House to write legislation that directly benefits
Kerry gave a speech in St. Louis, Mo., in which he accused the
Bush administration of perpetuating a "creed of greed" that
undermines the interests of average Americans.
got news for the HMOs and the big drug companies and the big
oil companies and influence peddlers," Kerry said. "We're coming,
you're going and don't let the door hit you on the way out!"
Kerry has taken plenty of money from large, wealthy and influential
well, such conflicts certainly didn't stop Al Gore in 2000 so
there's no reason to think it will slow down Kerry this time around.
The obvious flaw with John Kerry's "Shrummery", of course,
is that it
ALERT: John will be a guest on Milt Rosenberg's radio show,
720, tonight from 10p-12a Eastern. He'll be discussing the
Dem Presidential race along with Peri Arnold, professor of political
science at the University of Notre Dame, and Wayne Steger, associate
professor of political science at De Paul University. Bookmark
URL to listen live tonight.
RATE: Faster than a speeding dot com, Howard Dean is flat
broke. $41 million vanished into the ether with nothing to
show but a disappointing 3rd in Iowa and a distant 2nd in New
say the Dean camp still has $5 million left on hand, but Steve
Murphy (Gephardt's 2004 campaign manger and longtime friend of
Joe Trippi) said on Special Report last night that he thinks the
situation is probably much worse. I have to agree. You don't go
absolutely dark and start stiffing campaign workers unless things
I can't resist
a friendly parting shot at Dean supporter Markos Moulitsas Zúniga,
who just a few short weeks ago was ridiculing
the Bush campaign's spending habits. Granted, Bush has spent
a good chunk of change and he hasn't been duking it out in primaries
like Dean, but the irony is still too rich to pass up:
hope his [Bush's] people keep spending money like drunken sailors
(or, like, the Bush Administration). I am ready to believe that
$100 million in Democratic hands will go further than $200 million
in Bush's hands."
not in Howard Dean's hands.
BELIEVE BUSH ON IMMIGRATION?: The nation's top immigration
officer, Eduardo Aguirre Jr, said
yesterday in Seattle that the government is prepared to crackdown
on illegal immigrants who fail to enter President Bush's proposed
guest worker program.
promising words to those of us whose support for Bush's plan hinges
on the government getting it's act together on our borders. Still,
talk is cheap, and it remains to be seen whether the Bushies put
any real effort or resources into strengthening the immigration
FROM BUSH: Interesting piece
in the Chicago Sun-Times on how the GOP Senate candidates
are taking issue with some of President Bush's positions.
IS GOOD: Here's a question: when is getting 0% support from
somebody a good thing? In Georgia, it's when you're a Republican
running for the United States Senate and you have a 0% voter rating
from Planned Parenthood while your primary opponent scores 43%.
Collins hit Johnny Isakson in the mouth (figuratively speaking,
of course) yesterday over his record on abortion.
THE SUPERBOWL: Here's something you don't see every day: a
military/foreign policy expert writing
I didn't even bother to watch. From the looks of this
Washington Post write up, sounds like it was a yawner.
6: We've been negligent in not mentioning the special election
being held in Kentucky's 6th Congressional district on February
17. Ernie Flecther's seat is up for grabs now that he's been elected
governor of Kentucky. Ironically, his foe in the gubernatorial
race, Democrat Ben
Chandler, is running for Fletcher's old seat and is now leading
Forgy-Kerr by 10 points in the
only poll we've seen.
I'm a little bit surprised by the margin of the poll for a couple
of reasons. First, I've heard from a few people in Kentucky who
say Chandler has orchestrated a fairly transparent make over that
has some people laughing and others scratching their heads. Last
year he blanketed the state with ads railing against Fletcher's
support of the Bush tax cut and slamming the Bush economy in general.
That obviously didn't work.
a few short months later he's trying to present himself as a tax
web site claims:
Congress, Ben Chandler will work to grow our economy and create
new jobs by cutting taxes for middle-class families"
So far it
looks like the public's memory is pretty short.
Chandler is a household name and he is getting
some good financial help from Congressional Democrats. And
the Forgy-Kerr campaign suffered a bit
of a setback this week when the White House announced neither
the President nor the Vice President would be coming to Kentucky
to campaign on her behalf.
is now a GOP-leaning district. Fletcher won by 46% in 2002 and
18% in 2000. President Bush carried the district by 13 points
over Al Gore in 2000. Fletcher's win in November has also help
and strengthen the GOP throughout the state.
to keep your eye on this one. The race will most likely tighten
up in the final few days and could be anywhere from moderately
interesting to a real barn-burner. - T. Bevan 7:15 am | Link
January 29 2004
MILITARY GAMES: The President of the United States is a deserter.
So says Michael Moore. It's a ludicrous charge, of course, and
that has been thoroughly debunked. At least I thought it had.
But it looks
like Moore's slander has allowed the issue of Bush's military
service to crop up once again. I don't have the
time or the
patience to go through it in detail, but suffice it to say
those who claim the AWOL charge against Bush is "well
documented" are either being intentionally deceptive
or just don't know the facts. The AWOL charge against Bush has
been refuted, period.
to those on the left: if you want to continue hurling accusations
at Bush over his military service record then BRING US SOME PROOF.
Don't just keep recycling old rumors and insisting that "questions
remain" about Bush's time in the Air National Guard - because
debasing yourselves with ridiculous semantic games by saying,
"well, Michael Moore's accusation was over the top,
but 'technically' there was some basis for it." Yeah, and
"technically" there's a basis for calling John Kerry
a traitor because
he provided false testimony about Vietnam under oath to a Congressional
Committee in 1971 and tossed medals (not even his own, by
the way) back at the government in protest. But no serious person
would make that charge, and I wouldn't think too highly of anyone
who spent time trying to defend or justify it, either.
already with the AWOL stuff. Either prove the charge or drop it.
Dean does what? Appointing a lobbyist as the head of an "outsider,
insurgency" campaign is one of the most idiotic moves imaginable.
Whatever "movement" Dean thinks he's started, it's going
to die pretty quickly Then again, maybe hiring Neel is a tacit
admission that there really wasn't much of a movement to begin
I'm not trying
to be mean here but, honestly, I haven't seen a group of candidates
in a long time with less political sense than the bunch running
for the Democratic nomination right now: John Kerry writes off
the South a week before the South Carolina primary; Wes Clark
can't come up with obvious answers about abortion, Michael Moore's
statement, etc, and Dean may have set a new standard for having
a political tin ear.
some of the problems the candidates face are a direct result of
just how far left the base of the Democratic party has moved recently.
The answers that liberal activists are looking for from these
men, and the ones their invariably given, sometimes sound to the
rest of the public like they come from another planet.
is usually the case in politics, most of the gaffes and wounds
these candidates suffer are self inflicted.
seems to be the only candidate with true political skill. He's
managed to craft a message that strikes a chord with liberals
without coming across as radical or offensive to the larger population.
He's clearly one of the most disciplined candidates out there
and I can't remember the last time I've heard him put his foot
in his mouth or go off half-cocked.
I don't know
if this gives him a chance to upset Kerry (probably not) or makes
him the ideal choice for Veep (probably). But from a standpoint
of pure political skill he's head and shoulders above the rest,
even if he still toils in the shadow of the master, Bill Clinton.
- T. Bevan 10:50 am | Link
January 28 2004
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE: There is no question
solid win last night thoroughly establishes him as the front
runner. Unlike Iowa, the polls were pretty dead on with the final
results. Our final
RCP poll average was Kerry 35.6%, Dean 24.2%, Edwards 12.4%,
Clark 10.6% and Lieberman 7.4% with 7.2% undecided. If you allocate
the undecideds proportional to their final poll averages Kerry
ends up at 38.2%, Dean 25.9%, Edwards 13.3%,
Clark 11.4% and Lieberman 7.9%. Except for a Clark/Edward's
flip-flop, that is more or less exactly how it turned out. (Final
Results: Kerry 38.5%, Dean 26.3%, Clark 12.4%,
Edwards 12.1%, Lieberman 8.6%.)
I was surprised
that Dean couldn't close to within single digits and I was also
surprised that Edwards didn't fare better than his 12%, fourth
place finish. Of all the pundit scuttlebutt that I heard on the
four cable networks (FOX, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC) the
two most interesting points I thought were comments by Fred Barnes
and Bill Bennett, both on FOX. Barnes suggested that a 1976 Ford-Reagan
campaign might develop, where Reagan lost Iowa and New Hampshire
and then went on to win in North Carolina and many of the later
states only to lose at the very end at the convention.
ability to raise money outside of the normal political system
and his antagonism towards the Democratic establishment this type
of scenario is not out of the question. To buttress this point,
Brit Hume asked Dean about DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe's comment
that if you haven't won at some stage you might want to think
of dropping out. Dean rather defiantly told Terry where he could
shove his drop out suggestion, reminding people that McAuliffe
made a point of staying "neutral" a month ago when Dean
asked him step in and tone down some of the attacks that were
flying in Dean's direction. I don't know that Dean or his campaign
is going to be in any mood to "unify" around a lifelong
Washington pol like Senator John Kerry.
comment, which I had read somewhere earlier in the week, was that
since 1952 every candidate who has won Iowa and New Hampshire
has gone on to win their parties nomination. Bennett suggested
that if you were in the World Series of Poker Kerry would have
a 90% chance of ending up with the nomination. On
Sunday, I had rated Kerry as 60% likely to win the nomination
and with last night's win I'd raise that to at least 75%, so Bennett's
90% comment is probably not that far from where we are today.
to turn into a real race, at some point, some one besides Kerry
is going to have win somewhere. Next Tuesday, seven states hold
primaries (Arizona, Delaware, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota,
Oklahoma and South Carolina) and if Kerry wins all seven, this
race will be over. Our RCP
poll average in South Carolina shows Kerry trailing Edwards
by roughly 11 points, while he may get a decent bounce from his
New Hampshire win, Kerry might not play as well down South as
he did in Iowa and New Hampshire.
If the other
candidates are smart - and by that I mean Dean, Edwards and Clark
(Lieberman is history) - they will divvy up those seven states
and make Kerry spread his resources, while they pick and choose
had a good run and a lot of good press, and the time compression
of the campaign is working as a powerful tail wind in his quest
for the nomination. But there is no question that his turn in
the media hot seat is fast approaching.
can win South Carolina, Clark can win Oklahoma and Dean can pick
up a win somewhere else, Michigan and Washington follow rather
quickly on Feb 7, both states where Dean might have a real shot.
control and he can go for the knockout punch next week, but Dean's
not going away, and Kerry may have a bigger problem in the South
and the West than we think. Let's see how well Kerry weathers
the inevitable media scrutiny fast approaching his campaign. J.
McIntyre 7:16 am Link
January 27 2004
THE NH RESULTS: So, Zogby pulled it out after all and found
safe harbor in a double-digit Kerry win. Tomorrow New Hampshire
will be forgotten and nobody will ever know or even bother to
ask whether this was really ever the three point, dead-heat race
Zogby said it was the day before yesterday.
may be wondering which of the pollsters performed the best in
tracking the tricky turns of New Hampshire this past week. I sure
So I assembled
a brief (and admittedly crude) scoring system based on two criteria.
First, I've tallied the overall point differential by which a
pollster missed each candidate's final numbers. For example, if
a pollster projected Kerry to finish at 38% and Dean at 29%, and
we now know the final returns were 39% Kerry and 26% Dean, the
pollster missed Kerry's number by 1 point and Dean's by 3 for
a total differential of 4. The pollster with the LOWEST total
point differential came closest to predicting final outcome of
also tallied up how many correct final placements (1st place through
5th place) each pollster scored. For example, if a pollster predicted
the following order of finish: Kerry, Dean, Edwards, Clark, and
Lieberman, they would have gotten only three of the five placements
right (Kerry, Dean and Lieberman). Since
nearly every pollster correctly predicted the 1st, 2nd, and 5th
place finishers, all we're really talking about getting additional
points for accurately predicting Clark to finish ahead of Edwards.
Only one tracking poll did, by the way.
further ado, here's how it worked out:
I gave CNN/USAT/Gallup half credit because they predicted an Edwards/Lieberman
tie for 4th place at 10% each.
For the sake
of posterity, I have to mention that our RCP Average (which is
nothing more than a straight average of the latest polls - in
this case those from 1/24 to 1/26) came in at a 9-point differential
with three correct placements, tying with the UNH/Fox News poll
for fourth place.
you have it. I'm exhausted and heading to bed, but John will be
up early with more thoughts on what happened tonight, and where
things go from here. - T. Bevan 11:42 pm | Link
MORE ON ZOGBY: A couple more quick thoughts. Zogby
says the movement to Kerry last night was all about electability:
had a 19-point lead in Monday's one-day polling. In the final
analysis, voters raised doubts about Howard Dean. Through the
second half of 2003, New Hampshire voters indicated that they
were angry but overwhelmingly felt that President Bush was a
shoo-in for re-election . But as in Iowa, the closer Democrats
got to actually voting, there was a renewed sense that President
Bush could and must be defeated. In our final sample, just about
half (49%) told us that Dean was unlikely to defeat the President
(that is fifteen points worst than his worst day in Iowa). At
the same time, only fifteen percent said it was unlikely that
any other Democrat in the race could defeat the President. Howard
Dean was the man of the year, but that was 2003. In 2004, electability
has become the issue and John Kerry has benefited by developing
a sharper message, by his veteran status, and - this is particularly
significant- New Hampshire Democrats tell us that he looks like
Zogby may very well be right. We've heard extensively about the
"electability factor" and New Hampshire voters may very
well choose Kerry today because he has a better chance of beating
that still doesn't explain Zogby's poll from yesterday. Electability
has been a problem for Howard Dean for some time now, even before
his freak out in Iowa last Monday night. It seems somewhat implausible
that voters who were moving back to Dean in Zogby's own polls
up to 24 hours ago are suddenly going to abandon him over "electability."
last thing. It's not unusual for undecideds to move more or less
as a bloc to a given candidate in the waning moments of an election
. But usually there is something precipitating such a move.
the example from 1988 I cited last night, George H.W. Bush ran
devastating television commercials. In Iowa, the negative dogfight
between Dean and Gephardt was at least partly responsible for
driving voters to Kerry and Edwards in the final hours.
haven't seen anything from yesterday that might have triggered
such a massive move to Kerry. He has been assiduously avoiding
making news. If anything, things were moving in the other direction:
with the help of his wife Dean seemed to have repaired his image
with at least some voters and seemed to be gaining a bit of traction
by questioning John Kerry's judgment using his war votes as a
the end, I can only conclude that Zogby was either right yesterday
and wrong today, or vice versa. We'll know soon enough. -
T. Bevan 11:23am | Link
JUDGMENT DAY: Will there be a Dean comeback? Will Kerry
cement his standing as the frontrunner and the prohibitive favorite
to win the nomination? Will Edwards surprise again with a better
than expected showing and put himself in position to make a serious
challenge next week? Big questions. Big answers are just hours
final tracking poll numbers throughout the morning, but already
we've got issues. ARG's
final tracking poll shows another 8-point swing in Dean's
favor. Kerry still leads by 10, and that may put him just out
of Dean's reach today - but ARG is saying that Dean is still moving.
Dick Bennett explains the results of his poll:
most significant result from the tracking for today is that
support for Kerry, Clark, and Edwards dropped along with the
continuing increase in support for Dean. Women 45 and older
are returning to Howard Dean, helping to give him a 4 percentage-point
gain on January 25 and a 5 percentage-point gain on January
26. Verbatims among this group point to fairness/sympathy for
Dean and not beating George W. Bush driving the return to Dean.
If the trend to Dean continues into tomorrow, the race will
be very close as it appears that Kerry will not capture
the undecided." (emphasis added)
"Best Guess" on the outcome of today's vote? Kerry 35%,
Dean 29%, Edwards 16%, Clark 13%, Lieberman 6%.
about right to me, but I still think Dean has about a one-in-five
or one-in-four chance of scoring the upset. We're talking about
New Hampshire, after all.
On the other
is out with what I would call a "CYA" poll. After
teasing the media yesterday with a shocker poll that had Dean
within 3 points of Kerry (which was only about 10 points outside
of all the other polls in the state), Zogby comes back today with
a 13-point lead for Kerry.
Kerry the dam burst after 5PM on Monday. Kerry had a
huge day as Undecideds broke his way by a factor of four to
one over Dean. Dean recaptured a strong lead among
18-29 year olds, Northerners, singles and Progressives. He narrowed
the gap among men, and college educated, however Kerry opened
up huge leads among women, union voters, and voters over 65
years of age. These groups gave Kerry the big momentum heading
into the primary." (emphasis added).
Even if the
final vote today ends up right where these two polls have it (i.e.
a 10 -13 point Kerry victory) one of the analyses is flat wrong.
I think John Zogby has some explaining to do. In yesterday's poll
he pushed 10% of "leaners" out of the undecided column.
We don't know how these "leaners" broke down for each
candidate or how they mixed with the standard sample, but we do
know that the overall result was a 5-point pick up for Dean and
a 1 point pick up for Kerry. You either have to conclude that
1) Dean's standard sample moved up significantly but he lost"leaners"
to Kerry or 2) Dean won at least a decent portion of the "leaners."
this morning Zogby is telling us the opposite. He again pushed
9% of "leaners" out of the undecided column but now
indicates - again, contrary to most of the evidence generated
in other polls - that there is a tidal wave of movement toward
We all know
the New Hampshire electorate is volatile and tracking polls are
a famously unscientific tool for trying to gauge that volatility,
but a +4 swing for Dean yesterday followed by a +10 swing back
for Kerry today just strains the boundaries of credibility.
As I said,
in the end Zogby may end up hitting this race on the number, but
the way he's gone about getting there over the last two days isn't
going to do his reputation any favors.
SAFE BET: About the safest bet on the table right now
is that Wes Clark is finished after today. He's dropping in most
of the polls and it looks like he will limp home in 4th place.
has some money, but he's proven to be such a disaster as a candidate
- such a walking contradiction, a phony opportunist, and a peddler
of tin-hat conspiracies - it's hard to see him getting a coherent
message together and pulling a Kerryesque turn around by next
By this time
next week Clark will be just another notch in candidate-killer
Chris Lehane's belt. John Kerry don't look so bad now, does he
Chris? - T. Bevan 8:22 am | Link
January 26 2004
THE CASE STUDY: Start with the familar storyline:
(he) is elected President, he will look back to New Hampshire
as a place where he was very nearly finished before he'd begun.
For several days, (he) was trapped in a downward spin and appeared
powerless to get out of it. He had finished a poor third in
Iowa, and had no successful message of his own."
this case, is George H.W. Bush and the year 1988.
before the primary back in '88, Dole led Bush in two separate
tracking polls by margins of seven and eight points. Prior to
Iowa, Bush had led Dole in one of the tracking polls by more than
But on Monday
evening pollsters picked up a hint of Bush's turn around. By the
time the dust settled late Tuesday night, Bush
emerged with a 9.2% victory over Dole. The rest, as they say,
reversal of fortune came down to strength of core support:
President Andy Kohut subsequently told WCVB's Chet Curtis that
their exit polling showed a group of regular Republicans had
switched back and forth between Dole and Bush. Kohut also explained,
"Our polls have consistently shown for George Bush ---
here and elsewhere --- that his support is always stronger than
Dole's. The weak support Dole brought into the final days, in
the end, went to Bush."
eerily familiar to what we're seeing in the tightening of the
race right now. I don't get the impression Kerry's support is
quite as solid as he would like it to be. He still seems to be
at or near the top of an Iowa victory wave, but the indications
are that the voting in New Hampshire can't start soon enough for
the Massachusetts Senator. Another day or two and who knows....
On the other
hand, after the pathetic showing of Deaniacs in Iowa, I'm not
inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
to be freezing cold tomorrow, possibly with snow in the evening.
Traditionally, bad weather means lower voter turnout. It also
places a premium on each candidate's hardcore supporters. Of course,
about 27 hours, we'll know whose support is real and whose support
reader Sean F. for the case study link. - T. Bevan | Link
ZOGBY PART II: A few readers have asked for the
skinny on Zogby's poll today. I'm a bit short on time at the moment,
but Jerome Armstrong over at DKos goes over some of the internals
OUT THE CLOCK: Any
sports fan can tell you that when a team starts playing prevent
defense or trying to run out the clock, bad things can happen.
Lizza has a great first hand account of watching John Kerry
try to sit on his lead. - T. Bevan 12:43 pm | Link
ZOGBY STRIKES AGAIN!: Once again, John
Zogby pulls a shocker. His latest tracking poll out this morning
shows Dean trailing Kerry by only 3 points. Is it really possible
that this is a dead heat race?
past week we've been fed a steady
diet of polls and news stories
detailing Dean's post-Iowa collapse. Indeed, since Dean's Iowa
scream stopped echoing in our ears last Tuesday, nearly every
tracking poll has had Kerry
stretching out to a 12-15 point lead.
except Zogby, that is. Zogby has quietly but consistently had
this race much closer than the rest, with Dean bottoming out late
last week (1/21-23) only 9 points behind Kerry.
over the last 24 to 48 hours is reflected in other tracking polls
as well; this
morning's ARG shows a 4-point bump for Dean to 20%, the latest
Fox News poll (1/22-24) showed a 3-point rise, and he's gotten
an up tick in just about every other recent tracking poll sample.
Zogby has also allocated "leaners" in today's poll,
pushing another 10 percent out of the undecided column and toward
various candidates. It's noteworthy that even with the "leaner"
push, Kerry only picked up 1 point while Dean picked up 5 and
Edwards 3. Clark and Lieberman were static.
lines of all the polls suggest Kerry has topped out, Dean and
Edwards are rising, and Clark's support is waning down the stretch.
only 24 hours until "go time" in New Hampshire we're
once again left scratching our heads and wondering whether John
Zogby is registering a strength for Dean that no one else sees,
or whether he's projecting a level of support for Dean that just
isn't going to materialize tomorrow.
UPDATE: The Washington Post does
a nice job of reminding us that when it comes to politics,
especially in New Hampshire, the polls don't usually tell the
NEW HAMPSHIRE THOUGHTS: The Zogby poll is going to get
a ton of play in the press today and will invariably help John
Kerry. How can this help Kerry, you ask? By lowering expectations
at a critical moment.
in the polls over the past week has now internalized expectations
among the pundits and the press for a big win. Prior to Zogby's
poll this morning, anything less than a double digit victory tomorrow
evening would have been viewed as a sign of weakness for him.
More importantly, however, it would have been viewed as a sign
of strength for someone else.
of the sudden we're going to spend the next day talking about
how close this race is. Thanks to the power of a single Zogby
tracking poll, a victory in New Hampshire of any size is going
to be spun by the Kerry camp - successfully, I would think, if
they have any talent at all - into a tale of vindication and a
hard fought struggle.
is way off base and Kerry does in fact score a knockout blow tomorrow,
it's looking as if both Dean and Edwards are going to emerge from
New Hampshire with stories to tell heading into February 3.
be a big boost to Edwards in the short term, who will emerge as
the prohibitive favorite in South Carolina when Wes Clark finishes
imploding on Tuesday. And it may give Dean just enough juice to
weather the storm on February 3 and stay viable on Super Tuesday
in big-time states like California and New York.
PUPPETMASTER: Should he go on and win the nomination,
John Kerry's biggest liability in November may
not even be himself. Ted Kennedy's rescue of John Kerry's
dismal candidacy is going to have consequences down the road.
(Note to Karl Rove: save
work over the past year in mainstreaming a pacifist, cut and run
policy on Iraq in the Democratic party as well as promoting the
most bizarre, partisan conspiracy theories about the war will
be a drag on any effort by Kerry to appeal to the middle. -
T. Bevan 10:12 am |
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