Wednesday, February 18, 2004

CAN EDWARDS DERAIL KERRY? MORE IMPORTANTLY, COULD DEAN DERAIL KERRY?

Depending on what you read, the media either :

1) Still like Kerry, or;
2) believe that Edwards has made it a two-man race.

When you look at the polls one day prior to the Wisconsin primary, most showed a Kerry blow-out at almost 50% of the vote, with Edwards and Dean at about 20% each. What I see is Kerry may have permanently lost some of his support due to more light being shed on his "biography" (the only thing he's chosen to run on). I'm guessing (based on limited reporting and intuition) that he lost independent and more conservative Democrats to Edwards, and the "Deaniacs" that are abandoning ship see Edwards as far more attractive than Kerry.

If Wisconsin is a barometer, it could mean super Tuesday is not a done deal for Kerry and, in fact (depending on the splits and whether Dean choses to stay in the race), it's entirely possible the Dems could go to the convention with no candidate having a majority of the delegates in his back pocket.

Which comes to my "tipping point" question -- what if Dean bails and throws his support behind Edwards? Why would he do that? I don't see any motivation for him to do so unless he honestly believes Edwards is a better guy than Kerry. Unlike previous campaigns when candidates who didn't become the presidential nominee were later annointed as the VP nominee, that won't hapen with Dean. People have already made their minds up that having Howie in or near the Oval Office isn't a good thing.

But if Dean doesn't support Edwards, how can he swallow his "independence" and support Kerry, the quintessential Washington insider? If Dean supports Kerry, that should cause every one of his former supporters to vote for Edwards out of spite. The headline would be something like "Dean Sells Out."

Or, just maybe Dean stays in it with the hope that no candidate walks into the convention with a majority. Dean's delegates could be the deciding votes. Dean could become the "kingmaker." Wouldn't that just scare the shit out of the Democrat leadership?

Damn, this is more fun than I thought it was going to be.

UPDATE: Will Saletan has some interesting data that address the attraction of many voters to Edwards.


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