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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, April 04, 2003


Lieberman, Edwards Stumble Badly

posted by Joe at Friday, April 04, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Campaign 2004 news on two fronts this week startled many observers. First came word on the "money primary" as the first quarter drew to a close and candidates reported their fundraising totals. A brand new poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters followed soon after. But the surprising news wasn't who was at the front of the pack in each contest -- the real story in each case was a well-known candidate performing startlingly below expectations.

Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, the candidate with the best national name-recognition, managed to raise roughly $3 million, less than half of the totals raised by the two Senators John -- Kerry of Massachusetts ($7 million) and Edwards of North Carolina ($7.4 million). The New York Times characterized his performance this way: "The Lieberman campaign barely topped the $2.6 million raised by Howard Dean, the far-lesser-known former governor of Vermont...."

As the party's vice-presidential nominee in 2000, Lieberman was positioned to establish himself as the early frontrunner by virtue of his name-recognition and contacts among party donors. That he failed to capitalize on this raises serious questions about either his competency as a candidate or Democrats' confidence that he's a viable alternative to Bush -- or both.

Similarly, despite the whopping $7.4 million he raised, John Edwards' poll numbers in New Hampshire raise serious doubts about whether this cash bonanza will do him any good. In the latest poll by the Franklin Pierce College, Edwards drew just 2% support -- putting him below former Senator Gary Hart's 3% and tying him with retired General Wesley Clark, who isn't even running at this point. A margin of error of plus or minus 4% means that Edwards is in a statistical tie with the Al Sharpton, who drew 0%.

With Representative Dick Gephardt of Missouri falling to the middle of the pack in each of these measures (a worse-than-expected third in fundraising; fourth in New Hampshire, behind Lieberman) two candidates showed their strength: Sen. Kerry and Gov. Dean. Kerry was a close second in fundraising and tied for first in New Hampshire. Dean, neck and neck with Kerry in the Granite State, raised less money, but much more than many expected.

But as Kerry continues to draw criticism from both the left and the right for his ambivalence (to put it diplomatically) on the war, it would seem that Dean had the best week of all the major candidates. Add to this the success of this week's Meetups (now pushing 13,000 members) and Dean is clearly on a roll.

[Author's Note: Attentive readers will note the Kerry criticism linked above found its voice right here at DeanBlog, some of it in blockquotes, some of it not. The Kerry-related commentary spawned some lively discussion in comments, including either Dean Campaign Director Joe Trippi or someone purporting to be Dean Campaign Director Joe Trippi [confirmed. --Aziz]. Either way, an excellent point was made: the Kerry campaign has not had the kindest of words for Gov. Dean. Nevertheless, even in the face of foolishness from Jim Jordan, the Kerry Campaign Manager, our broad efforts to elect Howard Dean will also include more benign political hackery, such as the above ham-handed attempt to use the week's news to show what most of us already know: Howard Dean is going all the way.]


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.