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Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Dean Remains Frontrunner: Here's Why....

posted by Trammell at Wednesday, September 24, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
I've noticed that certain chattering heads have been making an interesting distinction: Clark is the national frontrunner (based on national polls) but Dean is still the frontrunner (based on polls in New hampshire and Iowa). Here's why. First, there is little doubt that Dean will be tops in fundraising for the third quarter. It's already being reported that Dean will easily beat Bill Clinton's 1995 record (10.3 mil) for a Democrat in a single quarter, and this was as a sitting President. If, indeed, Dean takes in 12-16 mil it will be 6-8 times as much as Clark will bring in, and we will likely raise at least double what Clark raises in the same two-week period since he's entered the race. You can help Dean with this effort by giving to THE BAT now!

However, that's not the only reason to be optimistic. Dean's unprecedented grassroots army -- yes, that means you who are reading this! -- is formidable. And, Dean still leads in New Hampshire and Iowa. This means little if you win just one or the other, but if you win both, it may be a lock. Dean is the only candidate who can possibly win both states. Further, no presidential candidate has ever won a nomination by "writing off" Iowa or New Hampshire. From today's Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff on CNN:

WOODRUFF: With me now to talk more about Wesley Clark's chances in Iowa, as well as New Hampshire, are two veteran political reporters. David Yepsen of "The Des Moines Register" and David Nyhan of "The Eagle Tribune" newspapers.

David Yepsen, to you first. We're only a week in, but what impressions so far has Wesley Clark left with the voters of Iowa, would you say?

DAVID YEPSEN "DES MOINES" REGISTER: I think very few, Judy. He made one stop in Iowa City, Iowa for a long-scheduled experience and met a few people and then he was gone.

One thing significant, Judy, that he was not doing, none of his people were collecting any names of supporters. He had about 1,000 people that showed up at the university of Iowa. He got a decent reception. And then he was gone.

If you're not at this stage of the game organizing your people to turn out on caucus night, then you're missing the boat.

WOODRUFF: And quickly, how does that compare to the other Democrats at this point?

YEPSEN: They're way ahead of him. They've got staff on the ground. They've been here for months. They've spent a lot of time here. General Clark is going to have to try to run a wholesale campaign in a retail state, and I'm not sure he can do it.

WOODRUFF: All right, David Nyhan, what about in New Hampshire. What are the voters there seeing or hearing of General Clark so far?

DAVID NYHAN "EAGLE TRIBUNE" NEWSPAPERS: Well, the people I talked to, everybody's astonished that Clark did so well coming out of the gate in the poll. But given the fact that Howard Dean surged to the front in New Hampshire was propelled by his opposition to the Iraq war people were astonished when Clark first said he would have voted for the war resolution because the president deserved to be supported on a war resolution and then that he would have opposed it.

So I think he stumbled coming out of the gate. It remains to be seen whether he's a Seabiscuit of a candidate. But he better be because with barely four months to go in voting in the first primary in New Hampshire, he's way behind the others in terms of organizing on the ground just as David Yepsen finds in Iowa.

WOODRUFF: All right give me a quick example of that, David Nyhan. How is he behind the others?

NYHAN: Well, some of them, people like Kerry, Gephardt and Howard Dean, whose organization has surged on this great -- the great wave of antipathy towards President Bush among Democratic core primary voters, they have built substantial organizations. They have offices in different cities and towns around the state. People are pouring money into the Dean campaign. I mean, it's really a phenomenal growth [perhaps as high as] $20 million in this quarter.


NYHAN: Absolutely, yes. And what I find and some of the Kerry people agree with me is that Kerry as a former front runner underestimated the depth of antipathy to President Bush and to his policies and to people like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Cheney and Tom DeLay. The Democrats in New Hampshire are boiling to get a crack at the administration. And Dean was the messenger they selected out of this deck that now includes ten cards.

WOODRUFF: So, David Yepsen, give us a little more of the lay of the land in Iowa. You're saying Clark's barely put his toe in the water there. But what about for the rest of the candidates?

YEPSEN: I think Governor Dean is running quite well. He's got a good organization. He's spent time here. I see nothing that changes my view that [Dean] is a front-runner right now.

Dick Gephardt is right behind him, got a lot of support from labor unions, picked up another won in the laborers. He's got thousands of union members supporting him. And I think Senator Kerry, he's down, but he's certainly not out. He's coming out here in a few days with Senator Kennedy to try to add a little juice to his campaign here.

So these guys have got time to get their campaigns either reignited or to light some fires. General Clark has done none of the basic organizing in Iowa. And I think he sounded an uncertain trumpet with his waffling on whether he would have voted for this war resolution or not.

I was talking to one of Howard Dean's people who said he was really worried about General Clark when he got into the race. And once he saw that Clark waffled on the war issue, he's not worried about the man anymore. If you sound an uncertain trumpet, who will follow? I think General Clark has done that with the anti-war movement. They're just not sure about him. They've got a horse to ride, and that's Howard Dean.


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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.