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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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Saturday, January 24, 2004


The Beauty Of Low Expectations

posted by Dana at Saturday, January 24, 2004 permalink View blog reactions

I could be wrong, or this could be setting up nicely.

Expectations for the Dean campaign in New Hampshire have hit rock-bottom. A three-day average of tracking polls (Wednesday-Friday) shows Kerry with his biggest leads yet. Some even show our man in third, behind General Clark.

Some liberal pundits, notably Eleanor Clift, have already written Dean off because of “The Scream,” even though she was personally in the room and didn’t think it bad at the time.

But consider. Dean had a great day Thursday. New Hampshireites now have to consider a vote for Kerry as anointing him the nominee. Republicans are focusing their attention on him. He is trying to run out the clock.

It could be the big crowds now at Dean events are like groupies at a band’s farewell tour. I haven’t surveyed where they’re from. Or it could be that New Hampshireites are re-evaluating a man who is, after all, their neighbor and who they did, after all, say they supported until a few weeks ago.

Right now the national media is setting up the equivalent of “high jump bars” at the New Hampshire finish line. Lieberman needs to get into double-digits, at least, and finish third. Clark needs to beat Lieberman and Edwards. Dean only needs to beat Clark. Kerry needs to win, and win big.

The hurdles are being set with the expectation that, on Wednesday, the media will all be writing about John Edwards. His expectations are absurdly low, the next week’s contests favor his home base of North Carolina.

But, as I said, they are also being set low for us. A 28-22 loss, a solid second place, would have looked like disaster a week ago. Now it looks delicious. Anything better, it gets better still.

It is good to have the press write your obituary. It was good for Kerry, after his “motorcycle” appearance on Leno. It was good for Edwards. It can be very, very good for us.

Figure there will be 150,000 New Hampshire primary voters, which is optimistic. Can we get 50,000 of them, including independents, voters who don’t want the game to end in Kerry’s favor (as they didn’t want it to end for us a week ago), conservative Democrats (who heard a pretty conservative Dean in the debate). There’s less room for our troops to be out-manuevered as there were in the caucus. Voters show up, vote, and leave – eazy-peazy.

This is not a bad place to be. We’re desperate. We need to do something NOW. But we have the troops, we have a calmer candidate, we have a chance.

All we ever wanted was a chance.


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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.