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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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Monday, December 29, 2003


Gephardt campaign is still a threat in Iowa

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, December 29, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
This Washington Post article bends over backwards to recycle the "doubts" about Dean even as it acknowledges his domination of the race for the nomination. But buried in the tripe is an important nugget about Gephardt's Iowa strategy:

In Iowa, the race is more competitive, with Dean battling Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) for first place. Dean holds a narrow lead, according to private polling done for several campaigns.

Bill Carrick, one of Gephardt's advisers, said all the other candidates should be rooting for Gephardt to stop Dean in Iowa. "Every one of them needs us to win," he said. "We have to win Iowa. For better or worse this is Dean-Gephardt right now for the other candidates."

What Carrick is referring to - in code - is the fact that the Iowa caucuses are not just a simple vote, but rather a series of them - and delegates are free to change their vote. As Kos explains:

The Iowa Caucuses are a peculiar beast. People cast an initial ballot for their guy. But, if their guy doesn't break the 15 percent barrier, they can change their vote to a more viable candidate. In essence, supporters will work hard to garner the votes of the other caucus goers to get their guy as many votes as possible.

In the past, each caucus was a self-contained election. There was little the candidates could do to sway the votes of their supporters. But we now have a dandy new tool called the cell phone, and the caucuses may never be the same.

In short, campaign organizers can now call each individual caucus and attempt to move their supporters en masse to whatever candidate they choose.

So, if early in the night, it appears that Dean is headed for a narrow victory, Kerry could move five percent of his supporters, via a few cell phone calls, onto the Gephardt column. A Gephardt win would obviously serve Kerry's interests heading into the NH primary.

This is a real threat - the only way Dean could still win such a move is if he had more supporters than both Gephardt and Kerry combined. But he doesn't. It remains to be seen whether Kerry's political calculus swings this way or the other - it's risky for him too because any showing in Iowa would help him counter the "polling below Sharpton" critique. And the impact of a Gephardt win in Iowa on Kerry's chances in New Hampshire is debatable. Unless Kerry figures he is going down anyway and wants to hurt Dean out of spite?


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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.