« Hit me with your best shot, part 3 | Main | L'Affaire Plame »


Mixed reviews on the first ten-person Democratic debate, but I want to focus for a minute on General Clark's answer to the first question: Brian Williams' Drudge Report-inspired call on Clark to account for his praise of Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc. in March 2001. There was a simple brilliance to Clark's response that no one I've read seems to quite understand:

Generalizing broadly, there are two big groups of voters that will make up a Democratic majority in 2004. There are people who never liked or trusted George Bush, and now are crazed with anger and frustration. That includes me, most everyone I know, and the entire Dean following. Then there are voters who might have at one point, whether they voted for him or not, thought Bush wouldn't be all that bad, or might even be great, and are increasingly dismayed, even shocked, by the economy, Iraq, dishonesty, etc. This is not the result of some great insight or public opinion polling -- it's mathematically certain that when a president goes from popularity in the mid-70s or higher (discounting the immediate post-September 11 when we all at least wanted to believe that this man was capable of leadership) to the high 40s, there is a large portion of the population that used to like him and no longer does.

Clark's answer basically said to the used-to-like-hims, "I'm one of you." And that's incredibly important to the election. Dean's boldness has him in good standing with the never-liked-hims, but there obviously aren't enough voters who never lapsed for a moment into thinking George Bush was maybe o.k. to make a majority. The used-to-like-hims include Republicans who voted for him as well as Democrats who didn't but weren't quite so unhappy that Al Gore wasn't president. And it includes a lot of independents.

You may protest that these used-to-like-hims don't vote in Democratic presidential primaries. And generally, that's true. But there's one place where they do vote, and sometimes decide the outcome: New Hampshire. With independents and Republicans free to vote in the Democratic primary, there's a thread of independent-minded voters, who at the very least are indifferent to charges that Clark isn't a good Democrat and at best might really take to his post-partisan, "I've served Democratic presidents and Republican presidents" appeal.

This group, which is concentrated in Southern New Hampshire and tends to vote late, is notoriously hard to poll accurately. New Hampshire polls depend on assumptions about the level of turnout by non-registerd Democrats in the Democratic primary, assumptions that can easily be off by an order of magnitude. In recent months, when the race was Dean vs. Kerry, those independent-minded voters seemed to be attracted to Dean. Polls that estimated a higher turnout of non-Democrats consistently had Dean higher. Not surprising: Kerry is seen as an establishment Democrat (not to mention that some of the independents are refugees from Massachusetts, usually with a reason), and Dean an outsider.

But none of them agreed to marry Dean, and there may be significant reason to think they could go over to Clark. Roll the clock back to 1999-2000. I was working for Bill Bradley at the time. He had a significant lead over Al Gore in New Hampshire and, like Dean, was drawing the independent-minded non-Democrats to offset his weakness among establishment Democrats. But as soon as John McCain became a real figure in the race, which was barely a month before the primary, those voters seemed to decide they were happier voting for the war hero, reformer in the Republican primary, and Bradley's bubble burst.

Ask yourself: If those voters could switch from the liberal Bradley to McCain, who holds Barry Goldwater's seat in the Senate and at the time a nearly identical voting record, doesn't it seem plausible that they could switch from Dean to Clark? It doesn't even require them to change the primary they'll vote in, and there's nothing happening in the Republican party.

If Karl Rove is really as scared of Dean as I heard he was a year ago, and as his leaks to Drudge suggest, then perhaps the best thing he can do is get McCain back in there to pull some votes back into the GOP primary. Then, when his usefulness is done, he can destroy him in South Carolina again, for old times sake.

Is this a prediction that Clark will win New Hampshire? No, and that's not an expectation that he should want to create anyway. Three other candidates are from New England. But that means a second-place or even a third-place finish in New Hampshire would be treated as a "better-than-expected," surely reducing the race to Dean and Clark. And then it's down to South Carolina, where the electorate is very different. African-Americans will make up a majority of the vote. My guess is that an army veteran will have a greater ability to relate to these voters than the ex-governor of a state that could put every African-American in the state on the public payroll without anyone noticing..

Posted by Mark Schmitt on September 26, 2003 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Post-Partisans:

» The Decembrist from not watching television
I agree that Clark's answer will resonate well; even though I didn't vote for Bush, I looked askance at friends who were so rabidly against him early on -- so Clark's explanation rings true to me. As to Decembrist's evaluation of the effect Clark will... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 30, 2003 12:26:02 PM

» CELEB: Benson Splits from Outspoken Wife from Kris Benson,
reputation in the media. During an interview with Howard Stern last year, Anna claimed if her husband were to cheat on her, [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 6, 2006 8:12:44 PM

» Closing Time for the Cavaliers from Game 7 on Sunday
for a potential Game 7 on Sunday in Cleveland. 'We feel very confident we'll win on Friday - very confident,' Wizards coach [Read More]

Tracked on May 20, 2006 11:53:14 AM

» Tuesday 12 May 1663 from staying for
the business of the pieces of eight mentioned yesterday before the Duke of York , wherein [Read More]

Tracked on May 26, 2006 7:39:17 AM

» Dictionary Search Page from Dictionary Search
An unabridged dictionary from aalii to zymurgy, including a pronunciation guide... [Read More]

Tracked on May 27, 2006 3:25:05 AM

» Student Created Firefox Commercial-mockup from profile. "A guy
student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, has done a rather cool television-style advertisement promoting the use [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 7, 2006 6:42:34 AM

» Brother of Al-Zarqawi Victim: 'May He Rot in Hell' from l-Zarqawi Believed
l-Zarqawi Believed to Have Beheaded Both Nick Berg and Ken Bigley [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 11, 2006 5:36:06 AM

» Mozilla 1.7.5 is released from Check out the
has been released. This release marks the Gecko sync between Firefox 1.0 and Mozilla 1.7.x. There is very little else new in this release except NPRuntime [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 12, 2006 3:19:52 AM

» Wade and Payton Miss Heat's Monday Workout from continued struggles
Winderman of the SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL reports, Heat guard Dwyane Wade [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 15, 2006 2:45:13 PM

» Can Preteens Take Steps to Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer? from educing Overall
educing Overall Estrogen Levels May Help, Experts Say [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 19, 2006 1:26:00 AM

» Graney: USA Basketball Out to Restore Old Glory from return to international
those who can assume a proper defensive stance without the need of printed instructions, writes Ed Graney of THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 24, 2006 12:02:33 PM

» David J. Neal: No Need for Another Year from Zo from of THE MIAMI
uncomfortably at augmented goodbyes, writes David J. Neal of THE MIAMI [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 24, 2006 7:25:35 PM

» What If They Gave a Cease Fire and Nobody Came? from for a truce in
proposals for a truce in Lebanon are unlikely to end the fighting. They may simply be [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 9, 2006 9:35:33 PM



los foros
anunciate ya anuncios gratis
ven a chatear gratis

liens gratuits en dur

web directory



desarrollo web. paginas web



Posted by: portal web | Sep 8, 2007 11:19:10 AM