Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Quick NH thoughts

First casualty of NH: Not Joe-mentum Lieberman, as popularly surmised, but Joe Trippi, the wizard of the failed Dean revolution. Trippi resigned late afternoon, after Dean brought in Gore-man Ron Neel. History may well look back on Trippi kindly, seeing his Dean campaign as the "prime mover" of a new method of campaigning. But the Dean campaign has failed because politics is still about winning over the disengaged, which Trippi, caught in the blogforamerica echo chamber, failed in winning over.

Most pathetic performance of the night: Joe Lieberman on "Hardball". Matthews hammered away at the Bush Administration's credibility, but Mr. Integrity kept sticking up for the prevaricating Bushies, then pathetically tried to spin his single-digit fifth place finish as a "virtual tie for third". Time to hang 'em up, Joe.

Mr. Electable? TNR doesn't think Kerry's got a good jaw. We'll see. I find him tiresome to listen to, and his Boston Brahmin/Skulls pedigree doesn't help his message, but he's a cautious mainstream Democrat who looks and sounds presidential. Given Bush's vulnerabilities, that may be enough.

The new "electability" calculus. Everyone assumes electability appears in a vacuum, but why should it? Let's factor in Bush's strength in order to come up with a preferred candidate, shall we?

- Bush unbeatable, go with Dean (think Goldwater 1964 to realign the party and energize the base).
- Bush strong, go with Clark (potential for grabbing the most voters, but also potential for self-detonation.)
- Bush even, go with Edwards (best campaigner with safe, broad appeal.)
- Bush weak, go with Kerry (safe guy who won't self-destruct and will grab all the Gore votes.)

Stop yelling buddy. Clark needs to tone down on his stump speeches. His handlers are still not making a case for his candidacy beyond "last month I was the anti-Dean, this month I'll be the anti-Kerry." This "Family Values" angle he's got working on may work, but I'd try every answer in tomorrow's debate to (1) experience as a general running his squad; (2) his tax plan; or (3) his opposition to the war.

Cable TV pundits. Absolutely clueless, as always. I should block MSNBC from my cable system. However, there might be room for Ron Reagan, Jr. to step into politics.

Feb. 3. Win or fold time for the pretenders except for Dean, who's aiming at Michigan and Washington four days later. Kerry will have to fight "guerilla" operations by the other candidates hoping to steal some primaries and stall his momentum. None of the following is remotely correct, by the way:

Realistic scenario: Wins Missouri, which press declares to be the main contest. 1st in Arizona, NM, competitive everywhere. Retains front-runner status.
Poor-case scenario: Stumbles during the week after intense press scrutiny, only wins one contest next week and finishes third in OK and SC. Press declares Kerry a wounded frontrunner.

Best-case scenario: Good week means a strong showing in Arizona and NM, and Kerry's stumbles help insure a Michigan and Washington victory, making him a viable contender again.
Realistic scenario: Places 2nd or 3rd in the Southwest, 4th in the southern states, 2nd to Kerry in Washington and Michigan and drops out after March 7.

Best-case: Strong debate performance, better press coverage, Native American support and good ads help Clark take OK, ND, NM. Finishes a strong second in AZ, SC, and MO, and becomes annointed as the anti-Kerry as Dean endorses him.
Realistic: Takes OK, has a smattering of 2nd place finishes, so his campaign survives, but just barely.

Best-case: Strong debate performance helps Edwards take not only SC, but OK. Finishes a strong second in the Southwest, and buyer's remorse on Kerry makes Edwards everyone's favorite alternative. Gets momentum by winning Feb. 10 primaries in neighboring Virginia and TN.
Realistic: Wins SC, 2nd in OK and MO, and continues to limp along, short on cash but in position in case Kerry stumbles.

You're never wrong betting against the pundits. So I imagine one or more of these guys survive Feb. 3 to take on Kerry.

More Deaniacs like this please.