Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Seven tickets out of New Hampshire?

So it seems. Only one is stamped 'First Class,' though. More thoughts on this later, but here are some baseline numbers from ARG for a few of the next destinations.

Arizona (55 Delegates)

Kerry 24
Clark 21
Edwards 15
Dean 10
Undecided 13

South Carolina (45 Delegates)

Edwards 21
Kerry 17
Sharpton 15
Clark 14
Dean 9
Lieberman 5
Kucinich 1
Undecided 18

Oklahoma (40 Delegates)

Clark 23
Edwards 18
Kerry 17
Lieberman 10
Dean 8
Sharpton 1
Kucinich 1
Undecided 22

The Dean camp's been saying that Arizona's their best shot. The sad part is, they're right...

So there I was...

...innocently clicking a link over at Beltway Bandit, and off I went into bizarro world.

This is what we're up against, folks. A real topic header from the real Deaner forum at the real Dean website.

If Kerry Wins, I'm Voting For Bush

Three pages of them, so far. Spouting Dean's vitriolic Naderisms about the 'Washington Establishment' that's never done anything for them.

Quite a movement you've built there, Doc. Hope you're proud.

Quit now. You've done enough harm.

Why is this man smiling?

Or, as Wonkette wants to know, "How much would Dean have to lose by for him to call it a loss?"

And the winner is...

...CNN, who had the integrity to call New Hampshire a Kerry win with a 39 to 24 point margin over Dean with 25% of the votes counted.

Meanwhile, the competitors were continuing to spin their exit polls, which were much closer, afraid to read the real figures from the real voters.

I suppose there may be some anomolous precincts somewhere that can close up the percentages, but 25% is a pretty good sample. It's done.

Update: 39 to 25 with 58% counted. Can we all agree this is a big win now?

I don't have a lot of faith in exit polls...

...but I'll share this, just because Wonkette scores the Snark of the Day.

"A legitimate journalist writes: "[Y]ou did NOT get these from me." Get what from you? I'm just guessing here: Second wave of exit polls has Kerry 36, Dean 29, Edwards 12, Clark 11, Lieberman 8, Kucinich 2, Sharpton 0.

Guess the black person in New Hampshire stayed home today."

How do you make a baloney sandwich?

Put an oblique attack between two slices of whine.

Dean, on CNN.

"I was the front-runner in this race for a long time. Everybody threw everything they could at me."

"One of the things John will have to learn as a front-runner is (to) stop whining when people say something different about him."

"I had to take it all summer. He will have to take it now," Dean said.

Sorry, HoHo. It wasn't really all that long, and we were just getting started. But maybe you need a dose of your own advice. Stop whining, already.

Points to ponder...

...while we wait for the polls to close.

"The momentum is now with Kerry because Democrats have begun to consider the advantages of being led into battle this fall by a lieutenant who knows what battle is."
E.J. Dionne

"Howard Dean was the man of the year, but that was 2003."
John Zogby

"There may be something to the idea that Democrats in general want to get rid of George W. Bush more than Republicans in general want to keep him."
Peggy Noonan

"If Dean's events sometimes look like the bar scene from Star Wars, Edwards's traveling show has the feel of an Abercrombie and Fitch fashion shoot."
Ryan Lizza

Stopping By Voting Booths on a Snowy Evening

by Christopher Buckley (with apologies to Robert Frost)

"My throat is hoarse, I need a beer,
I've done my best to seem sincere.
I've flipped ten thousand griddle-cakes.
One caucus speech, and now they jeer."

"What a mess, my heart may break.
Can't a man make one mistake?
It's all enough to make you weep.
I was ahead; now I'm a flake."

Zogby blinks.

Well, it turns out that John Zogby was feeling a bit too lonely out there on the end of that long, thin branch.

Reverting to a more conventional approach to polling, he joined the bulk of his colleagues in predicting a double digit (13 points, actually) victory for John Kerry this morning, as his surveyors found the undecideds that he'd 'guessed' would go to Howard Dean were breaking to John Kerry.

My prediction stands.

Kerry 40
Dean 25
Edwards 15
Clark 10

Rest of the field in single (if any) digits.

Southern Exposure

John Kerry has made some waves with his response to a question about his viability in Dixie.

"Everybody always makes the mistake of looking South," Kerry said, in response to a question about winning the region. "Al Gore proved he could have been president of the United States without winning one Southern state, including his own." is the quote that's getting all the attention. The rest of his answer is being circulated less widely.

"I think the fight is all over this country," Kerry said. "Forget about those red and blue states. We're going to change that now, and we're going to go out there and change the face of America."

I don't see anything there that says that Democrats shouldn't campaign in and compete for the South. What I see is a Presidential candidate saying his approach is truly national. Let's face it, "looking South" has come to mean tailoring a particular approach, and trimming some fundamental Democratic sails, in order to navigate a region that was once solid D, and has now made an almost complete swing to the other side. If the "Southern Strategy" pioneered by Dick Nixon and perfected by Ronald Reagan was based on pandering to the worst instincts of Southern white voters - and it was - then why should Democrats emulate their opponents by crafting a regional message that's any different than the one carried to the rest of the country?

In fact, an election can be won without the South, but it needn't be. An election can be won without the mountain West, but it needn't be. And an election can be won nationwide with a strong and consistent message about jobs, education, healthcare and national defense, issues that transcend regional differences, which is exactly what John Kerry has been saying throughout the campaign.

It's time to drop the entire business of regional pandering in national politics in favor of a new direction. John Kerry has the courage to say so, and the ability to make it so.

Forget red, forget blue. Remember America. That's the Real Deal.

One last poll...

before the real polls close. I've watched the race through the ARG filter for weeks, and this is where they end up with their final track. The numbers in parentheses are their last best guess, based on the trends, and they're honest enough to clearly label it as such, while providing the final numbers developed through their standard methodology. There's a lesson here for some other polling operations.

Kerry 35 (35)
Dean 25 (29)
Edwards 15 (16)
Clark 13 (13)
Lieberman 6 (6)
Kucinich 1 (1)
Sharpton 0 (0)
Undecided 5 (0)

I'll stick with my prediction that Kerry will hit 40%, because the one factor that no one seems to be talking about is the Shaheen GOTV machine, which I think is worth at least 5% in New Hampshire.

What the heck...

...by the end of the night, this may seem prophetic, or it may prove embarassing, but either way, I'm calling this the Quote of the Day.

"Kerry is the Einstein of this race, upending the known Newtonian laws and replacing them with new ones."

Chris Suellentrop, Slate

Monday, January 26, 2004

Harbinger of an upset?

Probably not. But the returns are in from Dixville Notch, NH.

Clark 8
Kerry 3
Edwards 2
Dean 1
Lieberman 1

It's worth noting that there is not a single registered Democrat in Dixville Notch, so every vote represents an Independent crossover. Bush got 11 on the R side.

Update: Race tightens!

Yep, Hart's Location checks in to add to the suspense...

Clark 6
Kerry 5
Dean 3
Edwards 2

Zapping Zogby

Pollster John Zogby served up a tasty headline for his clients at Reuters and MSNBC today, as they touted his discovery that Howard Dean had accomplished a miracle rise in New Hampshire, pulling within the margin of error overnight.

Of course, attentive readers noted that Zogby cooked the data to get the headline. What really happened overnight was Zogby's decision to start assigning "undecided leaners" to various candidates. In other words, a poll respondent who's answere was something like "Oh, I don't know. Maybe Dean. I'm not sure." is, on Planet Zogby, a Dean supporter. Ultimately, that's OK, except that it's only explained in a footnote and it gives a result that's at odds with every other poll available. Dramatically at odds.

But, hey, that's Zogby, that's his decision, and his reputation rests on the results. I'm a bit taken aback, though, by the observations of some of his apologists. Atrios, for instance, offers the explanation that "Zogby's job this close to the election is to make his best guess, given the information, about what the outcome will be."

Really? That's his job? And here I though it was his job to provide the best data he could collect so that people like pundits and bloggers could use it to make their guesses. I mean, if it's his job, why isn't it part of his pitch?

Here's what Zogby says he does:

"To Offer the Best Polling, Market Research, & Information Services Worldwide
Based on Accuracy & Detailed Strategic Information."

Zogby International is constantly searching, testing and measuring hypotheses
and principles on polling and public opinion research. Working with a panel of
psychologists, sociologists, computer experts, linguists, political scientists,
economists,and mathematicians, we explore every nuance in language and test
new methods in public opinion research. It is this investment in time and money
for research and development that makes us a leader in the public opinion field.

See? He left out that whole "best guess" part!

Maybe it's because, as Atrios further points out, "...obviously polls have an influence, to some degree, on the outcome. So, if this outlier of a result gets pushed, as Drudge is doing now, it could help give Dean the "comeback kid" momentum. Zogby can make a self-fulfilling prophesy."

That kind of puts all those "psychologists, sociologists, computer experts, linguists, political scientists, economists,and mathematicians" on a par with, oh, astrologers and phrenologists, doesn't it?

So maybe it's time for a new mission statement.

Zogby. You give us your money, we'll give you our best guess.

I second that emotion

After viewing Howard and Judy's turn in the Blitzer barrel on CNN, Michelle at Politus issued this heartfelt plea.

"Dr. Judy, I beg of you to stop this madness. Take your beloved home and get him the help he so desperately needs. The grown-ups are trying to have an election!"

Who says there's no compassion in the blogosphere?

New links

It's not that the world needs more blogs, but there's always room for better ones, and I've found a couple that are worth your attention.

The newest addition to my Democratic links list is From The Roots, a new blog from the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. I don't imagine those Senators are all writing their own posts (though some might, sometimes) but there's a lot of solid content. It's a great example of an institutional blog that gets it.

In the Kerry links column, there's Nurses for Kerry, wise words and welcome endorsements from a critical constituency.

Far above Cayuga's waters...

...the Michigan landscape looks mighty fine to Team Kerry this morning.

A new poll reported by the Boston Herald shows the Massachusetts Senator a big favorite with Michican voters so far.

Kerry 37
Dean 14
Edwards 10
Clark 10

I've gotta admit, I didn't see this one coming.

Sure, any day...

Calpundit reflects faith in the Veep...

"Dick Cheney, two days ago:

We've found a couple of semi-trailers at this point which we believe were in fact part of [a WMD] program. I would deem that conclusive evidence, if you will, that he did in fact have programs for weapons of mass destruction.

David Kay, today:

Dr. Kay added that there was now a consensus within the United States intelligence community that mobile trailers found in Iraq and initially thought to be laboratories for biological weapons were actually designed to produce hydrogen for weather balloons, or perhaps to produce rocket fuel.

I'm sure Cheney will issue a retraction any day now."

See, he believes! Lefty bloggers do love America!

MO Mo for Kerry?

As the Kerry campaign announced more support from the former Gephardt camp yesterday, including Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy and former New Hampshire Legislator Deborah Pignatelli, the campaign is turning more attention on the Missouri Congressman's home turf.

The Boston Herald reports that "Kerry plans to make Missouri a key part of his post-New Hampshire strategy. The Bay State senator is already dispatching top-level aides to the state and will soon begin spending money on a considerable TV ad campaign in the Show-Me State."

"Missouri's 88 delegates are by far the most at stake on Feb. 3. ``It's a state where we can plant a flag,'' said one Kerry source."

With Steve Elmedorf, who knows as much about Missouri politics as anyone in the country after his years as the head of the Gephardt political shop, installed as the new Deputy Political Director of Team Kerry, it doesn't seem like such a long way to St. Louis at all.

The Upper Left Average

Six polls have been updated as I write. Once again, Zogby is the anomoly, the only poll showing Dean within single digits of the lead, a result produced by projecting the undecided vote. Once again, the Suffolk University poll comes nearest the average, but not as close as yesterday.

Today's U-L Average:

Kerry 35
Dean 18
Clark 10
Edwards 10

And there's still no compelling reason to change my prediction.

Math is hard.

And political math seems to be the hardest of all. For instance, there's the problem of estimating the crowd at a campaign event.

CBS reports that "A Dean staff member estimated Sunday night's crowd at between 1,400 and 1,600. A police officer said the rally occupied two-thirds of a gym that seats 850 people..."

Even harder is figuring out where your votes are. For instance, another CBS story has Dean aides holding forth that "Dean was strongest in Arizona and New Mexico." Maybe that's true, but they've got to hope their math is wrong. I haven't seen the New Mexico numbers, but in Arizona, Dean's polling fourth, with the top two slots in double digits ahead.

Of course, Trippi's hard count still shows an Iowa sweep...math is hard.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Further forward

ARG has released more numbers for Arizona and Oklahoma, offering some good news for Kerry and Clark.

They confirm the Kerry lead in Arizona reported by the Arizona Republic. The four campaigns in double digits are:

Kerry 24
Clark 21
Edwards 15
Dean 10

In Oklahoma, ARG reports a continuing Clark lead, although by a significantly smaller margin than SurveyUSA has reported. The leaders (with Lieberman making a rare appearance in double digits):

Clark 23
Edwards 18
Kerry 17
Lieberman 10
Dean 8

Stay tuned for the New Hampshire bounce.

Looking forward

The one race at a time focus provided by Iowa and New Hampshire is a handy media hook, but from a campaign standpoint, it's purely artificial. Every campaign has been looking ahead, with some staking high hopes on a February 3rd breakthrough. That seemed to be a big part of the Lieberman strategy, but having moved his family to New Hampshire in order to kickstart his campaign, he's had little time and money to put into places like Oklahoma, where he was once perceived to be a potential player.

On the other hand, a Feb. 3 strategy may pay off handsomely for John Edwards, who has split his post-Iowa attention between New Hampshire and South Carolina. While more attention to NH might have improved his hand there, the political calculus seems to be in favor of a 3rd or 4th place finish in the northeast, where he was never expected to perform well, anyway, followed by a first in his regional backyard is better than, say, three 2nd places in a row.

Meanwhile, Dean has suspended advertising in several states to conserve cash for a big finish in New Hampshire, Clark is spending money on new staff to get operations started elsewhere after betting everything on New Hampshire, where it looks like he won't come away with very much, and Kerry has been able to disperse his Iowa operation far and wide (the staff here in Washington was doubled with the arrival of a veteran team from Iowa), since his NH organization was already firmly developed.

While the campaigns move their doers and dollars around, the voters are moving, too, and as a Kerry supporter, I've got to like the direction.

New polling from a couple of key Feb. 3 states reflects the trend. Although there' still a substantial undecided, Kerry's made a come from behind move to first in Arizona, according to these numbers from the Arizona Republic:

Kerry 19
Clark 17
Dean 14
Edwards 9
Lieberman 6

In South Carolina, the Edwards strategy seems to be working, as the Senator holds a lead in a new ARG survey, but Kerry is making a strong run in the southern state, quadrupling his support from previous polls. The numbers now:

Edwards 21
Kerry 17
Sharpton 15
Clark 14
Dean 9
Lieberman 5

A New Hampshire win can only be helpful to Kerry's momentum, and a South Carolina victory for the 'Massachusetts liberal' could be the key to a string of victories as the race goes forward.

More national news

Offered with the usual observations that there is no national primary, etc., etc., Fox News/Opinion Dynamics has released another snapshot of Democratic sentiments from coast to coast, taken January 21-22 (comparisons are to the January 7-8 survey). Needless to say, I blog it because I like it. Very much.

John Kerry 29 (+22)
Howard Dean 17 (-3)
John Edwards 13 (+9)
Wesley Clark 11 (-2)

Looks more and more like this is going to be a three way race very soon. The Senator, the Insurgent and the Southerner is a managable story line. It's where the voters are going, it's where the coverage will go, and it will probably give us a stronger nominee when it all sorts out.

The GlobeSuffolkARGZogbyFOXHeraldGallup Poll

I give up. The numbers are coming in too fast and furious to list each of the seven New Hampshire polls I've been watching on an individual basis, so here's the official Upper Left poll, an average them all. Interestingly, it comes out closest to the Suffolk University survey, which may or may not mean that that's the only one you need. It hits the average for the top two dead on, though. The poll most out of step with the others is Zogby, the only one with Dean within single digits of the lead.

Here's the Upper Left Average:

Kerry 36
Dean 20
Clark 12
Edwards 11

So, what do I think will happen? Knowing that you're all on the edge of your seats waiting for my predictions, I won't make you wait any longer (although I may change my mind later, so don't get too far away...)

I can't see things getting anything but better for Kerry over the next couple of days. While the notion of organization was given big play in Iowa because of the nature of caucus politics, it's really no less important in New Hampshire, where election day turnout efforts are a big key to success. Knowing who's in charge of Team Kerry's ground game, I'd imagine that every available Kerry vote has been tagged for turnout.

There's got to be a bottom end to Dean's hard support, and I'd suspect it's somewhere around the Upper Left Average number. He's pouring a ton of cash into late TV and has gone hard negative against Kerry on the stump. That should push him a little over his absolute base.

Wes Clark just doesn't seem to be able to provide a compelling justification for being in this race. Democratic primary votes aren't among those who believe the D's are 'weak on defense,' so he's ended up spinning his wheels trying to convince people who don't need convincing. He's gonna get hurt on Tuesday, and I'm not convinced Feb. 3 offers a comeback opportunity.

I think John Edwards is being underestimated by the polls because I think he's got a bunch of voters sitting in the undecided column. He's been splitting his time between NH and South Carolina, probably a sound strategic decision, but ultimately I think more people will break his way than some expect.

So, my prediction?

Kerry 40
Dean 25
Edwards 15
Clark 10

In a rational world, Joe Lieberman and Wes Clark get out of this thing on Wednesday, but that's a prediction I'm not about to make.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Nice national news!

The latest Newsweek poll, conducted nationwide January 22 & 23 (numbers in parentheses reflect change from January 8 & 9).

Kerry 30 (+19)
Edwards 13 (+10)
Dean 12 (-12)
Clark 12 (even)

It's not just a move, folks, it's a movement!

On the bright side...

...the Kerry campaign is announcing more key endorsements.

The League Of Conservation Voters joined Team Kerry today. I know from personal experience that of all the environmental organizations in America, the LCV is the one that can put shoes on the street in support of a candidate. Their endorsement has 50 state impact. It's huge.

Another major UFCW Local, which organizes retail workers in the northeast - including New Hampshire - joined with their Union brothers and sisters in Michigan in endorsing John Kerry following the withdrawal of Dick Gephardt.

UFCW Local 1145 is 17,000 strong. Welcome aboard the Real Deal Express! There's room for everybody!

Mommy, mommy! Johnny was mean to me!

That's the essence of Howard Dean's analysis of his Iowa collapse. His latest whine is that a briefing book issued to precinct captains by the John Edwards campaign was an example of a "dirty trick" that cost Dean a victory.

Here's a quick hit from the clue bong, Governor. Nothing that happened inside a caucus room cost you a victory. You lost because despite your grandiose claims of iron clad supporters and an invincible organization, you couldn't deliver delegate to the caucus rooms.

I haven't seen any evidence at all that Edwards precinct captains were causing large numbers of Dean supporters to switch with their scripted arguement that Dean is a "Park Avenue elitist." People who may have switched from Dean to Edwards apparently did so before they arrived at their caucus, and Edwards, with what everyone (including me) assumed was a smaller and less effective organization, delivered those voters.

The Dean smoke and mirrors campaign collapsed of its own accord. Dean didn't have the votes and his organization, rooted in the importation of thousands of out of state callers and canvassers, proved singularly ineffective in delivering the votes he did have. Playing the blame game doesn't change that, and doesn't promise a favorable turn for the Dean campaign in the near future.

We're seeing smoke and mirrors round two right now. The arguement has been made that Dean's still in OK shape because he still has a pile of cash and he's running a 50 state campaign. Well, that argument doesn't square with this news...

" Dean has cut back his television advertising in states with Feb. 3 contests to concentrate his spending on New Hampshire. He is pouring in about $500,000 through Tuesday's primary and his ads in New Mexico ended Wednesday. Commercials in South Carolina and Arizona will stop running this weekend."

How much of that $40 mill is left? Who knows. They're not saying. But not enough, apparently, to support the campaign in the February 3 states, let alone 50.

Shame on them!

A Boston Globe update on the latest Congressional scandal says that The Committee for Justice, headed by C. Boyden Gray, a former senior White House counsel, is taking the point for the Republican staffers who stole Democratic documents from Senate computers. They're distibuting a "fact sheet" arguing that no rules or laws were broken.

I'll be honest. I'm not a legal scholar, or an authority on the Senate rules that apply to staff activities. What seems obvious, though, is that by any ordinary standard of ethical behavior, the Republican conduct was simply wrong. So wrong that any reasonable person would expect it to be illegal.

Regardless of any disciplinary action that might come out of the investigation, this is an issue that Democrats should rally around as a way to demonstrate the paucity of ethics and morality that typifies Republican behavior in the political sphere.

David Callahan has an important piece in The Nation, arguing that the Democrats can win on the 'values' arguement by attacking the culture of cheating that he says " infects nearly every part of American society, from education to sports to business to a myriad of professions."

"Cheating is up." Callahan argues "Cheating is everywhere. By cheating I mean breaking the rules to get ahead academically, professionally or financially. Some of this cheating involves violating the law, some does not."

Exactly. Let the Republicans try to spin their legalistic nit picking. Let them broadcast it far and wide. Hell, let it work. Let all the malefactors off.

And beat them constantly with the one single truth that almost every American can recognize. What they did was wrong. They cheated. They're not just liars, they're cheaters.

They should be ashamed, and we should shame them at every opportunity.


Looking past New Hampshire, the race is starting to take some dramatic turns as well. Oklahoma isn't, for instance, where I'd like it to be, but looking at the change over the period of a week, I'd have to say that Oklahoma is, well, OK.

Here are the latest Survey USA numbers. The change since last week's poll is in parentheses.

Clark 32 (even)
Edwards 23 (+7)
Kerry 17 (+11)
Dean 12 (-5)
Lieberman 8 (even)

Iowa II?

Conventional wisdom tells us that the flinty independence of New Hampshire voters means that Iowa is a poor guide to the following week's outcome. Of course, conventional wisdom also tells us Iowa's important because of the winner's bounce going into New Hampshire.

More and more, it seems that conventional wisdom doesn't have much to tell us at all. The numbers out of NH, though, are starting to move in a somewhat Iowan direction, with Kerry finishing strong, Edwards moving up for a possible suprise and last weeks frontrunner slipping.

But who gets the Gephardt role?

The new ARG numbers:

Kerry 34 (+3)
Clark 19 (-1)
Dean 15 (-3)
Edwards 13 (+2)
Lieberman 6 (-1)
Kucinich 1 (even)
Undecided 12 (even)

Is it likely to change? Well, here's ARG's report on the relative strength of support each candidate enjoys.

"As of the tracking ending January 23, Clark's strong support is 63% of his ballot preference, Dean's strong support is 47% of his ballot preference, Edward's strong support is 77% of his ballot preference, and Kerry's strong support is 74% of his ballot preference. As a result, a total of 29 percentage points overall could switch before Tuesday, not including the 12% undecided."

Friday, January 23, 2004

Look in the sky! It's a Senator! It's a Vice-President!

It's a Super Delegate!

Saying that "John Kerry has proven that he's got the background, the experience, the knowledge and the strength to not only be a strong candidate for president but a strong president," former Democratic Vice-President and Presidential nominee Walter Mondale joins Team Kerry.

Fatal fallout?

When you drop a bomb, you've got to expect fallout, and Howard Dean's Iowa performance - in the caucus and after - is generating plenty of just that.

Dissident Deaners like D.J. Wilson aren't the only, or even the biggest, problem. High profile support is starting to drift away, as this report from the Nashua Telegraph shows.

"MANCHESTER - Former U.S. Sen. John Durkin emerged as the biggest casualty of Howard Dean’s rocky showing in and after the Iowa caucuses, withdrawing support for the Democratic presidential hopeful Thursday.

Durkin said the former Vermont governor came off too overheated after his third-place showing in Iowa and already had allowed Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to steal the populist message Dean owned last fall.

“I am the role model for the angry young man who won statewide in New Hampshire. I’m also the role model for the middle-aged man who got his butt kicked in New Hampshire,’’ Durkin said during an interview Thursday."

Uh-oh, HoHo.

Baggage Claim

There's been some fretting about whether John Kerry is vulnerable to attack over some of his anti-war activism in the seventies, but I think he settled that question last night. When a question came up about the infamous medal-throwing incident way back when, Kerry handled it like, well, like a guy who's been in the public eye for decades. He's been attacked before, on just about everything he's ever said or done. He knows what's coming, because all the attacks are re-runs at this point.

That's the great advantage of an experienced candidate who's been vetted by years of press inquiries and opposition research. On the other hand, the greatest danger presented by fresh faces is the wealth of unexplored incidents and unanswered questions they bring with them.

A good example is Wes Clark. Geov Parrish offers a potentially destructive list of issues that Clark has yet to deal with in the political arena. Are they all valid? Will any of them stick? I really don't know. But the questions are being asked, and the answers will have to come. Do we really want to nominate the proverbial 'pig in a poke'?

So what does Geov have on his mind?

"In the 1980s, Clark presided over the incarceration in Miami of Haitian refugees fleeing the odious, U.S.-supported dictatorship of "Baby Doc" Duvalier. That period includes numerous allegations of cruelty and mistreatment of prisoners.

Clark went from there to Guantánamo Bay, where he was chief of operations of the U.S. Navy's internment camps and where allegations of mistreatment and abuse grew, including physical abuse and malnourishment.

In 1993, Clark commanded the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas, near Waco. His tanks were used in the government's fatal assault on the Branch Davidian compound. Senior Army officials were part of the planning for that raid, and Clark aides met before the assault with the Texas governor and National Guard head to brief them on possible plans.

Next stop: head of the U.S. Southern Command, where by 1996-97 Clark was instrumental in implementing U.S. military assistance to Colombia. Paramilitary death squads closely linked with Colombia's military soon began rampaging through Colombia's countryside, compiling the worst record of human-rights atrocities in the Western Hemisphere.

And, of course, there's Yugoslavia. Under Clinton, Clark became NATO's supreme allied commander in time to coordinate the bombing of Serbia during NATO's mission in Kosovo. Serbian officials estimated that more than 1,000 civilians died in a bombing campaign based on dubious claims and which left that year's designated paragon of evil, Slobodan Milosevic, more firmly in power than ever. His diplomatic performance during his bombing— touting KLA opposition figures with dubious human-rights records of their own and sneering at European military, political, and civilian critics—were remarkably Dubya-esque. "

Not so pretty, is it?

Standing room only!

It was wall to wall at the Seattle Kerry Meetup last night as we gathered to welcome Kerry staffer Kristen Thorn home from Iowa (she modestly declined single handed credit for the win) and discussed our plans to Wow 'Em In Washington on February 7.

It might have been the last...

but there wasn't much hurrah involved in the New Hampshire debate. In their final appearance before the primary, the candidates didn't make much news or throw many sharp elbows. When they gave in to the impulse to bash, they kept their sights trained on Bush, each trying to 'out Presidential' the others.

Undecided voters may have picked up a new impression or position along the way, but it's hard to imagine that many minds were made up, or any changed, by the candidates.

I thought Kerry hit a couple questions - one on water pollution, another on his post-Vietnam protest activites - out of the park, but, as always, I'm biased. Dean was composed, Lieberman was earnest, Edwards was positive, Clark was officious, Kucinich was liberal and Sharpton was African-American.

But you already knew all of that about all of them, right?

A verbal hat trick

John Kerry scores his third consecutive Quote of the Day.

When a Lyndon LaRouch supporter used the forum of a Kerry town hall meeting to promote the importance of impeaching Bush and/or Cheney, Kerry let him state his case and then pointed out the problems inherent in that approach given the makeup of Congress.

He summed it up well.

"Seems to me it would be a lot faster if I just beat him in November."

"What's the big deal?"

That's been the question posed by some of my Deaner aquaintances who are standing by their man and just don't understand the fuss and furor over the infamous yowl. They're convinced it's a story contrived by the same evil media cabal that gave their candidate months of uncritical coverage dominated by puff pieces on his growing collection of email addresses and bulging bank account.

Dean, who has completely retooled his approach to campaigning for the closing days in New Hampshire, seems to get it, but if his die-hards don't. A few more defections like Seattle area political science prof D.J. Wilson might drive the point home, though. Wilson states his case in the Seattle P-I. Here's a clip from his guest op-ed (emphasis mine):

"...I have joined tens of thousands of others in promoting Dean, and by so doing, have felt that I was part of something larger than myself. I am no one in particular, but I am just like everyone involved in Dean's campaign.

"The Yell" has changed everything for me. It has removed any veil of hope that Dean would evolve into the candidate I hoped. It has struck down the excuse that he speaks plainly and "like America." "The Yell" doesn't sound like America to me, nor did Dean at that moment sound like the presidential candidate I want to support.

I am embarrassed to ever have thought he should be president. "The Yell" made it evident that he never really could have been.

Lose in Iowa, Howard, and I will stand with you. Be more brazen than my taste in your attack on the war, and I still have your back. Scream like you are a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Timberlake concert, and you've lost me."

And when you lose supporters like D.J. Wilson, you lose elections.

That's the big deal.

New Hampshire numerology

Enough time has finally passed to clear all the pre-Iowa number out of the tracking polls, so the new numbers should provide a clearer picture of where things are, as well as where they're headed.

The latest from ARG:

Kerry 31 (+4)
Clark 20 (+1)
Dean 18 (-4)
Edwards 11 (+2)
Lieberman 7 (even)

Dean's favorable is down 1, to 30, and his unfavorable up 12, to 42. My bet is he ends up in a fight with Edwards for third instead of a struggle with Clark for second.

Kerry's holding an extremely high favorable rating of 77%, which portends good things as the undecideds start to break. The only other candidate with a favorable rating over 50% is Edwards, who's at 56, which should propel him past Dean over the weekend.

The first post-Iowa national numbers I've seen are from the Rasmussen poll, and they reflect a nationwide bounce for Kerry and Edwards.

Results from the first two days after the Iowa caucus:

Kerry 29
Edwards 16
Dean 14
Clark 12

Rasmussen also has fresh matchup numbers comparing the leading Democrats face to face with Bush:

Bush, 45 Kerry, 40
Bush, 45 Edwards, 39
Bush, 49 Dean, 38

Thursday, January 22, 2004

And it's official!

There's been buzz about this all day, but I held off till I had it from the campaign.

Senators Fritz Hollings of South Carolina and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Representative Lois Capps of California joined Team Kerry today.

There appears to be a trend....

If it's not one thing, it's another...

...but that's ok when it's a string of good things.

On the heels of an endorsement sweep of the Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Boston Phoenix (a big story for those who know how contentious the Senator's relations with the hometown press have been from time to time), the first big shift from the Gephardt column to the Kerry column came today.

The United Food & Commercial Workers had endorsed Rep. Gephardt, but following his withdrawal from the campaign, UFCW Local 951 in Michigan, endorsed John Kerry's Presidential campaign.

At 36,000 strong, it's the largest UFCW local in the country.

Don't stray too far. More big news to come...

Permission granted

Kevin Drum at CalPundit writes "Bush's own publicly stated policies along with AMT reform that everyone knows is inevitable will increase the deficit to $500 billion by 2009, yet he claims these policies will reduce the deficit to $240 billion. Every single budget analyst in the White House knows this perfectly well. President Bush knows this perfectly well."

"Explain to me again why I'm not allowed to call this a lie?"

Actually, you are, Kevin. And you should. Because it is.

And thanks for today's Boot Bush item.


I mean a real scandal, with real criminal activity really undermining our democracy. This story from the Boston Globe is a must read.

Here's a teaser...

"From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics."

"The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November."

Will this affect enough Senate races to influence control? Stay tuned.

More math from New Hampshire

ARG, Jan 19-21

Kerry 27
Dean 22
Clark 19
Edwards 9

There's some confirmation of the move the Boston Herald reported there, but remember that the ARG roller includes some pre-Iowa result numbers.

Look at the last day.

ARG, Jan 21

Kerry 29
Clark 21
Dean 17
Edwards 10

And more of the same from Zogby.

Zogby, Jan 19-21

Kerry 27
Dean 24
Clark 15
Edwards 8

And on the 21st, Zogby reports "Kerry not only jumps into the lead, but today his lead was commanding. His lead in today’s sample alone was 32%-21%."

Right now, this is a battle for second place. If Dean doesn't perform well in tonight's debate, he could end up struggling to hold on to third.

I feel another "I told you so." coming on...

The winner's circle

California Yankee tracked down the Iowa predictions of 40 bloggers, and Upper Left joins seven others in the 20% that picked first place right.

There were 22 stuck on Dean, 7 for Edwards and 3 for Gephardt.

I'm not going to gloat too much, because I missed the Edwards surge so badly, but my bet is that overall, the blogosphere beat the Sunday morning punditocracy in calling this one.

Paranoia strikes deep

Already missing Mad Howard? Don't fret, the reserves have arrived.

Clark channels Dean in New Hampshire...

"...one voter began to ask him a question about his work as a registered lobbyist in Washington, reading aloud his question, which was written out longhand on paper.

"Can I just ask you, Is that like a prepared question from maybe another campaign or something?" General Clark asked....

...When the questioner, David Brown, began to interrupt, General Clark cut him off, saying: "Sit down. I'm going to finish it. I'm going to answer it."

Think that's testy? Try this.

"..he was less patient with an elderly woman at Havenwood Heritage Heights, a retirement community in Concord, N.H., earlier this month when she asked about his support of the Pentagon's School of the Americas...General Clark bristled and said, "Well, ma'am, have you ever been down to the School of the Americas, and have you ever looked at the teaching material?"

When she began to say that a friend had seen it, he cut her off, saying, "No, but have you ever seen it?"

Ummm, those are, like, the voters, General. The deal is, you answer to them now.

I said 'At ease,' remember?

SOTU = Un-reality television

John Kerry scores another Quote of the Day.

"You can tell from his State of the Union address that the president is facing re-election. I wish he'd face reality."

The Bounce

The Boston Herald documents "A startling turnaround..."

Kerry 31
Dean 21
Clark 16
Edwards 11
Lieberman 4

That's +16 for Kerry, -8 for Dean.

Why? A dramatic swing in favorable/unfavorable ratings.

"Kerry's charge is bolstered by soaring popularity, with 77 percent of voters viewing him favorably and just 18 percent seeing him unfavorably. That rating jumped significantly from the 54 percent favorable and 27 percent unfavorable ratings Kerry had in the Herald's pre-Iowa poll.

Dean's favorable rating dropped from 66 percent in the pre-Iowa poll to 56 percent today while his unfavorable rating climbed from 21 percent to 34 percent."

This is huge, especially if other polling is comparable.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

So, If Kerry is Papa Bear....

Jodi Wilgoren looks at the Dean fairy tale turning grim.

"...senior campaign aides huddled at their headquarters here searching for a second act. They were stuck in a kind of Goldilocks syndrome, aware that Monday night's shouting by Dr. Dean was too hot, and Tuesday morning's rebound too cold. But they were still somewhat divided about what to do."

And with Carol Mosely Braun out of the race, who has to play Mama Bear?

At ease, General.

When I thought Jean Shaheen stepped over the line with an intemperate challenge to Wes Clark's partisanship, I didn't hesitate to speak out, and likewise, I'm not inclined to cut Clark any slack when he goes beyond the bounds.

In my opinion, his recent remarks about John Kerry's military experience do just that.

The first item I saw had Clark saying ""It's one thing to be a hero as a junior officer. He's done that, I respect that, but I've got the military experience at the top as well as at the bottom."

Clearly, General, you don't respect it enough. First of all, they might all look alike when you're sporting four stars, but an 03 isn't the bottom. Maybe you're confused by Navy rank, but Lieutenant isn't where sailors start from. And frankly, as former lower enlisted, I happen to think it's a very big thing to be a combat hero, rank notwithstanding. You really don't want to make this about battle decorations, do you? Because if you go there, Kerry wins.

And that's Senator Junior Officer, to you...

But it's clearly a line of attack he wants to pursue, because it popped up again.

"You think of foreign policy, it's like major league baseball. I'm the only person who has ever played it. I've negotiated peace agreements. I've won a war," Clark told CNN. "I'm not worried about John Kerry or anybody else. He's a lieutenant and I'm a general."

Actually, honorifics notwithstanding, you're not a general anymore, Wes. You're a civilian. And John Kerry hasn't been a lieutenant for a long time. He's a United States Senator, though, and if anybody's in a position to pull political rank, it isn't you.

As for winning wars and negotiating agreements, the last time I checked, Generals don't set policy, they implement it. That's why some soldiers call them 'brass button bureaucrats." It's called civilian control of the military - one of those pesky Constitution deals - and generals who forget it sometimes lose their jobs. Just sayin...

I've warmed up to Wes Clark a lot in recent weeks. I hang out on, and enjoy, several Clark-centric blogs. I know a lot of Clark supporters visit here. I think he might make a fine Secretary of Defense, or, better yet, a great Democratic Senator from Arkansas.

In political terms, though, Wes Clark is a cadet, and John Kerry is the best choice to lead Democrats in political combat. You're not entitled to automatic salutes anymore, General.

Be at ease.

Sedate(d) Dean

With Mad Howard locked in Tom Harkin's spare bedroom and Nice Howard busy at his son's hockey practice, Joe Trippi rolled out his latest product upgrade, Dean 3.0, which is being marketed as Sedate Howard.

"I know I raised $40 million by manipulating your emotions last year," Sedate Howard somberly intoned for a New Hampshire audience, "but that didn't work out so well for me, so no more 'red meat.' I'm back on my meds and this campaign is going rhetorically vegan. Now, everybody sing...'Oh say can you see...'"

Trippi unveiled a new ground strategy for the New Hampshire campaign, as well, replacing Iowa's Operation Perfect Storm with the new, improved Operation Pleasant Spring Day.

"We'll be encouraging thousands of supporters from all over America to stay home and write checks," Trippi explained. "New Hampshire voters have seen all the pink hair and piercings they can handle. The best thing you can do for Dean is fill that bat."

(yeah, yeah...only in my dreams...)

And another question

These gems from the legislative calendar are mostly culled from the Spokane Spokesman-Review's excellent Eye On Olympia blog. It's a fine resource, and should be a daily read for Washingtonians while the leg is in session, but it leaves me wondering...

Why aren't the big Seattle dailies blogging the legislature?

More official state stuff

State Sen. Erik Poulsen has a proposal for Washingtont legislators to consider when they're not pre-occupied by the all important Official State Question question. When are we going to finally get an Official Flowering Vine?

This very year, if Poulsen can get a hearing for Senate Bill 6183, which would designate hops for the honor.

Seems fitting, since 75% of the country's supply of hops comes from Washington farms, and it's an indespensible ingredient in our fine micro-brews, but I have an unofficial question...just how much does it cost to get this stuff written up, run through the code revisor, published and pasted into the bill books, heard by a committee, etc. etc. As a former legislative staffer, I have an idea how much time and effort is consumed every time a bill or amendment is introduced, but I'm not sure what it respresents in 21st century dollars. Fun is fun, and I don't want to sound too cranky, but there's a number involved, and I wonder if our legislators know what it is.

The wineries want a question, the breweries want a flower, and I want one of what the leg is drinking...

He has a little list...

...and it's not just the names of states. Before his 'red meat' speech for the (not-so) Perfect Stormers the other night, Howard Dean faced the cameras for with Chris Matthews. When Matthews wondered aloud whether the Dean emphasis on establisment endorsements might have hurt the Governor's insurgent image, Dean happily rattled of the list, and them some, inserting the name of a certain former President who quite pointedly didn't endorse him.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed. My Kerry pal Tim, who operates the excellent and informative Seattle For Kerry site nails the Dean deception on his personal blog.

"Dean responded that he was happy to have the support of all of those people, he named them plus a couple more, “and especially Jimmy Carter.” Jimmy Carter did not endorse Howard Dean...Howard Dean lied to Matthews and everyone watching and nobody called him on it and it pisses me off that he gets away with crap like that. "

Ya know, it pisses me off, too.

The Bounce

The ARG rolling poll is probably the best measure of any Iowa bounce, because they've been reporting daily for some time, and here's the first report with post-Iowa numbers, covering January 18-20.

Dean 26 (-2)
Kerry 24 (+4)
Clark 18 (+1)
Edwards 9 (+1)

As is often the case, though, the news is in the notes, with the pollsters reporting that "...Kerry has a 5 percentage-point lead in the one-day sample on January 20." That would be a 13 point turnaround from that previous 3 day report.

I can't wait until tomorrow, 'cause this is better looking every day!

Setting the New Hampshire baseline

Most of the numbers out are pre-Iowa bounce, but there was enough news coming out of the midwest to have a pretty clear impact on the New Hampshire a week out. Here are a few looks at where we are.

As reported earlier, the last pre-Iowa ARG survey had Kerry pulling a (statistically meaningless) point ahead of Clark.

Dean 28
Kerry 20
Clark 19
Edwards 8
Lieberman 7

The 7News/Suffolk University poll has the race for first even tighter.

Dean 23
Kerry 20
Clark 15

Edwards and Lieberman are described as "far behind the leaders..."

WMUR-TVhas a full list of rankings, but the numbers are, again, pre-Iowa results.

Dean 33
Kerry 24
Clark 18
Edwards 8
Lieberman 5
Kucinich 3
Gephardt 3 (which probably belong in the undecided column now)
Undecided 6

Those undecideds seem very low, but they point out that as many as 48% of those with a stated preference admit that they are still open to a possible change. Iowa results may have a dramatic effect on this one.

Finally, the Zogby three day roll for January 18-20, showing the first influences of the Iowa surprise.

Dean 25
Kerry 23
Clark 16
Edwards 7
Lieberman 7
Kucinich 2
Sharpton 0.1
Undecided 16

Zogby points out that "In the one night of polling (Tuesday) after the Iowa caucus, Kerry actually led Dean by 2 points."

This is about to get real fun, folks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Actually, organization does matter...

... but who's doing the organizing matters, too, and so does who's being organized. The Kerry and Edwards focus on neighbor to neighbor outreach was the right kind of organization for Iowa.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, Howard Dean's imported wave of 'Perfect Stormers' didn't always connect with Iowa voters. In a piece at TAPPED, Garance Franke-Ruta points out that the reverse was sometimes true, as well.

"I feel like I'm in a foreign country," said one Perfect Stomer wearing a lilac windbreaker. "I'm off the net. I'm not watching television. I can't find the New York Times. When I'm at my desk, I read 40 papers a day, all the political pundit sites...Now I'm doing something different. I'm talking to real people who have real lives raising kids." She looked around the KFC at the families eating extra-crispy chicken like they were a novelty, instead of her countrymen.

There's a lesson there. Wanna bet Trippi hasn't learned it?

The Speech

If Howard Dean meant to leave Iowa as a serious candidate with one of the treasured 'three tickets out,' any such intention was obscured by the rant he delivered to the faithful after over 80% of Iowa caucus goers rejected his campaign.

In a classic red-faced, finger-pointing, Mad Howard extravaganza that The Note notes that "...even Drudge isn't overreacting to," Dean put Nice Howard in the closet, while using Tom Harkin as a coat rack.

Am I overreacting? Well, when a Presidential candidate manages to shock Howard Stern I don't think overreaction is possible. Stern, who described the yowl that capped Dean's diatribe as "the cry he makes when he gets Little Howie stuck in the zipper," dubbed the Dean performance over an AC-DC track and found it made better heavy metal than political discourse.

Maybe USA Today's Walter Shapiro knew what he was talking about when he described HoHo as reminiscient of an "aging rock star reduced to reprising his greatest hits in smaller and smaller clubs."

All the reviews aren't bad, though. Matt Welch liked it. "Boy, That Dean's a Crazy Sonofabitch Ain't He? But not necessarily in a bad way! I kinda liked his barking madman routine, why the hell not?" he writes, summing up with "I kind of like the idea of a crazy man running for president, but my tastes have long been unsound…."

In the midst of my elation...

...I have to admit a certain amount of melancholy in regard to the fate of Dick Gephardt. Anything less than a win was regarded by everyone, including the Congressman, as fatal to his campaign, but a distant fourth was an outcome that had to shock as well as sting.

Dick Gephardt wasn't my candidate in this race, and he wasn't my candidate in 1988. I don't think he ever was or ever could be a suitable nominee for President, because I think his views are too parochial on some major issues. I was on his side in the NAFTA fight, but in losing that one, his anti-trade position hardened to a degree that's just too far from the mainstream. His resolute support of organized labor is one of his more admirable qualities, but it's far too true, and far too sad, that support for the House of Labor is no guarantor of support from the House of Labor. A winning coalition has always been beyond his reach.

Still, Dick Gephardt is a Democrat's Democrat. He's served our Party faithfully in good times and bad, and his general character and fidelity to our principles have always been above reproach.

I appreciate his decision to withdraw without delay. The field needs some definition. But I am somewhat saddened by the circumstances of that withdrawal, because he has truly been one of our finest, a faithful warrior in many battles, and deserves the respect of everyone who claims the mantle of 'Democrat.'

The man of the hour...

...scores the Quote of the Day.

"...I have a special message for the special interests that have a home in the Bush White House: We're coming, you're going, and don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

Senator John F. Kerry

A victory that looks like America

Electability is, in the end, about broad appeal. If electability is the issue, the message from Iowa is clear. According to the National Election Pool entry polls, Kerry was the favorite with the following groups:

Voters who disapproved of the war in Iraq
Voters over the age of 65
Voters aged 17-29
Union households

That's a fairly broad spread - young and old across the ideological spectrum, Kerry stole other candidate's key issues and undermined their key endorsements.


The principle reasons expressed by Kerry supporters were their belief that he has the right experience (30 percent) and that he can boot Bush (28 percent).

And you know what?

They're right.

The stage is set...

...for Act 2. The last ARG New Hampshire numbers before the Iowa results came already showed signs of a bounce on the basis of positive polling and the accompanying positive press (including a pair of key NH editorial endorsements).

Here's where we start from.

Dean 28
Kerry 20
Clark 19
Edwards 8
Lieberman 7

Every picture tells a story....

Monday, January 19, 2004

Yes, as a matter of fact...


There, got that out of my system.

Whatever's going on...

...inside those caucus rooms right now, you can bet that the internet's had an unprecedented influence. The Des Moines Register poll indicated that 39% of the likely caucus goers had sought out candidate information on the net.

It doesn't mean what you might expect, though. Despite Dean's success with Meetups and online fundraising, John Kerry leads among the wired caucus goers with 29%, ahead of Dean and John Edwards, tied at 21% each.

They're the soul men...

...according to the Seattle P-I's Joel Connelly, who's reporting from Iowa this week.

He writes about the personal touch that's been integral to the approach of Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt on the campaign trail, as they draw from life experiences to forge a bond with Iowa voters.

"In a cynical age," Joel writes, "it's easy to dismiss such appeals."

"Still, with Gephardt in the hospital waiting room -- and Kerry coming to oppose the war he was fighting and Wade Edwards' death motivating his father -- one believes there is genuine passion behind the packaging."

Is there a name missing from that rundown? Don't worry, Joel doesn't leave Dean out (though Dean might wish that he did).

"The soul in Howard Dean's campaign, by contrast, is provided by supporters and not the candidate."

Really. I mean it. It's all about you...

...logging in to me. Just a note to say thanks to a reader from montana.edu (a regular from the get-go, according to the logs) who pushed Upper-Left over the 5000 hit mark yesterday.

I'm doing my best to build things up around here. Thanks to a donation, the comments have been upgraded (and I wish more of you would make use of the feature), and I've signed on to a Northwest blog webring.

If you look just below the blogroll on the right, you'll find a randomly generated ad from BlogSnob, a free ad swap service for bloggers. Fellow bloggers who log in here should consider signing up. It's a direct trade out - every time your page is loaded, an ad is served to another member's blog. Definitely a 'more the merrier' situation.

I'm thinking about tossing a couple bucks at Haloscan ads, upgrading the meters, improving the hosting situation and increasing the storage for graphics, etc., but all that is pretty dependent of finding some folks willing and able to click on the PayPal link and build up the treasury a bit.

But I'm having fun, you're checking in, and all around this is turning out to be pretty successful.

Stuff to watch...

As opportunity presents itself, I'll try to keep you up on breaking news that might affect the Iowa caucus.

Faux News is reporting that Dennis Kucinich is urging his supporters to caucus with John Edwards if they don't reach threshold in their precincts. No word on what they should do if a combined Edwards/Kucinich tally isn't enough.

Hard to tell what the impact will be. Kucinich has been polling in the low single digits, but if those votes are, as I suspect, concentrated in campus precincts, it could boost Edwards and hurt Dean in the youth vote that the Governor has been claiming as his exclusive property.

Not that I believed the Dean claim in the first place...

Zogby at the finish line


Dean 22
Edwards 21
Gephardt 18

Zogby's final words on Iowa? "The story here is that Kerry had a huge day (29%) on Sunday alone. He carries his lead into the caucuses..."

Let's see.

Lucky socks? Check.
Four-leaf clover? Check.
Fingers crossed? Check.

Kerry win? (see fingers crossed...)

Marching Orders

John Kerry addresses the troops.

"I ask you to take to that caucus your sense of history and your hopes for this nation. Take the real values of the Democratic Party and the clarity of the vision we have for our nation for the direction we move in.

Go to that caucus and respond not to a sense of anger but to the answers that we can provide the country."

He said it to Iowan's, but it applies to every caucus room and voting booth in America.

"...I've seen the promised land..."

"... I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The end game.

Tomorrow evening, the citizens of Iowa will make the first concrete decisions in the Democratic National Convention delegate selection process. Speculation runs to two extremes.

Either John Kerry's surge in every Iowa poll represents a candidate about to stun his opponents with a finish much stronger than anyone expected just 10 days ago - maybe even an outright win - or the reputedly superior campaign organizations represented by Howard Dean's legion of imported supporters and Dick Gephardt's army of so-called 'big union bosses' will prevail, crushing the Kerry insurgency and consigning him to also-ran status on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.

I've been reluctant to issue a prediction for the Iowa outcome. It's still very fluid, and even with all the good news for Kerry, hard to call. As a great political philosopher once observed, there are the known knowns, and the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns, and the unknowing knowers and the knowing...well, you get the point.

There's also the danger of falling short of high expectations, which has made an outright Kerry win The Outcome Which Must Not Be Named.

Still, I'm feeling pretty confident. Cocky, even.


Because I think the known unknown that the punditocracy has most dramatically underestimated is the Kerry ground operation. There are questions, as I posted about earlier, about the effectiveness of Dean's out of state enthusiasts, and no matter what Joe Trippi says about his 'hard count,' it's really too hard to count. Gephardt's union support seems rock-solid, and they'll show up tomorrow, but they don't seem to push him much over the 20% mark.

There are a few Kerry factors, though, that seem to escape almost everybody's notice.

First, a name I've mentioned in passing elsewhere. Michael Whouley.

Whouley is a master of on the ground organizing and has intimate familiarity with Iowa at ground level. While Joe Trippi seems to have spent a lot of the last week pursuing his new-found love affair with news cameras, spinning his count and his canvassers, Whouley has been virtually invisible, just doing the work. The work he does, though, has provided success time after time. Give him enough tools, and he'll build you a victory.

So what's in Michael Whouley's toolbox? A number of things that have gotten as little attention as the mastermind himself.

First, there's Iowa Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge, First Lady Christie Vilsack, Attorney General Tom Miller and 27 state legislators, each with their own network of relationships and political operations, each with their political reputations staked on a Kerry win. Those thirty endorsements could represent hundreds of influential Iowans standing up and speaking out for John Kerry tomorrow night. The impact on the undecideds and second ballot switchers could be especially important.

Then there's the veterans. The campaign is estimating 10,000 veterans will stand for Kerry at the caucuses. It's probably the element of the campaign that's received the most attention, and it's attention that's well deserved. The impact could be immense - there are no doubt precincts where Kerry will reach threshold on the basis of the veteran's vote alone. While the Dean camp continually complains about being underpolled because many of their supporters are first time caucusers, so are many of the Kerry vets. A fair number of them, in fact, are first time Democrats.

One of the most widely overlooked groups backing Kerry are the volunteer firefighters. They're spread througout every corner of the state, and they're among the most respected members of every rural community. They're opinion leaders by virtue of their service to their neighbors. While they may not be huge in number, they're potentially enourmous in influence.

There's also been a significant outreach to the women's vote, which has netted a statewide network of Women For Kerry who have committed to bring five friends to their caucus.

Finally, there's the second ballot. Supporters of campaigns that fall below 15% will have a chance to join a campaign that's reached the plateau of viability. Some of them won't, if history is any indication. Iowa caucusers aren't shy about going forward as Uncommitted, and a certain number will doubtless decide not to decide again this year. The questions are where those who make a second choice will come from, and where they will go.

I'm prone to assume that Dean and Gephardt will have threshold virtually everywhere. That's a tougher proposition for Edwards, whose growning popularity is reported to have outrun his organization. Given a couple more weeks, he might walk away with the whole thing, but I doubt that there's time.
Kucinich may collect a handful of delegates in some college precincts, but in most places, he'll be lucky to turn out a handful of adherents. There are some Clark loyalists who are going to stand for a candidate who isn't running in their state, but they'll generally be orphaned after the first count.

So where do they go? How likely is an Edwards supporter (probably the lion's share of the potential switchers) to go to Dean or Gephardt? Not very, I'd argue. They'll split between Uncommitted and Kerry, depending on local circumstances. Some of the Kucinich loyalists might find themselves in the Dean camp just on the war issue, but I suspect most of them will head for the Uncommitted corner as well. Someone stubborn enough to stand for Clark in the first place is likely to go into the uncommitted column as well.

The net effect? An extra 3-5% for Kerry, and a bulge in the Uncommitted column.

While Gephardt turns to hard hats in hard times, and Dean counts on high tech and hard counts, the Kerry ground campaign is all about high touch and people who count.

My prediction?

Kerry 30
Dean 25
Gep 20
Edwards 15
Uncomm 10

Plus/minus a couple in every case...

HoHo gets a rise out of the south...

...but I don't think he's gonna like it. There's at least one Tennesseean who seems singularly unimpressed by the Gore endorsement, and the Dean campaign's got his temper rising.

Under the straight talking headline Why I Can't Stand Howard Dean, Nashville Scene columnist Bruce Dobie lets loose with a classic rant.

Writing that "I've got a pretty fine grip on why he's such a pathetic excuse for a presidential candidate, and I'll get to that. But it bears mentioning that he is devoid of charm, humor, charisma or feeling. He's kind of like the busy doctor who's got a lot of other patients on his mind. Words spew out of his mouth, but bedside manner is not to be found," Dobie makes me sound like a Deaniac in comparison.

But I'll try harder.

There is life beyond blogs and politics...

...there's also life in football stadiums.

Congratulations to the American Football League Champions, the New England Patriots. A great day for Massachusetts!

And another great day for another New England patriot, John Kerry. Writing that "Kerry continues to poll strong," John Zogby's latest report from Iowa shows the Senator hanging on to a MOE-thin lead the day before the caucuses.

The new tally:

Kerry 24
Dean 23
Gephardt 19
Edwards 18

Now it's down to the ground game. More on that later, but Iowa's not the only source of good news for the Kerry camp. Yet another New Hampshire newspaper has weighed in, this time The Nashau Telegraph.

Among the highlights:

"The Massachusetts senator’s experience and record, his understanding of the complex issues that face America today, and his recommended solutions make him the best choice among the Democratic contenders."

"Kerry’s experience and his temperament were important considerations in The Telegraph’s endorsement of him as the best Democratic candidate. He has strong convictions and works hard on behalf of his beliefs."

"His years in the Senate and his exposure to international matters as a member of key committees in that body give him a handle on foreign affairs. As president, he wouldn’t be a novice or overly dependent on advisers about such issues as he takes the reins in the Oval Office."

There's more, and it's all good.

The (not so) Perfect Storm...

...of carpet bagging Deaners is barely stirring a breeze among some Iowa voters. Referred to by some as 'Perfect Stormtroopers,' they may be getting a cordial reception from the chronically polite Iowa electorate, but it's not clear how many converts they're creating.

The New York Times followed one crew through a day of canvassing and reported back that "...the volunteers did manage to find five Iowans already leaning to Dr. Dean, a valuable addition to the get-out-the-vote list that campaign workers will be calling before the caucuses. The canvassers also found three Iowans who were undecided and willing to listen to Dr. Dean's plan for taking back the country."

Sounds like five '2's and three '3's, in canvass rating terms. The idea, of course, is to move them into the '1' column, the home of the hard core. Did the Deaners get a '1' out of the deal? The Times continues "...they did not manage to convert any of those three, at least not according to a follow-up survey we conducted independently later in the week. All three said they remained undecided."

"If it had been somebody local, somebody that I knew, I might have listened," said Frances Rosen, a retiree. "What those people from out of state said didn't really make any difference, but they were nice people and it's their prerogative to come. I guess they must be getting something from it themselves."

So much for Joe Trippi's unstoppable ground campaign. Anything's still possible, but people in Iowa are judging candidates, not canvassers, and that's a contest that John Kerry is winning so far.

The Concord Monitor weighs in.

With a documentary film maker in the room, the editorial board of the daily paper in the NH state capitol sat down to hash out the primary.

"In the end," they write in an introductory piece on the process, "our decision came down to one question: Who will make the best president?"

When you put it that way, the answer seems obvious to me, and soon became apparent to them.

"Several of the Democrats seeking the presidency have the ability to alter America's course," the endorsement editorial declares. " But one is better prepared than the rest. Only Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has well-reasoned and rock-solid answers to every question, foreign or domestic. Kerry is prepared to take office tomorrow.

The whole piece is well worth your time.

The latest numbers from New Hampshire...

...bring more good news for the Kerry Camp. ARG's new report from the three day rolling poll:

Dean 28
Clark 20
Kerry 19

with everyone else in single digits - a fate that Kerry seemed to be facing just a week ago, before his nine point climb. No one can feel very confident at this point, though, because ARG finds that 45% of the electorate is still either undecided or potentially fluid.

Of course, if people do make a change, it will probably be to someone they like, which makes these figures an interesting point for analysis:

"Of the 28% of likely Democratic primary voters saying they will vote for Dean, 67% have a favorable opinion of Clark and 76% have a favorable opinion of Kerry.

Of the 20% of likely Democratic primary voters saying they will vote for Clark, 54% have a favorable opinion of Dean and 69% have a favorable opinion of Kerry.

Of the 19% of likely Democratic primary voters saying they will vote for Kerry, 58% have a favorable opinion of Clark and 42% have a favorable opinion of Dean."

Watch for Mad Howard on the road trying to chip away at those high favorables for Clark and Kerry. Should work out at least as well as it has in Iowa...

And you thought Howard was mad.

The New Republic's Ryan Lizza gets a look at one of those hand written notes from a Deaner to an Iowa voter. Here's a representative snippet...

"The vicious, orchestrated campaign against Howard Dean by those who claim to be Democrats is shocking and disheartening. There can be no stronger argument for new leadership in the Democratic Party than the recent, concerted performance of Gephardt, Kerry and Lieberman. General Clark is an outright Republican hired by the DLC/DNC to run as a Democrat! Howard Dean can lead the Democratic Party out of this wilderness. ... "

I wonder if HoHo's going to change his favorite New Testament book from Job to Exodus...

Confidential to Dick Gephardt...

psssst, Dick. Yeah, Living On A Prayer is a real good song, but I'm not sure it really sends the message you need right now. Have a word with the advance guys before your next rally...

Here come the Judge...

While Nice Howard was getting ready for church, Tom Harkin picked up the hatchet on his behalf, launching the latest Dean camp attack on John Kerry with a misleading depiction of Kerry's record on agricultural issues.

Hard to pull off, though, when the Iowa Agriculture Secretary has a candidate's back.

Patty Judge was quick to set the record straight.

"I would never support a candidate for president of the United States who would harm Iowa's family farmers. There is certainly nothing wrong in calling for government accountability. . . . He showed his leadership when he called for an overhaul of the Agriculture Department, and he will show leadership as president to continue to fight for family farmers."

Saturday, January 17, 2004

It's not just in Iowa....

Kerry's picking up in lots of places, some of them often overlooked.

Today, he scored another Congressional endorsement. Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and U.S. Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress got aboard the Real Deal Express.

So, JK, when we win, free trips to the V.I. for all the faithful Kerry bloggers out here?

Zogby got ya' down?

Then you won't find much comfort in the Des Moines Register Iowa Poll.

Me, I like Zogby lots lately, and this one every bit as much.

Kerry – 26
Edwards – 23
Dean – 20
Gephardt – 18

Sez the Register: "Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, leads the Iowa Poll with 26 percent of likely caucus participants naming him their first choice for the presidency. The poll, conducted Tuesday through Friday, also showed him gaining strength as the week wore on."

Now everyone's saying it's up to organization on the ground, and doubting the Kerry camp's ability to capitalize on the polls.

All I can say is that if you don't know the name Michael Whouley, you don't know enough about organization on the Iowa ground to question Kerry's campaign, and if you do, well, you don't have much ground for doubt, do you?

Consistently consistent?

All those folks that keep telling me that Howard Dean is a straight shooting guy who says what he means and means what he says have never really been able to explain how he can seen to hold so many simultaneous views, since he says so many different things about the same subject.

But some argue that what he says doesn't really matter. It's the way he says it. He fires up the troops, excites the base, empowers the people, right?

Well, he does when he's Mad Howard, anyway. For months we got the red in the face, finger pointing, podium pounding basher of all things Washington, DC, and everything seemed to be going great. It was a terrific story, and the media jumped all over it.

According to the Center for Media and Public affairs, Dean's coverage on the three network evening newscasts alone more than doubled that of his nearest competitor, with 64 reports about the Dean campaign against with 31 for Kerry. Gephardt had 19; Edwards, 17; Clark, 16; Lieberman, 12.

As much as the sheer amount of coverage, the kind of coverage favored Dean, with most of it revolving around the 'gee whiz!' reports about the internet, the fundraising, the dedication of the Deaniacs, and very little about his record of governance or proposals for the future. In contrast, much of the Kerry coverage focused on "What happened to Kerry?" stories, for instance.

Yep, Mad Howard worked.

For awhile.

Then, discovering that the voters in Iowa didn't seem to be as mad as he was, HoHo unveiled Nice Howard. But Nice Howard wasn't, it turned out, Effective Howard. Kerry and Edwards surged, Dean plateaued and a few days ago, back came Mad Howard.

Until a couple days ago. Tom Harkin, it turns out, really liked Nice Howard. Down came the attack TV, out came the crew neck sweaters, and Nice Howard reappeared. (I assume the necktie, at least, will come back tomorrow morning when Nice Howard goes to Sunday school with Extremely Nice Former President Jimmy Carter.)

Mad Howard fans needn't fret though. As HoHo himself says, "We're going to just go with a positive message to get to the polls. And I think that's what people want at the end and that's what we're going to do." So Mad Howard could be back by Tuesday morning.

Now some people might think that four or five personality changes in just a couple of weeks might be something less than straight shooting. Some people might suggest that Howard Dean is being inconsistent, maybe opportunistic, even hypocritical.

Me, I'm starting to think otherwise. I'm thinking we've got now what we've had all along - Bi-Polar Howard.

From the "well duh!" department...

...we find today's quote of the day.

"Dean was able to rise in standing without being held to a high enough standard of scrutiny for months."

Mark Halperin, ABC News Political Director

This one's too easy.

George W. his own self serves up today's Boot Bush item on a platter.

Of all the right wing cranks he's tried to slip into lifetime federal judgeships, maybe the worst - almost certainly the most overtly racist - is Mississippi's Charles Pickering.

So who's the only one elevated through the back door mechanism of the 'recess appointment'?

Yeah, you got it.

Now, there's a reason for recess appointments. Sometimes a position must be filled, and if the Congress, for whatever reason, can't or won't, a temporary fix may be necessary. That's really not the case here. Bush has had plenty of time to find a reasonable, qualified alternative to the twice rejected Pickering.

As the New York Times editorializes today "That recess appointments are a perfectly legal device used by other presidents in the past does not make this appointment any more palatable. Mr. Pickering is absolutely the wrong choice for one of the nation's most sensitive courts."

No, the polls aren't open...

...but the pollsters are active.

The Saturday morning returns...

In Iowa, things appear to have tightened up a bit again, but given the margin of error (4.5%) in the Zogby rolling poll, it's hard to tell if there's any change at all. It remains easy to imagine, though, that John Kerry is posed to get one of those "three tickets out of Iowa" he's been working so hard for.

Kerry 23
Dean 22
Gephardt 19
Edwards 18

Sure, it's an MOE tie, but if they're gonna err, it's nice to have the error in your favor, isn't it?

Meanwhile in New Hampshire, ARG has the race tightening up an producing the potential for a three way neck and necker by election day.

Dean 28
Clark 22
Kerry 18

Yes, as a matter of fact, that is an eight point surge for Kerry in the last week.

Can you state that in the form of a state question?

Washington has a state motto, a state bird, a state flower, tree, song (no, it's not "Louie, Louie") and most all of the official accoutrements that go along with being a state.

We have, though, inexplicably survived over a century of statehood without the all important state question.

The leg to the rescue! Nine of our lawmakers have united to put forward House Bill 2566, which proposes to pose the official state question.

"Red or white?"

It is, of course, a bow to the state's wine industry (an interesting choice as legislators also fret over a new report indicating a spike in "chronic drinking" among Washingtonians).

I have an alternate suggestion for the state that's been rotating between the #1 and #2 ranking as the nation's unemployment leader for over a year.

"Dude, where's my job?"

Friday, January 16, 2004

Upper Left covers the culture beat

How about a movie review?

Last night, it was my pleasure to host a group of veterans at Upper Left World Headquarters for a screening of Brothers In Arms, the documentary feature about John Kerry (big suprise, huh?) and his Navy swift boat crew from Vietnam.

No matter what your political predilictions are this year, if you have any interest in Vietnam war history, or just compelling personal stories, if an opportunity to see this film comes your way, take advantage of it. It's well made, blending interview footage with archival film and stills covering the thirty year saga of the crew's service and subsequent reunion.

Fair warning, though. It's also going to expose you to some pretty compelling information about John Kerry's character and personality. I can tell you that no one left undecided last night.

From the Pondering the Polls file...

While the punditocracy waits breathlessly for the latest Zogby press release every day, they occupy their idle hours assuring the world that the data that they will spend the rest of the day talking about really doesn't tell us anything.

This, after all, is Iowa, a caucus state, where ground organization, geographic distribution and a variety of other factors can make the ablest reader of statistical tea leaves look like a charlatan come the day after Iowans decide.

Still, the polls are what we have to work with. They do indicate trends, and keep multiple all news networks on the air. They're not everything you need to know, but they're something, anyway.

In fact, they're more than most people realize. While the raw horse race numbers may be the most widely reported information from the polls, there's a lot to be learned by digging a level or two deeper. Here are a few gems mined from the latest Zogby data.

A caucus room is one of the places where you get a meaningful second choice, and second choices may have more to do with final outcomes than raw voter preference.

Here's the second choice numbers now (and I like 'em!):


Some folks still haven't made up their minds, and some may not until they get to the caucus room and see how their neighbors feel, but here's how the undecideds are leaning today:


Obviously, there are still undecideds among the undecideds. Their final decision may well be just on of those gut level "which guy do I like" kind of things. That's why favorability ratings are worth looking at, and here they are:


You may have noticed that this all looks very good for the current Iowa frontrunner, John Kerry. The reason may be the remarkable demographic spread of his support.
According to Zogby, "Kerry leads among Democrats, young and old voters, men and women, liberals and moderates, and those who say they are 'definitely voting' on Monday."

Didn't somebody say something about an Iowa surprise?

Of course...

...it's still very important to Boot Bush. Wonder why?

'According to Representative Henry Waxman, Bush administration officials doctored report from scientists at the Department of Health and Human Services that found racial and ethnic "disparities" in health care provision. Whoops, there's that word "disparity." See, the Bush administration cut it 28 times from the scientists' report. Bush even removed the included definition of disparity! See, when all those nasty words disappear down the memory hole, the problem just -- whoosh -- disppears!" (Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution January 14, 2004)

They can't even give this guy away...

Don't they wash their cars in Fort Dodge?

"Dean, who won the endorsement of Carol Moseley Braun as she quit the race, drew good crowds on a bus tour. But after his staff set up a table with about 100 free "Dean for America" T-shirts in Fort Dodge, about 20 were left. "

Wes Clark: Commie peace creep or wussie flower child?

I'm not among those who find Wes Clark, or any other candidate - including my own choice - above criticism, but in fairness, he's taking some knocks that are anything but fair.

To hear the criticism of some of his former military colleagues, you'd think Wes Clark was a goldbricking PFC who never quite got the hang of Army life. Of course, to hear some of his political opponents, you'd think he's got the political experience and instincts of a chapter president of your local high school Young Democrats.

In fact, his military career was typified by both battlefield heroism and demonstrations of political savvy of the highest order. Make no mistake, once a soldier pins on a star, he or she is out of the range of the strictly military and deeply immersed in a swamp of some of the most brutal politics on the planet. They may not have parties, but they have sides. Wes Clark chose his, and the other team, some of whom are currently in ascendency, are still trying to exact a price.

That's one of the reasons that Clark remains high on my list of candidate choices. I may have my reservations about Wes, and I remain convinced that John Kerry is not only our best candidate for this year but promises to be the best President of my lifetime, but I'm confident that if Clark's the nominee, he's well prepared to handle the rough and tumble of the fall campaign.

As far as the impact of his military detractors goes, there's far too much being made of it in some circles. Jonathan Chait makes sense when he writes "Yes, there are people in the military who dislike Clark, and the Bush administration has very successfully gotten their criticisms of him into the media. (They have done so to derail his candidacy and help ensure that they can face Dean.) They may convince a lot of people that Clark's military career was checkered. But they won't succeed in convincing the public that he was not in fact a general. Nobody is going to think of him as some wussy flower child."