Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Notes on New Hampshire

Other than it being painfully obvious that Joe Lieberman is totally out of touch with the Democratic Party, there was no clear message coming out of little New Hampshire beyond this: it's still wide open. Remember, the Democratic primaries award proportionate delegates, unlike the Republican's and the general election's winner-take-all format. You don't always have to win to win it all.

While Kerry won again, he's ill-prepared to fully capitalize on it in the February 3rd primaries. The states voting that day are both more conservative and racially-diverse than Iowa and NH and his being tagged as a New England liberal could swing many votes towards Edwards or Clark. Unless Gephardt backs him and helps him carry Missourri, he's far from having this thing locked up. Also, because so many party heavyweights jumped on the Dean bandwagon so early, there's no big endorsements lying in wait for him. Unless the Clintons come off the sidelines...

Dean is nowhere near dead, though losing NH by such a wide gap was a tough blow. He's going to have to come up with some solid numbers on February 3rd, not necessarily outright victories but definitely close seconds to someone other than Kerry. If his Deaniacs falter in the slightest, ie: the money slows down, the media will have a field day jumping on his grave.

Clark is fading fast. He skipped Iowa in favor of concentrating on NH and came away in a virtual tie for third with his fellow southerner, Edwards. On February 3rd, Clark must win a state or two and finish no less than third place anywhere else to stay in this thing. Without Dean as the frontrunner to offer a stark contrast, he's floundered badly. He may have to reconsider his statement that he's not interested in being anyone's VP.

Edwards, in my opinion, is the big winner so far. His second place finish in Iowa shocked everyone and the expectations for NH were favorably low as he hadn't focused on it nearly as much, placing his bets on a victory in South Carolina next week. That he tied with Clark yesterday was a huge victory for him.

With Sharpton looming large now that "the black vote" is coming into play, each of these guys need to shine brightly in the debate tomorrow night. Big Al is going to force them to focus on race issues like they haven't really had to so far and none of them can afford to come off wrong. And don't think he or Edwards aren't going to find a way to remind people about Dean's "pickup trucks and Confederate flags" faux pas, either. I expect a much livelier debate than the NH snoozefest as balls are now in the fire and at least two of these guys (Lieberman, for sure, and probably Clark) won't be in the race after February 4th.

This is better than any Super Bowl since Kevin Dyson was stopped at the 1-yard line and turned Kurt Warner into Superman!

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