Fluid Expectations

The nomination, which seemed to be Dean’s to lose, is now up for grabs going into the New Hampshire primary. Democrats, whose choice in Iowa reflects a very fluid and changeable sensibility, seem to have had second thoughts about Howard Dean. Kerry likely seemed the stronger candidate than Gephardt, and Edwards seems to be everyone’s choice for vice president.
Dean still has a great deal of momentum, but his rejection by Iowans shows another side of Democratic anger; not just frustration and rage but also a tactical focus on who can best beat George Bush. Kerry will now undergo the same scrutiny to see if he is the man that can win in a general election. Now Dean’s lead in polls will likely shift, and with the unknown of Clark’s appeal and Edwards’ surge, the New Hampshire primary has the potential to be just as close and surprising as Iowa.

*1/21/2004* _Kerry’s advantage and weakness in New Hampshire are neatly summed up by Joan Vennochi in The Boston_ Globe: “The media decided Dean was too hot. He helped prove their case by roaring in defeat on caucus night like Ted Kennedy did on the stump for Kerry in Dubuque. For now, Kerry’s dispassion is a plus. He projects calmness, dependability, and what New Englanders should recognize as a continuing willingness to take on whatever political persona he believes is necessary for victory at a given moment.”
*2/6/2004* _Dean’s candidacy has completely collapsed and in retrospect has all the hallmarks of a bubble (as predicted here, back when he was the presumptive nominee on Dec. 8, 2003). Kerry is now the solid frontrunner, but unfortunately he does not seem to have any actual ideas to motivate voters to choose him in the general election._