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Has Clark Found His Voice–Both Literally and Figuratively?

Ryan Lizza has an interesting article in the latest New Republic suggesting Clark may finally have found his campaign voice–coincident with recovering his physical voice after a bout of laryngitis. By this, Lizza does not mean that Clark has come forth with any startling policy initiatives–he hasn’t–but rather that he is finding a way of framing his political approach that builds effectively on his personal history.

Clark is talking a lot about his military career and how he got drawn into it as a way to help his country during the Cold War. He talks about the considerable work he put into rebuilding and modernizing the military after the Vietnam War debacle. And he talks about his desire to serve his country in a new era when we are both threatened by terror and in danger of damaging our institutions and government. He contrasts his New American Patriotism to the Bush administration’s reckless conduct both internationally and domestically.

That’s a pretty good frame for talking up a Democratic agenda. And he adds to this a strong emphasis on pragmatism--governing based on facts and what works, rather than ideology and pre-formed conclusions. As he puts it: “I don’t oppose the president’s policies because they are Republican policies. I oppose them because they don’t work.”

He also uses the military and his experience in it to advance the themes of equal opportunity and meritocratic advancement. And he is striving to strike a note of optimism about the future of country and the great things it can achieve, both here and abroad, if it gets back on track.

This is an attractive package and, in DR’s view, could make Clark a very effective general election candidate. Policy proposals and critiques of the Bush administration aren’t enough; voters want a sense of your values and your vision for the country and Clark may be on his way to supplying that.

Coming soon in DR: How Clark Could Win the Nomination

Once Again on the Bush Bounce

Three more national polls of adults have been released and once again we cannot verify the Bush bounce. The Pew Research Center poll, covering October 15-19, has Bush’s approval rating at 50 percent, down 5 points from their September 17-22 poll. The American Research Group has his approval rating at 47 percent in an October 18-21 poll, no change from their September poll. On the other hand, CBS News has his rating at 54 percent in a October 20-21 poll, up 3 points from their September 28-October 1 poll.

Note however that the Pew Research poll, conducted by the very reputable Princeton Survey Research Associates, has twice the sample size (1,515 to 751) of the CBS News poll. Note also the very interesting finding in the Pew survey that about three-quarters of adults think Bush’s economic policies are either making the US economy worse (43 percent) or not having not much effect (31 percent). Just 18 percent say they are making the economy better.

Comments

Let me build on an earlier post by saying that I still support Lieberman. In a presidential primary I prefer to support the candidate who best addresses the party's most glaring weakness, which right now is its wobbly stances on Iraq and terrorism. That being said, Clark is my likely #2 followed by Edwards. I'd like to see a poll of likely Democratic primary voters that has them rank 1-2-3 on their first-tier candidates of choice. That might help the first-tier guys position themselves to pick up support. It would also help the second-tier guys look at how to maximize their impact as vote brokers upon exit.

Also, I'd like to see some speculative research into what the press thinks about the Democrat contenders--whom they like to cover and whom they like personally. (Distinction: The press enjoyed covering McCain, but he didn't flatter them enough to earn their adoration as Bush did.) Unfortunately, the ability to curry press adoration (as in 2000) will be the single most important determinant of victory in 2004.

CHRIS, I MUST SAY THAT I COMPLETELY DISAGREE. WHAT HAPPENED IN 2000 WITH THE BUSH CANDIDACY WAS PURE AND SIMPLE MARKETING. WHILE THAT MAY HAVE BEEN AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY TO GET HIM ELECTED, I THINK IT IS ALSO WHY HE WILL NOT GET RE-ELECTED. WE (THE AMERICAN PEOPLE) GOT SOLD A BILL OF GOODS. BUSH AND HIS PLATFORM WAS DESIGNED AS A MESSAGE OF MODERATE CONSERVATIVISM. WHAT WE GOT WAS A FAR RIGHT AGENDA. WHILE IT IS TRUE THE MEDIA PLAYED A ROLE IN EMPHASIZING THE LIKABLE-GOOD-OL-BOY-FROM-TEXAS ROUTINE, I DON'T BELIEVE THEY WILL BE SO KIND THIS TIME AROUND. ADDITIONALLY, I ALSO DONT THINK WE (THE DEMOCRATS) WANT TO MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE BY PLACING TOO MUCH STOCK IN PURE MARKETING STRATEGIES. THIS, OF COURSE, IS NOT TO SAY THAT MARKETING SHOULD PLAY NO ROLE, BUT IT SHOULD NOT BE THE PRIMARY FOCUS AS IT WAS IN THE BUSH CAMPAIGN OF 2000.

BY THE WAY, SORRY ABOUT ALL THE CAPS - WINDOWS NT !@%$&@

PAUL :)

Ruy, for your next post about how Clark can win: It is significant for Clark that Gephardt has now pulled even with Dean in Iowa. I believe that Clark and Kerry and Edwards all need Gephardt to win in Iowa so as to throw at least a temporary speed bump in the Dean in front of the Dean machine. Who knows what happens after Dean fails to come in number one in Iowa--maybe he lashes out and temperment becomes an issue. Anything is possible. Then the independents (who get to vote in New Hampshire) become the deciding group.

Ruy, your personal bias towards Clark is showing rather patently. I have faithfully read DonkeyRising because it was a demographically and polling based analysis of the Democratic party's re-emergence as the majority party. Now your analysis has become so blanantly slanted by your personal support for Clark, that your commentary is no longer useful or reliable. I'm sorry to say that I will no longer be a regular reader. If I want boosterism for a candidate, there are planty of partisan blogs to choose from. The world hardly needs another. It's unfortunate that you have allowed your personal preferences destroy what was a unique and interesting resource.

What does Clark have over Dean except that he is a general. he has no elective office, no statement on most issues. He's another blind grab bag like Swartzneger. Also he has previously voted mostly for republicans and is only recently a Democrat. We do not have to go to the right to win this election. We have to stay on values, not blind hopes.
Dean has real proposals and a real track record. He's ahead in most polls. Teamed with a good VP I don't see how we can loose.