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The Demographics of Clarkism

In the latest Gallup poll, Wesley Clark once again is the top choice of Democratic registered voters around the nation. Clark garners 22 percent support, compared to Dean at 15 percent, Kerry and Lieberman at 12 percent and Gephardt at 10 percent.

These results are similar to an earlier Gallup poll of September 19-21, so Gallup was able to combine the data from the two polls and run demographic analyses of the different candidates’ bases of support. These analyses are quite revealing, especially when comparing Clark and Dean.

While Clark receives more support than Dean among both men and women, his margin over Dean among women is just 3 points (16 percent to 13 percent), but an impressive 12 points among men (29 percent to 17 percent). He also beats Dean in every region of the country, but especially in the south (25 percent to 8 percent). Also intriguing is how well he does among low income voters (less than $20,000), clobbering Dean by 26 percent to 5 percent. In fact, Clark bests Dean in every income group up to $75,000. Above $75,000, Dean edges Clark, 26 percent to 25 percent.

In terms of ideology, Dean beats Clark among liberals, 24 percent to 18 percent, but Clark wins moderates by 24 percent to 11 percent and conservatives by 23 percent to 7 percent. The general picture, then, is that Clark does especially well, relative to Dean, among the very groups where Democrats have been having the most problems. That suggests to DR that the emerging Clark candidacy deserves very serious consideration indeed.

And there are other reasons, too, of course. Like Clark’s ability to raise a large amount of money in a short time period. Or his increasing success in connecting with voters on the retail level. Or that he may be able to generate considerable support from blacks, the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency. Or, counter-intuitively, the very thing that has led to so much criticism of Clark from his Democratic rivals: he’s not a “regular” Democrat. He says he voted for Nixon and Reagan. He only recently registered as a Democrat. He’s said nice things about Republicans in the past.

The fact of the matter is that in today’s anti-establishment, pro-outsider mood–witness the destruction of Gray Davis and election of Arnold Schwarzenegger–these are probably all good things to have on a Democratic candidate’s resume. Swing voters who are dissatisfied with Bush and therefore inclined to look closely at the Democratic candidate will not be put off by Clark’s partisan heterodoxy; on the contrary, it will make it easier for them to see the Democratic candidate as an agent of change, not of the Democratic party’s establishment (as, say, Gephardt or Kerry) or of the liberal faction of the party (Dean).

And that, DR submits, could be just the thing to beat Bush, if–and it’s a big if–Clark can get the nomination. That subject will be addressed in future posts.

Comments

I am a pretty strong Dean supporter, but this really does make me think. I would be happy with Clark too, it is just that I have already made a commitment and I feel that I am obligated to follow through on that.
Does DR think that it is possible that Clark as the eventual nominee's running mate can still bring all of this stuff to the table with him, or is it only possible at the top of the ticket?

Jordan --

I think you've seen the light. As many dems are realizing, this election is not a game -- we need Bush and his radical clique out! And it appears, at least to me, that Clark is the person with the best chance to do it -- i.e., he could win a general election by appealing to multiple demographic groups nationwide.

I like Dean as well and there is much in him that inspires someone like me. But I simply do not think -- at all -- that he could win this thing. I imagine other folks might be coming to that realization as well sooner or later. It'd be great that instead of this turning to a slugfest between Dean and Clark, the two at the very least keep their eyes on the real prize here.

This analysis of Clark's strength over Dean among these key groups is destined to become a tipping point in the dialogue of the nomination. That is why we should be prepared for some furious pushback from the Dean sphere on this. Keep your eye out for Jerome Armstrong. Incoming....

I don't understand how one can draw conclusions from this survey about the relative general election pull of Dean and Clark: unless I'm reading it wrong, it's a survey only of registered Democrat identifiers? Thus the fact that Clark is especially appealing to the Southerners polled says nothing about his ability to appeal to non-Democrats in the South. Nor does it make it possible to predict which of Clark and Dean would do better against Bush in the South even among Democrats!

Jordan -

VP choices don't carry much weight - people vote for the top of the ticket. The VP might help carry a state (relevant since Clark's from Arkansas, potentially winnable), and perhaps he can add a policy dimension, e.g., foreign affairs. But Clark's more general strengths (pun not intended!) won't carry over much if he's only the VP nominee.

cicero -

I wouldn't dismiss Dean's chances against Bush out of hand. He would carry heavy baggage in the general election ("New England liberal peacenik for gay marriage"), but he's a tough, in-your-face campaigner. He won't be another Dukakis.

That said, I do see Clark as our strongest candidate, for all the reasons the poll internals and Ruy outlined. I'll be interested in his analysis of the primary race.

A good sign is that the early stumbles and the intra-party attack line ("is he a real Dem?") don't seem to have hurt Clark, and this is probably the roughest patch he'll go through.

-- Rick Robinson

This reminds me of the arguments I read in 2002 of choosing McBride over Reno.

Clark has yet to make his case that he is:

1) the best candidate to run against Bush, and

2) by virtue of #1, the best candidate to become the de facto leader of the Democratic Party.

While citing national polls seems reasonable at this point, consider that a number of national polls also have Joe Lieberman at the top of the heap.

Perhaps more interesting polls to study are those of Iowa and New Hampshire where the electorate views candidates with a heathy dose of skepticism.

Clark has yet to define himself as a candidate, particulary on domestic issues. While beating Bush has to be the primary focus for our party in the coming election, is Clark the standard-bearer who can do more than just become President?

Until he defines who he is, questions will remain... Is he a "manufactured" candidate or are his positions on key issues (Patriot Act, healthcare, jobs, taxes) deeply held?

He needs to display leadership, not just in the foregn policy arena, but on the day-to-day issues that affect most Americans.

Until that happens, I remain skeptical of anointing him as the de facto leader of the party.

Cool--comments.

One of the things that has always bugged me about the analysis found on this site is that while demographic groups are recognized for the fluid entities they are, the opinion of demographic groups is viewed as static. I remember, in particular, my extreme frustration at how DR repeatedly informed us that being against the war meant certain electoral death. Now, just a few months later, that has changed, and DR can't jump on the bandwagon of an anti-war candidate fast enough.

Clark's position at the top of all of these lists is largely due to the fact that there were more feature stories written about him from September 16-September 19 than there were about all other candidates combined between August 15 and September 15. Now, however, Clark's position in terms of media coverage is slipping. Yesterday, he received the fifth most coverage of all the candidates, and so far today he is doing even worse. While he is still leading in overall coverage, that could change in just two days time.

If Clark continues his decline in media coverage, his polls will follow. Dean is poised to pass clark in media coverage on Wednesday, and Kerry is poised to do the same by the end of the week. There is nothing static about Clark's current success among the demographic groups Gallup broke down for us. It cold change even faster than public opinion on the war.

It appears that Clark has other problems to consider. First it does not look as if he will be able to build enough momentum going into Iowa to win the primary there. Additionally, it also looks like he won't take New Hampshire. From that point it is on to South Carolina and then Super Tuesday in February. I am not convinced he can win the nomination without at least 2 of these first 3 states. I am skeptical at this point if he will take any of them.

Don't get me wrong here, I like Clark. I also like Dean and remain uncommitted between the two of them at this time. The way I see it, if Clark is going to win the primary he will have to do it in a very unconventional way.

One more point: Sara from MN the other day mentioned feeling like the Democratic Leadership was not putting forward enough "interesting candidates" . I would like to know her thoughts on DEAN OR CLARK (SORRY MY CAPS LOCK BUTTON IS GIVING ME FITS!!) FOR MY PART I THINK THE POLL MENTIONED ABOVE SHOWS THAT CLARK HAS MORE APPEAL ACROSS ETHNIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC LINES THAN DEAN. I HAVE ATTENDED A COUPLE OF MEET-UPS WITH DEAN SUPPORTERS HERE IN ST LOUIS AND I AM ALWAYS SURPRISED TO SEE AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF WHITE MIDDLE CLASS LIBERAL FACES (LIKE MY OWN) IN THE CROWDS. I FEEL THIS DOES NOT BODE WELL FOR DEAN. IF CLARK CAN REACH ETHNIC AND NON-WHITE VOTER IN ANY SIGNIFICANT NUMBER IT WILL BE OVER FOR DEAN.

I do find it counter-intuitive to believe that Clark would make a superior candidate because he’s not a "regular" Democrat, he voted for Nixon and Reagan, he only recently registered as a Democrat, and he’s said nice things about Republicans in the past. Even assuming Democratic voters are not doctrinaire idealogues, don't these seem like reasons why you might not want Clark to be president?

Clark doesn't need Iowa. New Hampshire is still wide-open. The numbers there are easily changed by media. And the NH primary is open to McCain independents who may like Clark.

Remember that the early polls in the 2000 cycle showed Bradley winning New Hampshire. Gore ended up turnig it around and beat him handily. Iowa may be set in stone, but New Hampshire is not by any means settled. Clark can only go up there.

Paul
"I am not convinced he can win the nomination without at least 2 of these first 3 states. I am skeptical at this point if he will take any of them."

I think Clark is in a unique position because in each of the first three states you have a favorite son factor. Iowa is Gep land, his organization is legion. He's from MO so he wins, but gets no wind from it. Dean wins and its Front-runner land. Clark gets third and its a moral victory, enough to keep him going. Below third and it hurts.

NH. Two, count'em two favorite sons. Dean and Kerry. Clark takes third and solidifies himself as the Anti-Dean. He takes 2nd and he's the nominee.

SC: Edwards territory -- or should be. Clark goes second here he blunts Edwards and shows Dean up.

Arizona, where I believe he is currently leading, is the game for Clark or Alabama and other states. Oklahoma is in the Mix there, and Clark will do well there.

Clark doesn't need to win until Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, etc. However, he does need to get 2nd in SC, third in NH and Iowa.

Boulanger

Is it possible that Clark might continue exceeding Dean in popularity in the polls, while being defeated in the nomination?

This is the scenario that I am anticipating.

The electorate voting in the primaries is different from that voting in the general election. Clark needs to ramp up his appeal to likely *primary voters* if he intends to actually clinch the nomination.

This analysis is predicated on the highly dubious assumption that all Dean or Clark supporters will transfer to the Democratic nominee. The problem for Clark is: a high percentage of Dean supporters (and I know many such people) will take a walk or go third party if Clark is on the ticket. That's a big problem.

Realist,

You musn't know the same Dean supporters that I know.

There are plenty of regular Dems supporting ALL of the candidates and I would venture to say that 90-95% of the supporters of ANY of the Dem candidates will go Dem to beat Bush, regardless of who the nominee is.

That's a tired, old canard.

Realist, if that is the case then they aren't real Democrats. Screw them.

I can't believe that very many feel that way. The Democratic party can't be held hostage by people who aren't even prepared to vote for the eventual nominee. That's just nuts. That's Naderism.

Peebuls,

Realist's claims are pure bullsh**. Just another lame ass repetition of an unsubstantiated slime on one candidate from a supporter of another candidate.

Same old sh**...

Just as Jordan says, "I would be happy with Clark, too." I would be happy with Dean, too.

It's just that I don't think Dean is a sure thing to beat Bush....but I am positive Clark can.

I hope liberals don't form a circular firing squad this year.

I'm torn between Clark and Dean for all the reasons stated above, though I lean towards Clark. But I do have to remind myself that not so long ago there was another Democratic governor from a small state who was considered a long shot. Personally, I think Dean can win, but he'll have several disadvantages that Clark doesn't have.

As for Clark voting for Republicans and saying kind things about them, I say that any Democrat that can't handle that isn't thinking very clearly through the issues. That mindset will shrink the big tent that the Democratic Party needs to be, when at the moment we need to expand it.

My sense is that a VERY FEW - but very vocal! - online Dean supporters say they'll bolt if he's not the nominee. A handful of vocal online Clark supporters say the same thing. (Both groups may include trolls.)

The vast majority in both camps are ABB.

I would also discount the cross-sniping. Arguments in primary races often get heated, precisely because you could measure the real policy differences between candidates with a micrometer.

I'm a Clark supporter, basically for the reasons Ruy outlined - but if Dean is the nominee, I will support him, not only enthusiastically, but with considerable confidence that his strengths as a campaigner can more than make up for any baggage he has to carry.

-- Rick Robinson

I've been to both Dean and Clark meetups here in Minneapolis and both groups have a strong commitment to doing whatever it takes to defeat Bush. The similarities between these two clusters are very apparent, including their ready rejection of all the Congressional candidates and the early reality that the only heavy hitter present was Congresswoman Betty McCullem who spoke very energetically at the Clark meetup. I expect some fierce infights between the avant garde and the ancien regime as we get postured for our state-wide precinct caucuses in early March. It will help immensely that many state primaries will have transpired by then so maybe we'll be able to concentrate on the main objective, namely outvoting the Republican suburbs when the chips are down in November, 2004. The stakes couldn't be higher and these new faces will the job if the old guard doesn't trash the process.

Clark needs to raise his profile, both for primary and general election voters. He made a big splash - with a few errors - in his first week. There hasn't much coverage of him lately, other than the usual investigative background stuff. He needs to say and do more in the key states - SC, AZ, OK. If he does he'll be on a roll. Come time for nomination and we'll all see how great a candidate he is.

We all have opinions about who would be the best candidate to oppose Bush. The polls offer scientific evidence.

Clark brings strength where Democrats are otherwise weak. Democrats are favored by voters on most issues with the glaring exception of national defense. Clark is the best candidate to negate that exception.

Clark needs to establish credibility on the economy, health care and other domestic issues to win the nomination.

If a budget balancing pragmatist like Dean is too 'out there' to be a viable nominee, then the Democrats have already lost. I object. This whole discussion starts the battle in retreat. Dean is well within the latitude of acceptance of the majority of Americans. He represents the strong vital center, and so does Clark. It is Bush who is 'out there'.

With either Dean or Clark we are going to win in a landslide. This is inevitable. Bush is a miserable failure. He is the worst President since Benjamin Harrison. The people are waiting for the Democrats to stand up with confidence and optimism.

DR on the cutting edge again! Clark is a moderate who will appeal to southerners and all those minority Dems who don't like (don't know?) Dean? Maybe a bit more perspective should be placed on a national poll 5 months out of any non-Iowa/NH primaries where the respondents likely have little to go on about a candidate, except - say - a title (General? I like how that sounds, put me down for him). I'd also like to hear how the other candidates feel about the race being characterized now as Dean v. Clark (what happened to Dean v. Kerry?). Fun, fanciful stuff. Give Clark a month or two, see if he can build a campaign and get some momentum in NH (where he hasn't broken out of single digits) and let's see...

For those who say VP choices don't carry much weight, I would ask them to look at the posterchild of the pacemaker.

Part of the juijitsu of the current cycle is that the presidential nominee is not required to be the brain trust on Foreign Policy. We've got Condi, Rummy, Powell, Bolton, Wolfowitz and a whole 'nother bunch of briliants speaking on behalf of Dubya.

On the Dem side of things, Clark adds something to the ticket, but not enough to be frontline material. This is a man who should have been issuing dope-slaps the first second a US conscriptee crossed the Iraqi border.

Clark should be at the VAs, on the mall, in th face of any org that would pretend they've improved the lot of Eastern Europe.

Kisses and hugs -- not necessarily in that order

It's strange, because from much that I read it looks like Dean is to the right of Clark on the issues

Sara from MN here.

I started out as a potential Dean Supporter in 2001 when I was making the argument on message boards that we needed to "look around" and not have a re-do of 2000 in 2004. At that time I was trying to drive traffic to Dean's Vermont Governor Site, making an argument for him as an experienced new face.

In the late spring of 2001 I watched Clark on C-Span doing an interview about his book, Waging Modern War. I bought and read the book. Then after 911 when he started doing commentary on CNN I started watching more closely, and became convinced he was potentially a strong candidate because he could take fairly complex ideas, and teach without making it seem like preaching. This is a skill very few politicians have -- and it is the opposite of reciting back to voters the themes from focus groups or the usual Democratic Mantra.

Talking to people in the party -- I came to understand that Clark might be convinced to run last winter -- not certain, but people were at work on it. I put in my vote for that sometime last January. I then spent some time doing an extensive google search, and it was worth the effort as I found all sorts of confirmation that Clark had real depth. I suspect much of it is now gone, or deep cached -- but what really got me was some team teaching he apparently did several years ago with Georgetown Jesuits. They took the latest in US Military Doctrine from National War College, and then stacked it up against St. Augustine and Just War Theology. Apparently they did the gig at both Georgetown and Seaton Hall. I don't expect it to be part of a political campaign -- but I consider that kind of intellect delivered to undergraduates to be precisely what I mean by "an interesting candidate" who could make Bush rue the day that he satisfied himself with C's and D's at Yale.

Similarly, I think Clark is far more Liberal than Dean. Goodnes Graceous, he talks about Progressive Taxes, about paying Professional School Teachers Professional Wages, He talks about "fairness Doctrine" in relationship to the problem with conservative media (and complains about what is on offer in Arkansas). And that is just the beginning.

He has not yet introduced his electric bicycle -- but when that happens, I think he gets the environmental vote. What he has is a new kind of very high efficent motor that eventually will be ramped up to operate a car. It is electrically driven, but is adaptable to the Hydrogen Economy when that starts up. It is totally visionary -- hints of a whole new industry and an approach toward energy independence, new types of jobs and all. He helped form the company that is developing the motor (Wavecreast) and organized the venture capital finance for it. It is all Jeremy Rifkin type stuff, and it asks the question of whether we want to spend the next century bashing each other over the issues of the last -- or whether we want to be visionary and inventive in looking at problems in new dimensions.

I hope his campaign management problems are off the table for a time, and I expect those who know how to do the nuts and bolts of camapigns to mount a great one that features the Candidate and not the managers. If Clark does enough town meetings and longish speeches he'll pull the voters to him -- and yea, even in Iowa.

I would remind everyone that Dem Primaries and Caucuses are not Winner take all -- Democratic Party selection is proportional -- so even a 2nd or 3rd place in a close primary will still generate delegates -- and since Clark appeals across regions of the country, he can get a reasonable and leading delegate count without actually "winning" every race. About 36% of the delegates are not selected in primaries -- they are the DNC members, and elected officials at all levels, and they will follow the route of the best challenge to Bush. The best ticket topper with coattails.

Clark's real strength is Foreign Policy -- and all the military affairs you want to consider. And like it or not -- it is the Constitutional Role of the President to both conduct foreign affairs and be Commander in Chief. The VP is president of the Senate. Somehow I don't see Clark as VP given the job description. On the other hand, I can see Dean as a VP, though probably the best thing Clark could do is select someone with Congressional experience. My own choices would be Senator Levin or Durbin or possibly Bill Richardson.

I strongly disagree with the idea that Wesley Clark is highly electable, and just wanted to outline for everyone to consider why I think this is so.

1) The idea that by running a General we can neutralize the patriotism/strong on defense issue is absurd. We do not want to get into a "General fight" with Bush, since he can produce about 50 that will say, "Wes Clark is wrong." Many of them will also be able to say, "I served with Wes Clark, and he was wrong about a lot of things."

2) If Bush can convince the country that Max Cleland was some "Das Kapital" reading fellow traveler, he will have NO PROBLEM convincing the country Clark is a slick opportunist who has put his own ambition ahead of what he learned in the military.

3) His inconsistencies about the war will continue to cause problems for him, in addition to his lack of specifics on many issues (which frankly, sounds like a politico attempt to avoid offending people). I can just picture the ads now. It will start with some clip of Clark criticizing Bush, then the Deep-Voiced Narrator says: "Sure, Wes Clark says that now, but in June of '01 he said ... , and in November of '02 he said ..." Then it ends with "Can we really trust Wes Clark about ANYTHING?" or "Will the real Wes Clark please stand up?"

4) (And this is the biggest one) So far, he has run an amateur hour campaign. The fact that his supporters have to say stuff about "growing pains" proves this. He has lost a campaign manager, who has since said some alarming things about other people in the campaign, and the amount of coaching and puppeteering that Clark is going through. The recent gaffe about time machines is a perfect example of the kind of mistakes he makes. Now I think that whole thing was pretty innocent, but I can GUARUNTEE you that Rove is salivating over that one. He'll be able to make the "Al Gore thinks he invented the internet" thing seem like nothing. - "Wes Clark supports federal funding for TIME MACHINES!"

5) He has been bad at debates. He seemed defensive, nervous, and overly coached. He seemed like he was trying to say what people wanted to hear. Hell, I thought he was gonna grab on to Braun's arm and whisper, "Hold me, please!" Most alarming, he was bad in a way that suggested he won't get better. Campaigning doesn't seem to come naturally for him.

6) Short and sweet, he hasn't been vetted. Who knows what could come out about him. Probably nothing, but this is a guy who has not had the same kind of campaign scrutiny of his life that Gephardt or Kerry or Dean have.

7) His strategy that seems to be based on running like Arnold will not work, because he is not the star of "The Terminator," and the public will not accept a Presidential campaign that hides from the press and won't answer questions. I know this will rankle his supporters more than anything, but his campaign is very much like Arnold's. He is for "leadership" and "patriotism" and "good jobs" and thinks "puppies are cute." Next week, I hear he plans to come out against rape, and explain his belief that Hitler was a bad man.

8) This "he is more electable because he will do better in the South" argument is pure bologna. WHO CARES if people in Mississippi like him more than Kerry? The Dems will under no circumstances win the South. Maybe West Virginia, maybe Virginia could become competitive in a few years. The Dems should not fall for the Florida trap they fell into in '00 and '02 (getting suckered into spending a lot of money and time and resources on Florida). Ohio is far more friendly now, as is the Southwest, and even possibly Nevada.

9) I hate to break it to you Clark supporters, but he ain't Ike. Kosovo wasn't WW2.

10) Candidates such as Clark, who have a fair amount of support before they express a single view, always fade in the general election, because they can never live up to idealized image people have of them. They end up not being the knight with the flaming sword on the white stallion that people expected. Think Perot. Think Steve Forbes.

11) And last but not least: Clark is the DLC/McAuliffe candidate. Their centrist ways lost it for us in '00 and '02 and in the Cali recall. We have tried this route, it has not worked. It has lead to base supporters breaking off to other 3rd parties (3.5%, but enough to effect a close election), significantly lower turnout among key constituencies like African Americans, liberals, and environmentalists, and has almost killed the party. We must borrow a page from Bush's playbook: first, keep the base happy and get massive turnout of same. Then work on giving the impression that we are moderate. Ask Max Cleland, Bill McBride, and Jean Carnahan if running a centrist campaign worked for them. McAuliffe is a loser, and should be punted from leadership. Just the fact that Clark is the DLC/McAuliffe candidate is enough to make me smell a loser in him.

ChrisMO:

I disagree with most of your statements. Here's why:

1. It's not just about "running a General". It's about running a General who has fought and won precisely the kind of war Iraq was supposed to be (although of course it should never have been fought at all). The General in question isn't just any General, but one who led NATO to success in its only war. As for getting into a "General Fight" -- I think it's the other way around; Bush won't want to get into one with Clark. The Dems can trot out Zinni, McCaffrey et al to point out how stupidly executed Iraq was; Rumsfeld is no hero to the military. Compare and contrast with Kosovo, which was strategically important, posed an imminent threat to the stability of Europe, had no NATO casualties, cost a fraction of what Iraq costs us in month, united our allies instead of dividing them, was over in 78 days, and saved hundreds of thousands of people from genocide. No, I don't think the Repubs want to go there.

2. Max Cleland wasn't the Dem nominee for President, and he was running in Georgia, not the USA which on average has a whole lot more centrists and libs than Georgia. Max Cleland didn't have the $$$ of the Democratic party behind him, didn't have the national media forced to pay attention, didn't have George Soros's $75 million or whatever to help counterspin the story and make it backfire as it should have. Clark could have abandoned the army after Vietnam but he stayed because it was in total chaos and he felt that as a soldier it was his duty to stick it out and help rebuild the military. He gave his entire life over to military service. Had he been a political opportunist at heart, he would have left long before and probably have been President by now. Bill Clinton has nothing on him -- not brains, not looks, not charisma, not drive, and not discipline. (Big Dog's political instincts are better, I have to give you that.) And if you think they can get Clark on this issue, you must have written off Dean, too, because he has zero international experience and was skiing while Bush was bravely fighting keeping Texas borders safe in the Nat Guard.

3. His inconsistencies are a problem. Inconsistencies will haunt whoever the Dem candidate is -- Dean, Kerry, (God help us) Gep, (God help us more) Lieberman. But Clark is doing a good job of countering this by simply saying, sorry, you can't make a soundbite out of a difficult issue. Look at the difference between what Kerry said before voting for the Iraq resolution and what Gephardt said and you'll see there's plenty of room for nuance (I think Kerry did the best under the circumstances, although he was no Byrd).

4. Gore's Internet brag was stupidly worded and even when you read what he actually said it could be taken for "inventing the Internet"; it was also a little too proud. Clark's discussion was about humans eventually exceeding the speed of light -- NOT about time machines, and Rove won't be able to put it that way either without looking like a liar. What Clark said was that he couldn't believe that in all of human history we won't some day exceed the speed of light to transport ourselves. It was a Trekkie goof that any geek would hope for. If the Dems can't defend this as the statement of a visionary and optimist, they need to go back to school and take Marketing 101.

5. He hasn't been stellar at debates but he hasn't been bad either. I watched both debates and the only standouts were Dean and Sharpton in the first and CMB in the second. But neither of them left me feeling that Clark had been bad, the way I felt after watching Gore not pulverize the hapless Bush or Lieberman playing kissyface with Cheney.

6. He hasn't been vetted. Uhhh, you do know what kind of investigations go into a security clearance review, don't you? And come on, Kerry, Dean, Gephardt haven't been vetted either. Dean has, to a degree, but there are all kinds of interesting things that could come to light there. Why did he want his record as governor sealed for 20 years (eventually sealed for 10)? Etc. Sure, something could -- will -- come to light, even if it's a manufactured distraction like many of the pre-Lewinsky Clinton "scandals". But a large number of these have already shown up -- Shelton, Mladic, the Clinton "stalking horse" theory, etc. Check out the wingnut blogs and boards -- they're a lot more focused on Clark than Dean or Kerry and they've been digging away since long before he was a candidate.

7. Arnold has never run anything larger than Planet Hollywood, and look how that turned up. Clark headed up NATO. Not much comparison. Unlike Arnold, he hasn't hidden from the press at all. He's been to every debate since announcing, cancelled an engagement to speak before the NAACP, and from your other arguments I can only guess you think he's talked too much to the press. Nor is he lacking in positions or ideas. With very little effort you can pretty easily figure out where he stands on every issue. More importantly, you can look at his record and see what he's done and how he's comported himself in extremely stressful political situations in the past to get a good indication of what he would do in an unforeseen challenge.

8. The South IS important, because the rural/urban/suburban dynamic is changing as are the ethnic demographics. Clark could win several Southern states, particularly if Bush continues his downward spiral. Dean might also be able to as well, since he's a straight shooter. But Clark will do better in the South than Clinton did, and for a Dem, that's saying a lot. If the Dems can mount a successful counterattack on the Slime Machine, he can take several Southern states. If not, then all hope is lost anyway.

But it's not just the South; it's almost every region, age group, and income bracket, but especially seniors and men.

9. Clark is no Ike. No, he's not -- he's a helluva lot smarter, for one thing. You have to keep in mind that Ike's rise was FAR more politically driven than Clark's ever was, despite what the GOP wants you to think. Before WWII, Ike was a desk officer who hadn't led a unit in combat, a Lt. Col. who looked like he'd risen as far as he could go. His promotions were based on political expediency, not because he convinced his superiors that he was All Star material. That he rose to the occasion and helped lead the Allies to victory is just good on him. Does anyone doubt that in similar circumstances Clark would not have done as well? If not, you don't know much about what went on in Kosovo, which admittedly was not the equivalent of WWII. But then what in human history was?

We think of Kosovo as small potatoes, but to the other 18 members of NATO it was a mission on which the credibility of many of their governments and militaries rested. Kosovo was strategically important in a way that Bosnia was not; if it went to hell then it had the potential to draw Greece and Turkey into the quagmire too, upsetting stability throughout Europe. This was recognized by Bush 41 as well as Clinton; only far-right Clinton haters and isolationists could convince themselves of its strategic irrelevance or that the ethnic cleansing going on was not a genocidal emergency. And Clark won this war by uniting 19 governments and their militaries, many with conflicting interests, and with lame lame lame support from his own government and his immediate superiors. He had to guarantee zero casualties -- and did! He was denied ground troops and Apaches. And he won this mess in less than 3 months, with one arm tied behind his back. His reward? Well, he got screwed by Shelton and Cohen for proving them wrong. No, he's no Ike, but he didn't have a WWII either. But I'd like to have seen Ike win Kosovo like that. MacArthur, maybe, but not Ike.

10. "Candidates such as Clark, who have a fair amount of support before they express a single view, always fade in the general election," If Perot had run as a Democrat and if it were important enough to him to endure the bullshit thrown his way, he would have creamed Bush. Forbes was never the Republican front runner; Clark is. He's not going to fade.

11. I'm no fan ot the DLC or the DNC. They seem utterly clueless. But Clinton endured them -- he made them -- and the trick is to use them. Clark is his own man, and he's had to deal with the devil to achieve his objectives (Mladic, Milosevic); I think he can handle McAuliffe and crew. He's not playing their play safe and be nice to Repubs game; he's attacking Bush from every angle.

I think it comes down to Clark and Dean, with Kerry and Edwards as long shots.

Clark will rise or fall on where he is after SC, if he gets that far. He is skipping Iowa, can't see him reaching 2nd in NH, or winning SC. Latest National polls on MSNBC this am show him dropping out of first in national poll. Some old pros called him to be a flash in the pan when all the buzz started over the summer. Their call is looking better and better every day.

I don't know how many people will vote for Wesley Clark or for the other Democratic "contendas" ; but I do know that there are many, many folks out there who are "mad as hell and will not take it anymore"(Thank you Paddy Chayevsky).

Wes Clark is the first one who speaks to folks like me-- democrats--small d, thank you very much). We love this country as much as anyone, and the good General has given us permission so to speak, to at last speak out in this darkening and troubling era of so-called, Patriot Acts, military tribunals and other McCarthyesque travesties that threaten the very fabric of the American psyche not to mention the Constitution, ethos, the and the generous spirit that has enabled us to be the world’s brightest beacon of freedom and justice.

Now all we as an empire "seem" to do is attract assorted half-baked, viral hatreds exacerbated by Republican (cap R), bellicosity and ten-cent comic book heroics, not to fail to mention the incipient greed of a once great American institution, the Party of Abraham Lincoln.

Wesley Clark is a uniter, a teacher, and a pragmatic problem solver who is used to shouldering the responsibilities of peoples' lives on the merits of his enormous cognitive skills vast leadership expwerienc, basic decency, and personal bravery.

Pragmatism is the one uniquely American school of philosophical point of view that has enabled America to keep its preeminent place among nations. If you want to call it politics so be it. Wesley Clark then is an excellent politician having the mettle to have climbed to the top of his class at The Point, succed at all of his numerous and illustrious commands and navigated deftly through the shark-infested waters of "Pentagonia".

If Kosovo wasn’t WW2, then thank the spirits it also didn't unravel and become WW3, thanks largely due to Wes Clark’s political adroitness in keeping the entrencched, NATO vs. US backbiting, self-defeating sideshow from stopping the basic mission from derailing. Millions of innocent lives were saved, and a blatant, cynical, Russian land-grab was averted. As to Wes Clark’s being fired for his bad temper by Cohen and Shelton and Co. Clark’s temper is passion, inspired by an unshakable personal ethical superstructure. He put his career on the line then, not once but on a daily basis, and was rewarded by being sandbagged by those two devious carpetbaggers.

Go see:

Cohen.com

And see where both those moochers’ butter is now spread.

Speaking of land-grabs, while the modern, well trained, self-sacrificing US Army, (the one that Wes Clark hashad a significant hand in training) reserves and Guard have their butts in a sling in mudville, the Republican kleptocrats are lining their pockets and eviscerating the Army in the process. And all Rummy can do is get pissed at the press corps.

Wes Clark’s admiration for Powell, Rice, Chenney and Co. as expressed in that infamous Republican fundraiser after 911 was the beginning of Wes Clark’s realization and journey that has enabled him to rebuild his thinking, shaking off personal considerations, personal fondnesses and allowing the Draft Wes Clark phenomenon to play itself out.

He isn’t a spoiling Nader, and he isn’t a Kucinitch kamikaze either. He’s not petulant like Dean, and supercilious like Kerry (Dick Gebhart is the only other genuine article up there for my money).

Wes Clark wants to win, and as I said there are many brigades of folks like me out there who think he can do it.

Draft Wesley Clark folks like me really believe he has the best shot because we see in him a decent, above-average, self-sacrificing, impeccibly honest civil servant and courageous leader. The kind that comes around rarely in a life time. He is kind of magical hero that we thought we saw in JFK. And the Kind with the true grit that we first saw in Harry S. Truman’s hell's kitchen.

If you want to critique the General honestly and are really serious about finding out about Wesley Clark, what he stands for, and what he believes, and how he thinks and functions under fire and you are not just blowing smoke and spouting political claptrap, then start by reading both his books:

"Waging Modern War, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Future of Combat"

And the recently released:

"Winning Modern Wars, Iraq. Terrorism, and The American Empire"

I really wouldn’t underestimate him and his burgeoning band of fire breathing brothers.

Give ‘em hell General!

Welcome to the New Democratic Party, Joe!

Ooohraa

Gen. Wesley Clark is the worst thing that can happen to the previously successful "Southern Strategy" envisioned by Richard Nixon and the brain trust at CREEP.

Down here, we are getting our brains beaten out by the likes of Tom Delay and, earlier, Dick Armey. These right-wingers control the Republican Party machine. Many of the moderate Southern Republicans have no place to go because the right-wingers cut them off at the Republican Primary level. Clark can provide that home.

Wes Clark can pull those Reagan Democrats back into the Democratic fold along with many of the disenchanted moderate Republicans.

Unless, of course, the left-wingers in the Democratic Party lose sight of the "Big Picture", focus only on its a litmus-test agenda for candidates (whether they can win or not), and cut its own moderates out at the primary level like the right-winger do on their side of the aisle.

Myopia is doctrinaire, but seldom wins National elections.

I'm a bit disturbed by the strident tone of a few of the Dean supporters in regards to General Clark. Such an attitude does little to promote the inclusiveness of your candidate, whom many in the Clark campaign admire, and actually hurts Dr. Dean's image by further painting him as angry and bitter, a description I believe to be unfair.

I like Dr. Dean. I admire his passion and the manner in which he can mobilize a crowd. I also admire his moderate stance (despite what has been portrayed in the media).

But, having grown up in Oklahoma and having 1/2 my family be moderate Republicans, I know without question that Dr. Dean will not win against George Bush for precisely the reasons stated in the Gallop Poll demographic breakdown. Clark wins men. Clark wins in the South. These are two *crucial* areas that have been Achilles Heels for the Democratic Party. Quite simply, unless the Democrats learn to bring in new members and swing voters, they will lose this election.

Bush's approval ratings are going back up. Whether that continues to be the case over the next 13 months who can say, but for any of us to believe he's going to be easy to beat is delusional. We have to load up everything in our arsenal if we're going to be able to defeat this enemy and that means voting for the candidate who has the best chance of beating The Idiot In "Charge".

That candidate is General Clark.

Unfortunately, many of the far left of the party will cut off their noses to spite their faces when it comes to voting against the General. I've read umpteen comments from the Liberal portion of the party about "voting with our hearts" when it comes to Dennis Kusinich or Dr. Dean and it's thinking like that that will have the Republicans win every time. Their party knows how to come together despite their differences. Until the Democrats learn how to do the same, there will only be more losses in the future.

And, with Bush as President, that will be a tragedy.

If people would only listen to what General Clark has to say and not what others interpret of him they will come to discover he espouses very true Democratic ideals.

So he voted for Republicans 12 years ago? So what? The first candidate I ever voted for was George H. W. Bush, Sr., does that mean I can't be a Democrat, too? Do my votes for Clinton, Clinton and Gore not count? Are we not allowed to change our minds when presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

General Clark raised money for Republicans *and* Democrats. He has never tried to hide or deny this. He has, in fact, stated several times that he has always tried to remain non-partisan and I find that tremendously refreshing. It's partisan politics from both of the extremes that are destroying the political system.

One last thing. My Republican half of the family has admitted they think Bush is an idiot but, until General Clark came around, they were thoroughly turned off by all the candidates presented by the Democrats. Heck, they *want* to vote for someone other than Bush, but not just anyone. They are, however, excited about voting for General Clark and *that* is incredibly telling.

All that said, if Dr. Dean wins the nomination I will, of course vote for him. I'm pragmatic. I'll vote for anyone --except Lieberman -- to get Bush out of office.

That has to remain our top priority. And I hope that the other Democrats realize this as well.

ChrisMo wrote: "And last but not least: Clark is the DLC/McAuliffe candidate. Their centrist ways lost it for us in '00 and '02 and in the Cali recall. We have tried this route, it has not worked. "

If I put up the DLC against the rest of the Democrat party, they're the only group with a history of successes over the past 20 years. Now you're telling me I should abandon that and do what instead?

The only alternatives to the DLC I've seen articulated are basically to go back to the '84 Mondale campaign. Yeah, that worked.

Thinking outside the box is key, learning from your mistakes is key. Building upon your successes is absolutely key.

Clark makes a good first impression, but where Dean is most well known, Iowa and New Hampshire, his numbers are staying up. About half the Demos don't really know Clark or Dean yet. Nationally, folks are not yet aware that Dean is a moderate. This could eat into Clark's initial good numbers as time goes by.

I served in the 1st Cav when Clark commanded it. Clark really united the Division and quickly had it inspired. He was tough to work for, demanding, high standards--the kinds of things you would expect from someone of his background, but he pushed himself harder than he pushed anyone else. He also understood how to do things most people regarded as damn near impossible and had the confidence to demand that we do them.
I think he is in a good position to win in 2004 because of the errors the Administration has made. The caliber of people involved makes the performance we have seen almost unforgivable, which is probably why Clark is running and not trying to make some real money.
There seem to be a lot of unhappy Republicans. Clark, who has always been seen as a liberal in the circles he traveled in, may be the guy to capture their votes.

Great posts. Sara, thank you for your thoughtful and fact filled writing.

Dr. Dean's biography leaves open many areas for the rovian tank-o-lies to plow through. The idea that he is a NE liberal was planted early and deep by the media. Can he move his rhetoric into the middle for the general election? Currently his policies are very centrist, thus, any move to the right does not please this voter. And yes, I will vote the Democratic ticket because our country simply cannot endure much more of this administration; however, Dean in the WH might be settling for less than we can get.

What pleases me about Clark is the media's perception that he is a "moderate" Democrat. Ha! Except for Kucinich, he is the only candidate who has stated for the record that the entire budget is on the table including the military. He also said that if he needs to find money for Healthcare he would start with the budget that he knows best, the Pentagon's. His exact words in that case were the "want machine." While other candidates might like to look inside the "want machine" for some waste, fraud and abuse cash cows, IMHO, only Clark has the stars to move that proposal through Congress.

One year from now, it is likely that bushco and the shifty media will have convinced many voters that being angry with bush is unpatriotic, and that jobs are returning. Iraq would be as out as Wilson's wife. Poof! I would expect the blitz to begin shortly after the Dem primaries. Much of the softening up has already begun. So whose record and resume has the best chance of standing up to the lies and the liars who tell them? Clark's or Dean's or Kerry's? I'm betting on Clark, and if I win, I believe that the country will be in store for one of the most progressive presidents it's seen in a long, long, time.

Dean has shown himself to be an amazing campaigner and that is something that will be crucial in the next election. The perception of Dean as too liberal to beat Bush is simply a ridiculous misconception that will be proven wrong. The other canididates all have thier own certain strengths but in the end I feel very confident now that Dean will be our next president.

I started out as a Dean supporter. But then I read through General Clarks position papers. Absolutely representative of middle America and the progressive concensus. He makes George W the second look like a shadow patriot. I think we have the makings of a Dream team with Clark at the head of the ticket and either Kerry or Dean as the VP.
Rgds

As an additional comment GEN Clark will absolutely attract enlisted troops away from the R's. He has an impeccable record when it comes to showing his committment to caring for the people that he commanded.