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The Secret of Dean’s Success (and Its Potential Limits)

The plot thickens. Dean continues to raise money hand over fist and develop long lists of supporters he can count on not only to vote for him, but organize others to do the same. And today he should get the formal endorsement of the largest and second-largest unions in the country, SEIU and AFSCME, who, of course, are huge players in Democratic primary/caucus politics all over the country.

The Confederate flag flap seemed to function merely as a speed bump. He’s leading in most national polls, way ahead in New Hampshire, second in Iowa and performing strongly in state polls all over the country.

Geez. How’d this happen? DR strongly recommends Noam Scheiber’s new article in The New Republic, “Joe Trippi Reinvents Campaigning”. It is probably the best account so far on how Dean’s campaign machine got built–and how it works as well as it does. Scheiber’s essential point–and it’s a good one–is that Joe Trippi figured out a clever way to use a technological tool (the internet) to radically decrease the “cost per body” for a candidate seeking the nomination. That is, in the past, candidates have had to knock on doors, make phone calls or send mail (and do it over and over again) to round up the reliable supporters they need to win caucuses and primaries. And all of that costs money--frequently over a long period of time.

With Trippi’s methods, it is possible to generate supporters at quite a low cost–indeed, to come out ahead of the game, because one of the ways you organize these supporters is by getting them to contribute money. And it can all be done fairly quickly, given the nature of the internet as a communications medium.

So it’s not just that Dean has a good message that strongly appeals to many in the Democratic party, as well as some new to politics in general. It’s that he is working with a model of campaigning that’s basically better and more efficient than his competitors.

But that’s to get the nomination, of course. As Scheiber points out, the model is not obviously transferable to a general election where, instead of getting a million or two hardcore supporters in your corner, you need 50 million plus people to vote for you. And the crucial part of that electoral coalition you need to forge are independent voters who lean moderate, not liberal, like Dean’s supporters.

And make no mistake: it’s all about the independents. As DR discussed recently, independent voters are converging with Democrats in their political views and priorities for the country. That’s a great opportunity. And a recent Newsweek poll showed Republicans’ and Democrats’ support and opposition to Bush’s re-election cancelling each other out, but independents opposing Bush’s re-election by 53 percent to 40 percent.

Replicate that pattern in 2004 and the Democrats will win the election. But to do that, the Democratic candidate will have to make millions of independents who don’t like Bush’s policies feel it’s safe to vote for the Democrat.

Can Dean do this? Maybe. But that’s what Joe Trippi should be staying up nights thinking about, because his new model of nomination campaigning is not (yet) a new model of general election campaigning.

DR wishes him luck figuring this out. Or, alternatively, DR hopes Wes Clark gets a good campaign manager.


"And the crucial part of that electoral coalition you need to forge are independent voters who lean moderate, not liberal, like Dean’s supporters."

Nice generalization there. Yep. Dean supporters are liberal. It's a fact. Libraries of evidence put it beyond dispute. Dean's supporters are liberal. Liberal. Liberal. He's too Liberal. Liberal. Liberal. Liberal. Liberal. Liberal. Dean's a Liberal. Liberal. Dirty Liberal. Liberal. Liberal. Like on guns. Liberal. Liberal. Liberal. Like on the budget. Liberal. Liberal. Liberal opposion to wars of choice. Liberal. Dirty. Liberal with Liberal supporters. Kooks. Liberals. Liberal. Liberal. Unelectible Liberals. Liberal loser. Liberal. Liberal.

Gore said he invented the internet. Up is down and black is white. Mission accomplished. Say it enough times and they'll believe it. See, I learned well from Karl Rove. Looks like you did too.

For a writer who usually does a great job backing his statements up with statistics, I'm disappointed to read "liberal, like Dean supporters" in your last post. Where, exactly do you get that? I was the fourth person in Philadelphia to sign up for Dean's Meetup last January and have watched it grow to more than 2,000 in less than a year. I've met a LOT of those folks, and I can tell you that they're not predominantly liberals. In fact, a good proportion of them are (gasp) Republicans.

In fact, I would describe myself as a fiscal conservative, social moderate who believes, for instance, that balanced budgets should be the top priority of the country, that Iraq is now a big mess that we can't simply abandon and that gun control is a lost cause for Democrats. The last person I voted for was Republican Sam Katz for Mayor.

I think that you, perhaps, along with many others (including especially the DLC), have concluded that Dean is too liberal for the general election because he's so passionate about his beliefs. It would be amusing if it weren't so foolish.

What, exactly has Dean ever said or done that would lead anyone to believe he OR his supporters are so liberal? Is it the civil unions bill? If so, then every single one of the Democratic presidential candidates must be leftwing nuts, since they all agree on that measure (along with none other than Dick Cheney, by the way, [see vp debate in 2000]). Is it his anti-Iraq war stance? If so, then 50 percent of the country must be left-wing since that's how many opposed the war in February and how many have returned to that stance now that it's turning into a quagmire.

Intensity and passion do NOT equal left wing. Intensity and passion DO equal a breath of fresh air in a sea of mediocrity and Washington insider hot air. In it's zeal to appeal to some imaginary mushy middle, the Democrats in Washington have forgotten to stand for anything (look no further than the 2002 congressional non-campaign). Howard Dean has reminded them, thank god, to be proud to be Democrats and to stand up for their beliefs and against Bush. They've started to wake up because of Dean (does anyone believe Richard Gephardt would have used the words "miserable failure" to describe George W Bush if Dean hadn't been in this race?).

Wesley Clark may be the answer to all of your prayers (and I hope he really is--it would be nice to have a tough choice between two great candidates in the primaries) but you might consider doing a little of your famous research before making sweeping generalizations about Howard Dean's supporters. Here's a tip to start with: check out who's winning the most INDEPENDENT voters in New Hampshire polls by a wide margin (and no, it isn't Clark. Or Kerry. Or Gephardt...).

A Dean/Clark ticket.
A Clark/Dean ticket.

Either way sounds pretty doggone electable to me.

Now who gets to be president, who gets to be VP? I would propose the Joel and Ethan Coen method as a reasonable way to decide this matter.

When they started to make movies, Joel and Ethan split all the work and responsibility evenly. The problem was: what to do about credit?

Simple. As they've explained in many interviews, Joel's bigger and can beat Ethan up.

So Joel got the director credit and Ethan settled for producer. But anyone who's worked with them knows they both function as director and producer.

In Clark and Dean's case, a simple coin toss should suffice.

See? It's simple. Blood simple.

To anyone who is so passionately committed to Dean:

I'm really curious about one thing - which states, not won by Gore but very close, do you think Dean could win? I don't see any, frankly. The Northeast for the most part is a lock for the Dems. Bush is very unlikely to pick up any traction in Mass., New York, etc. The South (yes, a very dirty word for some) and the Midwest have a lot of the swing states that make or break the necessary Electoral College math. I hope everyone is remembering, this isn't about a popularity contest or overall votes. It has to be considered with an eye towards winning on the tote board. Maybe I'm completely wrong (and I do hope I am in this case), but I cannot see Dean picking up anything in the South and maybe not in the Midwest. Clark can. The reception to him here is quite different than to any Democrat in my adult lifetime. He feels right to people who are unhappy with the Bushies but haven't felt comfortable with a Dem in quite a long time.

Again, where you live probably plays into this as well. However, I'd say living in one state and working in another that both went to Bush in 2000 (Kentucky and Ohio, respectively) gives me a different and I'd argue quite valid perspective on electability. The view from within what is generally friendly territory for Dems isn't quite the same. Maybe a bit like preaching to the choir.

I'm not going to get into the labelling game - who's a liberal, what is a liberal, why did we let the Repugs turn it into a dirty word, etc. That kind of in-fighting leaves us very sad come November.


And, who says that what works in the primary (in terms of organization) won't work in the general? The (alleged) fact that Dean's supporters are passionate liberals simply means that they are tuned in to politics at the present, which is probably more true of those at both ends of the spectrum than those in the middle. Ever hear of "early adopters"?

Those in the middle ("independents"), when they focus next summer and fall, can be won with the same skills that built the Dean machine for the primaries.

Linda said: I'm really curious about one thing - which states, not won by Gore but very close, do you think Dean could win?

New Hampshire and one of the following: WV, Nevada, Ohio, Florida.

As someone who looks at your site everyday and has great respect for your research methods, I too wonder what is up with the generalizations. Where is your reseach showing how independants feel about Dean. I just want to see numbers backing up your concerns about having Dean as the chosen candidate. What is it about Dean that causes you, the DLC, and Josh Marshall to start hyperventalating. Just curious.

Relax, all you Dean partisans. This is the most temperate thing I've read from a non-Dean-backing Dem in the past couple of weeks. Ruy's right. Trippi WILL have to stay up nights worrying about this. But at least he's not trashing Dean. I don't see a flat-out "non-electable" hand-wringing here.

I have to agree with Linda on this. One thing I don't hear from from Dean supporters on the unelectable issue is a winning strategy. They just seem to pout when you point out that despite the fact that he's a great guy - he can't beat Bush!

I think it's time for Juids and Teixeira to a much better job of analyzing Howard Dean and his candidacy than they have done so far. They seem to fixate on the fact that a lot of Dean's supporters are people who are culturally toxic to the swing voters who elected Clinton in 92 and 96. Well, so what? The question is whether DEAN is, and on this point, persistent assertion does not equal evidence. It may well be that Dean alienates the guys with pickup trucks and various bumperstickers in the South, but face it: the South, with the possible exception of Florida, is not coming back to the Democrats, no matter how hard the DLC may try to pander to it. Where appeal to cultural conservatives is important is in other states: Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and West Virginia, as well as some of the states in the upper Midwest that we take for granted at our peril. How does/can Dean do there, John and Ruy? And please provide us some EVIDENCE to support your views.

Two points:

I agree that Dean is a moderate and not a liberal, but perception is everything in politics. Rove & Co. will hang (unfairly) the New England liberal who supports gay marriage around his neck, and they'll have $200 million with which to reenforce this message. Sad as it is, the vast majority of the electorate will not research Dean's positions to discover he's actually a moderate -- they will make a gut level decision based on what they see on TV (another problem Dean needs to address), and the prevailing sentiment about him.

Second, I have yet to see any evidence of Dean's appeal to minority voters. In Texas, where I live, a large chunk of the Dem primary electorate is African American and Latino. I know many good people who are supporting/working for Dean here, and they are all white. How is going to change this? And don't tell me about Jessie Jr's endorsement -- endorsements are overrated in politics.

Hey Mara,

See my post down below. I don't think it will be easy to win any of those states, but I don't understand why people dismiss Dean's chances so offhandedly.

The strategy is clear: Bring back those that voted for Nader in 2000 and bring more people into the mix particularly by reaching out to the 18-30 crowd. Throw in folks who go gaga for balanced budgets or really want health care et voila! electoral victory.

The question is not simply winning Southern states. As others have pointed out, Dems don't need that. But it is important to at least be competitive in Southern states, to force Bush to spend time and resources on them. Otherwise, Bush will be able to focus all his resources on the battleground states (WV, OH, MI, PA, etc) and put much more energy into them.

Dean's Internet campaign is an amazing phenomenon. It could be an extraordinary break from the television-dominated campaigns of the past. It has certainly worked for creating buzz and donations. But we have yet to see how well it will translate into votes, either in a primary or a general election. That's a very different proposition. I wish I could be sanguine about it, but we don't have any positive evidence yet. The only example I can think of is MoveOn's attempt to turn back the CA recall, which clearly had no meaningful impact on voters.

As for liberal/electable/etc: the concern as I see it is that Dean is perceived as staking much of his message on anger at Bush. Many Americans don't feel that passionately about that particular issue. And the danger is that you alienate them by playing to that too much.

I, too, am distressed to see a number of Dem pundits I respect (Ruy, Josh Marshall, Amy Sullivan) walking almost in lockstep behind the "Clark can win, Dean can't" talking point. And my distress comes even though I haven't personally decided between Clark or Dean, as I'm still licking my wounds over being a Bob Graham supporter.

I can tell you, however, that Dean is more electable than most pundit-insiders will admit, because he's using the same mix of populist outreach and political-spectrum-triangulation that was honed so well by the Clinton-DLC-Dick Morris team. It's a mix that inspires and empowers independent voters, especially those that have previously avoided the ballot box, and his enigmatic mix of political positions will reassure voters who get turned off by lock-step partisan platforms. Its the same mix, much to my chagrin as a Democratic Californian, that propelled Arnold into our governor's office in the recent recall election.

Can Dean appeal to Southern whites? His stances on the death penalty and gun control give him a strong shot on cultural issues important to this voting bloc, and his irascibility will evoke comparisons with feisty southerners like Ann Richards and Ross Perot. Can Dean appeal to minorities? I'd say that the endorsement of the two largest union employers of minorities is a good indication that he can.

What I'd really be interesting in seeing (and it won't be possible unless Joe Trippi decides to send me a CD with his dataset) is the geographic distribution of the people who have subscribed to the Dean campaign's e-mail list. I'd be willing to bet that, if you put a dot on the map for every 1,000 subscribers, you would have a few everywhere, but extremely high concentrations in places like Cambridge, MA; Northwest DC; the Upper West Side; the Bay Area, etc.

The type of people who live in those places can be great for a campaign - highly interested in politics, sufficient disposable income to make repeated contributions, etc. But, there is a limit to the effectiveness of this in terms of reaching swing voters in swing states - how many "NASCAR dads" does someone in this demographic know? (I don't know any.) How many of these people have even visited the "flyover states" recently (and no, trips to Aspen and Vail don't count)?

It's hard to explain succinctly why Dean won't connect with most folks "out there," but, having lived a few years in rural central Florida myself - I know intuitively I would have a much easier time "selling" Clark there than Dean, if for no other reason than Dean's background as an upper-class Yankee...

Greg Priddy

I'm really curious about one thing - which states, not won by Gore but very close, do you think Dean could win? I don't see any, frankly.

Linda, I disagree. I think Dean would have a good chance of winning Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire based on his greater libertarian-ness than Gore (or Bush). Plus, he'll do better than Gore in Ohio and West Virginia based on guns. His downside will be lack of personal religiosity and civil unions.

I share people's concerns about Dean's electability, but I think ultimately the race will come down to a referrendum on whether we should fire the current president. If people think Bush is doing an acceptable job, they'll probably give him the benefit of the doubt regardless of who the Democratic nominee is. If people grow increasingly impatient with how things are going - particularly Iraq, which has turned out to be W's big Achilles heel, then Dean may be best positioned to tap into voters' anger.

From what I've seen so far, I actually think Kerry is the best candidate out there. If you don't believe me, watch him in an unstructured, unscripted appearance. I'm kinda perplexed at the way things have turned out for his campaign so far.

Continuing with precinct1233's comment:

I live in what is probably the most Democratic section of the state of Ohio, near Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown. Dean would have a hard time winning here, so I can imagine how he'd fare in the rest of the state. I think with Dean as the candidate, the Dems can probably "chalk off" Ohio as a red state again.

I have pretty much been hoping for a surge in the Clark campaign, but he didn't do himself any good among Dems yesterday with his support of a constitutional amendment banning flag burning.

Anyone have an alternate plan? Because it's beginning to look to me like we Democrats are shooting ourselves in the foot, or should I say, both feet?

Hey hey! Now we're talking. This is exactly the discussion we should be having: how do we translate Dean's grassroots miracle into winning the general election?

Here's my two cents:

#1 The $100 revolution. Trippi has already started this one in motion. The idea is that if 2 million Americans donate $100 each, we can match Bush's $200 million in campaign donations. This is no longer a "pie in the sky" goal - we can do this. Financial parity is step one to defeating the Bush machine.

#2 Neutralize Bush on foreign policy by demonstrating how he has sold out our soldiers. I.e., sending them into Iraq undermanned, cutting benefit pay, calling escalating attacks "progress," "bring 'em on," blaming the navy for the "Mission Accomplished" embarrassment, hiding returning body bags, and allowing a General to make inflammatory anti-Muslim statements. Make the case that Dean knows what it's like to lose a brother to war and that he will not use troops as political tools.

#3 Jobs, spending, deficits. Say over and over that Bush has lost America the most jobs since Herbert Hoover. He has passed the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And he has created the biggest deficits since 1992. Contrast that with Dean's successful financial stewardship of Vermont. Call Bush the "borrow and spend" candidate - say he is going on a shopping spree with America's credit card. Ask Americans if they'd rather have $300 tax cuts or health care, better schools, lower property taxes, etc.

#4 Doctor Dean. All of Dean's positions can be better appreciated through the lens of a "Doctor for America." Pre-emptive war in Iraq? Do no harm. NAFTA? A good medicine with some nasty side effects. Bush's tax cuts? A placebo that won't heal our healthy economy. Tort reform? A band-aid for a broken health care system. Bush's education policy? He made an appointment but left us sitting in the waiting room. People like doctors, they trust them to make tough decisions, and they are willing to listen to them delivering both bad news and hope for the future. Plus embracing his inner Doctor gives Dean credibility on health care, the Drug war, and even environmental policy. (How much cyanide in the water is too much?)

#5 Deputize America. Too many conservatives see the Democrats' message as, "don't worry, the government will solve all your problems." This has *never* been Dean's message. He needs to continue telling audiences, "Only you have the power to take our country back." This is not just a method for winning the election, it's a message of hope for our country. Americans can do more to help than just "go shopping." We can work together in ways that excite us, bring real results, and benefit everyone.

I welcome others into this productive, and necessary, conversation.

Just a quick note on Dean's position on the death penalty. Here's what his blog said about it:

Governor Dean opposes the death penalty except in very limited circumstances involving extreme and heinous crimes.

...When he became governor in 1991, Howard Dean opposed the death penalty in all cases.

...In 1997, after a number of brutal crimes involving the murder of children, including the abduction, rape and murder of 12-year old Polly Klass in California, Dean spoke publicly about his reconsideration of his position on the death penalty.... After careful deliberation, Dean concluded that the death penalty may be an appropriate punishment in limited circumstances such as the murder of a child or a police officer.

...Finally, as a result of the mass murder that took place on September 11, 2001, he concluded that the death penalty should also be available in cases of terrorists who take human life.

I don't know where that places him on the spectrum, but I'm not sure that this particular position helps him with southern whites as Schabert suggests. There are undoubtedly horrifying stories out there of some 50 year old husband and wife who were brutally murdered and Karl Rove will point to this crime as examples of where Howard Dean is "soft" on criminals. This is a very tough issue to parse and I don't know that this compromise position is a political winner, either way.

Regarding the Ohio post just below, I think it's important to remember that Dean has never polled well anywhere that he hasn't already set up a ground campaign. This is because he is a brand-new candidate with no previous national face time. The lack of attention paid to Ohio by all the candidates is revaled by the fact that, in the last poll I saw, Lieberman was still leading in Ohio. Once Dean gets his Ohio campaign going, I think he'll be formidable so long as he moderates his message (both in terms of content and volume).

DR, a question for ya...

Does a strong showing in NH, where independents vote in the primary, translate into strong general election support among independents? Is it an indicator at all about how a candidate will do? Just wondering if there is anything out there about this.

Also, one thing I think the "Dean in unelectable" commentary tends to overlook is the ability to keep the liberal "Nader voters" in the D column in the general election. I think the assumption that they will simply go the Anybody But Bush route takes them for granted in the same manner that lost these guys in 2000. I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone is really talking about this.

The key to Dean's success with Independents (and Ruy is right--that's probably the key to beating Bush) is whether or not he can activate his base of several million supporters (which he'll have down the line) to work (and contribute--which funds can be used to hire workers) to persuade I's and moderate R's to support him. If he can't, he probably won't win; if he can, he's got a great chance.

The key word for Dean is "exponential." He's seen exponential growth in his contributions: $2.5M the first quarter, $7.5 the second quarter, $15 the third. Obviously, there's a limit to exponential growth there somewhere, but where it is is the answer to his chances. We'll see--but I'm reasonably optimistic.

digby, thanks for the clarification on Dean's death penalty stance. Your clarification will also be news to the pro-Clark pundit/bloggers, who have been playing up Dean's support for the death penalty as a big reason why he can't appeal to minorities.

I'm heartened to see all the intelligent debate on this issue. Agreed, I think more info on actual, not perceived, positions of moderates, liberals, independents, etc. would be most helpful. Ohio comes up often on this discussion, as it well should. No Republican has taken the White House without Ohio, so it's an important swing state. Marcia has her geographic breakdown of Ohio just right. The northern, more liberal NE stands the best chance of voting like an northern/eastern state. The SW (Cincinnati) where I live is very conservative and reliably ROP (much more Southern in mentality). Right to Life was founded here, for the love of Pete. Neutralizing the GOP advantage down here tilts the state into the Blue column. We proved it with Clinton. Respectfully, Dean seems to play negatively here. Not just unknown but negatively. John Q is right - Ohio has yet to be visited by these fine folks. Now that it's part of Super Tuesday, they'll come in droves. I hate it but I'm very, very pessimistic about Dean flipping any of our swing votes, which would virtually ensure the state for Bush.

Andrew has an excellent point, however, regarding making the GOP fight harder for the states they absolutely need. I think they know how to play Dean in those swing states, or at least have a great start in the name calling/labelling game. Clark has to scare them more - he's just not as easily dirtied. Sometimes it helps to never have held public office. Less changed votes, etc, to highlight. Make them spend their immense war chest where they hadn't wanted to and it decreases what money they can throw at the swing states.


I'm relieved to see DR finally saying that Dean could win the general election. I'm not expecting an endorsement and its obvious where your feelings are on this matter. But the recent refrain of "we are DOOMED DOOMED if we nominate Dean!" has become tiresome in the extreme.

Will Dean have a tought fight in the general election?


Will Dean have a tougher fight than any of the other candidates?

I'm not convinced.


Include me in the list of conservative Democrats who are supporting Dean. This myth that Dean is the liberals liberal is just another talking point that the right is pushing. That so many Democrats are adopting it as reality proves that they still haven't learned the lesson of the last few years.

That lesson: don't take political advice from the opposition!

I appreciate the thoughtful exchanges on the site. It seems to me that the Bush camp is happy about Dean -- almost like McGovern in 72. My concern is that they (Rove, et.al.) will attempt to destroy Clark much as Nixon did to Muskie. I am also curious to see what happens in the next few months -- with Kerry -- he will either improve immensely or be a non-entity. The other thought I wanted to throw out is the possiblity of Clark running as a third party candidate with the backing of Perot or Soros. Any thoughts?

I think some folks are making good points. The Dean = Doom prophesy could be self-fulfilling--maybe even wishful thinking for some of the centrists who'd rather be right and lose than wrong and win (e.g., the DLC and The New Republic). We forget too easily how Gore launched his brilliant come back in 2000. I think he's the only candidate in the polling era to win the popular vote after coming out of his own convention with a double-digit deficit. The difference? He cleaned house, moved to Nashville, and started shouting "People vs. the Poweful!" All this despite a press corp that HATED him. As far as I can tell the press will play up a Dean-Bush match as the liberal firebrand vs. the born-again neo-con (a contrast I like), but at least they don't hate Dean's @ss. I'd like to see Ruy pick up on his Forgotten Majority theme and how Dean could recover from his Confederate flag mis-statement to appeal to red-state voters. (So far he's the only candidate who's stuck his neck out for us.) That Emerging Democratic Majority ideopolis/cultural creative routine isn't going to cut it out here in the hinterlands.

Go, foo bard! Ruy: where is the evidence that Dean's supporters are overwhelmingly (or even largely) to the left of the Democratic Party's mainstream? I mean, seriously! Where's the evidence? Didn't the latest Zogby national poll find Dean leading in the South, among independents, among men?

I do give Ruy the big ol' thumbs up on his basic analysis: he tips his hat to Trippi and the Dean campaign's general brilliance. See also The fact is, the Dean campaign is super competent, and the other guys are blundering left and right. The day that Ruy or John Judis or Josh Marshall explain to me how Clark gets elected while running a completely bozo campaign is the day I vote for the general in the primary.

Don't get me wrong: I like the general! I could be convinced! But he ain't getting past Karl Rove if he doesn't know how to run a political campaign. And hiring the guys who lost the White House for Al Gore, and then losing a key union endorsement by dropping out of Iowa, demonstrates basic incompetence. He's got a great resume, blows Dean away on TV, but there's a lot more to winning than that.

Two questions: How much of the handwringing about Dean's electability among establishment Democrats in Washington is really anxiety that Dean's ascendancy takes away their own power within the Party? And does Ruy really think that Joe Trippi is not thinking about the general election? What on earth do you think motivated the decision to turn down matching funds? That was not principally about winning the nomination, but about competing against Bush. Finally, it seems to me that Dean has an early start on organizing in states across the nation, in the form of informal steering committees, volunteers etc. ready to be turned official at the campaign's say so. (Okay, so there were three questions.)

This is a huge story: GOP strategy memos give away their 2004 strategy:


Okay, we've got their attack plan. How do we defeat it?

I'm disappointed Ruy. I hope that you have some sort of data to back up your sweeping generalizations.

Also, to those who think that we could possibly win Florida next year: forget about it. They cheated once, and they will cheat again. The fix is in. Concentrate on Ohio or any two combination of Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia and Arizona.

Those who dismiss Dean as the "next McGovern" should remember that the Democrats had labeled Reagan as the "next Goldwater" in 1979-80 and were licking their chops just waiting for an easy win. I hope people continue to underestimate Dean all the way to the White House.

Dean's gotta make a move to negate his current position of raising middle class taxes. I still think any economic improvement makes Clark considerably more viable than Dean, who needs populist discontent on the economy because he can't negate foreign policy like Clark.

And dismissing Clark now because his campaign is not running smoothly *now*, is silly. Wait til, say Jan-Feb, and decide then. I think Clark's problems are much more fixable than Dean's.

The SEIU and AFSCME endorsements drive a big hole in the Dean is unelectable arguments. It shows he has much broader appeal than people like Ruy give him credit for and that some very savvy political operatives think he is very electable. I recommend the recent Dan Balz piece in the Wash. Post to everyone. Electability was the number one issue for Gerald McEntee, leader of AFSCME, and here is part of what Balz reported:

"As he began shopping for a new candidate, McEntee had a positive meeting with Gephardt, leading the former House Democratic leader to believe he might get the support of Iowa's most powerful union. But McEntee had also asked two top advisers, executive assistant Lee Saunders and political action director Larry Scanlon, to go out and look at the headquarters operations of the campaigns. When they got to Dean's Burlington headquarters in late October, they found energy, innovative use of technology, fundraising prowess and a clear strategy for winning.

"They were blown away in Burlington," McEntee said."

Yes there is much fanfare over Dean whose name-recognition has soared (like George McGovern in the Spring of '72), so less attached voters are naming him to pollsters at the moment. (There was a time in the Spring of '72 when McGovern basqued in the glow of positive publicity; and remember Dukakis' 17 point lead).

The fact is that a candidate's liberalism eventually catches up to them and the candidtate gets relegated back to the starbucks ghetto. Witness Dukakis and McGovern.

In Nov., Dean would have diffiuclty w white male voters outside of the northeast region. And a second-tier issue like gun control will not save him. Nor is fiscal discipline any longer a conservative stance.

Whatever Dean's specific positions on the issues, his cultural subtext is that of a secularizing liberal intellectual.

Clark is the one candidate who can transcend swing voters' stereo-types about the DEM party as the party of personal permissiveness; Clark can revive the "Ask not . . ." spirit of community and duty.

re: Heckraiser:

I hope, hope, hope that Rove does trumpet the pre-emption doctrine, since it is a strategy that flies in the face of American foreign policy for the past 200 years. Many conservatives have serious problems with the pre-emption doctrine.

Of course, that won't get them to vote for Dean...

I am always interested in Ohio discussions -- having been born there, lived in three cities and one village, and having had my intro to Elective Politics 101 working on JFK's 1960 campaign in and around Dayton. (Kennedy lost Ohio -- I think pulled down a few points by a Governor who had some sort of vaguely remembered scandal headlineing the campaign.)

Ohio is actually a number of states. The Southeast tends to vote like West Virginia -- the North East (excluding Akron) is New Englandish in the Progressive Republican manner, Cleveland and Loraine are Industrial -- now rust belt and along with Akron and Youngstown, marginal business and otherwise depressed. Big Capital has left them to rot. Toledo can be Democratic but its hinterland is rock ribbed Republican. Dayton is much influenced by how the Military is going -- about 100,000 votes depend on DOD spending. Cincy and Middletown have lost major industry, and under the surface is still a significant racial divide. The problem for Democrats is building coalition among all these parts -- something no one has effectively managed for decades -- or at least since Glenn and Metzenbaum put it together.

Last summer I did a little "polling" in the assisted living center -- upper income type -- where my Aunt lives outside of Cleveland. Nearly 100% voted for Bush in 00 -- but nearly all were interested in an alternative as of last August. They were attracked to Clark, though he had not yet announced, but they simply did not understand Dean, and from what I hear, still don't. They are put off by extermist Republicans -- but they don't see a coherent alternative. My guess is that the failure to offer coherence is very much related to the difficulty of creating coalitions among the above interests.

Any Dem can win Ohio; Ohio is eminently winnable for the Democrats in 2004. Marcia's assertion (above) that Dean won't play in the NE strongholds is just that, an assertion. I too live in the area. I think the Democrats could run a yellow dog and, if that yellow dog visited Akron, visited Cleveland, visited Canton, etc., that dog would poll better than you'd expect.

Ohio is Republican from governor to dogcatcher, and the state is a mess. Next to California and New York, no state has lost more jobs under the Bush administration. The state is worse than broke. Things are not good here.

Gore pulled out of Ohio too early in 2000. Whether or not he "really" gave up on Ohio, that's the perception. Any Dem nominee that embraces Ohio and focusses on Ohio and woos Ohio will get a long-lost-hero's welcome (provided Kucinich is not the nominee; we know all about him and he won't raise huge crowds).

The key to winning Ohio is twofold. One, get out the vote in the Democratic city-states. Two, better than disastrous in the more thinly-populated Republican areas. Northwest Ohio is typically Republican but Clinton did OK up there. Gore suffered from Clinton fatigue. (This is something that Clark would face - he could be smeared as the hand-picked choice of the Clintons and that could fire up these Ohio republicans.) I think the anti-incumbent feeling that helped Clinton in 92 and Bush in 00 will work again in 04. In the end, Gore polled much closer to Bush than the all-knowing must-worship polls predicted. I think the pullout cost Gore the election. Ohio was within reach.

Disclaimer: I did go to two Dean "meetups" this past summer. Held in Cuyahoga Falls, both meetings attracted fifty or sixty people. At the second meeting I sat and listened to a married couple rant about how angry they were with Gore for giving up on them. That's just an anecdote, but it's a little better than a mere assertion.

What I found most interesting about the Newsweek poll was that Bush's reelect numbers show no "gender gap". 51% of both men and women oppose Bush's reelection.

Bush's falling support among men is likely due to both economic hardships and perceived failure in Iraq.

I think it's safe to assume that Bush's better showing amongst women is based on the increased importance of more general security issues -- and his perceive "strength". He certainly isn't winning over women with his domestic policies (IDE abortion ban, etc.).

What does this mean? Well, if Democrats hold their gains amongst men, and reach back out to women there are more than enough votes out there to bring down Bush.

More specifically, Democrats need a candidate who can translate specific failures in Iraq into a more general theme of insecurity.

I'd like to here DR's view on the gender gap?

More on Ohio:

ten nights is correct in one thing....Gore DID give up on Ohio. I worked for him at our county Dem HQ and the Dem polls showed them as being behind by 8% slightly more than two weeks before the election. They pulled out, stopped running all ads, and made no more appearances in the Buckeye State. He lost the state by something like 3%. So much for THOSE polls. My statement that the NE part of the state is also turning more toward the GOP is not simply an assertion. Corruption in local government in Trumbull and Mahoning counties (all Democrats, nobody else could win there) ... and Jim Traficant... have driven an awful lot of former Dems into the waiting arms of the Republican party. The Youngstown Vindicator even supported GWBush.

Sara, Youngstown is still depressed and surviving on a few marginal businesses. Not so with Akron. It's doing fine. I think it's one of the faster growing areas in the state. And it's also growing more conservative.

If Dean wins the nomination I hope Joe Trippi has some spectacular plans for winning states like Ohio, because at the moment I would give him no more chance than I'd give a snowball in hell.

A lot can happen between now and the general election, of course. Dean hasn't received a single vote yet in the primaries, and if he wins that primary race, they just may have a strategy. But at the moment, I'd say that the only Dem that has a shot at the state of Ohio would be Wes Clark.

I haven't seen any recent polls, but the University of Cincinnatti conducted an Ohio poll maybe 8 weeks ago. Bush's approval rating in the state is still well above 50%, and was at that time, more than a few points above the national average.

On the plus side: This may turn out to be a real fight for the nomination, so whomever wins it will be seasoned with a tough campaign and just may be strong enough to beat Bush. One can dream, anyway.

From my perspective, Clark is the better candidate if the purpose is to win the general election. Funny how nobody is mentioning the other 7.

Dean will win bacause he is a "MODERATE". That is his secret weapon. A Doctor no less. His fiscall conservatism makes Bush look like th fool that he is.

By the way he will not oick Clark as a running mate. Trust me on this. Clark has no DC experience and this will be vital for Dean. Not sure who he will choose?

He will definitely be elected. Clark could be SecDef.

I posted this on Daily Kos, but I hope to get some interesting responses from this site as well (sorry for swearing):

I'm hoping y'all can help me out. When I head back South to see my family, all extremely conservative, politics will inevitably come up. My family are smart people, not ditto-heads, so they always suprise me with "new information." Are any of you guys taking notice of what the smart conservatives are grabbing onto as their talking points? I need some heads up. So often, I'm with these people and they bring up shit I've never heard of before... they sort of win the argument, and it's only later, after some internet searches, etc., that i can see how faulty their arguments are. If some of you monitor what's going on in conservative circles, I would appreciate the scoop so I can prepare before thanksgiving.

Best to all during this holiday season!


I know it's too early for Ohio polls that mean much - no one has spent a dime or a minute on the state. However, as a lifelong SW Ohio resident, I absolutely agree with Marcia. Clark can take Ohio. I don't see Dean doing it, unless Iraq further melts down into a 3-4 lost helicopter place for the remaining 12 months. I'm sickened by the losses already and can't stand pinning hopes on anything that awful. Clark conveys optimism. With Dean I just see anger. That won't be enough I think for a great many people.

When people predict Dean's weakness in the general election, there are, I think at least two element that are being overlooked.

First, Dean is the first Democrat in years who has excited the party's base. He enjoys a passionate and loyal following, so passionate that if they feel that Russert has been unfair to him, they are prepared to bury him with nasty letters. DR & all so called pundits are accustomed to Democratic candidates, who ignore their base and run after the holy grail of "white males," and they all end up losing anyway, as the base is too unenthusiastic to vote. Conversely, to the Repuglican, their base comes first. They are always doing something to excite them -- like the current fillibuster. They satisfy their base first and everything else is gravy.

The second thing that DR & the pundits usually miss as they account for Dean's remarkable success is his character. For some strange reason no one touches that. They'll talk about the internet, anger, liberals, primarys anything but character. Think about this quote from Governor Dean, "I'm tired of my party being bullied by the right wing." There. They will never, never, never, never, appreciate what those 11 words meant to millions and millions and millions of people, and will mean to millions more. Dean's people want to CHANGE things, to shake this system up.
We are tired of taking crap from the Repuglican thugs and their friends in the media; we've had it up to here, and we aren't going to take it anymore. We do not want their smarmy, timid, Republican-lite Democrats who allow the Rps to ride roughshod over them and who just tinker around the edges.

At first we thought that Wes Clark had the potential to be that man, but soon we learned that he too was all praise & glory when the lying thief was at 78% in the polls. Kerry from the South.

So. Please do not underestimate to passion of Dean's followers, and recognize that he's the only person in the race who has exhibited some form of courage. He spoke up when others were just to scared.

Sharing. Just saw this piece from APJ. Thought some of you may find it interesting.

American Politics Journal
Nov. 13, 2003

Why Rove Fears Dean -- He might be the "Democratic Reagan"
By Mike Hersh (http://www.mikehersh.com)

Nov. 13, 2003 -- WASHINGTON (mikehersh.com) -- According to Republican
pollsters Bob Moore and Hans Kaiser:

"The potential for the economy to remain sluggish... and conditions in
the Middle East are impossible to predict. Should these situations
remain status quo or worsen, America will be looking for someone new...
who can shake America out of the doldrums and reinvigorate the body
politic. [Governor Howard] Dean would provide solutions and excitement
where the other Democrats... are not as convincing because they don't
have the perceived conviction of a Howard Dean."

"A Dean candidacy is a lot more realistic than people think [because]
Dean's appeal is closer to Ronald Reagan's than any other Democrat
running today.... The Democratic Party used to chuckle about Reagan and
his gaffes, which they believed would marginalize him to the far-right
dustbin of history. But when his opponents tried to attack him for some
of his more outlandish statements, the folks in the middle simply
ignored them. Voters... looked to the bigger picture, where they saw a
man of conviction who cared about them and had solutions for their
problems." [source: http://www.moore-info.com]

All the top-tier Democratic challengers can beat Bush, but Dean poses
the biggest threat. Republicans once hoped Dean would get the nomination
to run against Bush. No longer. As Dean continues to gain support and
break fund-raising records by drawing on 100,000s of supporters, the
Bush brain-trust (Karl Rove) and the pro-Bush media have changed their

Republicans want two things: first, a long and bitter Democratic primary
fight leaving the party split and the activists exhausted and second, a
weak candidate they can trounce. If Dr. Howard Dean wraps up the
nomination early, that would frustrate both Republican aims. The
Republicans no longer see Dean as the weakest of the top Democrats.

How do I know? Because if they really thought Dean would be easy for
Bush to beat, they'd build him up to make sure he'd win the Democratic
nomination. They were doing that last summer, but no longer. They now
fear Governor Dean most of all. That explains why Republicans bash Dean
constantly. On right-wing hate radio and on the talking head shows. On
the editorial pages and in the "news" sections. As these tactics fail,
Republican fear grows.

They fear Governor Dean because Dean thrives on slams and bad press.
They just make his support grow wider and deeper. Republicans need
Democratic disunity but Dean brings together all corners of the
Democratic Party -- even those who defected to Nader in 2000 -- with
unmatched passion and intensity. Dean does this without alienating
independent "swing voters." Republican pollsters and consultants used to
dismiss that as impossible, but Dean is doing it. Already the emerging
issues favor Dean as well.

Already about half of America knows Bush is mishandling Iraq. As more
learn Saddam was not connected to 9/11 and as costs and casualties
inexorably increase, so will Dean's support. As Iraq tips from a winning
issue for Bush into a liability, only Dean among the top-tier Democrats
can make the case against the war he opposed even before it started.

Months ago, Dean predicted in detail the failure, wasted $billions and
deaths we see today. Other leading Democrats must mute their attacks on
Bush's failed foreign policy because they once supported it. As Dean
says, they're asking questions now they should have asked before support
Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq. Bush can paint others as flip-floppers
on the war, but Dean has remained constant in his opposition to the
bloody "Bush Doctrine."

The other anti-war Democrats -- Carol Moseley Braun, Al Sharpton and
Dennis Kucinich -- have no chance to win the nomination. As that becomes
clear, even their most ardent supporters must choose between Dean and a
pro-war Democrat. Dean will welcome support from the passionate,
idealistic Democrats currently backing these other candidates.

With their added strength, Dean can surge in the next round of
primaries. If Dean runs away with the nomination -- by winning or
placing second in Iowa, winning in New Hampshire, and exceeding
expectations in the South -- Dean and the Democrats can unite and begin
targeting Bush. Dean has the cure for divisive "wedge" issues -- race,
gay rights, guns, abortion -- a plain-spoken appeal on things that
really matter. Good jobs. Good schools. Health care.

Dean hopes to re-unite middle class and working families against the
greedy elites into a new New Deal Coalition. History shows that real
progress is not possible without such an alliance among people of good
will from all regions and races. This unity would mark the end of Rove's
Republican dreams of domination and a new beginning of a Democratic
American dream -- a fresh renaissance of the New Deal and the Great

If Dean pulls off this ambition, he can help remake America, bringing us
into the 21st Century with universal health care, access to high quality
education for all Americans, investment in our people, millions of good
new jobs, strong protections for the environment, workers and consumers,
with equality, fairness and justice for women, minorities, GLBT people
-- all of us. Almost all Americans want all of this, and Dean is working
to unite the vast majority of us against the tiny extreme right wing
minority clinging to power by dividing us.

Dean is even reaching out to Bush's base. His clumsy phrasing aside,
Dean is making a strong appeal to poor and working class white males. If
Bush has to defend his base, Bush will lose. Electoral calculus holds
that even if Dean doesn't pick off a deep south state, Bush could lose
states like West Virginia, New Hampshire, Arizona, and possibly even
Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina or Ohio.

A loss in any of these states would send Bush packing for Crawford,
Texas. A win in several of these states would grant Dean a mandate to
remake America into greatness. This prospect makes Karl Rove's cold
blood run colder. With the stakes this high, increasingly desperate to
stop Dean, what can Rove do? Try to elevate an easy mark to thwart Dean
and the Democrats.

The Republicans want to run against Rep. Richard Gephardt. They keep
building him up, pretending he'd be the toughest opponent. Republican
hopes rest with Rep. Dick Gephardt beating Dean in Iowa. If Dean wins
that state, he could quickly unite the Democrats for the general
election. Watch the pro-Bush media trying to thwart this by putting
Gephardt on TV, asking him easy soft-ball questions, trying to breathe
life into his campaign.

Most Democrats I know want to like Gephardt. He seems like a nice guy,
but he's screwed up too many times. Gephardt's failures stung badly
enough, but worst of all, sometimes he seemed unwilling to even try to
fight -- or even fought on the wrong side. He was supposed to be our
leader, but there he was in the Rose Garden praising Bush's resolve and
trusting Bush's leadership and judgment as Bush lied to us about the
fabricated threat from Iraq. Gephardt's cheerleading for Bush's war
broke my heart and made me ill.

Rove is sure Gephardt would fail to win over voters in a face-to-face
contest against Bush. After all, Gephardt never articulated a winning
message in the past. He failed to make his case to the American people
against Gingrich and now Bush. He failed to head off the abuses in the
House or hold Republicans accountable for them. Under his leadership,
Democrats lost ground year after year. Bush's hopes for 2004 rest with
Richard Gephardt leading the Democrats to one more defeat. Rove fears
Dean will lead Democrats to rousing victory.

That explains Rove's desperation. David Reinhard explains "Why Dean can
win next November" in his article of that name: "Let us not be fooled by
misguided conventional wisdom. [Howard] Dean is a threat and Republicans
better not ignore him." [T]his is the considered judgment of two
respected Republican pollsters -- Bob Moore and Hans Kaiser -- from
Portland's Moore Information.

The GOP pollsters fear "Howard Dean can win because he believes in what
he is saying, because he can semi-legitimately spin his record as
governor into one of fiscal conservatism, and because he comes across as
if he actually cares about people [and] The difference between Howard
Dean and the rest of the Democratic candidates is that Dean comes across
as a true believer to the base but he will not appear threatening to
folks in the middle."

Reinhard writes, "I've thought for a while that the former Vermont
governor deserves the Democratic nomination. He's the exquisite
embodiment of Democratic values today. He's opposed to 'George Bush's
war' and was before it became hip within the party. And he wants a total
repeal of "George Bush's tax cuts." You'll see a pattern here, and it
forms the overarching theme of today's Democratic partisans: barely
contained anger toward President Bush and his works." Only Dean
represents the outrage millions of Americans feel about Bush from the
stolen election to the illegal Iraq invasion.

As Reinhard notes it was inevitable that ardent Democrats would ardently
back the most ardent Democratic candidate: "Dean is angry and, unlike
the other Democratic candidates, the anger is authentic. Indeed, it's
almost raw. Democrats deserve a presidential candidate who represents,
as Dean says, 'the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.' Small
wonder he has shot to the front of the Democratic pack, and managed to
stay there."

Bucking the tattered "conventional wisdom," Reinhard concludes Dean
"would be a tough foe for Bush next fall. It's going to be a close race,
and having a fired-up up base can only help Democrats. I wonder how
Dean's anger will play over a long race and among non-Democrats, but
authentic is good in presidential candidates." I'd say that "anger" is
better called "passion." It's not just good, it's essential. Dean has it
and Rove fears it. With good reason.

Quotes from Reinhard, Moore and Kaiser from: "Why Dean can win next
November," David Reinhard, The Oregonian 11/09/03:

In response to Greg's question: you can see the geographical distribution of donations to all the candidates here: http://www.fundrace.org . There are lots of other interesting views as well.

Reagan didn't run on raising taxes on middle class people (doesn't matter that he ultimately did) , and Reagan didn't run away from a muscular assertion of American strength in a time of fear (wrong as this may be, it works with many voters disengaged with the subtleties of geopolitics.)

Dean supporters always cite the exact same arguments, a) their passion will overwhelm all and b) it doesn't matter what Dean's positions are, because Rove will slime everyone, and c) they love Dean, so it can't be true that others personally him dislikeable.

If we're lucky they'll be right on one of those three, and maybe we'll have a chance. But taxes kill. They just don't understand, they probably haven't been around in politics long enough.

This record keeps skipping back at the same place and repeating itself.... well, at least the reader knows what to expect in coming to read Ruy (& for that matter, John & Josh as well). You all have went to making some thin-based conclusions to having foundantions up into the sky, based only on mere polling data. Have you actually thought about doing some on the ground factual research? Try going to a Dean meetup, get some info outside of the poll number crunching-- which all you really are doing is cherry-picking from anyway.


Check David Brooks in today's NY Times.
The Rpgs are scared to death of Dean. They're already laying the groundwork for discrediting him.

My fellow Democrats! Please wake up! Dean spells disaster for us. Running on raising taxes across the board is political suicide. Clark is polling stronger against Bush than any other candidate because true or not he is perceived as more moderate than Dean. I don't care what the New York Times says because I have lots of Republican friends and they are hoping and praying Dean gets the nomination! Do we want another McGovern? WAKE up! Look this election may hinge on 1to 3% of the population and Clark will attract the independents and moderates. Clark polls better with white males, southerners, military people, independents, and moderate republicans and on and on.

Why do you think Clinton did so well? He ran on a middle class tax cut and repealing welfare! Why did John Kennedy do so well? Tax cuts! Clark wants to repeal the tax cut for people making over $200 thousand but the majority of Americans can stomach that. Mark my words a lot of middle class people will be turned off if they realize they will have to pay more taxes under Dean even if they do get Universal Healthcare. Universal Healthcare cost us the House of Representatives in 1994, Remember? The country is not ready for it yet! Clark is proposing Universal Health care only for Children and I think this will play much better than a huge Bureaucratic National Health care system as Republicans will call it.

Is it possible that Dean can win? Yes and I would support him 100%. I was with the Dean camp until Clark came on but I switched to Clark because I knew Clark would do much better against Bush. This site is based on research not articles in the NY times. Look at the national polls that are proof that Clark does better against Bush! The proof is in the polling and Clark does best against Bush!!!!!! That's what is important! Wake up Democrats and come to your senses or we will be in a world of hurt with Dean.

Hey All: Dean supporter here. Yeah, I'm a liberal, but you wouldn't believe how many conservatives I met at Union Station in Los Angeles when Dean spoke a couple of months ago. I bought a guy a drink, despite the fact he called people that cared about the environment "Nuts" (apparently I'm nuts). His name was Earl, and he'd taken a train from San Diego to hear Dean speak. We knew each others' position, but were unwilling to let our differences affect our common goal. Dean in 2004! Resistance is futile.

After having read my way through all of the comments on this thread, you just about have me convinced that Dean can't win... Ohio! Seriously, people - this is not about winning Ohio. Yes, were we to win Ohio, that may indeed be a fatal blow to Rove and the boys, but that (he plays well in Ohio) is not enough reason to support:

Wes Clark

I am certainly not about to favor Wes Clark because of his potential strength in one specific state. Although I support Dean, and have since August, I *really* wanted to like Wes Clark - because I saw him as the only practical alternative to Dean (were Dean to stumble). Don't misinterpret - I have always preferred Dean, but recognized that Clark could be a viable alternative, and thus wanted him to do well. Sadly, this has not been the case. Although Dean certainly can stand to improve somewhat in the debates, Clark's recent performances have been almost incoherent at times. *This* is the guy DR & some others think can defeat Bush? I'm not sure how you get to that conclusion. As Democrats *and* Independents (who are also polled in the State primary polls) have learned more about the General, his numbers have gone *down*. Check the tracking numbers in NH, for goodness sake. Wes seems like a decent fellow, but if he is as bright as others say he is, that intelligence does not translate yet to issues of substance in a political campaign. Maybe California will elect a media superstar (Arnold), but on the national stage we will need a candidate who can speak with eloquence, knowledge, and display originality and agility in his thinking. I've not seen that from the General (and I've been looking hard for it - because I actually kind of like the guy - just not as a President).

As for the national polls that you all like to cite: The most recent one I've seen (I believe it was Newsweek, but don't hold me to this) showed Clark behind Bush 50-47, and Dean behind Bush 53-44. Gephardt and Kerry and Lieberman were all polling slightly higher than Dean (six points behind versus nine points behind). So, does this support the Clark advocacy, and contradict the Dean advocacy? Not at all. The pollster is identifying a man (that many do not know much about) as a "General", and that skews the numbers a bit right there - people like that title - "General". I need only point to NH to indicate what happens to Wes Clark's numbers when independents (and committed Dems) actually focus on the guy. As for Kerry, Lieberman, and Gephardt - all have more national name recognition than Dean - it is pretty much only we activists (for whatever candidate, on either side of the political fence) that know the name "Dean", not that many others yet. I am actually tremendously encouraged by a poll that shows Dean behind Bush by only nine points, before he has picked up a single one of his primary victories (and there will be many). The last poll of this nature showed a much larger margin for Bush. Dean is moving up, the others (and Bush) are flat. There is a word that the good people at DR must be familiar with - extrapolation. If you extrapolate these trends, the axis of Dean crosses that of Bush soon enough. Dean is making Gephardt run for his life in Iowa, is Iowa another "Yankee elitist" den of liberals? Dean is trouncing the anointed one, Kerry, and Clark is doing a disappearing act in NH, where independents are polled and vote in large numbers in the primary. Where is the Wes magic with the independents in NH? No, the numbers do not encourage me at all as they relate to Wes Clark. I acknowledge he could do well in the South (albeit this also remains to be seen), but he is showing little ability to attract voters in the crucial early states of Iowa (where he stupidly withdrew, blowing a possible union endorsement) and NH.

This brings me to... the candidate

All this talk of demographics and who would do well where based on pre-conceived assumptions of what kind of candidate does well in what region, ignores one other thing that we Dean supporters have that no other candidate's supporter does - and that is our candidate, Howard Dean. Who among you can honestly say that John Kerry can ignite passion? He isn't doing so amongst the base, and that is what a candidate *must* have before he even begins to reach out across to the middle. If Kerry cannot ignite support in his neighbor state of NH, where he enjoys *high* postives, how can he withstand the white heat of a national campaign? Face it, his crowd numbers are nothing special, and his polling numbers are flat (or possibly even falling). Clark tried to work the grass roots in Iowa, and got nowhere. He is now focusing hard on NH (with little success thus far) and also, obviously, on SC (where he seems to have something possibly going for him). The problem is, he entered the race amidst a trumpeting of media annointing him as the potential "spoiler", even "savior" for the Dems. What has followed has been mis-statements and clarifications related to *the* issue that he *had* to claim for his own (Iraq), resignations from his campaign staff, poor performances in the debates, an ill-timed and ill-advised withdrawal from Iowa (costing him a shot at a key union endorsement), falling poll numbers in NH (amongst Dems AND Independents)... and all of this has happened without the other campaigns really laying a glove on him. Yes, there was a bit of criticism related to the GOP speeches, and the votes for Reagan, etc. - but Clark's damage has been largely self-inflicted. *This* is the standard bearer we yearn for? Kucinich, Carol MB, Sharpton are simply not in the conversation - sorry. Lieberman may indeed play well nationally, but how does he differentiate himself from W? He voted for the war. Edwards has the same problem, and that goes directly to *his* electability. Gephardt is the one candidate left that I believe can give Gov. Dean a run for his money, and could possibly give W a run for his money. However, if you are worried about "taxes" and the "liberal" tag, well - Gephardt will surely be attacked hard on that, and Gephardt is a known Washington insider, AND he voted for the war!!! As for myself, I still have:

Howard Dean

Governor Dean, more than any other candidate in the Democratic field, has it going on. It is wrong to assume that this is simply an outgrowth of a well conceived and well executed internet exercise in network marketing. Without a compelling, appealing and inspiring candidate, such an outreach can only go so far. Ours has now grown to over 500,00 supporters signed up! Others have posted their ideological "credentials", allow me to post mine: Until recently, I considered myself more or less a DLC Democrat. I believe in a responsible fiscal policy, a balanced budget, tax relief for the middle class (albeit not until we get the debt and the deficit under control again, get the economy growing again, and begin to solve our national health care crisis). I believe that Democrats should support a strong military and strong efforts against terrorism. I believe we should de-emphasize gun control in national elections (although I strongly support strong *local* gun control laws - and also support assault weapon bans and the Brady bill). I am pro-choice, pro-kyoto. If that is "liberal" then, so be it. Personally, I think it is more "moderate". On some issues, Governor Dean is to the right of myself, and on others, to the left. What has attracted me to him is the *candidate*. He is foreceful, passionate, has a strong voice, speaks up about race and other things that divide us, and actually has the balls to stand up to a right wing movement that has so many other "leaders" in the Democratic Party cowering with timidity. I believe that it is time that Democrats fearlessly and boldly espoused just what supporting this Party *really* means, and that we stop buying into media hype (that many here have repeated) that we do ourselves harm when we speak "truth to power". More than any other candidate, Dean has reached me - and with the strength and the force of that personality - he *will* reach 50 million + others. We DO have the candidate to win. Quit your bitching - and start pitching... pitching IN to elect the "electable" candidate - Howard Dean.

Thanks -- RiqueS

Very well stated, RiqueS.

Steve asked: Why do you think Clinton did so well? He ran on a middle class tax cut and repealing welfare! Why did John Kennedy do so well? Tax cuts.

IMHO Clinton clinched the 1992 race when he "stood up" to Jesse Jackson over that Sister Soljah(?) business. He led people to believe that he had balls. Neither Mondale nor Dukakis before him seemed able to put Jackson in his place, so to speak, i.e. in the eyes of many Independent voters.

You mentioned Kennedy. In those the halcyon days, Dems were tough, principled and not afraid of a good fight. We were the ones who stole the elections from THEM. LOL.

As I have said before, at the present time our representatives in Congress are the weakest, most timid, unassertive, spineless men & women in politics today. They are scared shitless of Bush, the Republicans and the media. They scare easily period. At the present time, all agression is with our opposition. We have neither the guile nor the native cunning to stand up to them and as such our backs are constantly to the wall -- constantly reacting to their sordid initiatives. Be it a recall in California or redristricting in Texas. Citizens groups, like MoveON etc, have finally forced them into the fray, and begin to fight back.

I genuinely believe that some may take too lightly the people's desire for more balance. Hence they are blind to Howard Dean's real appeal. People want to believe and they want leaders with strength, passion and conviction. That element should never be underestimated.

The other candidates have proven that they do not have the guts, to stand up to the Republican or for Democratic principles. To this extent, Howard Dean is the first Kennedy Democrat we have seen since . . . well . . . Kennedy.

I have heard Dean people talk about there passion. Listen close because it doesn’t hold a candle to the passion I have seen in the Clark camp! NOT EVEN CLOSE! I have seen a number of our Clark supporters working as much as twelve hours a day, absolutely relentless, focused and inspired because we love and admire this man sooooooooo much! I have worked in a number of presidential campaigns and far and away the Clark people absolutely love this man! We love him! We openly say we love him and admire him! Not since John Kennedy have I heard people refer to there Democratic candidate with words such words of love, admiration and inspiration. We are talking about a man who graduated first in his class at West Point went to Oxford then unlike Bill Clinton Clark actually volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He took four bullets in the Heat of Combat but continued to give orders. He worked his way up the ranks at an unprecedented rate. In Kosovo he even risked his life repelling down the side of a hill in an area covered in mines with gunfire present in the mud to save the lives of several men who's vehicle went off the side of the hill and exploded. Think about that, a four star General repelling down the side of a muddy hillside to help his Men risking his life while Holbrook screamed at him to come back!

Clark is the first candidate to propose more counselors and psychologists in the public schools to help end the cycle of violence and help abused children learn to love themselves. He has proposed Universal Healthcare for children because he knows children can't take care of themselves. This man is dedicated to Children because he knows that the root of all our problems come from not taking care of children. Clark is poised, sincere, kind, passionate, articulate, intellectual, brave, honest and smart as hell. While we like Dean we absolutely love General Clark and would walk into hell to fight for his heavenly cause. Dam it this is the kind of man I have been waiting all my life for to be president and the far left wing of the party is blind to what is REAL and beautiful! Clark is the kind of man the Democrats need to re-energize the party as a party of morals, passion, strength and patriotism. Clark has a 100 year plan for our Country to keep us strong well after he is dead and gone because he wants to leave our children and grandchildren a world worth living in!

Please Dean people you have not looked close enough to Clark. You are blind by old prejudices that are binding you to Dean most likely because he rips on Bush harder than any of the other candidates. This will backfire! Wake up! The country is tired of being divided and polarized we need someone who can bring the parties back together so we can stand together united again. Clark is the whole package as a candidate and as a person with honor and dignity! He has greatness written all over him. Dean has partisan politics written all over him and you won't find too many partisan presidents on coins. In a nutshell Clark paints a picture of a future America that looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have those days back? Please Dean people I know you are passionate but you need to take a deep breath and be truthful with yourself and at least take the time to look at Clark more closely. I have looked at both candidates from top to bottom and while I like Dean, Clark is magical and inspires the hell out of me! I love this man! We all do!

Riques said:
>>>What has attracted me to him is the *candidate*. He is foreceful, passionate, has a strong voice, speaks up about race and other things that divide us, and actually has the balls to stand up to a right wing movement that has so many other "leaders" in the Democratic Party cowering with timidity.

Have any of you read Michael Moore's comments about Wesley Clark defending liberalism?

From a letter Michael Moore wrote to General Clark:

The other night, when you were on Bill Maher's show, he began by reading to you a quote from Howard Dean where he (Dean) tried to run away from the word "liberal." Maher said to you, so, General, do you want to run away from that word? Without missing a beat, you said "No!" and you reminded everyone that America was founded as a "liberal democracy." The audience went wild with applause.

That is what we have needed for a long time on our side -- guts. I am sure there are things you and I don't see eye to eye on, but now is the time for all good people from the far left to the middle of the road to bury the damn hatchet and get together behind someone who is not only good on the issues but can beat George W. Bush. And where I come from in the Midwest, General, I know you are the kind of candidate that the average American will vote for.
Michael Moore

It looks like it's Dean that needs to work on defending being liberal not General Clark!

Dean: In the South, Dean's Weaknesses Show
By Paul Burkhardt, Emily Crawford and Andrew Mills

This is from the middle of the article:

But the picture changes for the Dean campaign in South Carolina, where his views does not seem to have appealed to the state's Democrats, who are some of the most conservative members in that party.

By mid-October, Dean, who has raised more funds nationally than any other Democratic candidate, had raised just $28,750 from individuals in South Carolina, a meager sum compared with the $235,432 raised in South Carolina by North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

Dean and Gephardt are tied for fourth place in South Carolina, where they both hold 7 percent of the ballot preference, according to a poll conducted last week by the New Hampshire based American Research Group Inc. Gen. Wesley Clark leads the South Carolina race, with John Edwards a close second and Joe Lieberman a more distant third.

"Dean hasn't particularly garnered the gained the attention of many South Carolina voters," said USC's Gomez, who added that "it's not been fertile ground here for Howard Dean."

What many analysts believe lies behind his South Carolina failure, is that Dean's core liberal values - most notably, his early stance against the war in Iraq and his support for civil unions between gays - do not appeal to the relatively conservative democrats in the state.

"This state is not anti-war. We have a large military presence here and more veterans per capita than any other state in the union," said Lee Brady, a long-time political columnist at the Columbia-based newspaper The State who added that the vital issue among South Carolina's Democrats is the economy and jobs.

A poll conducted by Democracy Corps recently reported that 52 percent of South Carolina's democrats strongly oppose extending the legal rights of married couples to gays.

What the vacuum of support in South Carolina indicates is Dean's vulnerability. Brady pointed out that in the most recent presidential elections, Democratic candidates must win at least a few states in the South to win the presidential election.

If, in next February's South Carolina primary, Dean does not perform at least reasonably -- in the top three spots, Gomez said -- it remains to be seen if he will be able to defeat President Bush next November if he wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

But the picture changes for the Dean campaign in South Carolina, where his views does not seem to have appealed to the state's Democrats, who are some of the most conservative members in that party.**

So? Does this not stand to reason? And by the same token Clark is not doing as well as Dean in Mass. or New York. Furthermore, it does not take rocket science to calculate that if Dean does win the nomination, which region of the country his running mate will be from. I guarantee you that it's neither Kerry nor Lieberman.

So then what is the big deal about having little appeal in South Carolina? Which candidate has appeal in every region?

Do we see the Republicans running scared, or any panicky articles about the fact that Bush has absolutely no appeal in Mass., NY or New Jersey.

This is precisely what is wrong with the Democrats and why we keep losing. We want to be all things to all people and as such we keep adjusting our message to suit the special interest group. As a result our base loses it's enthusiasm.
If we want to win Alabama we may have to be prepared for a lower turnout in Detroit. We tend to take our base for granted, while the Repugs are continuously nursing theirs. During the last election Bush did not visit NY once. He knew that his right wing anti-abortion, death penalty, Scalia-is-rgreat, message would not play here and he was right. So what the hell are we doing in some southern states? In some cases just making fools of ourselves by compromising ourselves.

In a general election you can bet your ass Clark would kill Bush in Mass. and New York even though all he would need to win by is 1 vote and he would get all those states electoral votes. However Clark could actually give us a chance at some Southern states. Remember rednecks love patriotism and "strong" military people and add on the fact that Clark is from the south makes him even more interesting. Your argument falls flat in an electoral collage election because huge Democratic turnout in traditionally liberal states is irrelevant. If the election were based on popular vote it would take on more meaning but believe me Clark appeals to almost as many liberals in the North East as Dean. The article said you have to be able to do well in the south to win the democratic nomination and if that’s true Dean is in real trouble!

It was wrong of me to refer to people in the south as "rednecks" which generally has a negative connotation. What I mean is that the south has a lot more conservative middle of the road people than the Northeast. Excuse my "Deanish Blunder". These people honor patriotism, family values, strong military and bravery over things like gay rights and abortion. People in the South are people who vote there heart, are religious and would look up to and admire a man like Wesley Clark. I think we need to listen to Zel Miller on a few points. There is room for a lot more people in the Democratic camp. Abortion has become almost a litmus test in order to be a Democrat. This is wrong! This is something the Democratic Party should be more understanding on. I am pro-choice but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t respect someone who is against abortion and be nice to them and ask them to join the Democratic Party. Those people have real convictions that should be admired even if we disagree with them. Democrats can be just a polarizing as Republicans and we need to understand it's hurting us and we are loosing election after election in the south. From what I am hearing is that you like Dean because he stands up for everything the "far left" likes and fights Bush on those issues with a vengeance. For example "Gay Marriage" instead of Gay Union. What's the difference? Its just semantics and we should take the smart road like Clark and push for Gay Unions instead of Gay Marriage to appeal to a broader number of Americans. Benjamin Franklin often spoke of holding off on polarizing issues until people were ready for them. When Thomas Jefferson tried to make Slavery illegal in the Declaration of Independence the discression of his southern colligues struck it out. Those who strongly believed slavery was wrong could have fought the south over this issue and in doing so they would have prevented the American Revolution. Franklin understood that slavery would have to end later and urged the northern states to hold off on ending slavery in order to keep the Revolution alive. That’s just smart! Gay marriage will come when the country is ready. Right now it's not! I think Democrats have become just as prejudice against the Religious right as the Republicans are of the far left. The bottom line is that most of the religious right are wonderful people and while I don't support there views I still need to work hard to respect them and make peace. I get the impression the Dean camp is fired up because you think you are soooooooo right and you want to force your beliefs down the throats of those who think differently. Well, that's exactly what Bush is doing in Iraq. It sounds like some of the Dean people need to lighten up on the other side and view them as wonderful people rather than the enemy. Dean talked about appealing to “guys with confederate flags in their pick up truck windows” but then stands for everything they hate like gay marriage, being totally against the War, abortion as a litmus test to be a Democrat. Look, I am liberal as they come but I understand my prejudices can make me blind to the good qualities in Republicans. We can disagree with them but more important we must respect them. If we do this the issues will start falling in our direction like a spreading wildfire! So the next time you see a pro-lifer remember Will Rogers who attended both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and said “I never met a man I didn’t like”. That’s what Clark brings to the table and that’s why he is winning in the south. Take notes or suffer the consequences.

You put the problem very well when you said: " Those people have real convictions that should be admired even if we disagree with them."

That my friend is your problem and the perennial Democratic problem. You believe that WE should compromise OUR convictions to curry favor with people who hold stronger convictions. Thing is, in the end we aren't fooling anyone and that's why WE are not admired because we are perceived as the wishy-washy wimps that we are. Next you'd be saying that they should all go trotting off to Bob Jones University to show what good ole boys they are. That should clinch the south shouldn't it?

What would you have our candidate do? Dean & Clarke are both adamantly for affirmative action, your friends in the south are opposed to it. We are pro-choice, they are defiantly pro-life. They want prayer in school, we are passionately opposed to that. They HATE unions, we support them. They won't quarrel with you if you said homosexuality was a sin, we think that's foolish. They say creationism, we say evolution, and on and on. So how exactly do you think we should finesse it? Many of these are issues on which there can be no compromise because we know right from wrong and we think differently from these folks. We could not elect a Jesse Helms, they could.

If inroads are to be made here let it happen on the state and local levels, as in the recent Governor's race in La.

It is this lack of conviction, this constant vacillation & compromising of our values that has been missing from our presidential candidates and our representatives.

And finally. @#$%^ Zell Miller. This is another problem with our party. If we had strong leaders we'd never have all these turncoat frelancers. DeLay & the Rpgs keep their troops in line and always on message. They are united. We, we are all over the map. Even the most "moderate Republicans" (oxymoron) support their reactionary judicial nominees.

For all those fixated on "The South", Read all about it. . .
Just saw this article in the WPO. Thought I'd share it.

A Route for 2004 That Doesn't Go Through Dixie

By Thomas F. Schaller

Sunday, November 16, 2003; Page B01

Solid Republican victories in the Kentucky and Mississippi governors' races, coupled with Howard Dean's clumsy overture to Confederate flag-waving Southerners, have raised anew the question of whether Democratic presidential candidates can compete in the South.

They can't.

And precisely because they can't, they should stop trying. Moving forward, the Democrats would be better served by simply conceding the South and redirecting their already scarce resources to more promising states where they're making gains, especially those in the Southwest.

I can imagine the laughter of party strategists -- and the ire of Southern Democratic officials -- who subscribe to the prevailing wisdom that presidential elections are decided in the South. Indeed, pundits love to shout into the echo chamber that the last three Democratic presidents have come from the South.

This thinking is not only superficial and retrospective, but it could trigger a partisan realignment that would relegate the Democrats to minority status for a generation. Trying to recapture the South is a futile, counterproductive exercise for Democrats because the South is no longer the swing region. It has swung: Richard Nixon's "Southern strategy" of 1968 has reached full fruition.

Bill Clinton's two presidential victories create the misleading impression that the 12 states in the South (Maryland and West Virginia are generally excluded from Southern strategizing) are more competitive than they are. Yes, Clinton carried Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee twice, plus Georgia in 1992 and Florida in 1996. But a closer look shows that Clinton-Gore lost ground in the South during the 1990s -- despite a growing economy, a listless 1996 opponent, an infusion of centrist policies and the two incumbents' Southern roots.

The numbers tell the story. As Reform Party candidate Ross Perot dropped 10 percentage points nationally between 1992 and 1996, Clinton's share of the popular vote share grew 6.3 points (from 42.9 percent to 49.2 percent) and increased in all 50 states. Among the 12 Southern states, however, Clinton eclipsed that nationwide standard only in Florida (solidly, at +9.0 points), and in Louisiana and Texas (barely, at +6.4 and +6.8 points). In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee, Clinton improved by less than half that 6.3 point benchmark. His lowest popular-vote gain -- a mere half of 1 percentage point -- came in his home state, Arkansas.

Note, too, that the South has the fewest independent-minded voters available for Democratic conversion. Protest candidates John McCain, Ralph Nader and Perot all bombed there. Of the 10 states where Perot fared worst in 1992, all were Southern. Of the 47 states where Nader was on the ballot in 2000, nine of his 10 worst showings came in the South. And remember how quickly the humidity of the 2000 South Carolina primary melted McCain's sugary tongue? The South is where insurgents and independents go to die.

Yet some Democrats remain fixated on the notion that the presidency hinges on recapturing the region. It doesn't. In 2000, Gore lost his native Tennessee and every other Southern state, and still came within four electoral votes of the White House. Sure, winning any of the 12 Southern states would have made Gore president -- but that's also true of the other 18 states he lost.

Gore campaign manager (and Southerner) Donna Brazile says that two months before Election Day, the Gore team began to divert resources from every Southern state except Florida. The close outcome there validated that decision -- the last time around. But the president's brother won reelection as governor in 2002 by 13 points, and Republicans also control both chambers of the legislature. If Florida, with its snowbird, transplanted population, eludes the Democrats, what Southern battlegrounds remain?

The first rule of electoral politics is: Don't Try to Win the Last Election. Why, then, do some Democrats seem bent on reviving a disintegrated New Deal coalition in order to replay, and somehow win, the 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988 elections all at once? The bitter truth is that the Florida recount was the Democrats' last stand in the South for the foreseeable future. Gore capitulated at the vice president's residence in Washington. Appomattox would have been the more fitting location.

Down ballot, Democratic fortunes in the South are only slightly less gloomy. With each passing election, there are fewer state and local Democratic officials to legitimize the party's brand name, mobilize resources and serve as national party surrogates.

With the recent election results, Republicans hold nine of the 12 Southern governorships. With incumbent senators retiring in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Democrats are likely to lose at least three Senate races in the 2004 election, which would give the GOP an impressive 18 of the South's 24 seats. The Republican advantage in the House is much smaller, with 57 percent of the 133 Southern seats. But if the re-redistricting of Texas goes as House Majority Leader Tom DeLay hopes it will, that share will increase next year and create yet another GOP congressional delegation majority. At present, only Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas are majority-Democrat delegations, with Mississippi's four seats evenly divided.

While the Democrats can claim a slight lead in Southern state legislatures -- 13 of 24 House and Senate chambers -- that margin is dismal compared with the overwhelming one they had three decades ago. The GOP has taken over the North Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky Senates, and both houses in Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia -- chambers that, not long ago, Republicans only dreamed of controlling. After the 1974 elections, the Democrats held 37 legislatures, the Republicans four, with eight states divided. Thanks in part to Southern gains, Republicans now control 21 legislatures to the Democrats' 17, with the remaining 11 divided.

Racial politics has accelerated the party's Southern demise. For Democrats, the African American vote in presidential and statewide contests is most effective as part of a multi-ethnic coalition, as it is in states like Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. But in the South, racial politics create a "blacklash" of white countervoting in favor of GOP candidates. Exit polling in Mississippi on Nov. 4 estimated that GOP governor-elect Haley Barbour got 77 percent of the white vote.

Gerrymandering exacerbates the problem. American University professor David Lublin has chronicled the GOP's use of redistricting to pack black voters into Democratic districts to help elect Republicans elsewhere. Here's proof that Democratic voters are too condensed: Despite besting Bush in the popular vote, Gore carried only 196 congressional districts while Bush took 239, according to calculations by Democratic data guru Mark Gersh.

Gerrymandering also suppresses black turnout in presidential elections because majority-black districts are general-election cakewalks for minority candidates. In 2002, the 36 voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus won reelection with an average of more than 80 percent of the vote. In our forthcoming book on black state legislators, political scientist Tyson King-Meadows and I report a similarly astonishing fact: In 2000, 90 percent of black state legislators won with 60-plus percent of the vote, and 60 percent won with 90-plus percent of the vote. Facing a ballot full of non-contests, black voters have less incentive to turn out, and black elites have less incentive to turn them out. Low turnout may not threaten the election of black legislators, but it severely damages the chances of Democrats running for statewide offices and for president.

When one of the Senate's most racially polarizing figures, Mississippi Republican Trent Lott, wins comfortably in the state with the nation's largest African American population, relying on Southern black votes to win statewide races or electoral votes is, like second marriages, the triumph of hope over experience. Just ask the most popular woman in America, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the junior senator from Arkan -- er, New York.

Lest Republicans rejoice, Gore's 2000 performance also reveals that there are plenty of votes to be won elsewhere. Consider, for example, the dramatic changes underway in what might be called "the new Southwest."

Between 1988 and 2000, the Democratic margin of defeat plunged from more than 21 percentage points to less than 6 points in Arizona and just 3 points in Nevada. Combine Nader's votes with Gore's and these states have gone from GOP blowouts to tossups in just three election cycles. In Colorado, Gore did worse than Michael Dukakis did in 1988, but better once Nader's vote is included. Taking a longer view, New Mexico went consecutively for Nixon twice, Gerald Ford once, Reagan twice, and George H.W. Bush once -- but has gone Democratic since 1992. And population growth gives the Southwest four more electoral votes in 2004 than in 2000.

One key to a Democratic Southwest is the growing influence of Latinos, who in 2002 became the nation's largest ethnic minority. Two surveys conducted last summer, one by pollster Sergio Bendixen and another by CBS News/New York Times, indicate that the GOP is losing ground with the ethnic group that Karl Rove believes is critical to a Republican realignment. And there's more to the story than ethnicity. As electoral scholars John Judis and Ruy Teixeira show, these Southwestern states feature the progressive-centrist "ideopolis" cities of Tucson, Denver, Las Vegas and Santa Fe.

Future presidential contests get a whole lot easier if Democrats can successfully employ a Southwestern strategy. Add the solidly Democratic Northeastern and Pacific Coast states. Stir in post-industrial, Midwestern Rust Belt states such as Illinois and Michigan. If Democrats solve their solvable Ohio problem, they can win the presidency without carrying any states south of Maryland and east of the Mississippi River. Non-Southern coalitions worked for the GOP for decades: William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge all coasted to victory without the South.

A decade ago, Democratic strategist Paul Tully wondered if his party should abandon the South and build a national majority elsewhere. No less than Tully's sudden and tragic death during the 1992 campaign, Clinton's victory that year muted this sentiment.

Maybe Tully's ghost is channeling to Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager. Trippi likes to remind reporters that winning all the Gore states plus New Hampshire would put Dean in the White House. Because the Bush states gained seven electoral votes as a result of the 2000 Census, Trippi's math is a bit off -- in 2004, that combination only yields 264 electors, six shy of the magical 270 threshold.

But Trippi has the right idea. If the Democrats can hold the Gore states -- a big "if," but they have to start somewhere -- plus capture newly competitive Arizona's 10 electors, that's exactly 270. A non-Southern strategy isn't the only path back to the Oval Office. But it may be the shortest.

Author's e-mail: schaller@umbc.edu

Thomas Schaller is assistant professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He lives in Washington.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Lords I think you are missing the point. I agree with you that we should stand firm on our beliefs and to be honest with you I think the liberals have. I don't see that as a problem. What I think Dean's problem is while I agree with him 90% of the time is that he comes across as angry and arrogant just like Rush Limbaugh does on the Right and it is alienating people in the middle and in the south. We don't need a liberal Rush Limbaugh to get our point across. We can do it in a civil, calm, loving way. This is not about the message but the delivery of the message. I don't think there is a lack of Democrats speaking out. I hear Ted Kennedy, Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Dennis K (what ever his name is), and Al Sharpton, Rip the Republicans all the time and say exactly what they think. I am talking about a tone and also being smart on certain issues that will cost us dearly. While I agree with Gay Marriage to think that a lot of middle of the road religious people are going to go for that is just stupid. I admire Dean being firm but if he went for Gay unions he would get a lot more votes in the middle and still retain his base. Look, I don't like Zel Miller at all either but sometimes we need to step back and take a look at how others perceive us and use that knowledge to our advantage. In communication’s they call them Devils advocates. A good group dynamic will allow lots of opinions to come in and be considered. In a perfect Democrat world I would agree that we should move left and be blunt about everything but elections are sadly about politics and that's just reality. You can fool yourself and think we can win by moving left and standing up to the far right or you can learn how to play the game as the republicans have as sad as it is and once you regain power move things left again. Walter Mondale stood up to Reagan and look where it got us. Bill Clinton moved to the center and look at the results! I don’t understand why this is so hard for you to see? MOST PEOPLE are in the middle not the far left and not the far right. We need to go for the middle! I get the feeling the Dean camp is caught up in Group Think. You won’t even attempt to listen to someone from the middle. This is a discussion to try to figure out how best we can appeal to the most people and win. Moving left and yelling a lot simply won’t work. Moving to the center while still retaining our core values will get us into the White House. Lords, what did you think of Bill Clinton? He was a centrist candidate and look how popular he was. Like it or not a lot of Democrats are not that far left. A lot of Democrats are scared stiff that Dean is going to take this and win one state “Vermont”. Please take a deep breath and at least try to be open to the possibility that Clark is the better candidate to put up against Bush even if you like Dean better. I have seriously thought about Dean and was for Dean before Clark but I have looked at history and history tells us to move to the Center if we want to win. Also I simply love Clark!

Stop trying to win the south???? What? That's just insane. Look, we actually won Florida in the last election before Bush and the Supreme Court took it away. Clark is from Arkansas so I think he would most certainly at least win there. With Clark I would say Florida (which is huge) and Arkansas are a good bet. Older voters are turning against Bush big time right now putting Florida more and more into play for Democrats. Sure we can write the south off and then have to win every state that Gore won plus a couple more or at least take Arkansas and possibly even Florida with Clark. Blowing off the south seems extremely risky to me. The last three Democratic presidents were from the south. It's tried and tested and lets stay with what we know works.

Steve, Dean is a centrist.

Because he came out early and established himself against the war in Iraq, (and no one else had the guts to do so at the time) the right wing media labeled him as far left. And typical of the Democrats instead of defining the terms of the debate, they simply reacted to the Rpgs, and sang along.

Because Dean, was the first politician to vigourously oppose the policies of the Bush administration, the right wing media labeled him as angry. And he did it in a way that excited people. Do you deny that he excites? Well, that was too much for the Rpgs. What they want is a spineless, colorless, Democrat who will talk about their idiot in "civil, calm, loving ways" as you put it, that will put people to sleep. What they're scared to death of is that Dean will define Bush as the incompetent that he is. You'll hear them -- they will try to get committments about no negative advertising, and all that. And all we'll hear about is Dean;s anger. They have already begun. Wait until they start bitching about class warfare.

You are reacting too much to what the right is doing saying. Why not look at what Dean has actually done.
In spite of what you say, he's ahead. he's tied with gephardt in Iowa, the midwest, where according to your calculations he should be at 3 %. His followers are comprised of liberals, moderates, Independents, and Republicans, and NEW voters.

And people have not really started to focus on the race. If your way was the right way, Lieberman would be leaving everyone in the dust with his nice, civil, loving manner. Instead, he's the poster child for apathy.

This party needs to be radically changed.

I agree that Dean is a centrist and he is probably even more centrist than Clark on quite a few issues but the problem Dean has is he is easy to label as far left because of his stance on Taxes and Universal Health Care across the board. Those are HUGE "liberal" issues as the Republicans make them out and saying you are going to raise taxes on the middle class is and always has been political suicide.

I love it when Dean riles up the crowd and takes jab after jab at Bush but I understand that turns off a lot of people in the middle including independents. The angry Dean is not what I have heard from the Right but my own observations. Not really angry but a little arrogant. Let me tell you, a lot of people have been impressed with how Clark has stayed above the Frey and not attacked his fellow democrats and when he Attacks Bush he does it in a respectful way. Clark even came to the Defense of Dean a few days ago when Gephardt attacked him. I actually think Dean and Clark have an alliance as they met a few months back in Dean's office. I don't know what the two of them have in mind. I think they are playing things like in the reality shows by forming an alliance. Here is probably what's going on. Clark looks out for Dean and is assured a Vice Presidential bid if Dean wins. If Clark wins Dean perhaps gets the VP spot to attract the base. Dean has been kind of soft on Clark for as close as they are running. Something is going on.

Still remember how many people were turned off by Gore when he acted above Bush? Dean does the same thing. I don't think it will fly in Peoria. I like Dean a lot even though he has some quirks but of course so does Clark. However Clark is starting to get the hang of the political arena now and he is leading in SC by ten points. He is leading in Alabama, California, Illinois and a few other states that I can’t recall. I know in my heart that Clark is just more attractive to people in the middle and unless the polls start suggesting differently I won't budge. In the last poll Clark was behind Bush by 3 points and Dean was behind by 7.

Steve, believe me I am glad that we ar having this discussion about Dean/Clarke and not Dean/Lieberman. I do not have a problem with Clarke, but I definitely prefer Dean. However, this discussion though reflects the tension within the Democratic party itself. Some of us yearn fro a more muscular, robust, creative and aggressive party to take on the Republicans. Indeed, we believe that our party stands for the principles that the American people stand for. We do put people first. And we can only win if we are prepared to be more agressive, to define the debate, to fight back thast we will win.

Then there are those who are scared to death of the Rpgs, and what they can do to us. Above all else, we should try not to rile them as there'll be hell to pay.
These folks feel we shld move to the right to appease the right. You know, appear to be less sensitive to minorities, dance with glee at the thought of supervising a death row execution, just being downright mean to some old lady who needs eye-glasses.

We have been down that road for too long and it just isn't playing.

Thought you might be interested in the following article, just off the presses.



Subject to debate by Katha Pollitt

Waving the Flag
[from the December 1, 2003 issue]

All right, so maybe Howard Dean could have thought of a better way of reaching out to white Southern men than saying he wanted "to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks." Maybe he could have worked in a less fraught masculine symbol, and a less emblematic vehicle, too--a gun rack on his Nissan? No, we don't want to alienate the Million Moms and the UAW...make that a Budweiser in his Thunderbird. Oh wait, that's illegal. Maybe Dean should just have made a commercial: a good-looking, crinkly-eyed white guy in a T-shirt and jeans, with just a few manly smudges, fishing with his little towheaded son while Grandpa plays a harmonica and Tommy Lee Jones intones: "Send a man to Washington: Send... Howard Dean." No wait, not Washington, they hate the federal government down there. I give up!

People say they want politicians to get real, but just let one try to say something not totally blow-dried and focus-grouped, and everyone piles on--especially if, like Dean, he's the front-runner. Thus, white Southern politicians like John Edwards and Zell Miller attacked Dean for stereotyping white Southerners as racists when we all know nobody flies the Confederate flag anymore, or if they do it's merely a symbol of "heritage," while Al Sharpton accused him of failing to understand that people who flaunt the flag are, in fact, racists. "It is simply unconscionable for Howard Dean to embrace the most racially divisive symbol in America," John Kerry mock-thundered. "I would rather be the candidate of the NAACP than the NRA." Dick Gephardt chimed in that he wanted to be the candidate for guys with American flags on their pickup trucks. Isn't that special? It's a safe bet that none of these men believe Dean is a racist, was making a covert racist appeal or was about to hoist the Confederate flag over downtown Burlington. Obviously, Dean meant that he wanted to win over working-class Southern whites who vote Republican against their own economic interests for misguided racial reasons. William Saletan pointed out in Slate that Dean has been using the Confederate flag image to applause from whites and blacks alike for months. As he put it to the Democratic National Committee in February:

I intend to talk about race during this election in the South. The Republicans have been talking about it since 1968 in order to divide us. And I'm going to bring us together. Because you know what? White folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals in the back ought to be voting with us and not them because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too.

What's wrong with that? Diane McWhorter, the Alabama native whose Pulitzer Prize-winning Carry Me Home is the indispensable chronicle of the civil rights struggle in Birmingham, thinks Dean may have "a tin ear for the South." (We'll leave for another time the question of why there is no such thing as a tin ear for the North.) My cousin Phoebe Pollitt, who teaches school in Boone, North Carolina, thinks Dean made another cultural slip by apologizing: "Most Southern white men in pickup trucks like plain-talking folks, even if they disagree, but then to back down or pander when there is criticism is a sign of weakness, 'un-real manliness,' so to speak. If he wants to court the Southern redneck vote he shouldn't have apologized but gone further talking about how the Republicans use the race card to keep people distracted from the class issues." Says Phoebe's sister Susy, a legal aid lawyer in Raleigh, "There is certainly a Southern white vote for Dean to get here. Edwards won more than 50 percent of the vote for Senate--but it is probably not the vote of men with Confederate flags on their cars." Joe Trippi, would you please hire my cousins right away?

Tin ear or no, you've got to start somewhere--and isn't it honorable and even brave of Dean to confront race and class head-on in these pussyfooting times? Here is Dean, mocked by the media as a one-note antiwarrior, champion of Vermont boutique cheesemakers and Internet insomniacs, actually trying, maybe a little clumsily, to do what pundits always tell the Dems to do--put down that brie, pick up a hunting rifle and talk to the white working class about jobs, schools, healthcare.

Will it work in the South? That class can, and should, and someday soon will, trump race has always been the dream of the "economic left." I have to say I'm skeptical--Nixon's race-based Southern strategy has been moving Southern whites vote by vote into the Republican corner for more than thirty years. In 2000, Bush got 69 percent of the Southern white male vote (and 62 percent of the Southern white female vote, not that anyone cares)--that's a lot for any candidate to turn around. Forget the South, one colleague advises. To win there Democrats would have to move so far right they'd lose in other states. On the other hand, job losses and casualties in Iraq have hit the South hard. "Ignoring the South is crazy," says Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies. He points out that North and South Carolina alone have lost 180,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001. "These people--e.g. textile workers--aren't just having tough times. They're losing their homes. They're out on the street." Why cede these votes to Ralph Reed, who will be directing Bush's Southern operations in 2004?

Mostly, I suspect, the Confederate flag flap will serve as a plot point for the media's cartoonish attack on Dean should he win the nomination. As Gore was typed as boring and deceptive, Dean will be portrayed as arrogant and hasty. Bush's verbal atrocities will be downplayed; Dean's "insensitive" remarks will make headlines. The South will be America; New England will be France; New York City will be hell. Nobody will acknowledge this--what, you think there's a conspiracy? You think we all meet together in a room and decide?--until someone does a study of campaign coverage two years after Bush is re-elected and proves it.

Unless, of course, people see through the manufactured controversies and wild exaggerations and fake outrage and vote with their heads.

I agree with Lords on a number of things, especially the need for PASSION in a Dem candidate. However, I happen to think that both Clark and Dean have passion, both speak their minds. (THIS is what is SO refreshing and in such stark contrast to the other candidates. It is what is winning people over) . I believe both can more than hold their own against Bush. *I* have spent the last two weeks trying to determine which one of them will be more likely to follow through with his passion, once elected. I don't say IF elected because I believe it will be one of them. 51% of Americans voted against Bush in the last election. That number can only increase. The majority of voting Americans are neither completely blind nor stupid.

I also agree with Lords about the South. The South has to take care of itself, and it looks like folk are waking up down there. They just elected a FEMALE Dem. governor in Louisiana. She is only the 7th female governor in US history and she had a damned fine opponent. (By default, the 8th joined her today from my own state.)

Steve, I hope you are right about Dean and Clark being in cahoots. It is my most fervent political hope right now. I want them to have enough good sense to support one another and not let their egos get in the way. That's the problem in a way; they both have strong egos

I see both Clark and Dean as centrists on most issues, but compared to the other candidates, they are both left of center in speaking up and speaking out. And that is why they are both doing so well. My view on electing a Centrist is that it's unnecessary this time around anyway. I don't care how many won in the past by walking the middle ground; this time the further one can get from thinking/acting/talking like a Bushite, the better off that one will be.

So to move this discussion in another direction, my question is– who is more likely to follow through on his promises? That is important to me because I'm still really, really pissed at Clinton for not doing more to provide affordable healthcare for ALL, in this nation which so many still like to refer to as "First World". There is no point in discussing gay marriage or gun control; they are not even an issue in a time when so many are unemployed, or employed without any healthcare, or without adequate healthcare, or retired with only half the money they were expecting to live on, or still being treated as second-class citizens because of the color of their skin, or still trying to live on minimum wage. The issues are the economy, healthcare, race, international interdependency, and the erosion of our civil rights. Even the environment is not high on the agenda for most yet, unfortunately.

So Dean or Clark? Dean has established himself with "follow through" as governor of Vermont, and Clark has done the same in the military. Having been a governor, Dean has the edge as a domestic politician. Having been a general, Clark has the edge in international affairs. Sure, they have each made gaffes – big deal – they'll be running against the most inarticulate, socially-awkward president in all of US history.

So I ask, which man is more likely to continue a strong dialogue on race, should he win the election? Who will earnestly endeavor to narrow the economic gap, which is also a racial gap? Who will doggedly attempt to bring an end to corporate CRIME, which includes medical insurance companies, hospital corporations and pharmaceutical companies? Who will institute an AFFORDABLE health care system for all? Who will constantly strive to increase equality for all Americans? Which man is more likely to be honest and admit that taxes will have to be increased, and increase them without worrying about his re-election? Which man will recognize that we are only one country in a world of countries and we must reach out to the rest of the world accordingly?

I guess I'm asking, which candidate has the stronger courage of his convictions?

LVITUW -- great name.
I'll take a shot at answering your questions. I have one word for you. Dean.

And for Steve, 3 questions:
1. Does the following bother you?
2. How do you think this will play in the south?
3. What do you think Karl Rove & the Rps will do with this?

Why Can't Generals Just Get Along?

When at a forum in September, retired Gen. Hugh Shelton was asked if he would support retired Gen. Wesley Clark for president, Shelton, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, quickly took a drink of water. "That question makes me wish it were vodka," Shelton said. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."

Which was bad enough, but on November 6, retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf appeared on CNBC'sCapital Report, hosted by Gloria Borger and Alan Murray, who asked him what he thought of Clark. "I think the greatest condemnation against him . . . came from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he was a NATO commander. I mean, he was fired as a NATO commander," Schwarzkopf replied, "and when Hugh Shelton said he was fired because of matters of character and integrity, that is a very, very damning statement, which says, `If that's the case, he's not the right man for president,' as far as I'm concerned."

Shelton has refused to expand on his remarks, and Schwarzkopf isn't providing details, either. So Clark was understandably miffed when he responded on the campaign trail the next day: "I haven't talked to General Schwarzkopf since 1991, when I interviewed him in his headquarters about what he liked and didn't like about the Army. He left the Army shortly after that; haven't seen him in 12 years. He didn't ask me anything about it. So he's certainly entitled to his opinion, but I think America should hold people to a high standard."

I'm not Steve, I'm LVIUW, but I want to say that Shelton himself has no integrity if he can't even state which political party he belongs to. It could be (and probably is) that I'd far prefer Clark's integrity and character. As for Schwarzkopf, I agree with Clark's remark. That entire column lacks character, imo, because no-one is speaking 'out'.

Lords, are you saying it is your belief that Dean is more likely to demonstrate his convictions, if he finds himself in the White House, than is Clark? On what do you base this perception? Because Clark flip-flopped on the Iraq war? It still isn't clear to me what is hearsay and what Clark actually stated prior to the invasion of Iraq. Can anyone clarify that for me?

One more post tonight. Lords, to more directly answer questions 2) and 3) to Steve:
I believe the Republicans and the South will both jump on it to discredit Clark. Too many Southerners tend to think with their bayonets and Republicans don't hesitate to jump on any bit of hearsay, and they get away with it time and time again. They repeat it until it becomes "truth" -- they are very clever at this form of deception. It is another reason we need some Democrats who are equally aggressive. Not liars, but aggressive and tenacious about getting accurate facts across.

No, I'm not saying that Dean is more likely than Clarke to demonstrate his convictions once he gets into the WH. To be quite honest, I could not care less what happens once either Dean or Clark gets into the WH, as long as Bush isn't their roomate.

I believe that Dean is more likely than Clark to fight back and fight off Republican attacks and smears. Clark may "moderate" his views so as not to be accused by the media of not beiing "nice" to the President, or respecting the Prez during wartime. I think Bush should be treated the way his father treated Dukakis.

But have you seen the following:

Do watch it if you haven't already. Clark can more than hold his own. In fact, I sometimes think he does a better job than Dean, or maybe it is just that military actions are his forte.

Clark Takes on the Totally Biased, Slanted, White House Mouth Organ Interviewing Style of FOX NEWS. Best Appearance Yet by Clark. Being Interviewed by FOX News is Like Debating Dick Cheney. A Defining Moment for Clark. 11/18

Well, I see I'm not able to post a website onto this blog. I'll look for other instructions.

All I can suggest is going to Fox news dot com and looking for video 2 player. Really worth hearing.

Wow, how to reply to all that. As far as the BS with Shelton and some of the other Generals well unless they come out and say why they question Clark’s integrity I don't think it will be an issue. Several other generals who like Clark have said it had to do with the fact that Clark was an intellectual who rose up the ranks propelled by Clinton who liked him. They felt passed up by Clark by Clinton and no they have sour grapes. Generals for the most part did not like Clinton and to see Clark and Clinton getting along so well did not sit with them. Also, most Millitary people are very conservative so a lot of it could be politics.

After reading the Newsweek article about Clark I came to the conclusion that most of the tension came from Clark not backing down on putting in ground troops in Kosovo. It was a fundamental disagreement. Bomb from 15,000 feet up and kill tens of thousands of civilians or put in ground troops and loose a number of American soldiers but have much fewer civilian casualties. I think Clark felt it was the military's responsibility to protect the civilians even at the cost of some of his men who's job it is to protect the innocent. Shelton and Cohen over ruled him because they wanted the War to look good by having few American casualties. All the generals would come to an agreement accept Clark and Clark was absolutely relentless and would not drop the subject because after all he was the Allied Comander! Not Shelton. He even went as far as going on national TV to make his point when Cohen told him to get his "blanking Ass" off the TV. I think Clark felt that if the public could hear his position public opinion would shift away from Shelton and Cohen. I simply think Clark felt very deeply about keeping civilian casualties down even at the cost of a few soldiers. To him it was about going the rout that ended with the fewest people killed and he was over ruled because they wanted a war that looked good on TV even with a lot of civillian casualties. So now I think Shelton perhaps has some guilt about civilian casualties and he takes out his guilty anger on Clark.

Here is a letter to the editor about that: Letter to the editor re: Los Altos Online -- Gen. Shelton shocks Celebrity Forum, says he won't support Clark for president

Joan Garvin may be shocked that Hugh Shelton will not support General Wesley Clark for President, but I am not.

It is not General Clark's integrity that is in question, but Shelton's himself.

Did Shelton bother to mention how he, along with Republican Defense Secretary, William Cohen (in what Newsweek described, in their 9/29/03 edition, as "an act of vicious bureaucratic jujitsu"), misrepresented General Clark to President Clinton, thereby causing General Clark to be unfairly dismissed from his post?

Newsweek again: "It was a shabby way to get rid of Clark, who had skillfully fought a difficult two-front war-against the Serbs and his own superiors in Washington."

They may have fooled President Clinton at the time, but he doesn't believe Hugh Shelton anymore, just a few months later, President Clinton awarded General Clark the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM.

Hugh Shelton's personal attacks, on General Clark, have long been written off to petty jealousy -- to those who know the whole story. His partisan diatribes are not the surprise; the surprise is that you would print them, as if they were credible. - Janet Ritz

Lords, you said:
>>>However, this discussion though reflects the tension within the Democratic Party itself. Some of us yearn fro a more muscular, robust, creative and aggressive party to take on the Republicans. Indeed, we believe that our party stands for the principles that the American people stand for. We do put people first. And we can only win if we are prepared to be more aggressive, to define the debate, to fight back that we will win.

I really don't see a disagreement here however I think Clark can do this more effectively on a National Appeal better than Dean can. People will look up to Clark as someone with integrity because he volunteered for Vietnam, took bullets in the heat of battle and is a War Hero. When Clark rips the Republicans like on FOX News yesterday (which was awesome!) people are taken back because they see that fire coming from a war hero's heart. When Dean rips on the Republicans it just comes across as another angry Liberal who never served in the military and lacks the "History" of bravery and integrity Clark has. Everyone loves a War Hero and believe me when Clark came out for the Flag Burning Amendment he totally trumped everything that Dean had tried to accomplish in the south. He calculated that perfectly and since then his numbers have rocketed in the South. Personally, I don't think he believes in a flag bunging amendment but it was a brilliant political move and he didn't have to evoke the toxic Confederate Flag into the discussion. Clark basically picked up a bunch of Confederate Flag people with that move and undercut Dean. In a political race every thing they do is calculated. Clark has a strategy that may not look good in New Hampshire but in many other parts of the country is golden.

Look at these numbers:

And for those keeping track of such things, this poll shows that Gen. Clark has built a fairly impressive base in several key states in just a few weeks. As The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta mentioned the other day, Clark now leads in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, California, Illinois (among those closely following the race), and Wisconsin. Clark is in second place (and gaining) in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Go here for the whole article: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/000812.html

Here is a transcript of what happined on FOX. It was AWESOME! People are talking about it on all the Democratic Blogs.

November 17, 2003
CLARK ON FOX....Via Josh Marshall, here's a link to the Wesley Clark interview on Fox that several people mentioned in comments below. You have to sit through an opening ad, and Fox annoyingly prevents you from skipping forward and backward in the clip, but at about the 2-minute mark the Fox host asks — while sort of sadly pretending to apologize for having to bring it up — about something Clark said on Sunday:

Fox: On Meet the Press you said something about Iraq. You said, "President Bush has said [the war in Iraq] is the centerpiece for the war on terror. It isn't. It's a sideshow. It's simply their easiest means of access to attack American soldiers. That's all it is."

Do you really think Iraq is only a sideshow?

Clark: For the war on terror it's a terrible distraction. We should have gone directly after Osama bin Laden....We should be putting a full court effort on finding Osama bin Laden....

Fox: While our men and women are dying in Iraq, is it proper to call it a sideshow?

Clark: Our men and women in Iraq are doing a fabulous job....Don't you dare twist words into disrespect for our men and women in uniform....You better take my words the right way....

And it just gets better from there.

This tired trope of pretending that anyone who criticizes presidential priorities is showing disrespect to the military is about as despicable as it gets, and it's way past time for it to stop. Clark got good and pissed off about it, and deservedly so. I hope it embarrasses the clowns at Fox from pulling it again.

And in case you're wondering, I imagine that this kind of remark is exactly what Samuel Johnson had in mind when he said "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

I saw Clark on FOX.
I absolutely loved it. It's about time.
As I have said before I am glad this conversation is about Dean vs Clark. The best man will win.

Lords, thank you for posting Clark's interview. Both men appear to be getting tougher by the day. I thought that Clark had tipped the scales for me yesterday, but today Dean tipped them back again, and then some, with this:
Dean Calls For New Controls on Business
Democrat Seeks 'Re-Regulation'

By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2003; Page A09

HOUSTON, Nov. 18 -- After years of government deregulation of energy markets, telecommunications, the airlines and other major industries, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is proposing a significant reversal: a comprehensive "re-regulation" of U.S. businesses.

The former Vermont governor said he would reverse the trend toward deregulation pursued by recent presidents -- including, in some respects, Bill Clinton -- to help restore faith in scandal-plagued U.S. corporations and better protect U.S. workers.

In an interview around midnight Monday on his campaign plane with a small group of reporters, Dean listed likely targets for what he dubbed as his "re-regulation" campaign: utilities, large media companies and any business that offers stock options. Dean did not rule out "re-regulating" the telecommunications industry, too.

He also said a Dean administration would require new workers' standards, a much broader right to unionize and new "transparency" requirements for corporations that go beyond the recently enacted Sarbanes-Oxley law.

"In order to make capitalism work for ordinary human beings, you have to have regulation," Dean said. "Right now, workers are getting screwed."

In a speech here Tuesday night, one mile from the Enron Corp. headquarters, Dean sought to place this idea into a new and broader campaign context: a "new social contract for the 21st century" to restore public trust in corporations, national leaders and U.S. military might. Dean blamed President Bush for eroding the public's faith in these institutions with his policies over the past three years.

"At Enron, those at the top enriched themselves by deceiving everyone else and robbing ordinary people of the future they'd earned," Dean said. "The Bush administration is following their lead."

Dean has excited core Democratic voters with a relentless assault on corporations and the rich, and he is moving quickly to stake a position as the candidate with the boldest plans for tempering the influence and power of U.S. businesses. If the economy continues to rebound, Democratic strategists say, Dean's proposal may offer a way for the party to frame the debate over jobs, income and fairness.

Dean said in the interview that "re-regulation" is a key tool for restoring trust. In doing so, he drew a sharp distinction with Bush, an outspoken advocate of free markets who wants to further deregulate media companies and other key sectors of the economy.

Dean also continued his clear break from Clinton's "New Democrat" philosophy of trying to appease both business and workers with centrist policies. Earlier in the campaign, Dean reversed his prior support for Clinton's free-trade agreements with Mexico, Canada and China.

Many Republicans typically characterize looser rules and mandates on business and trade as key facilitators of economic growth.

While Bush eventually backed new regulations for, among others, the accounting industry in the wake of the Enron, WorldCom and other corporate scandals, his administration has rolled back environmental and workplace regulations many Democrats want restored. Bush is fighting some in his own party to loosen the rules for media ownership. "I certainly would reverse media deregulation," Dean said. "I would go back to the limitations on how many stations you can own in a given market."

Virtually all Democratic candidates are making the fight against corporate influence a centerpiece of their campaign. The latest example: Every Democratic presidential candidate save Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) has come out strongly in opposition to the GOP deals on energy and Medicare, and has criticized them as gifts to big Republican corporate campaign contributors. Yet, Dean appears to getting the most traction on this front.

Voters are clearly hungry for government efforts to force better corporate behavior, especially with scandals hitting such industries as mutual funds and accounting, pollsters say. At the same time, they are unlikely to accept the price spikes that Republicans and some Democrats warn could accompany some new regulations.

Dean, who talked at length about the historical ebb and flow of regulation, said there is a "danger" to pushing his re-regulation movement too far. But under Bush, "deregulation has increased the corporate power enormously," he said.

As governor of Vermont, Dean advocated deregulation, angering some environmentalists. But the events of the past two years have convinced him deregulation is to blame for many of the nation's problems.

"California is proving it does not work," he said. "I think the reason the grid failed is because of utility deregulation."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

I agree with Dean on Re-Regulation. Clark has come out against this. It now appears that the Clintonites managing Clark are more interested in burnishing Clinton's legacy rather than adapting to today's environment. Things are not the way they were when BC was President. Solutions that worked then would not work now. So. The class warfare accusations have begun. Dean has proven to be the more creative and innovative of the two.

Take a look at this from Kos.

Choosing a leader

by kos
Thu Nov 20th, 2003 at 19:16:59 UTC

The GOP has been able to maintain ideologial purity, in large part, by chosing leaders from safe districts in the heart of their "base". Lott, Frist, and DeLay have never had to compromise the party's message or tactics for the sake of personal electoral gain. They could wake up with the proverbial live boy or dead girl and still get reelected the following cycle. Even Hastert, from blue state Illinois, hails from a solid GOP district.

The Dems, on the other hand, are handicapped by having Daschle and Reid in command. Both senators are perpetually vulnerable, requiring them to subjugate the Democratic Party agenda in favor of their own parochial interests. I have always been a fan of Daschle and admire the guy. But, he can't focus on running the party's Senate operation. He needs to look out for himself first. And, hailing from a red state, his interests will often conflict with the party's wider message.

So, we get a Democrat blasting the Mass SJC's gay marriage decision, supporting Trent Lott, and supporting the budget-busting and special interest giveaway energy bill.

You can bet DeLay and Frist never have to sweat this things. You can bet they will never have to compromise their party's agenda for their own personal gain.

So Daschle has to go. But not until after the 2004 cycle. We need him to win reelection, and a palace coup beforehand would weaken his hand.

But come 2005, it's time to clean house. We need a leader from a solid blue state. Someone who has been a clear advocate of the Democratic Party message and a strong fighter. Someone like NY's Schumer or IL's Durbin. Perhaps even MD's Mikulski, current conference chair. Or, dare I say it, Hillary?

Will the GOP try to smear a more "liberal" Dem leader? Sure, but they haven't been able to make such criticisms stick against that "San Francisco liberal" Pelosi. And if we're going to live in fear of what the Republicans might say about us, then we might as well pack it in.

We are a big tent, and we won't have every Democrat on every issue. We should be willing to accept that as a cost of being a diverse party. But our leadership shouldn't have to fear being Democratic, afraid of what their Bush-voting constituents back home might think.

Again, patience is a virtue. And right now, we have bigger fish to fry with the 2004 presidential election. But once we have the White House, all bets are off. It'll be time for new Senate leadership.

Dean Down HUGE in latest TIME/CNN POLL! Good Bye Dean! Date NOVEMBER 24th

The Democrat who would give Bush the toughest run for re-election would be retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, according to the survey's results. Clark trails Bush by seven points.

Bush would best former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the Democratic who has raised the most campaign money to challenge the president, by 59 percent to 39 percent of those polled.


7 points compared to 20 points OUCH!

Gee Steve, you really never give up. :-)
Don't quote me but if I recall correctly at this point in Gore's race against Bush, Gore was over 25 points behind the Gov. of Texas. You know who REALLY won.
So, these polls v/s Bush mean very little.

Did you read Krugman today? He addresses the Repuglican attempt to bully critics into unilaterally disarming — into being demure and respectful of the president. Forcing us to be "nice & loveable" as you put it.

THey will do everything in their power to make sure that Bush suffers no harsh criticism -- their media is already playing up how much the American people love him as a person -- we Dems (Clark included) are very succeptible to such manipulations.

Clark has had a good week in the media, while we haven't seen as much of Dean as we did the week before. Some of my acquaintances are only just beginning to distinguish between all the names in the primary, and that has been largely because of me. I believe that the average voter hasn't given either of them enough attention yet, but that they will give both men serious consideration in the coming weeks, as I am doing.


Published on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 by The Nation

Why I'm for Dean
by William Greider

First, the rivals saw him as a McGovernite lefty from the 1960s. When that didn't take, they decided to depict him as a right-wing clone of Newt Gingrich who wants to dismantle Medicare and Social Security. Finally, opponents sold political reporters on the story of Mr. Malaprop, an oddball from tiny, liberal Vermont so insensitive to the nuances of American politics his mouth will destroy him. Howard Dean surged ahead through all this. The other candidates and witting collaborators in the press got him wrong every time.

Howard Dean is an odd duck, certainly, in the milieu of the contemporary Democratic Party. He is, I surmise, a tough and savvy politician of the old school--a shrewd, intuitive pol who develops his own sense of where the people are and where events are likely to take public opinion, then has the guts to act on his perceptions. That approach--leading, it's called--seems dangerously unscientific in this era of high-quality polling and focus groups, the data interpreted for politicians by expensive consultants. The press corps has not had much experience with Democrats of this type, so reporters read Dean's style as emotional, possibly a character flaw. He reminds me of olden days when Democrats were a more contentious bunch, always fighting noisily among themselves and often with creative results.

The ubiquitous "party sources" have explained that Dean merely caught a lucky break by declaring early and forcefully against the war on Iraq at a time when Americans were overwhelmingly prowar. Who knew things might change? The doctor knew.

A more pertinent question is, Why didn't other leading candidates see this tragedy coming? Their reticence was symptomatic of the inert Washington insiders, exceedingly cautious, indifferent to whatever roils the party's rank and file, and always a few steps behind the curve. The explanation that Washington candidates voted for the war on principle or were misled by Bush doesn't help them. Their blindness to the potential consequences (now unfolding) is another reason to be for Dean. He, meanwhile, speaks plainly to the error of US imperialism. "America is not Rome. We do not dream of empire. We dream of liberty for all."

The man also stands his ground in a fight. When someone jabs him, he jabs back. Pundits describe this quality as dangerous, and no doubt it gets him into trouble occasionally, but what a refreshing departure from the rope-a-dope calculations of the Clinton era. This trait is what I like about him most. In my experience, it's more revealing than a politician's positions on issues. With issues, Dean is pretty much what he says: a middle-of-the-road moderate, neither left nor right, though middle in Vermont is liberal ground. As governor, he was skilled at maneuvering through contending forces, sometimes angering both sides in the process.

I first observed these qualities during Dean's second-to-last term as governor. Vermonters were inflamed--everyone was coming after him--when he and Democratic legislators enacted the infamous Act 60, a school-financing-equalization law that compelled the "gold towns" to share their property-tax revenues with poorer townships. Faced with general outrage, Dean barked back at the storm. The remark I remember reading in the Rutland Herald went something like this: "I know why people are angry at me. They've been getting away with low tax rates and well-financed schools. They're not going to be able to do that anymore."

Wow, I thought. This is a different kind of politician--no ducking the blame, no cute obfuscation. The law isn't perfect, Dean added. We will fix it later if we have to. (They did.) Vermont progressives were upset, too, because Dean had refused to consider raising income taxes to finance the schools. His logic, however, was more liberal than it appeared. Raising income taxes would put all the burden on Vermonters, many of whom are poor. Raising property taxes--with a generous homestead exemption for full-time residents--put the big hit on the out-of-state people who own so many lovely vacation homes there. Dean did not explain this to the "flatlanders," but we figured it out.

The governor has shown flashes of the same bluntness in his prime-time campaigning. Last summer, he told a revealing story on himself--a conversation with Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary and Wall Street's main money guy for Democrats. Rubin had warned that unless Dean stopped attacking NAFTA and the multinationals for the migration of US jobs, he couldn't raise contributions for him from the financial sector. As Dean told it, "I said, 'Bob, tell me what your solution is.' He said, 'I'll have to get back to you.' I haven't heard from him." What I like so much about the story is that powerful, influential Bob Rubin pokes Dean in the chest, and he pokes him back. Then Dean discloses the exchange to the Washington Post.

In the higher realms of politics, this is not done. But he is not one of them. And this is no longer the era for "triangulation" between the business-financial money patrons and the party's main constituencies. That new spirit, more than any single issue, is what has drawn together Dean's vibrant and growing base, buoying his candidacy with millions in small contributions. Dean is opening the possibility of transforming politics--shaking up the tired, timid old order, inviting plain-wrapper citizens back into an active role--and that's why so many people, myself included, are for him. Full disclosure: I am among the throngs who have been invited to contribute "forward-looking ideas" to his campaign (I was flattered to be asked and pleased to oblige, with no naïve expectations).

Dean, I suspect, learned in the up-close-and-personal politics of Vermont that you don't win elections by keeping the people at a safe distance. You can't do it in that state, even if you try. He governed with strong, well-organized progressives and environmentalists on one flank, conservative business interests on the other and a mass of native working-class Vermonters who don't much care for either. Dean collected a lot of lumps and resentments, many compromises and setbacks, in ten years as governor. Insiders remember him as shifty and unreliable. But he also learned how to stand his ground in a fight.

All that helps explain why the party establishment had a hard time understanding the man and is so upset by the thought that he might be the nominee. Corny as it sounds, he might actually bring voters back into the story. Washington's smugness was shattered in the past few weeks as Dean picked up pathbreaking endorsements from Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. and SEIU and AFSCME, the two largest unions and heads-up, aggressive organizations. Dean continues to up the ante for his rivals--calling for reregulation of key industries and confronting the concentrated power of corporations and wealth. These are solid liberal ideas others are afraid to express so directly. The guy is a better politician than the insiders imagined, indeed better attuned to this season than they are.

It's still early and Dean will be field-tested in the next few months, but so will they. If the party establishment succeeds in derailing him or declines to rally around him as the nominee, Democratic status as the minority party may turn out to be a very long Vermont winter.

National affairs correspondent William Greider has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The People and, most recently, The Soul of Capitalism (Simon & Schuster).

Copyright © 2003 The Nation

This part merits repeating, imo.

>>>I first observed these qualities during Dean's second-to-last term as governor. Vermonters were inflamed--everyone was coming after him--when he and Democratic legislators enacted the infamous Act 60, a school-financing-equalization law that compelled the "gold towns" to share their property-tax revenues with poorer townships. Faced with general outrage, Dean barked back at the storm. The remark I remember reading in the Rutland Herald went something like this: "I know why people are angry at me. They've been getting away with low tax rates and well-financed schools. They're not going to be able to do that anymore."

Wow, I thought. This is a different kind of politician--no ducking the blame, no cute obfuscation. The law isn't perfect, Dean added. We will fix it later if we have to. (They did.) Vermont progressives were upset, too, because Dean had refused to consider raising income taxes to finance the schools. His logic, however, was more liberal than it appeared. Raising income taxes would put all the burden on Vermonters, many of whom are poor. Raising property taxes--with a generous homestead exemption for full-time residents--put the big hit on the out-of-state people who own so many lovely vacation homes there. Dean did not explain this to the "flatlanders," but we figured it out. <<<

FYI. I like that Dean isn't afraid to speak the truth about Saudi Arabia. Will we ever really know what Clark's stance on the war was back in March?

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 1, 2003; Page A06

MERRIMACK, N.H., Nov. 30 -- Howard Dean launched a full-throated attack on President Bush's foreign policy acumen Sunday, saying Bush has "no understanding of defense," is conducting diplomacy by "petulance" and lacks "the backbone to stand up against the Saudis."

Amid a crush of well wishers seeking autographs at a high school here, Dean said of Bush: "I think he's made us weaker. He doesn't understand what it takes to defend this country, that you have to have high moral purpose. He doesn't understand that you better keep troop morale high rather than just flying over for Thanksgiving," as Bush did in visiting Baghdad.

At another town hall meeting, in Manchester, Dean added: "Mr. President, if you'll pardon me, I'll teach you a little about defense."

The Democratic presidential candidate assailed Bush for having announced "that he was going to cut the combat pay" for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and for having "cut 164,000 veterans off" from health care benefits.

As a Pentagon spokeswoman noted, Bush signed a bill last week that boosts monthly combat pay from $150 to $225, along with family separation benefits.

But the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the administration changed its stance after publicity about its position this summer that Congress should not extend an earlier combat pay increase for budgetary reasons.

Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Phil Budahn said that no one has been kicked off the health care rolls but that an estimated 164,000 higher-income veterans will be excluded in the future because their ailments are not service-related.

Although the former Vermont governor received sustained applause for deriding Bush's tax cuts for "Ken Lay and the boys who ran Enron," he repeatedly returned to national security issues, widely considered one of the president's strengths.

Dean said that "the president is about to let North Korea become a nuclear power" because of his "petulance" and his dislike for that country's leader, Kim Jong Il. He chided Bush for not challenging Saudi Arabia for "using our oil money" through religious schools "to train the next generation of suicide bombers."

Blaming the war in Iraq on Bush's "bullheadedness," he said the president is "incapable" of winning international support for reconstruction efforts because "he managed to insult all the people whose help we need, gratuitously." And he took a swipe at Wesley K. Clark, lumping him in with rivals Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) as someone who "recommended" the war.

Clark spokesman Chris Lehane said the retired general consistently opposed the war and disputed the Dean camp's account that Clark's advice to a House candidate amounted to an endorsement of the war resolution that passed. "What's clearly going on here is Howard Dean is hearing our footsteps," Lehane said.

Dean also faulted the administration for failing to adequately inspect cargo shipments, citing an ABC News investigation in which depleted uranium was sent from Indonesia to Los Angeles without detection.

"Once again," responded Republican National Committee spokeswoman Christine Iverson, "Howard Dean has chosen to attack the president rather than put forth a single proposal of his own that would make our nation a safer place."

Dean's antiwar stance still resonates deeply among Democrats in the first primary state. "Preemption as a foreign policy, I just think it's morally wrong," said software engineer Lenny Szubowicz, who is leaning toward voting for Dean but also is considering Clark. "My only hesitation is whether Dean's electable. I have some real fears about that."

Asked by several voters about tax cuts, Dean said the benefits to middle-class people were more than outweighed by rising property taxes and college tuition costs. "There was no such thing as a middle-class tax cut. There was a tax shift to the middle class," he said.

While continuing his practice of rarely talking about himself, Dean is launching the first biographical advertisement of his campaign Monday in Iowa -- a $400,000, 10-day blitz that underscores his financial advantage in rejecting public financing and the accompanying spending limits.

"He took classes at night to get into medical school, worked in an emergency room in the Bronx, and with his wife, Judy, Howard Dean became a family doctor hoping to make a difference one life at a time," the 60-second spot says. Dean rarely makes public mention of his wife, a doctor who is not actively campaigning.

The ad, which calls Dean a "maverick," attempts to burnish his fiscal credentials, crediting him with "turning a deficit into a surplus" and "balancing budgets 11 years in a row."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company