I thought that Wesley Clark’s entry into the campaign would hurt Howard Dean, that being the new face would take some of the luster off of Dean’s front-runner status. But while Clark has so far sustained his position, Dean has, if anything, strengthened his showing.
Howard Dean: Iowa is now a 2-man race, between Dean and Gephardt. Some polls show Dean leading by a few points, some show Gephardt leading. You’ve got to figure that Gephardt has to win Iowa to carry any momentum further on. A Dean victory will position him for an almost certain win in New Hampshire, and a strong showing in the February 3 round of primaries would almost wrap it up. Odds 3-1
John Kerry: Kerry is trailing Dean in all the New Hampshire polls I’ve seen, in some cases badly – 15 percentage points or so. If Dean wins Iowa, he’ll bury Kerry in NH. Kerry absolutely has to win New Hampshire, or he’s done. Odds: 25-1
John Edwards: After a brief rally of sorts in early fall, I haven’t seen anything that indicates Edwards is doing anything but fading. Odds: 75-1
Richard Gephardt: Gephardt is giving Dean a run in Iowa. My feeling is that he has to win Iowa, not so much to show his own strength, but to slow the Dean momentum. Gephardt’s best chance is to win Iowa, be respectable in New Hampshire, and then score big on February 3, with primaries in Missouri, North Dakota, New Mexico and Arizona being good spots for win. Odds: 7-1
Joe Lieberman: Still fading. He pulled out of Iowa, he isn’t showing much in New Hampshire, and there’s nothing much for him on February 3. Odds: 50-1
Wesley Clark: Clark is fighting with Dean for front-runner status, but I get the feeling that many people are still trying to understand why they support him. So he could define his campaign over the next two months in a way that blows the other candidates out of the water, or he could saunter along as the counter to Dean and continue to poll in the 15-25% range. I’m not sold on Clark yet. Odds 6-1