Democratic Candidate Analysis

Tuesday, 26 August 2003, 15:38 | Category : Politics
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I wrote this a few months ago, but I’ve decided to update it:

Howard Dean: the 2004 version of Eugene McCarthy, but he may have more staying power; he’ll get a push from the New Hampshire primary, if he lasts that
long, but has to show he can win somewhere besides New England. A strong showing in Iowa is possible.The Big Unless: we get really bogged down in Iraq, no WMDs are found by next spring, and world events turn against Bush. Then his anti-war, no tax cut stance will play well to a frustrated electorate Odds for nomination: 10-1


John Kerry: charisma of a soapdish; has to win the NH primary to have a chance in later primaries. Needs to do something to keep people from thinking of him as just another Massachusetts liberal. The Big Unless: if he wins in South Carolina, stays close to Gephardt in Missouri, and then doesn’t stumble in Georgia and Ohio on Super Tuesday, he may have the nomination wrapped up by the first week of March. Closest thing to immunity on the defense issue of
any Democrat. Odds: 5-1

John Edwards: early excitement is fading. Only chance is to appeal to the populist vote, but he’ll have to fight Gephardt for that segment. Vulnerable to public’s dislike of trial lawyers. No experience and it shows. The Big Unless: stays really close to Gephardt in Iowa and finishes in top 2 while Kerry stumbles in New Hampshire Odds: 50-1

Richard Gephardt: perception is he’s an old-line Democrat. Never been able to generate voter enthusiasm on the national stage. Just about has to win Iowa and finish strong in NH. The Big Unless: he molds a combination of strong labor
support that doesn’t turn off the non-labor crowd while taking the populist crowd away from Edwards. Odds: 25-1

Bob Graham: flying below the radar right now. Health could be an issue. Probably doesn’t have to do much in Iowa or NH; first battleground for him will be South Carolina, and he just about has to finish first or second there. Strong base in Florida, but not much national exposure. The Big Unless: Graham mainly needs to stay respectable while other Democrats fall away, and hope that nobody generates too much momentum in February. Odds: 15-1.

Joe Lieberman: Has to avoid being blown away in the early primaries, which traditionally don’t support conservative Democrats. A decent showing coming out of February puts him in a strong position. But if he begins to rise to the top,
that “J” question may surface in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Strong defense stance will provide cover Democrats don’t often have. The Big Unless: An upset win in New Hampshire or Iowa sets him on his way. Odds: 5-1

Al Sharpton: will be treated with kid gloves by the other candidates, but not by the voters. The Big Unless: all the other candidates die except Moseley-Braun.
Odds: 5000-1

Carol Moseley Braun: irrelevant. If she’s taken seriously, the campaign funds issue will be used to beat her into submission. The Big Unless: none. The Dems would renominate Jimmy Carter before seeing M-B win it. Odds: 50,000-1

Dennis Kucinich: as irrelevant as Moseley-Braun, but without the appeal to minorities and women. Only role will be as a liberal gadfly to make Howard Dean seem more acceptable. The Big Unless: see Moseley-Braun. Odds:
49,999-1

Wesley Clark: still not saying he’s going to run, although the possibility seems more likely than a few months ago. Absolutely immune to the defense issue normally used to bash Democrats, but how would he play in the primaries? The last perceived strong-on-defense Democrat to run for the Presidency was Henry Jackson in 1980, and he didn’t receive much support. His domestic policies are somewhat unknown. The Big Unless: blue-collar Democrats flock back to the party in the event he gets into the race; he should have strong support in that demographic. Odds: 20-1

Hillary Clinton: the 1,000 pound gorilla nobody is talking about. Says isn’t running. Would have strong negatives outside of liberal circles. The Big Unless: Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt, Edwards, Graham all stumble badly.
Odds: 50-1

3 Comments for “Democratic Candidate Analysis”

  1. 1Brian S

    Do you think any of them have a chance against Bush? It seems that a lot would have to change between now and the election before they would to me.

    On the plus side for the dems, there is a lot of time between the election and now so Bush’s numbers could definately fade depending on Iraq, terrorism in general, and the economy in particular.

  2. 2Harry

    Some late polls show more people think Bush should not be re-elected than should be re-elected. So, I think people better start paying more attention to these folks, one of them may be the next President. Rememebr that at this time in 1991, Bill Clinton was polling 6%.

  3. 3Brian S

    People will probably perk up a bit after the Dems finally pick a winner out of the pack and can concentrate on what he says and does.

    Of course if they pick a dud expect the public reaction to show it.

    The real cost for invading Iraq is starting to come due and I think a lot of people are going to take Bush to task for hiding and avoiding our bill. Its getting time to pay the piper and he’s got a mighty big pipe.