Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

December 4, 2003

by V

Snowball Time

There are days when you just get the feeling that the race is sewn up but no one will say it out loud. Certainly the opposing campaigns will never admit it, but even among the non-political class, declaring the race over before a vote is cast simply isn't done. No one's had their chance to vote, you see.

True enough.

But a lot of things have happened that do count, and the two most important IMO are the amount of money the candidates have collected and the number of volunteers each has. Even though no one's had a chance to vote their preference yet, everyone's had months to express their preferences (and the strength of them) in other ways.

And the energy of the people backing Dean and giving him their money has not subsided or been superseded by another candidate. The Meetup numbers (which I use as an approximate measure of relative strength, not as gospel volunteer figures) tell quite the tale, as do the fundraising numbers.

Now, Dean's still got some convincing to do. The Party is predictably wary about letting him barge in and take over the place. That's why I'm pleased to see some signs of rapprochement today:

Dean Now Courting Party Insiders (washingtonpost.com)
...many establishment Democrats are warming to Dean, in part because there is a growing perception he is pulling away from the pack -- even though most voters have not tuned in to the campaign.

"There's a sea change going on," said former DNC vice chair Lynn Cutler, a Dean supporter who attends the meetings with lobbyists.

At Tuesday night's book-signing party for former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright, Cutler said she was inundated with requests from Democrats who formerly were cool to Dean but now want to help him out. A former Clinton Cabinet secretary is expected to endorse Dean this week...

...Dean's boldest overture came this week when he called on his 500,000-plus contributors to send money to Rep. Leonard L. Boswell (Iowa). Helping Boswell is obviously in Dean's best interest: Boswell has not endorsed a candidate yet. But long before any caucus or primary, Dean also plans to raise money for as many as 19 other Democrats, including Rep. Darlene Hooley (Ore.).

"That kind of reaching out is very, very effective," said Matsui. A non-incumbent presidential candidate raising money for members of Congress this early is unprecedented.
Furthermore, popular liberal columnist Molly Ivins has settled on Dean as Her Guy, and that's just awesome. Having Ivins making your case for you is a huge plus.

Picking a winner
I was hopeful for while, but concluded, as many do, that while Gephardt is Perfectly Good as a Democratic candidate, he ain't settin' the world on fire. Doesn't seem like a good year for a regular politician on account of we ain't lookin' at regular politics. These Republicans do not have a different strategy -- they are playing a different game. They don't want to govern, they want to rule.

...Then along came Gen. Wesley Clark, and lots of people were excited. But I never have thought anyone should start in politics at the top. All those rich guys who run for office want to start at governor or senator, instead of running for the school board.

...I talked to some big money guys who assured me Dean Can't Win. But of course I'm noticing this interesting thing: Dean has so much money he actually turned down public campaign financing (since I'm a card-carrying liberal, I was naturally deeply unhappy over this. But since Dean's money comes from Real People instead of corporate special interests, I'm not that unhappy.)

...I know, he's even less of a liberal than Bill Clinton was, but I don't think Dean is a moderate centrist. I think he's a fighting centrist. And folks, I think we have got ourselves a winner here.
Thanks, Ms. Ivins.

So with Dean making friends within the party and more standard-issue Democrats (who's the Clinton Cabinet member!?) coming out for him, it looks like it might all be beginning to snowball for Dean.

Get ready for an avalanche, Mr. Bush.
Posted by V at December 4, 2003 04:53 PM

Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen. Please be Bill Cohen.

Posted by: Daniel A. Munz at December 4, 2003 08:34 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
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Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
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LIES by Al Franken
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The Great Unraveling
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The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
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Blinded by the Right
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The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

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