Is Howard Dean too extreme to win?
Both Josh Marshall and Nicholas Kristoff go after Howard Dean’s chances of victory in both the primary and the general election. Marshall disputes the argument that Dean has locked up the nomination: Okay, have to say it. I’m still not convinced. Everyone I know seems to think that Howard Dean is close to having the ...
Both Josh Marshall and Nicholas Kristoff go after Howard Dean's chances of victory in both the primary and the general election. Marshall disputes the argument that Dean has locked up the nomination:
Both Josh Marshall and Nicholas Kristoff go after Howard Dean’s chances of victory in both the primary and the general election. Marshall disputes the argument that Dean has locked up the nomination:
Okay, have to say it. I’m still not convinced. Everyone I know seems to think that Howard Dean is close to having the Democratic nomination all wrapped up. AFSCME’s apparent endorsement, for instance, seems premised almost entirely on the perception that Dean’s going to be the winner. But I just don’t see it. I’m not saying there’s another candidate who I’d say is more likely to win. I just think Dean’s strength is overstated…. I continue to think that Dean’s style of candidacy only has a real purchase on a portion of the Democratic primary electorate. And I think he has most of those people already. Yes, this is a standard criticism of Dean: he’s the candidate of the Starbucks crowd (not that that’s a criticism: I write about half of my posts from the neighborhood Starbucks) and so forth. And the endorsements of SEIU and AFSCME are supposed to change that — giving his candidacy a broader demographic sweep. But I remain unconvinced. I’m not sure Dean can break out of the very energized and mobilized constituency he already has. And that’s what strong showings out of Iowa and New Hampshire are supposed to accomplish.
Read the whole post (and this one too) — he has additional arguments. Of course, Marshall posted this before the slow-motion implosion of the Kerry Campaign. Which raises the one way in which Marshall could be proven correct — if a number of the centrist Democrats drop out of the race in rapid fashion, it permits coordination around a challenger to Dean. Clearly, this was one of the rationales underlying Wesley Clark’s entry into the race. However, Bob Graham is the only one to drop out so far, and the others have more money in the bank. So, I guess I’m more sure of Dean than Marshall. Kristoff, while never mentioning Dean by name, makes a similar argument about his supporters vis-à-vis the general election:
Liberals have now become as intemperate as conservatives, and the result — everybody shouting at everybody else — corrodes the body politic and is counterproductive for Democrats themselves. My guess is that if the Democrats stay angry, then they’ll offend Southern white guys, with or without pickups and flags, and lose again…. The left should have learned from Newt Gingrich that rage impedes understanding — and turns off voters. That’s why President Bush was careful in 2000, unlike many in his party, to project amiability and optimism. Core Democratic voters are becoming so angry that some are hoping for bad economic figures and bad Iraq news just to hurt President Bush. At this rate, Democrats risk turning themselves into an American version of the old British Labor Party under Michael Foot, which reliably blasted the Tory government and reliably lost elections.
[Hey, you said this two months ago!!–ed. OK, so Drezner gets results from Kristoff… and I’m sure someone else posted on it earlier, getting results from Drezner. Sigh. I think I’m going to have to retire that catchphrase.]
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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