January 20, 2004

Moving Forward

Clearly, the biggest loser out of Iowa is Clark. Now he's got a surging Kerry to deal with in New Hampshire, and a surging Edwards to deal with in South Carolina. Ironically, this might end up being the second best scenario for Dean. If Clark and Kerry kill each other in NH, Dean could slip through. Then if Clark and Edwards kill each other in South Carolina, then Dean could slip through there as well.

I wonder though if Clark is going to be weakened enough by the time that South Carolina comes around that Edwards could win with a serious amount of momentum behind him. Then who knows what will happen.

There's also going to be a compelling argument to be made that the press is really who affected Iowa. A media study showed that 51% of the newspaper coverage on Dean was negative, while 75% of the newspaper coverage on all the other candidates was positive. Kerry's campaign in particular went negative on Dean in the backchannels through anonymous leaks to the press, and the press ate it up. The press reported all of Gephardt's misrepresentations on Dean without challenging them (well, I'm being a bit lazy in saying it that way, but it's generally true), and while Gephardt destroyed his own campaign in the process, he almost brought Dean's down with him. Time magazine and Newsweek both had negative covers on him in the last week.

Like it or not, though, in politics, perception is reality. And so for now, among the public, Dean is an angry divider that is being blamed for making too many enemies. I'm not sure how he'll get past that when he's had the "this campaign is about hope" line in his stump speech for months. So this isn't so much about who Dean can blame for the misrepresentation. It's what he does to challenge it.

Posted by Curt at January 20, 2004 01:57 AM