The Four Votes of Iowa

A mostly political Weblog.
Jan. 19 2004 3:48 AM

The Four Votes of Iowa

What Brokaw and Jennings won't tell you about the caucuses.

Will Edwards concede New Hampshire and let Kerry and Clark fight a death duel there while he waits in South Carolina? John Ellis raises the question, and has some other pithy thoughts. ...Update:  Howard Fineman says on Hardball that Edwards told him he will compete in New Hampshire. And if Kerry and Clark (or Kerry and Lehane!) go at each other, so much the better for the "positive" Edwards. Note: This is CW. Fineman said it! But why would Kerry go after Clark, unless he really has to? ... P.S.: Is there a worse person for the Clark campaign to put on TV to attack Kerry than Chris Lehane? a) He looks slightly crazed; b) He's become a widely-loathed figure; and c) A few months ago he worked for Kerry, so his attacks carry the additional baggage of betrayal. ... 8:58 P.M.

The Expectations of Expectations Game: Drezner detects a surge of media favoritism for Edwards and argues this means Edwards will be the story out of Iowa even if he comes in second:

If Kerry wins, he's going to get a bump, no doubt--and New Hampshire becomes an interesting question. But if Edwards performs better than either Gephardt or Dean at the caucus, reporters are going to lock in on him as the story of the week.

Wait, didn't Ryan Lizza just tell us that "All Kerry needs to do is come in second place and he will be the story Monday Night." But that was four days ago! As Lizza now acknowledges:

The cycle of expectations moves fast here.

He notes:

Within 48 hours, pundits have both blessed Edwards as the late-closing "it" candidate and dismissed the surge as too little too late

So Edwards is now set up to actually surprise people again. ... Someone should try to come up with a name for this faster cycle of expectations.

Maybe the race is so close that the winner will be the story! But I think Drezner is on to something. Reporters seem to like Edwards, not so much Kerry. If the order of finish is Kerry / Edwards / Dean / Gephardt, look for the press to twin Kerry and Edwards as the Come-From-Behind Kids, which would give Kerry his due but constitute a big favor for Edwards. If the order is Edwards / Kerry / Dean  etc., don't expect Kerry to receive any similar favors. ...

P.S.: Be sure to follow Drezner's link to this Daily Kos post with some pro-Dean hints you could only get in a bar in Des Moines. Then read the latest from Lizza, who has some similar pro-Edwards intuitions and a good, testy Trippi interview. ... Trippi is in the uncomfortable position of being unable to lower expectations, or even be modest, because any lowering of expectations by Dean will be taken as ... well, an actual lowering of expectations--i.e. a morale-sapping admission of impending defeat. ...