P.P.P.S.: According to Balz, ex-Gore/Clark aide Ron Klain says Edwards benefitted from
" ... Dean and Kerry splitting voters to the left and him having voters on the right to himself."
The more Dean is a diminished force, the more likely many of his liberal voters will move to Kerry, rather than Edwards, Klain predicted.
This seems highly suspect. First, you'd think the breakdown would be more Kerry/anti-Kerry than left/right. Under this theory Dean voters are unlikely to go to Kerry. In fact, as Dean faded in Wisconsin, Edwards surged and Kerry even dropped a bit, right? Second, it's hard to peg Edwards--who attacks NAFTA and spouts populist compassion--as the candidate of the "right." ... The upshot: It's still in Kerry's interest to have Dean stay in the race. Maybe Kerry should send Steve Grossman back to help the Vermont governor. (By the way, why would anybody ever hire Grossman again after the way he stabbed Dean in the back before the Wisconsin vote?) ... Balz's story suggests why Klain has compiled a record of success that rivals Chris Lehane's! But why is Balz quoting him--unless Balz agrees? ... 7:04 P.M.
RealClearPolitics' Dean pre-mortem focuses on a) the jockeying to get the McGuffin--Dean's email list, and b) Dean's effect in pushing Kerry and Edwards to the left in potentially damaging ways:
Without Howard Dean, there is simply no way John Kerry or John Edwards would have voted against funding the troops in Iraq. None.
I think that's right, although I'm less convinced than RCP that Kerry or Edwards won't be able to explain that vote away in November. ... 2:49 P.M.
Ellisblog has some responsible cautionary words for overexcited Wisconsin-exit-poll watchers. ... 2:21 P.M.
kf cherry-picks the Kerry-kickers: Here's the key paragraph in Dan Balz's latest Bush vs. Kerry analysis:
"I think the Republicans are ready to fit him into a box, and it's not just the box of Massachusetts liberal," said one Democratic strategist. "I think the box they're trying to fit him in is the Washington veteran politician who says one thing and does another. And they'll make Bush a guy making tough decisions who is plainspoken. That's the contrast they're trying to draw. I have concerns." [Emphasis added.]
This non-anti-Dukakis attack would have one particularly insidious, potentially damaging aspect: It would be accurate. ... Are Republicans that smart? They give no indication of it (see the quotes in Balz's piece). But they have a while to figure things out. ... 2:14 A.M.
Monday, February 16, 2004