Has Dean Peaked? (Democratic Race Handicapping)

He appears to be slipping in both NH & Iowa, in which he has actually fallen into second place (at least according to this one poll) and could easily finish third, possibly fourth. So the question is if he has passed his peak and is on the way down, and if so, what is the likeliest scenario now.

Seems to me that if Kerry wins Iowa, he gets some momentum for NH, and the question then is if he takes away from Dean or Clark in NH - I would expect from Dean. If Gephart wins Iowa he becomes something of a player, but if he finishes third - as now seems eminently possible - he is out entirely.

Clark is best served by a very slight win by either Dean or Gephardt, neither of whom would get any momentum in NH.

Edwards is the interesting wild-card, within striking distance (at least of second place) in Iowa, according to this poll. If he finishes second he keeps his campaign going until the campaigns hit the South, which is thought to be his strong point.

So by my odds at this point, Dean remains the favorite but only very slightly. He is closely followed by both Kerry & Clark, followed by Edwards, followed by Gephardt. (Lieberman is out of the picture).

If he loses Iowa, the impression of a massive campaign machine that can override the traditional candidates will collapse I’d say. At that point I think people will start looking for another candidate that they feel comfortable with. Who that would be is anyone’s guess.

Iowa expendable for everybody who’s not Gephardt. If Gephardt loses Iowa, he’s done… if he wins, he still has a long way to go. I would say Dean is in trouble if he loses New Hampshire.

It’s possible that Dean has peaked, and making a significantly weaker showing in Iowa than expected could definitely be a sign of trouble (losing to Kerry would be worse than losing to Gephardt, who’s got almost all of his eggs in this one basket). Kerry seems to be a player again, but I don’t think Gephardt will be one just because he wins or comes close in this one state.

The saying around here is that “politics is Chicago’s number one spectator sport” and I’d like to say that was a beautiful analysis, IzzyR. No mention of the awkward things like ideology because they hold no real interest for me. Nope, it’s a horserace, pure and simple, and any horserace can be handicapped.

Yes, Dean seems to be slipping. I wonder what effect the top-loaded primary system will have when a party is stuck with a candidate who had, in hindsight, obviously peaked months before the convention but has so many committed delegates that he will win the nomination in the first round.

Going to Plan B: Kerry always appealed to me and I’m looking harder at John Edwards, but while the cancellation of his show will give him more time to campaign and while he may have some sway with the dead, long a large voting bloc in Chicago, if he starts channelling FDR I’m outta here.

I wouldn’t say he’s ‘peaked’.

I think it’s more the normal ‘sliding back to the pack as E-day approaches’. You see this a lot in the primaries. Things tend to tighten up towards the end.

I think Dean has peaked and I’ll go out on a limb and say the nominee is going to be Edwards. Now that the holidays are past and we’re starting to take a serious look at the candidates, Democrats have to be asking if they can afford Dukakis II. I personally think Dean would make a far better president than Bush, I don’t see him as attracting Joe Six Pack. So in Iowa, there will be a four way split among Dean, Gephardt, Edwards, and Kerry. In New Hampshire, Clark is going to pull a big surprise and give Dean a good spanking. Then on to South Carolina where Dean is going to be on very unfriendly ground.

I predict the nominees will drop in the following order:
Braun (well, that was easy), Kuchinich, Sharpton, Lieberman, Gephardt.

Of Kerry, Edwards, Clark, and Dean, a lot will depend on how few mistakes they make (hurting Dean) and how long the money holds out (helping Dean).

Was it blue star or gooney bird? Makes a difference.

Ooooo, the red states are melting into the blue states… Ooooo…

If Dean slides more and loses Iowa, he can still win New Hampshire and get some momentum back. But frankly, I think the honeymoon might be over now, and people are getting serious about picking a candidate who can win. And I think people are now realizing that Dean can not win.

So my fearless prediction is that if Dean loses in Iowa, the Democratic nominee will be Kerrey, with Clark a close second (although the latest stuff coming out about Clark’s flip-flops is going to hurt him).

So I say John Kerrey. And you know, he’s probably the toughest guy for Bush to beat, so the Dems would be making a solid pick. He’s a seasoned pro, he’s got a good war record (both being in Vietnam and being for the war in Iraq, which I think will be an asset). His problem is his demeanor, which is rather off-putting. Why the long face, John?

Edwards would be an interesting choice. I think he’s been running a very shrewd campaign - very upbeat, positive message, stay out of the muck. Let the front-runners burn up their money and their good will attacking each other, then pour it on in the last days. But he’s just too inexperienced to pull it off, I think. And he lacks gravitas. But if he can put in a decent showing, it will be a very good thing for his political career. It’ll give him that gravitas next time around. He’s positioning himself well for 2008 if he doesn’t make it this time.

I just can’t see the fascination democrats have with Howard Dean. Hes angry… ok? Anger doesn’t win elections. Americans are generally pretty happy, they want to see progressive issues. They want to see someone who wants to make America better than the best. Howard Dean just seems to be attacking America to them, and offering little to show how he is gonna make the place better. That translates into “I don’t care.”

Looking at the race, I see Dean finishing somewhat poorly in Iowa. He might get the win, he might get second, but just barely. In New Hampshire, he will probably win. After Iowa hes gonna step up the Clark criticism and the dirt on Clark really pisses of Democrats more than the general public (his Republican ties). Clark will probably slip a bit, Kerry will gain a bit and Dean will stay about the same, winning NH by about 10%.

Then its off to the south, and thats where I see Dean’s campaign crumbling. Clark or Kerry will both enjoy strong showings here. I’m placing my bets on Clark though.

Personally, I’ve made up my mind to not vote for Dean if hes the Democratic candidate. He’ll make a fool of himself repeatedly and he will NOT win against GWB. I’d rather try and pitch in to get a third party federal funding in '08 than waste a vote on Dean, who I’m not even sure will do a better job than Bush on much of anything.

I think Dean has peaked, sure. He’s got a very dedicated base and isn’t likely to slip much further, but 25% just isn’t going to cut it once the more moderate Democrats start to drop out. Once it’s down to Dean and one or two moderates, Dean’s toast. Until then, he’ll likely be able to win primaries and make good showings in others. But it just won’t be enough in the end. A candidate like Dean MUST win a majority of delegates, because in a brokered convention they will be looking for someone who is more of a uniter. I would bet that the 2nd place candidate actually gets the nomination in a brokered convention, unless Hillary just throws up her hands and offers to take it since the Dems can’t make up their minds otherwise.

I believe you are much too pessimistic and defeatist when it comes to Howard Dean.

He was interviewed in People magazine not long ago:
People and from that interview they highlighted the following 17 points:

  1. He calls his wife “sweetie”; she calls him “Howie.”
  2. He wore his prom tuxedo to one of President Clinton’s White House state dinners to save money, but coughed and split his pants and had to be escorted home by state troopers covering his posterior.
  3. His staff forced him to buy a new suit at Paul Stuart in New York for the campaign (it cost $800). “It nearly killed me.”
  4. He always turns off the lights when he walks out of a room. He used to get into fights with his wife about turning up the heat in the winter, so now she pays the bill so he doesn’t have to see it.
  5. The last sitcom he watched was All in the Family in its original run.
  6. He is compulsive about recycling. Once he picked up every newspaper off an airplane at the end of a flight and hauled them to a recycling center. He also does recycling inspections of his staffer’s bins.
  7. He insists that paper in his office be printed on both sides.
  8. He likes Outkast and Wyclef Jean (his son’s music) as well as Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead.
  9. He fixes the toilet at home; plumbing is his “therapy.”
  10. He never takes taxis or limos. In New York City he takes the subway.
  11. Asked his favorite food indulgence, he responds: fish. (He later amends this to chocolate chip cookies.)
  12. He drinks generic ginger ale and snacks to save money.
  13. He plays the guitar and harmonica. He sings '60s folk tunes (see: Peter, Paul and Mary above.)
  14. Despite his reservations about cost, he was finally persuaded to take his shirts to the dry cleaner last year. He used to just throw them in the wash.
  15. As the governor of Vermont, he drove himself and pumped his own gas.
  16. He has been known to tape his shoes together.
  17. He wears '70s-style gold-rimmed glasses that he won’t update; his wife carries a purse covered in pen marks. They are both devoted discount shoppers.

The full interview can be found here:
Dean Interview

I find this to be a very reassuring list. Symptomatic of a micromanager, just the kind of person we all like to work under, but that’s what is needed in this day and age.

I confess, I don’t understand item 16 or, for that matter, item 9. I do my own plumbing, but have never found it therapeutic. Item 7 refers to printed paper documents only, so that’s all right, I suppose.

I certainly don’t think you, or anyone else, needs to have any anxiety attacks about “Howie”.

Ah. I thought the Hillary crap had finally died, seeing as how Iowa is tomorrow and she’s clearly not running. Do you really think the Democrats are going to nominate someone who didn’t even run in the damn primaries?

In a locked up convention, yes. If Dean goes in with say, 40% of delegates, and a couple of moderates have 30% each, say Clark and Kerry, and if the Democrats simply can’t make a decision after several votes, I could see one unifying candidate, like Gore or Hillary offering to accept a nomination.

You figure if any one Democrat can’t marshal 51% support within their own party, it makes it pretty hard to believe they can get majority support outside the party. But in an up-or-down vote, Gore and Clinton would win nomination easily.

Although I don’t think this has happened since the advent of primaries, it happened many times before, with conventions sometimes deadlocked after 50 votes. And in some cases, a candidate who previously wasn’t even running was nominated as a compromise. I’ll have to go look it up now.

By the way, adaher, I apologize for not acknowledging that your comment was conditional; I meant to correct that.

I’m sure it’s happened, but as you said, it was in the days prior to the system we have now. The process is more transparent, which is to everyone’s benefit since it reduces the likelihood that party officials will nominate someone for whom even the party faithful won’t vote. When was the last time we had a nomination as contested as the hypothetical you’re describing? When was the last time a nomination went to multiple ballots? That’s not how it works right now. The nominating convention is a formality, not the ultimate decision-maker.

If no candidate goes into the convention with a majority of delegates, it becomes a brokered convention. I think delegates are only required to vote for the candidate they are committed to on the 1st ballot. So the convention opens, everybody votes, and Oops! Dean is the leader, but doesn’t have a majority. So everyone votes again, and again, until someone gets a majority. After a few ballots, undoubtedly other candidates will jump in who weren’t running. Maybe Joe Biden. So they keep on voting. Perhaps a coalition is formed of Kerry, Lieberman, and Clark supporters to support Kerry. Perhaps they stay divided. In any case, they can’t go on forever and eventually someone has to step in and save it.

BTW, found one historical example:

Question: I can only locate two true dark-horse presidential candidates, James Polk and Franklin Pierce, and both were pre-Civil War. Were there any deadlocked conventions since then that turned to a dark-horse candidate? – Mark Rost, San Jose, Calif.

Answer: In the old days, a presidential candidate needed to win two-thirds of the convention delegates (instead of a simple majority) to capture his party’s nomination. This often led to multi-ballot conventions, which resulted in the nomination of dark-horse candidates. At the 1844 Democratic convention, former president Martin Van Buren had a majority of delegates after the first ballot, but not enough to claim the nomination over Lewis Cass, the former secretary of war and ex-minister to France. By the seventh ballot, Cass took the lead. With the convention headed towards a stalemate, James K. Polk’s name was proposed. Polk, the former governor of Tennessee, was deemed acceptable by both sides and won the nomination on the ninth ballot. He went on to win the presidency that year.

Oh yeah, Hayes was another, Harding another, and several others were nominated but lost, according to the article.

I’m sure if we go into May with no candidate having a majority, Cecil will be getting flooded with requests to do an article on brokered conventions.

That’s the big ‘if’ that I can’t see us getting past. To use the tired example, few people thought Clinton would win in '92, but by convention time he clearly had the nomination wrapped up. So it is here, I think: the weeding-out process begins tomorrow, and as contested as it is now, we’ll have a clear winner in a few months. My apologies to President Polk, but his election was 160 years ago. I don’t know who it is either, but I don’t see it going any other way.

Well, obviously it’s unlikely, because voters tend to rally around a front runner once one becomes clear and most responsible candidates gracefully bow out when it is clear they are just deadweight.

But, you never know. I’ve never seen five candidates that can get significant delegates before. The most I’d seen before this was three in 1998, when Gore, Dukakis, and Jackson were the main guys on the Democratic side.

I can definitely see it coming down to Clark and Dean after February though, which would make it easy. A straight one or the other vote for Democrats. Then things go smoothly. But if Gephardt wins Iowa, Clark wins NH, Edwards wins SC, and Dean and Kerry rack up solid seconds and wins in minor states like Delaware? Gets interesting. Add the fact that Lieberman has a shot at California and New York if he manages to muddle along until Super Tuesday, and there’s a bunch of delegates right there for Lieberman to use to screw up the convention if he’s feeling ornery about the way he’s been treated.

Things are too close to call in Iowa right now, but the most recent info I’ve seen has Gephardt in third, barely ahead of Edwards. With margin of error and a lot of people undecided, most anything could happen. But even a win doesn’t make Gephardt a major player, it just keeps him barely alive. He might win his home state and do OK in the Midwest, but he’s in a really desperate spot. From the same Reuters article:

“All four of the major rivals made multiple stops during the day - Gephardt making seven as he struggled to avoid a loss that aides said could spell the end of his long political career.”