Monday, January 19, 2004
Iowa caucuses: The results are in and the Democrat Party in Iowa appears to have taken their meds and rejected "Angry" Howard Dean.
According to CNN, Sen. John Kerry came out on top with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Sen. John Edwards with 32 percent, Gov. Howard Dean with just 18 percent and Rep. Dick Gephardt with 11 percent. Rep. Dennis Kucinich actually managed to get 1 percent -- evidence that there are loons everywhere.
With his disappointing fourth-place finish, Gephardt saw the octagonal, red sign emblazoned with "STOP" and quit the race. This development presents me with the opportunity to issue the first-ever "Hoystory Journalist Challenge."
The prize is a Hoystory T-shirt -- designed by yours truly. The contest is open to any professional journalist -- print, radio or television. (Sorry, fellow bloggers, but I have no doubt a blogger would do what I'm about to suggest. I'm much more skeptical that a member of the "liberal media" would do this.)
The challenge is to ask this question of Rep. Dick Gephardt: "Mr. Gephardt, would you classify your campaign as a 'miserable failure'?"
Despite the old adage: "Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it," I think that Howard Dean is the top-tier candidate that presents the highest likelihood of a Bush landslide in 2004. Both Kerry, and to a lesser extent Edwards, present a more credible -- and less insane -- challenge to Bush.
Tonight's win probably means the most for Edwards. Edwards had spent most of the Iowa campaign stuck in the middle of the pack and his surge to second-place in Iowa will give him much more credibility in New Hampshire. A strong showing there could mean a win in South Carolina.
For Kerry, this win means the spotlight that has been on Dean up until now turns to him. How Kerry deals with the increased scrutiny will be the make-or-break part of his campaign. The win also means that he should get a renewed influx of cash that is not his own. (Kerry mortgaged his home to get several million for the Iowa campaign.)
For Howard Dean, his distant third-place showing is mildly catastrophic. Dean needs to do better in New Hampshire, or he's toast. To Dean's advantage -- he's still the money-leader. To Dean's disadvantage -- his speech after his third-place finish. Dean's fury/enthusiasm was scary. Though that behavior gives the extreme left-wing a rush, it turns off too many of the "mainstream" in the Democrat Party -- as evidenced by tonight's trouncing.
That leaves Wesley Clark among the top tier candidates going into New Hampshire. Clark abandoned Iowa when the conventional wisdom was that you needed a serious organization -- like Gephardt's labor unions or Dean's youth/Internet volunteers -- to compete. Clark also must make a strong showing in New Hampshire if he's going to be a viable candidate.
With the smaller field, the debates should be more interesting, and more serious. The saga continues...