Go to previous post:
Horse race.

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
Reasons to like Kerry.

Our Admirable Sponsors

January 20, 2004

Getting it. Joshua Micah Marshall has been talking to a fellow named Dick Bennett, who runs the ARG daily tracking poll.
Bennett’s theory is that this whole race is about who can beat Bush, and that candidates like Kerry—until quite recently—have been completely missing the boat by talking about their plan for the environment, or their plan for this, or their plan for that.

What people care about is who can beat Bush. Beat Bush, they reason, and everything else will fall into place. So who cares what your plan is.

You know, I’ve heard that said. [12:10 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Getting it.:

N in Seattle ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2004, 01:59 AM:

Bennett's observation is interesting, particularly when you take into account that Dean seemed to be the only one who was saying much about beating Dubya until recently. If, in the end, Dean doesn't recover his magic touch, the eventual nominee -- and Democrats everywhere -- will have Howard Dean to thank for helping the candidates and the party find their backbones and their cojones.

Alex Steffen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2004, 02:19 AM:

I think this is pretty much correct, within limits. I'd say the major caveat is "... and take the fight to the R's once he's beaten." Which is why Lieberman's had such a rough slog, I think: most hardcore Dems see him as someone who probably can't beat Bush, but definitely doesn't have enough vinegar in 'im to take back Congress and the courts. Too willing to compromise, to back down.

But I think that any of the other four - Dean, Clark, Kerry and Gep - would be seen as being able to do both and could potentially rally a big Dem year.

Alex Steffen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2004, 02:43 AM:

"Dean, Clark, Kerry and Gep"... er "and Edwards"


Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2004, 07:54 AM:

On the other hand, Jonathan Cohn at TNR seems to be saying the exact opposite...

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2004, 07:59 AM:

Say what, Seth? I just read Cohn's column and, while it's very critical of Dean, the set of points he's trying to make seem to me at best orthogonal to those made here so far.

To what is he "saying the exact opposite"?

Yehudit ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2004, 11:18 PM:

The 20% of the country which hates Bush will be attracted to this kind of campaign, but most voters care more what you are for, than who you are against. This is why Dean finished third.

Kevin Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 01:30 AM:

Electability is an issue for Democratic activists, which a majority of primary participants are. I still think most Americans vote their wallet plus the vision a candidate provides of tomorrow's betterment.

At this point, it's hard to determine electability, imo. I know that Dean's a damn good campaigner that flubbed it in the clutch.... once. Kerry was a bad campaigner whose best work was done in the 60s and 70s, but he's gotten better. Maybe the Gore endorsement woke him up. Maybe having Kennedy by his side for two weeks was a gimmick that can't be replicated for long.

The top three are the only ones who've showed any of the fire to take on Rove, but it's still too early for me to make an 'electability' argument for one over the other.

Full disclosure: I started with Kerry and switched to Dean around Thanksgiving. But not just on electability. His record's impressive too.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2004, 08:39 AM:

Kevin No Relation Hayden makes sense to me. Although, Kevin, which of them are you ranking as the "top three"? Since you mention both Dean and Kerry, that has to mean you're excluding either Edwards or Clark, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on why.

But yes: it's good that "electability" is on everyone's mind, but we need to equally remember that nobody is immune from being "Gored". We need to figure out how to answer the strategy, rather than merely nominating whoever is the last one they get around to doing it to. Otherwise they're the ones calling the shots.