THE HORSE RACE

Stephen Green looks at some Zogby tracking poll numbers and finds that

Howard Dean doesn’t look nearly as invincible as he’s been portrayed. He and Dick Gephardt are in a statistical dead heat in Iowa, when you take into account the margin of error. And nobody is leading in South Carolina. (What I’d really like to see is a good, monthlong tracking poll for every Super Tuesday state — I’m betting the South has yet to coalesce around any candidate.)

While this is certainly true–I’ve long been predicting that the South will save the Democrats from Dean–the fact remains this is now Dean’s race to lose. While he’s not running away with anything, he’s got a huge lead in New Hampshire and a small one everywhere else. Meanwhile, there is no consistent number two. More importantly, he’s absolutely dominating the money primary.

Aside from simple self-destruction on Dean’s part, the only way I can see for anyone else to hold on long enough to build enough momentum to overtake him is for all of the contenders but one to drop out very soon–maybe even before Super Tuesday. So far, there’s no sign of that. My guess is Lieberman will drop out reasonably soon. Kerry seems intent on fighting on as long as his wife’s money holds out. Edwards has put all his chips on the table for this one as well, having renounced a reelection bid. And I can see no reason for Clark to drop out, either.

Update (1349): Politics1 has more polling results:

OKLAHOMA: Dean-24%, Wesley Clark-21%, Joe Lieberman-9%, and all others each at 4% or less. Lieberman has made OK and AZ key “make-or-break” states for him, so a loss here on February 3rd will be fatal for him. John Edwards is also trying to make a dent here here, so far without results … ARIZONA: Dean-26%, Clark-15%, Lieberman-9%, Dick Gephardt-7%, John Kerry-6%, and all others at 1% or less. Yet another sign that Lieberman’s strategy is failing … SOUTH CAROLINA: Dean-16%, Clark and Al Sharpton tied at 12% apiece, Edwards-11%, Lieberman-7%, and all others at 3% or less. Lots of second place finishes are nice, but can anybody tell us what is the first state that Clark is actually going to win?… WISCONSIN: Dean-33%, Lieberman-12%, Clark-11%, Gephardt-9%, and Kerry-6%. The primary here is February 17 — three weeks after NH — so several of these guys will already be gone by that date … GEORGIA: Dean-18%, Gephardt-8%, Clark-7%, Sharpton and Lieberman tied with 6% each, and the rest trailing behind. Clark dropped 6 points — and from first to third — since the last Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll in October. Gephardt dropped 4, while Dean moved up by 11 points. President Bush, meanwhile, continues to lead Dean by a comfortable margin in all national polls of the likely general election match-up. In related news, John Kerry loaned his campaign more than $6 million this week, secured by a mortgage on property he owns, in an effort to revive his failing campaign.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DCE says:

    I keep praying that Dean will self-destruct even though I know he might have a better chance of being trounced by George Bush by only 20 percentage points rather than 30 percent like most of the other Democratic contenders.

    Frankly, one of the few Dems that I believe could give George Bush a reasonable run is Joe Lieberman, but I doubt he has a prayer of gaining the nomination – he’s too moderate to appeal to the extremists in the party.

    Come November, I’ll be a-votin’ fer George.

  2. Paul says:

    Last week I came to the conclusion Dean is going to implode.

    He is simply too stupid to pull it off.

    Nobody with a brain would keep saying all the stupid things he keeps saying.

    P