Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Tick, tick, tick
The clock is just about to run out on 2d quarter fundraising for P2004 hopefuls. According to news reports and the Dean campaign, the good doctor is set to break the $7 million mark and likely to lead the pack. This should put Dean firmly in the top tier of candidates for CW purposes (musclehead has considered Dean a top tier candidate for most of the spring).
With top tier status comes a lot more scrutiny of the candidate, although it is not clear that any amount of scrutiny or bad press will discourage the Dean fedayeen. For example, his performance on MTP was universally panned, but take a look around bloggerville and you will see Dean acolytes dismissing Tim Russert and, in fact, ratcheting up their support for the former Governor. While this is certainly good news for his fundraising, the question still remains whether or not Dean fever will catch on with the general public or traditional Democratic primary voters.
I have wondered aloud, on several occasions, if Dean's centrism will ultimately turn off what seems to be a fairly liberal base of supporters. Dean's position against the war generated a groundswell of support, as did his pilfered Wellstone line about being from "the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." In fact, Dean's record is decidedly un-Wellstonian, but that has yet to dampen the spirits of his followers. However, increased focus on Dean may cause some sort of cleavage in his support. What sort of two-step will Dean be forced to do in order to answer the tough questions, such as how one balances the budget while expanding government programs, such as health care. Like other top tier candidates Dean will be forced to provide detailed policy proposals and will not be allowed to elude tough questions about trade offs in policy priorities. How much will Dean's left of center base of support move him leftward? And, if he does not drift that way, will his liberal followers jump aboard the good ship Nader or Kucinich?
I have also questioned Dean's ability to attract support amongst the vast swath of moderate Americans, both in the Democratic Party and the country, in general. So far he has done a pretty good job of alienating moderate Democrats within the DLC and other parts of the Party. One has to wonder what the average American makes of a candidate who claims to be from "the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." To many Americans that means the tax and spend wing of the Democratic Party and it may very well conjure up images of Mondale and Dukakis, rather than Clinton and Gore.


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