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Friday, December 14, 2007

Remembering December, 2003

Want to hear a story about the ghost of Christmas past? On December 17, 2003, CBS News reported the results of two sets of polls conducted December 10-13 and December 14-16, 2003.

Why two samples? Well, on December 14, 2003, Americans learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured the previous day. Many analysts thought that the event might change the dynamics of the American political landscape.

Here's the interesting data from the poll after Saddam's capture (which is not all that different from the one right before):
(Democratic primary voters)
Howard Dean 23%
Wesley Clark 10%
Joe Lieberman 10%
Richard Gephardt 6%
Al Sharpton 5%
John Kerry 4%
John Edwards 2%
Carol Moseley-Braun 1%
Dennis Kucinich 1%
Don’t Know 28%
Joe Lieberman got a 4% boost after the capture -- nothing else changed very much. The undecideds declined by 4% and there was a bit of meaningless zero-sum movement among the candidates in single digits (a point or two). Dean and Clark remained at #1 and #2 with the same percentage support.

We know what happened over the following weeks. Kerry surged in Iowa, then won New Hampshire and the rest was history. Dean's campaign imploded -- even before "yeehaw" -- while Clark's never caught fire.

I'm noting this recent history to point out that much could change quite quickly. Mike Huckabee's surge in the Republican field reflects this fact -- and Barack Obama is currently putting a lot of heat on front runner Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire.

However, even though it is only mid-December, it is also relatively late in the contest. In 2004, Iowa voters caucused on January 19. New Hampshire's primary was held on January 27. A number of interesting states held primaries on February 3, but Super Tuesday was March 2.

This year, Iowa voters are meeting on January 3. The New Hampshire primary is January 8. Super Tuesday is February 5! That day, voters from California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and 17 other states will be voting. Many states moved up their voting to be more important in the presidential selection process, but the result is a process that will end before winter does.

For all practical purposes, the race to be the Democratic nominee for president is going to be decided in the next 7 weeks and most voters won't even be paying attention to anything but family and holidays for much of that time.

To-date, I've barely paid attention and I'm something of a political junkie. Just click on some of those 2008 candidate labels below this post and see that I've only sporadically blogged about them. Currently, I'm a soft supporter of John Edwards who is willing to listen to Barack Obama.

I haven't written a lengthy anti-Hillary Clinton post, but I'm not excited by her candidacy. Americans should not be interested in political dynasties. I fear that Clinton will be a divisive figure in the country who will not be able to meet America's needs -- end the Iraq war, reach out to the world, achieve meaningful health care legislation, etc.

In any event, I personally think the rush to pick a nominee is idiotic.

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