Undeterred by my prior failure in prognostication, here is a bold prediction:
Two years from now people will think that Howard Dean's yelp cost him the nomination. In fact, he had probably lost it earlier. Let's remember, he got flattened in the Iowa Caucuses before the "Eeeeeyyyyyaaaaaaahhhh!" ever came out of his mouth.
This is something that Bill James, the baseball analyst, has commented about in the past. Over time, events that were memorable tend to be remembered as events that were significant. I don't think Dean's yelp was all that significant. It confirmed he was swirling around the political toilet, but the voters in Iowa had already pushed the handle.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Wow, pretty bad prediction there; if you reverse the order I had them in you'd be a lot closer--Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt and Dean would have been close. Obviously the dynamic I described did not occur; probably because Kerry and Edwards' people were viable in more precincts than anticipated. In defense of myself, I note that both Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved, who get paid to observe the political scene, both thought that Dean would finish first.
What does this mean for the future? My guess is it makes New Hampshire almost a must-win for Dean. Gephardt is fini, Kerry and Edwards get a breath of life. The interesting question is what does it do to Clark? His rationale was that he was the un-Dean, but the two candidates with great hair seem to have stolen his thunder.
Monday, January 19, 2004
Fearless Iowa Prediction:
Dean, Gephardt, Edwards and Kerry. Dean wins by a few percentage points over Gephardt. The 15% rule makes for some interesting dynamics. Suppose you're an Edwards supporter and your fellow Edwards partisans at the local caucus are less than 15% of the group, then you are required to pick a second candidate. Obviously you don't want to go for Dean. But voting for someone else means axiomatically that you are helping your own guy finish third. So the question is whom do you want to finish ahead of you? Obviously the answer is Gephardt. He's poorly positioned (3% RCP Average) to do anything in New Hampshire, so any momentum he might get by finishing first is going to be stalled next week. They don't want Kerry because he's got the bucks and the potential to improve his standing in New Hampshire.
Kerry's backers make the same calculation--no to Dean, no to Edwards. Gephardt they can explain away winning or finishing second. Indeed, some pundits think even a close second finish will doom Gephardt.