January 20th, 2004


Caucus again

After skimming thru the coverage of the Iowa Caucus, and the analysis of the vote, I really think that it's important not to read too much into it, for a couple of reasons.

1) The results were reported in percentages of delegates, not in percentage of votes. So, for example, Gephardt had about 50 supporters in my precinct, over 10%, but ended up with zero delegates to the county convention. Kucinich ended up with 1% of the delegates, but could have had a solid 14% of the caucus attendees at the beginning of the night. Kucinich instructed precinct captains to go for Edwards if their group was below 14%, which may have given Edwards a big boost.

2) People vote emotionally. Kerry has been showing commercials featuring a guy who was on his boat in Vietnam, saying he saved his life. Iowa as a state has a lot of veterans, and a lot of people who, though liberal in many ways, are staunchly patriotic as any red-white-and-blue-boater-wearing Republican. A common Kerry poster shows a Vietnam-era picture of him in a fatigue jacket, which does 2 things -- remind people of his military service, and remind people of his anti-war credentials from back in the day.

Top this with a tearful reunion with another of his Navy buddies in Des Moines last month, and Kerry had the whole state puddling up with tears.

But he's going now into a series of states where that sort of emotional appeal may be totally not a factor, without the money or organization that Dean and others have. If I had to look in my crystal ball, here's how I'd call New Hampshire: Dean and Kerry finishing on top, fairly close, followed by Edwards, with a big diss to Wesley Clark, who will come in 4th and look like a chump. Oh, and people will start to forget that Lieberman is even in the race, just like they've already forgotten about Al Sharpton.

The Dean Scream

I guess Dean's wacky scream at the end of his Iowa Caucus speech has captured the imagination of the conservative press (see the NY Post) but it's more bullshit character assassination. Frankly, if you've seen him in person, there's something so normal and human about his reactions. He does these awkward punching-the-air gestures that make him look like he wants to rock and roll, but deep down he's a dork. I find it endearing about him.

Two things I liked about his victory? concession? speech: 1) He sounds like Randy "Macho Man" Savage. 2) That weird scream. Could it be the new Wilhelm?

The Dean Scream

The Wilhelm