Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Delegate Count

The delegate count is no longer a justification for Dean supporters to claim a continuing lead, even if none of our superdelegates are re-evaluating the race. We now have 121 delegates, including superdelegates, and 27 earned delegates. Kerry, Clark and Edwards all have more earned delegates, and though we are still 2nd in overall delegates, Kerry outstrips us there by more than 2 to 1. We are decidedly the underdog once again.

The campaign will be decided for Dean on the battlefields of WA and WI. Dean must win, or at least place 2nd, in WA, which it appears we are on track to do. Though we have had key endorsements in the state for months, and have one of the most solid state volunteer organizations in the country there, Kerry just picked off the endorsement of the State's governor.

Conventional wisdom says that a win in WA will translate into mo' in WI, which in turn sets up for Super Tuesday. I question that thesis. The demographics of the Democratic electorate in WA are much more favorable to Dean in WA than in WI, based on recent performance. WA's Dems look much more like other coastals such as CA and NY, while WI is much closer to the demographics of IA, and other riverine states. What this means is that WI is a far more important test of General Election strength. The battleground states in November will be the riverine states of the midwest, not the coastal states.

In short, WA is overrated, both as a bell-weather and as a mo' machine for WI. A win in WA would be great and would demonstrate continuing viabiliy, but it will not translate into significant mo' in WI, nor elusive 'electability'. Only two viable candidates will emerge from WI in positions 1 and 2. 1 will be the presumptive nominee, and 2 will be the Anti-.

If Dean, Clark or Edwards are to make it into Super Tuesday as more than a footnote, one of them must win, or place 2nd, in WI. The only possible exception is Edwards, who could remain viable with a lower showing in WI if he wins both TN an VA and forces Clark to retire from the field prior to WI. Neel is making a major media buy in WI and the Letters tool at DFA is spitting out WI voters only, so the game is afoot. Sharpen your pencils; let's deliver some votes!

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