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If she's not singing, she's at least coming on the stage

Okay, I've complained about premature declarations that Kerry has won the Democratic nomination, but I'm only as stubborn as I need to be before looking foolish. Given the results of Washington and Michigan, it doesn't seem realistic to expect anybody else is going to catch Kerry. As a mathematical matter, Kerry is miles away from the nomination, and anybody who hasn't dropped out can catch him. As a practical matter, though, things are different.

Edwards finished third in Michigan with 13%, and fourth in Washington, behind Dennis the extraterrestrial Kucinich. He hasn't done diddlysquat outside the South. He hasn't demonstrated any ability to appeal to non-Southern voters. At this point, you have to think he's running for vice president. Clark ditto -- only more so. He barely scratched the radar in either state. That leaves Howard Dean. But his campaign is in such disarray, and now to add insult to injury, one of his major backers, the AFSCME union has withdrawn its endorsement. That seems somewhat sleazy -- whoever heard of "takebacks" in the endorsement game -- but it's a big blow. Dean's pinning all his hopes on Wisconsin now -- but even if he wins, what good will that do him? Sending the message that he can only win in the most liberal states is hardly the way to convince people he can win the general election.

Worst part of Kerry winning: my mid-2003 prediction that Dean would win, which seemed so prescient just a few months ago, now seems to have been proven wrong. I hate being wrong.

Best part of Kerry winning: perhaps Dean's defeat will mean we will finally stop hearing left-wing blather about "grassroots" crap.


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Comments (3)

A correction: Edwards finished second in Iowa, which is not in the South. And second in
Missouri, a border state. Edwards was also third, but only 26 (!) votes from second in Delaware.

Clark finished second in North Dakota. Do you consider Arizona southern? Clark was second there.

Clark and Edwards are battling for many of the same voters, I think, even though I think of them as very different. If only one remained, then I think that person would win both of the primaries on Tuesday (Virginia and Tennessee).

But Kerry will likely win them both and you will be right, he's the nominee.

You're talking about ordinal rankings. But look at percentages of the vote. Did Edwards finish second in Missouri (which, by the way, is Southern)? Yeah -- with 24% of the vote. In Delaware, he was at 11%. Iowa's his best showing of the ones you named, and that was just under 32% of the vote.

Clark got 24% of the vote in North Dakota. 26% in Arizona.

And it's not as if Edwards or Clark is finishing with 25% in a multi-candidate election where the leader is getting 30%. Kerry's been getting half the vote. (In Arizona, only 42%.) Edwards and Clark combined have basically topped out at about a third of the vote in all of these elections. So even if Edwards and Clark aren't splitting votes, they're not appealing to people outside the South.

(Caveat: caucuses are more complicated than primaries; the percentages there are not necessarily perfect reflections of actual voter preferences, because of the system where "nonviable" candidates in each precinct have their votes reassigned. But I'm going by the best numbers we have.)

John Davis:

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