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It's not over 'til the fa--

Damien Penny, reviewing the results of Tuesday's primaries, says

John Edwards is getting all the attention for his victory in South Carolina despite losing to Kerry almost everywhere else, which suggests that the media would prefer a Bush-Edwards race to a Bush-Kerry one. But it's hard to see how Kerry can be stopped now.
Hard to see how Kerry can be stopped? Sheesh, Kerry has a total of 11% of the required delegate total to win the nomination -- and that includes a bunch of unpledged delegates; if you only count the ones actually pledged to Kerry right now, he has about 8% of the required total. Is he ahead? Sure; his closest competitor in pledged delegates is Edwards, who only has half that. But why on earth are people calling the race when, needing to get to 100, the score is 8-4? (Or 11-6, if you want to include the unpledged ones.)

Why are we (pundits and bloggers) so eager to declare winners and losers? Sure, if you gave me even odds, I'd pick Kerry over Edwards or Dean right now. But doesn't it stand to reason that if Kerry can go from frontrunner to nobody to frontrunner in such a short time, that he can revert to nobody in an equally short time?

I mean, it's not as if there's a real reason people are voting for Kerry; as David Brooks hilariously noted a couple of days before Tuesday's primaries, he's only getting support now because people have decided to give him support:

So New Hampshire voters who had dismissed Kerry as a pathetic, unelectable loser days before took a new look at him after Iowa and figured that if he could win an election, he must be electable (which is sort of definitional), and concluded he is a triumphantly electable winner. Now Kerry is riding this great wave of electability, and he has a huge seething army of fanatical Kerry supporters who will follow him to the death, unless, of course, he stumbles - in which case they will abandon him faster than you can say "electability."

In which case, John, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

So why treat his victory as a fait accompli? At least let the fat lady get out of her dressing room, first.


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Comments (3)

Cliff Bowman:

The delegate total isn't the only consideration. The early wins have enabled Kerry to raise money more effectively than the other candidates. This means that Kerry can campaign in all upcoming primaries rather than picking and choosing. A candidate isn't likely to win a state without trying.

As far as preferring an Edwards-Bush race to a Kerry-Bush race, I can't imagine the media' s having a unified preference at this point. Could it be that a contested nomination race makes a better story?

Point taken, but that's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why is it so much easier for a Kerry to raise money having won a couple of primaries? Why should being slighly ahead make people so much more likely to give money to him rather than to those who are close behind him?

Presumably he's no more attractive on a subtantive level. Those people aren't saying, "Gee, I didn't like his stance on NAFTA before, but now that he came in first in Iowa, I do."

The reason that he's more attractive (to some) as a target of donations is because many people want to back the horse that's going to win, so that their money isn't wasted. They're giving him money because they think the fat lady has sung. And why do they think that, given how early it is? Because pundits are telling them that.

Michael Christian:

Why is it so much easier for a Kerry to raise money having won a couple of primaries? Why should being slighly ahead make people so much more likely to give money to him rather than to those who are close behind him?

It's Joe-mentum.


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