For all of the flailing, flagellating and flapping of wings in the blogosphere, two-thirds of voters – including two-thirds of Democrats – were unable to name ANY of the Democratic candidates for president, according to a CBS News poll released yesterday. This seems about exactly in line with what I have observed, and indeed felt myself.
- Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Howard Dean topped the field in the poll, with relatively low numbers that suggest the race remains wide open.
Lieberman, Gephardt and Dean were the only three in double digits in support from registered Democrats. Lieberman, a Connecticut senator, had the backing of 14 percent; Gephardt, a Missouri congressman, was backed by 11 percent; and Dean, former governor of Vermont was at 10 percent. Other candidates were in single digits.
John Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, was at 5 percent after being in double digits in national polls most of the year. Kerry will try to spark his campaign this week with the formal announcement of his candidacy.
Al Sharpton had 5 percent; Bob Graham, a senator from Florida was at 4 percent; John Edwards, a senator from North Carolina, had 2 percent; Carol Moseley Braun was at 2 percent; and Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, had 0 percent. [AP]
Kucinich energizing the electorate with 0%! Given the 4% margin of error in these polls, Dennis may actually be in the negative, pulling in support only from anti-matter voters. Damn, where would he be without the ringing endorsement of Willie Nelson and Ani DiFranco? It would take a cosmologist to figure that one out.
Meanwhile, even those Democratic functionaries who CAN tell the players without a program are worried:
- Many prominent Democrats said that Mr. Bush might be vulnerable, given problems with the economy, and continued American fatalities in Iraq. But they said he could be unseated only by an aggressive, partisan challenge that built on Democratic anger lingering from the 2000 election, and by a nominee who somehow managed to survive a complicated nominating fight that was pulling their party to the left.
….Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, said: “It’s going to be very, very difficult to defeat Bush next year. He will have more money than any candidate in history.”
Even at a packed rally for Howard Dean this morning on a farm in this community just across the border from Vermont, some Democrats were expressing concern that none of their candidates appeared to have what it would take to defeat Mr. Bush, with many mixing strong praise for Dr. Dean with skepticism about his ability to defeat Mr. Bush.
“I think it is a weak field,” said John Meyer, 41, an architect from Henniker, who said he was waiting to see if Gen. Wesley K. Clark would enter the race. “A lot of them are lackluster candidates.”
Against this daunting general election backdrop, the nominating contest is as unsettled as any Democratic presidential competition in 20 years, with candidates who have struggled for months to win attention from a nation that seems to have things on its mind other than an election that is 15 months away.
….One prominent Democrat said that while Mr. Bush was “eminently beatable,” the Democratic nominating process seemed nowhere near producing someone who could do the job. “The trouble in 2004 is not that Bush is going to be strong, but rather than we are going to be weak,” this official said. [NY Times]