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by Ron Gunzburger
Publisher, Politics1.com


MORE NEW POLLS KerryFOR TUESDAY'S CONTESTS. John Kerry's lead in nearly all of the February 3 contest states appears to be holding strong. SOUTH CAROLINA (CBS News): Edwards-30%, Kerry-18%, Clark-11%, Sharpton-11%, Dean-10%. SOUTH CAROLINA (MSNBC/Zogby): Edwards-26%, Kerry-22%, Dean-9%, Clark-8%, Sharpton-6%. ARIZONA (MSNBC/Zogby): Kerry-36%, Clark-20%, Dean-10%, Lieberman-7%, Edwards-6%. MISSOURI (MSNBC/Zogby): Kerry-46%, Edwards-13%, Dean-8%. OKLAHOMA (MSNBC/Zogby): Clark-25%, Kerry-22%, Edwards-16%, Dean-8%. In other big news, Kerry scored a highly coveted endorsement in Michigan on Saturday: Governor Jennifer Granholm. He also picked up the endorsements of the Communications Workers of America and the Michigan Education Association. Dean and Clark, meanwhile, both took shots at Kerry's record, arguing that the Democrats cannot beat President Bush in November by running an "old-style" DC politician (said Clark) who is only "a talker" and not "a doer" (said Dean).

ANOTHER SURPRISE RETIREMENT IN CONGRESS. Jennifer DunnCongresswoman Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) stunned observers by announcing Friday night that she would not seek re-election in 2004. Dunn, a 62-year-old grandmother, recently remarried. "It is time for me to move on ... While I never took a pledge on term limits, I do believe that our nation is better served if from time to time we senior members step aside to allow individuals with fresh ideas to challenge the status quo in Congress," she explained. Dunn was once the senior woman in the GOP Congressional leadership until her failed bid in late 1998 for House Majority Leader. Based upon voting history, Republicans should be favored to hold this seat (although Al Gore did win this district in 2000). Dunn -- a former State GOP Chair -- said she plans to remain active in Republican campaigns, but will not endorse any successor in the GOP primary for her seat. Congressman Jerry Kleczka (D-WI) also announced his surprise retirement a few days ago.


KERRY RUNS FIRST IN MOST PLACES NOW. What a change a win or two makes for John Kerry. Once pronounced politically dead in the race, he now now leads -- or holds a close second -- in just about all of the February 3 contests. Just take a look at the contest states. MISSOURI (MSNBC/Zogby): Kerry-45%, Edwards-11%, Dean-9%. MISSOURI (KSDK-TV/SurveyUSA): Kerry-41%, Edwards-17%, Dean-16%, Clark-8%. NORTH DAKOTA (Fargo Forum/WDAY-TV): Kerry-31%, Clark-15%, Edwards-6%, Dean-5%. SOUTH CAROLINA (MSNBC/Zogby): Edwards-25%, Kerry-24%, Dean-9%, Clark-8%. ARIZONA (MSNBC/Zogby): Kerry-38%, Clark-17%, Dean-12%, Edwards-4%, Lieberman-4%. ARIZONA (American Research Group): Kerry-24%, Clark-21%, Dean-10%. OKLAHOMA (MSNBC/Zogby): Clark-27%, Kerry-19%, Edwards-17%, Dean-9%. OKLAHOMA (Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman): Kerry-20%, Clark-18%, Dean-13%. DELAWARE (American Research Group): Kerry-27%, Lieberman-16%, Dean-14%. What does all this mean? If Edwards loses South Carolina to Kerry -- a realistic possibility -- Edwards will be forced to quit the race next week. If Clark fails to win either Oklahoma or Arizona, he could be forced from the race next week. As for Dean, he (for once) has no expectations to meet on February 3 -- but that's only because he's not really competing in any of the states in play on that day. For February 3, all Dean wants to do is break the 15% mark required by party rules so he can add some more delegates to his total from some of those states. Dean has pulled all his TV spots off the air in those states and is instead concentrating on winning the February 7 caucuses in either Michigan or Washington State, and the February 17 Wisconsin primary. If Dean fails to win either MI or WA, watch for him to exit the race. If Joe Lieberman ... wait, is Lieberman still in the race after his fifth place finish in NH? He is certain to quit the race next week, regardless of what happens in Delaware.

DON'T TRIPPI ON THE WAY DeanOUT. Are you wondering what happened to the $40 million that Howard Dean raised? According to the New York Times, Dean "spent roughly $9.2 million in [TV] advertising since June, more than $2 million above the next highest advertiser [Kerry] ... Nearly $6 million of Dr. Dean's campaign money went to advertisements in Iowa and New Hampshire." Some of the money paid salaries for the staff, which grew to over 500 people. Here's the most shocking part of the story: "Trippi forfeited a salary as a campaign manager but collected commissions -- said to be as high as 15 percent in some cases -- based on advertising buys." Wait a minute ... the guy who made the strategic decision on how much money to spend on TV took a cut of everything they spent on TV? And -- if you were wondering -- the Times said Trippi was also the one who suggested that Dean "give a rousing, fired-up speech" to the volunteers after his third place finish in Iowa.


KERRY CHALLENGERS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL. With John Kerry now the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination after his Iowa and New Hampshire victories, his opponents are all scrambling to stay alive. The Kerry rivals all note that he has only won 33 delegates in those two contests, but that it takes 2,161 to win the nomination. Further, the CNN and AP delegate count to date -- including pledged super-delegates and the two first contests -- still places Dean first with 113, Kerry second with 94, Edwards at 36, Clark at 30, Lieberman at 25, Sharpton at 4, and Kucinich at 2. Dean tapped former Gore associate Roy Neel to run the campaign, a move which forced campaign manager Joe Trippi to resign. In a conference call Wednesday with Hill supporters, Dean agreed that he must score a first place finish in at least one state in the next two weeks or his campaign will be finished. Dean is also suffering from severe money problems: staffers were told they will not get their paychecks this ClarkFriday so that the campaign can temporarily divert money to media and other essential resources in key contest states. The campaign has raised another $250,000 online since Tuesday, but a lot more is needed to buy the TV spots in the upcoming contests. Dean needs a win to get the big bucks flowing again. The biggest problem for Dean -- whom NH voters told pollsters they overwhelmingly liked the best for his views and passion, but didn't necessarily vote for -- is voter concerns about his "electability." According to the New York Times, only 14% of Kerry voters in NH said they supported Kerry because they "liked what he stood for." According to the exit poll, nearly all who voted for Kerry did so because they thought he could best beat Bush. If Dean can overcome that perception problem, he could re-emerge as a major Kerry rival. EdwardsThe Lieberman campaign -- and likely others -- had to do that already from time to time in recent months. Dean was not expected to score a win anywhere next Tuesday, but he hopes to do well enough in some of those states (SC, NM and MO). Watch for Dean to make a big push to win the Presidential caucuses in Michigan and Washington on February 7. John Edwards concedes he must win South Carolina next Tuesday or his campaign is likely finished. Wes Clark is also needing to score a win somewhere on Tuesday to stay alive -- and he is concentrating on Oklahoma, South Carolina and Arizona. Joe Lieberman is just hoping for a win anywhere, but if all he manages to do is score a victory in tiny Delaware on Tuesday -- versus any of the larger states in play -- watch for him to exit the race. Al Sharpton wants to hit double digit in South Carolina but, since there are no expectations of victory for him, he can continue on with his campaign so long as there is some small amount of money remaining in his coffers. The same is true for Dennis Kucinich, who has already filed to seek re-election to Congress in November.


KERRY WINS BIG IN N.H. It seems the "Marry a Kerry" message (see the blog for 1/27/03) worked for John Kerry in Tuesday's Nerw Hampshire primary. Kerry's impressive win certainly beat the expectations created by various polls in the final days that portrayed a much tightened primary race in the state. Kerry won with 39%, followed by former frontrunner Howard Dean at 26%. Wes Clark and John Edwards were virtually tied with 12% apiece, but it appeared that Clark finished a few hundred votes ahead of Edwards. Joe Lieberman finished fifth with 9% (a position that Lieberman somehow described as a "three-way split for third" -- but we'd probably describe as "the third place finisher for third place"). Dennis Kucinich had 1%, and Al Sharpton only had a fraction of a percent. Kerry will now go into the Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma and other February 2 contests with momentum and money flowing in. Dean -- who still has money and an organization -- will quickly have to pick one or two make-or-break states that he must win to become viable again. Meanwhile, Edwards and Clark will be fighting it out to see who emerges as the "centrist alternative" to Kerry/Dean. Click here for the complete N.H. primary results.


DOWN TO THE WIRE IN N.H. There are more signs that Howard Dean is coming back strong in New Hampshire against new frontrunner John Kerry in DeanTuesday's primary. First we saw the final MSNBC/Zogby poll out Monday that showed Dean trailing Kerry by only three points (31% to 28%). Later on Monday came the final SurveyUSA poll (conducted for three regional TV stations) that showed Kerry leading Dean by a close 33% to 28% vote. Both has margins of error in the 4-5% range. The final independent American Research Group poll -- at the other end of the polling results spectrum -- still claimed the race is a 38% to 20% Kerry landslide. Tuesday night, we'll see the numbers. As we're currently on the ground reporting from New Hampshire -- and have been here for several days -- it appears as if the Kerry and Dean campaigns are the only ones that seem to exhibit real life on the streets outside of the big staged campaign events. FYI: It now looks like the expected Tuesday snow storm will not arrive until around polls closing time, so it is unlikely to seriously impact the turnout.

Marry a Kerry?"DATE A DEAN, MARRY A KERRY" ... OR NOT? As stupid as it sounds, that line is how the Kerry folks in New Hampshire like to explain why Dean did so well earlier in the race but now why Kerry is doing well again. Here's the way the Kerry folks see it: Democratic voters "dated" Dean when they were naive and reckless because Dean was exciting or splashy but -- when it's time to pick a guy to settle down and marry -- you bring home a safe, reliable guy like Kerry to introduce to your parents as your next husband. Interesting, but perhaps the Kerry folks haven't been to the movies in a while. Who gets the girl in the end in every flick? The safe, stable but passionless guy with a good job ... or the romantic underdog of a guy who loves the girl? Will NH voters go for the Kerry pitch ... or give the story a romantic (but possibly unrealistic) Hollywood ending?

LiebermanTHANKS, MOM. Add Joe Lieberman's mom to the list of those who have already pronounced his still active 2004 Presidential campaign dead. Just check out what she said to the Los Angeles Times on Monday: "He's such a good man. I don't know why he didn't catch on." The only question now is: Does Lieberman quit the race this week after a poor New Hampshire showing, or next week after he fails to win any of those primaries?

ROWLAND IMPEACHMENT MOVES FORWARD. The Connecticut State House unanimously approved a resolution on Monday creating a bipartisan committee to examine impeaching Governor John Rowland (R) for alleged corruption and other misconduct violations. Rowland responded by saying he was pleased the House created an official Committee of Inquiry because he hopes he will be able to get a fair hearing from the committee's members.


LATEST NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS CONFLICT. Howard Dean is coming back strong in New Hampshire ... or John Kerry is heading to huge win in the state. Which is correct? That depends on which polls you trust. The latest polls out of New Hampshire are offering sharply different forecasts for the likely vote there Tuesday. The new MSNBC/Zogby poll shows that Howard Dean has bounced back in the state over the past three days, and now trails DeanJohn Kerry by only three points. The MSNBC/Zogby numbers: Kerry-28%, Dean-25%, Clark-11%, Edwards-10%, Lieberman-9%. Factoring in the 4-point margin of error, the Kerry-Dean race is a now statistical tie. Contrast the close race numbers with the numbers out Monday from the WHDH-TV/Suffolk University poll: Kerry-38%, Dean-17%, Clark-10%, Edwards-9%, Lieberman-5%. This polls shows Kerry slightly up, and Dean slightly down -- the opposite of the MSNBC poll. Also see the numbers from the new Boston Globe poll: Kerry-37%, Dean-17%, Edwards-12%, Clark-11%, and Lieberman-7%. And Sunday's ARG New Hampshire tracking poll: Kerry-39%, Dean-20%, Edwards-16%, Clark-15%, Lieberman-5%, and Kucinich-1%. The forecast for several inches of snow on election day is expected to also skew the outcome, as it traditionally supresses the turnnout of some demographic groups -- particularly seniors -- more than others.

ClarkCLARK CONCEDES HIS IOWA/N.H. GAMBIT ISN'T WORKING. Wes Clark -- who skipped the Iowa contest and was banking on a NH victory to get his campaign moving -- conceded to reporters over the weekend that he will not finish near the top here. In fact, Clark continues to slide in the polls and has a real chance of finishing a weak fourth or fifth. Clark diverted most of his resources into NH in the hopes of scoring a McCain-like victory in the state. The strong re-emergence of fellow veteran Kerry siphoned away much of the support Clark was counting on in NH. Clark said he does not know where he expects to score his first victory, but says he will continue on because he has broad support in many states and, he believes, that voters will eventually turn to him as the primary season progresses.

WISCONSIN CONGRESMAN MAKES SURPRISE RETIREMENT ANNOUNCMENT. Congressman Jerry Kleczka (D-WI) surprised friends on Saturday by calling to let them know he decided to retire this year. Kleczka, 60, hold a very safe Democratic seat. "You can go out feet first, and that's not my desire, or you can say, 'I think we've served with distinction, and this is the time to go home and seek a new challenge,'" he explained to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. A big factor in his decision was his dislike of fundraising. Fundraising is "the most embarrassing thing I've had to do in my life: calling strangers and begging for money," he said. Kleczka said he hopes to pursue public policy-related work. Kleczka has no successor lined up and was unable to describe anyone as a frontrunner for the open seat.

SOUTH DAKOTA SPECIAL ELECTION NOMINEES SET. Democrats had already selected attorney and 2002 nominee Stephanie Herseth as their candidate in the June 1 special election for the US House seat vacated by the resignation of Congressman Bill Janklow (R-SD). Janklow resigned earlier this month, following his conviction on felony charges related to the traffic accident death of a motorcylist. Janklow -- a former Governor and former Attorney General -- was sentenced last week to 100 days in jail. Republican leaders met this past weekend to select their nominee. Eight candidates actively sought to nomination, and all pledged to abide by the decision and not run in the primary for the full-term if they were not picked. When the dust settled, farmer and State Senator Larry Diedrich emerged as the GOP nominee. Diedrich and Herseth (and a Libertarian candidate) will now face off in a highly competitive Special Election to fill the remainder of the term. June 1 is also the same day that Herseth and Diedrich will likely be chosen as their respective party nominees to run for the full-term in November.


KERRY WIDENS LEAD IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. KerryJohn Kerry continues to ride the wave of momentum he acquired with his upset win in the Iowa Caucuses this past Monday, widening his lead further over his various rivals. The latest FOX News/WMUR-TV poll showed Kerry-37%, Dean-19%, Clark-15%, Edwards-11%, Lieberman-8%, and Kucinich-3%. Other new polls released Friday show that the race may actually be closer. MSNBC/Zogby poll has Kerry leading Dean by a 30% to 22% vote. CNN/USA Todat shows Kerry leading by 12 points. However, the new weather forecast for primary day calls for snow, which could have a major effect on GOTV efforts.

WHAT ABOUT OKLAHOMA? With all the attention this week on NH, we often forget that voters in seven more states cast ballots on February 3. Oklahoma is one of the hot battleground states that day. A new KFOR-TV poll shows Wes Clark leading there with 32%. Edwards was second with 23%, Kerry had 18%, Dean had 10%, and Lieberman was at 7%.

... AND CALIFORNIA? The crown jewel of the primary season -- particularly in terms of the total delegates at stake in the contest -- is California on March 2nd. The KABC-TV/KPIX-TV poll out Friday has Kerry narrowly leading Dean by a 31% to 26% vote, and the others trailed far behind. This indicates a major leap for Kerry, who has trailed Dean in California by a wide margin for the past several months.



KERRY MOVES AHEAD IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. The latest independent polls out of New Hampshire released Thursday show that John Kerry has now taken the lead in the Granite State, with just five days to go until the all-important primary there. Here are the numbers from the new Boston Globe poll: Kerry-31%, Dean-21%, Clark-16%, Edwards-11% and Lieberman-4%. MSNBC/Zogby poll: Kerry-27%, Dean-24%, Clark-15%. WHDH-TV/Suffolk University poll: Kerry-27%, Dean-19%, Clark-15%, Edwards-7%, Lieberman-6%. These numbers reflect a jump for Kerry and Edwards, and downward movement for Dean, Clark and Lieberman. In related bad news for the Dean camp, former US Senator John Durkin (D-NH) withdrew his endorsement of Dean on Wednesday and has now declared himself "undecided." Durkin said he changed his mind after viewing Dean's fiery election night speech in Iowa on Monday. Yet, with all Dean's resources -- money and volunteers -- don't count him out yet. He ran strongest when he was an underdog insurgent. Just remember Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi's frequent swipes at Kerry as "the annointed one" when the race looked just like this several months ago. The candidates debate again tonight in NH -- but look for Kerry, Clark or Edwards to be targets of the attacks now, not Dean.

MR. NOT-SO-NICE GUY? On election night EdwardsMonday, everyone attributed John Edwards' strong finish to the "no attacks" nature of his campaign and the candidate's "nice guy" persona. It turns out the Edwards campaign in Iowa was actually doing a bit a nasty campaigning at the stealth level. ABC News obtained a copy of the official instruction sheets given to all the Edwards precinct captains in Iowa. Here's what ABC reported: "The document -- marked 'CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEDGED' [sic] and 'NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION' and signed by the senator -- encourages Edwards supporters to tell undecided caucus-attendees that ... Dean is a 'Park Avenue elitist from New York City' and say ... Kerry has 'the stale record of a Washington insider' and 'has been a part of the failed Washington politics for too long.'" Edwards' campaign spokesman said that the Senator "was not aware of this document. Once he found out about it, he takes full responsibility for it. He thinks it was wrong and has instructed the staff not to do anything like that again."

ROWLAND RowlandON THE ROPES. With momentum growing for impeachment proceedings, embattled Connecticut Governor John Rowland (R) is seeing his support dwindle. The Hartford Courant notes that Rowland's current poll numbers match President Nixon's from August 1974, shortly before he resigned. Rowland is the target of a federal corruption probe in which he reportedly received favors from state contractors. Rowland now admits they paid to do improvements on his vacation home, but denies he gave them any favorable reciprocity in official dealings with them. According to the latest Quinnipiac University poll, 68% of voters say Rowland should resign, while only 23% disagree. Even a plurailty of Republican respondents want him to quit. By a 56%-33% margin, voters support Rowland's impeachment if he does not resign.

SHE'S NEVER HEARD OF YOU, EITHER. Today we continue our series on the more obscure Presidential candidates with our profile of Katherine Bateman (D-IL). In addition to Katherine BatemanDean, Kerry and others you've heard of, Bateman is one of the dozens of other Presidential candidates competing for attention on the New Hampshire primary ballot. However, unlike most of the other candidates in the race, Katherine Bateman's candidacy is not about winning votes. Instead, it is largely intended as an educational vehicle to get teenagers interested in the political process. "I am running solely on a teen platform determined by teens through their virtual campaign headquarters at www.teenvoice2004.com," wrote Bateman. The teen voters first decided (by online voting) that Bateman -- the project director for the Teen Voice group -- will run as a Democrat in the New Hampshire Primary. Bateman was Financial Advisor for the Illinois Educational Facilities Authority until its closure at the end of 2003. Before that, she was a Vice President at Nuveen Investments and a college professor. She also wrote various articles and reports -- plus a book for a teen audience entitled The Young Investor. Politics runs in Bateman's familty, as she is a distant cousin of the 19th century statesmen Henry Clay and Cassius Clay. She earned her Bachelor's degree in humanities from Berea College, and her Master's and PhD degrees in medieval art history from the University of Michigan. Bateman has also done post-doctoral work in early Christian history and iconography at the University of Chicago.


Ray Charles"THE RAY CHARLES AWARD FOR POLITICAL PUNDITRY GOES TO ..." The award goes to Politics1, because we really didn't see what was going to happen in Iowa this week. Well, we did predict that Gephardt would score a poor finish and be forced from the race, but even Ol' Ray could have seen that one coming. We knew Kerry was coming back strong, but we wrongly thought he was heading for second place. We missed the boat entirely on Dean, as his "secret weapon" of young, first time voters failed to materialize. That said, I guess we'll stop predicting stuff for a while.

POST-IOWA NUMBERS FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE. Even before the caucus results were in, it was clear that NH primary voters also sensed the new energy coming from the John Kerry campaign. Just compare these polls ... Pre-Iowa WHDH-TV poll numbers from Monday: Dean-23%, Kerry-20%, Clark-15%. Edwards and Lieberman were in the single digits, while 26% said they were still undecided. Post-Iowa WHDH-TV poll numbers released Wednesday: Dean-22%, Kerry-20%, Clark-15%, Edwards and Lieberman tied at 6% each, Kucinich-1%, and Undecided-29%. The American Research Group NH Poll (released Wednesday) is also post-Iowa: Dean-26%, Kerry-24%, Clark-18%, Edwards-9%, Lieberman-7%. Stay tuned.

GephardtGEPHARDT OUT. It was no surprise, but Dick Gephardt's poor fourth place finish forced him to exit the Presidential race on Tuesday. "I gave this campaign everything I had in me. Today my pursuit of the presidency has reached its end. I'm withdrawing as a candidate and returning to private life after a long time in the warm light of public service," he said at his emotional press conference. Gephardt's departure also means that the Missouri primary on February 3 -- and the state's 74 convention delegates -- will now be a contested race. In recent polls before his withdrawal, Gephardt led Dean by a 2-1 margin with all others trailing far behind. Gephardt's name will still remain on the ballot there, but he implied he does not intend to endorse any Democrat during the remaining primaries.


KERRY, EDWARDS SCORE BIG UPSET IN IOWA. Wow!! We've got a Kerrywhole new Presidential race now! Senator John Kerry won a solid victory in the Iowa caucuses, placing first with 38%. Senator John Edwards was also impressive with a close second at 32% -- overcoming a perceived lack of organization on the ground. Governor Howard Dean was one of the two "losers" of the evening -- falling far short of media expectations -- by finishing third with 18%. Fatally wounded and finishing fourth was Congressman Dick Gephardt at 11%, who is expected to quit the race on Tuesday in St. Louis. Congressman Dennis Kucinich was fifth with 1%. Kerry found his political message and gained traction in the last two weeks in a risky gamble -- moving all his resources from around the country into Iowa -- that paid off big. Edwards, likewise, parlayed his "nice guy" demeanor, charm and a message of electability to move ahead. Next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary will be now a wild, competitive race between Dean, Kerry, Edwards and the two guys (Wes Clark and Joe Lieberman) who skipped the Iowa contest.

EDITORIAL: Go to NHTAKE PART IN PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY. Casting an educated ballot is a great ... but taking the extra step (into the freezing cold) and getting involved is even better. The P2004 Democratic race will be significantly shaped by what happens in NH next Tuedsay. That's why we're encouraging all Dems to hit the road. That's right: Go to the Granite State and volunteer for the candidate of your choice. Don't know how? Follow these links that will take you directly to the special pages for New Hampshire-bound volunteers: Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, Dennis Kucinich. (We're not ignoring Al Sharpton, but his site isn't seeking "travel to NH" volunteers). And -- to show we're not taking sides -- supporters of President Bush can also get involved right now by making a contribution to his campaign by clicking here (yes, Bush has a primary in NH -- but it's not competitive). We're not ignoring third party candidates, either ... but they don't really have a primary next week.

Iowa Perfect StormPOLITICAL ITEMS WANTED!! As any regular visitors to Politics1 knows well, publisher Ron Gunzburger collects campaign buttons and other interesting items. In fact, he also uses them to help decorate this site. Now Ron needs your help. He doesn't ask for much, but he wants one of those orange Howard Dean "Iowa Perfect Storm" caps (plus a blue Kerry and a green Edwards cap). If you've got one you'd be willing to donate (or sell), drop us a note. We'd also appreciate donations of campaign buttons for candidates for President, Governor, US Senate and Congress ... and that includes any Republicans, Dems, Greens, Libertarians, and others. Please mail 'em to us at: Politics1, 409 NE 17 Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. Thanks!!


FINALLY!! Tonight's Iowa Democratic Presidential caucuses will mark the official Iowa Caucusstart of the 2004 Presidential election campaign. After all the speeches ... all the debates ... all the spin ... and the dollars raised and spent ... we'll finally get a good dose of reality. That's right: not poll numbers, but actual vote totals. From all accounts, Howard Dean, John Kerry, John Edwards and Dick Gehardt are locked in a very close race. Here's the really exciting part: by the time to smoke clears tonight, at least one or two of these four guys will be politically eliminated from the race. The two most likely to be voted of Presidential Survivor Island are Dick Gephardt and John Kerry. Both need a win in Iowa (or, possibly, a near-tie second place) to simply ensure they can continue forward, raise money, etc. A loss for Dean would puncture the "inevitability" perception, but not eliminate him from the race because of the strength of his national organization and financial resources. For Edwards, any strong finish is good enough because he's already far exceeded any media expectations for him in the state.

WHERE TO GET REAL-TIME IOWA RESULTS: In addition to the national news sites, the best source of real-time results is likely to be the Iowa Democratic Party's official caucus site at caucus2004.org. For more real-time results tonight, also check out the Des Moines Register, WHO-TV 13 Des Moines, and KCRG-TV 9 (Cedar Rapids). Caucus meetings begin at 6:30 pm CMT (7:30 Eastern), and will end by 8:30 pm CMT. Expect the first results to start trickling in around 8 pm CMT (9 pm Eastern).

Slate's Field Guide to the Candidates 2004"PROGRAMS ... PROGRAMS ... GET YOUR PROGRAMS HERE!" You can't tell the players without a program. We just reviewed the enjoyable new paperback that seeks to be the gameday program for the 2004 candidates. Check out Slate's Field Guide to the Candidates 2004, written by William Saletan and the staff at Slate.com. The book -- which is only $8.99 -- covers President Bush and the field of Dems. Each profile is in set format: main agenda, worldview, best of, worst of, flip-flops, gaffes, and more. Several elements of humor in the profiles, too.


DOWN TO THE WIRE. The final Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus participants -- released Saturday night -- shows that John Kerry and John Edwards have both moved ahead of perceived frontrunners Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt. The numbers: Kerry-26%, Edwards-23%, EdwardsDean-20%, Gephardt-18%, Dennis Kucinich-3%, Wes Clark-2%, Joe Lieberman-1%, and Al Sharpton-1%. The final MSNBC/Zogby shows slightly different numbers: Kerry-24%, Dean-23%, Gephardt-19%, Edwards-18%. The most interesting number is from the Register poll: 46% of all respondents said they thought they could change their minds again before voting on Monday night. Edwards has surged over the past three weeks from a distant fourth place to his current spot. However, it takes much more than popularity to win the Iowa caucuses. Campaigns must get supporters to their local meetings Monday, and keep them on board during the night, while trying to simultaneously recruit attending supporters of other candidates and undecided voters. The key to all of this is having an large organization in place that can identify supporters, arrange for babysitters (and etc.) on caucus night, rent vehicles, make living arrangement for volunteers, arrange rides to and from the caucus meetings, and more. By caucus night, each campaign knows the names of every likely supporter they have in the state. Those factors favor Dean and Gephardt, who have the best organizations in the Iowa. That said, we'll still stick to our predicted order of finish from a few days ago: Dean, Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards.

ClarkWAIT, WASN'T DEAN SUPPOSED TO BE THE "McGOVERN OF 2004"? For months, rivals have been calling Howard Dean the "George McGovern of 2004" -- referencing back to McGovern's anti-war campaign that lost to President Nixon by a landslide state count of 49-1. Now, here's where I get confused: McGovern endorsed Wesley Clark -- not Dean -- on Sunday. And -- FYI -- portly liberal filmmaker Michael Moore is also out campaigning for Clark. So, does that make Clark the McGovern of 2004? Since we're clearly in a 1972 state of mind, is Joe Lieberman the Ed Muskie of 2004? Leaping forward four years -- to 1976 -- we'd note that Dean is visiting church in Plains, Georgia, today as a guest of Jimmy Carter.

MORE P2004 NUMBERS. The latest numbers out of New Hampshire show Dean continuing to lead, but Kerry quickly bouncing back into the contest. New Hampshire (ARG tracking poll): Dean-28%, Clark-20%, Kerry-19%, Edwards-8%, Lieberman-6%, and Gephardt-3%. New Mexico holds its primary of February 3, and that raise is also a close contest. The numbers (Albuquerque Journal): Dean-18%, Clark-16%, Kerry and Lieberman tied with 8% each, Gephardt-6%, and Kucinich and Edwards tied with 4% each. Here are also the latest numbers from California (Field Poll): Dean-25%, Clark-20%, Lieberman-12%, Kerry-7%, Gephardt-6%, and Edwards, Sharpton and Kucinich with 3% apiece.

Ralph HallTEXAS FILING RE-CLOSES. The extended period of Congressional filing in Texas closed Friday, showing some interesting match-ups in the primary and in November. The filing period was extended after a federal court approved to newly redrawn district lines. Congressman Martin Frost (D) -- the former DCCC Chair and a top GOP target of the redistricting effort -- filed at the last minute to oppose Congressman Pete Sessions (R). The district favors the GOP, but Frost said that with enough money and a high enough minority turnout, a Democrat can win the seat. Congressman Chris Bell (D) -- who is white -- faces a tough primary challenge in his new minority district. Likewise for Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D), who faces a competitive primary in his new Hispanic-dominated district. Congressman Ralph Hall (R) -- who switched parties two weeks ago -- saw nearly all of his GOP rivals exit the race. There are also several open seat primary contests. See our Texas page for all of the filing info.


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