Monday, June 02, 2003

Electability

Tonight I attended an organizational meeting of the local hosts for Wednesday's Dean Meetup. The question of Dean's electability came up. Someone brought this up as the #1 concern she heard from potential Dean supporters: "I like what the guy is saying and how he says it, but I don't think he can win." I was thinking about this afterward. It seems to me that the primary area where people think Dean may lose is on the question of national security. Specifically, his strong anti-war position with respect to Iraq won't play well in a country that appears so overwhelmingly supportive of Bush on his handling of the war. Some have already said that Bush has the national security issue tied up and that running an anti-war candidate against him would be political suicide. But let us ponder what the future could hold: 1) The situation in Iraq improves by the time the 2004 election rolls around. Bush will get all the credit. Even a Democratic candidate with strong national security credentials (Kerry, Graham, etc.) would have a tough time beating Bush in such a situation. After all, why would people change Presidents if things are working out? 2) However, if the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate then Bush, hopefully, will get a fair share of the blame for this. However, any Democrat who supported the war in Iraq will have a tough time going after him on this issue because he will always have to explain why he supported Bush in the first place. In other words, he will get blamed for it as much as Bush. Except, that is, if the Democratic nominee did not support the war in Iraq! So, with regards to electability, no Democrat in the running today can defeat Bush if Iraq gets better while an anti-war candidate would be in a stronger position against Bush if Iraq gets worse. Dean may very well be the most electable candidate in the field today.

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