Saturday, September 20, 2003

Some good news for Clark

Clark is in the lead in the first major national poll (Newsweek) that includes his name as a declared candidate. Kos is perhaps a bit to dismissive of the implications of this poll while Kevin Drum probably gives it more significance than it deserves.

I think this poll reflects the ambivalence of a lot of Democrats more than any strong support for Clark the candidate. A large chunk of his initial support came from the Undecided category after all (and, strangely enough, from Dick Gephardt). Remember that Lieberman was way out in the lead of several national polls just on name recognition alone. Clark may be benefiting (1) from a well publicized rollout combined with (2) a bit of mesmerization at the sight of a Democrat with four stars on his shoulder.

Regardless of whether it reflects strong support for Clark or not, it is significant because it will influence the fair-weather voters, the ones who will vote for whoever is (perceived to be) on top.

Clark still has to prove that he can be a good campaigner, which is my #1 qualifier for selecting a candidate right now. I do not buy into the belief that a general will automatically trump an AWOL lieutenant. As I have said before, shiny medals are not bulletproof, despite what people may think.

But if Clark can prove to be a better campaigner than Dean and he can persuade the Dean forces that they won't be dismissed as "children" (an attitude I have seen more than once from some Clark partisans) then I will support him enthusiastically.

Until then, I'm a Dean man.

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