Comes word this morning of two new polls in the South. The first, in Florida, shows Dean slightly ahead with 16% to Clark and Lieberman's 15% and Gephardt (8.5%) and Kerry (6%) bringing up the rear. The second, in South Carolina, also shows Dean in the lead with 11%, Lieberman and Clark at 9% and Edwards, Sharpton and Gephardt at 7%.
Now, neither of these leads is statistically significant. The race in both of these states is still up for grabs. But what is significant about these polls is not that Dean is in a slight lead but that he isn't losing!
The importance of this cannot be underestimated. If Dean can stay in the top ranks for the next two months and then goes on to win in Iowa and New Hampshire, the momentum from those wins will probably swing a considerable portion of the undecided votes in his favor. If Dean manages to beat Clark in South Carolina then that will pretty much put the nail in the Anybody-But-Dean movement.
There's a part of me that has to wonder if the confederate flag flap may have done precisely what Dean hoped it would do: increase his favorables in the South.