Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Kerry/Dean redux

Hmmm. In the last week two polls have come out that test the feasibility of a Kerry/Dean ticket (Zogby and Fox). I wonder if the media is getting bored with the Kerry/Gephardt, Kerry/Edwards, Kerry/Vilsack talk and is looking for something more interesting. I wonder if Kerry might be looking for something more interesting?

Both of these polls show that Kerry/Dean does about as well as any of the other likely picks (I'm excluding Kerry/McCain since that will not happen). Steve Soto points out an interesting detail of the Zogby poll:

What is more noticeable in this poll however is the effect Dean’s inclusion on the ticket has among several key Democratic constituent groups. Adding Dean to the ticket leads to lopsided leads for Kerry against Bush among the Democratic base. Young voters, lower income voters, single voters, and African American voters all reported large majorities in favor of a Kerry/Dean ticket against Bush/Cheney. When a Kerry/Gephardt ticket was substituted amongst these groups, the margins for the Democratic ticket shrank significantly, with the lower income voting block casting their preference equally for Kerry and Bush.

There has been a concern among strategists that if Kerry plays to much to the middle that he could lose some of the Democratic base (either through apathy or through creeping Naderism). But a Kerry/Dean ticket might solidly lock up that base and thus free Kerry to spend more time wooing the centrist swing voters.

Of course, there is also the concern among some strategists that Dean would drive away the centrists because the media has (unfairly) labeled Dean as a leftist kook. I think this is an overblown concern. I've met quite a few fence-sitters over the last few months who have expressed at best mild interest in Kerry but still get excited when the conversation turns to Dean.

A Kerry/Dean ticket would certainly knock all those "Kerry is running a boring campaign" stories off the page (of course, some might question whether that is a good thing). Some have talked about the excitement that a Kerry/McCain fusion would bring. Kerry/Dean would be another exciting fusion, but of a different kind.

I still think Kerry/Dean is a long-shot at best. I just can't see Kerry taking that dramatic a risk (Kerry/McCain held no risk, other then the embarrassment that would come from the eventual rebuff). I also think that Dean's energy might be better spent growing the grassroots as he has done over the last few months. But if Dean on the ticket would give Kerry the boost he needs I'm sure the good Doctor would be happy to answer the call.

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