Saturday, January 31, 2004

Threading the Needle Wondering about Dean's road to the nomination? Here's one path.

On Feb. 3:

--Edwards squeezes out a narrow victory over Kerry in South Carolina, with Dean beating out Sharpton for third.

--Clark beats Edwards in Oklahoma, with Kerry in third.

--Dean is the runner-up to Kerry in Arizona and Missouri.

--Dean wins at least one of New Mexico, North Dakota and Delaware, and finishes 2nd behind Kerry in the rest.

On Feb. 4, David Broder reports that the race has become "slightly jumbled." Chris Matthews teases Kerry for failing to consolidate support among Democrats, and Bill Schneider breaks out a poll suggesting that, while voters respect Kerry, majorities still aren't convinced he can win in November.

Meanwhile, Ted Koeppel is quick to point out that, even with Edwards' strong showing, Dean remains in 2nd place in the race for delegates. Joshua Marshall, in a 3am blog post, concedes that Clark's campaign--the Oklahoma victory notwithstanding--is hanging on by a thread.

(Carl Hulse reports Lieberman's departure from the race on page A21 of the Feb. 5 New York Times.)

After a solid week of zig-zagging Zogby polls and tag-team negative Kerry coverage in the pages of The Boston Globe and The Boston Phoenix (all of it expertly spun by Mickey Kaus), David Gergen tells Gloria Borger that the attacks on the Massachusetts senator are, "beginning to take a toll."


On Feb. 7, having spent the better part of the last 10 days campaigning in and around Detroit and Seattle, Dean takes Michigan late into the night against Kerry, and scores a decisive victory in Washington state. (Terry McAuliffe denies asking Al Sharpton to drop out of the race.)

The next night on Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin argues that the notion that Dean's grassroots strategy was overrated was itself overrated.

Building on his Feb. 7 momentum, Dean wins the next day in Maine.

Wesley Clark drops out of the race. Edwards, running low on cash, says he's not even thinking of quitting.

He rejects the argument that he's been thrown off his game by a New Republic cover story examining the years he spent as a trial lawyer. And he denies knowing that Dennis Miller--in a widely-quoted rant--has called him, "the love-child of Captain Kangaroo and Shelly Winters." Or something.

Carol Moseley Braun joins Dean on the campaign trail. Andrew Sullivan begins a blog post with, "I'm not saying I'd vote for Howard Dean, but--" and Jim Lehrer starts the third segment of The Newshour by asking Haynes Johnson, "So Dean isn't out of this thing, is he?"

Edwards eeks out wins in Tenessee and Virigina, narrowly beating Dean and Kerry--who is now reeling from what is widely considered to be his "humorless" reaction to The New York Observer's anonymously-sourced, buzz-generating 2,000 word botox expose.

David Brooks calls Kerry's flippant response to a Dennis Kucinich debate question a "low-point" for the candidate.

Jonathan Chait ressurects his Diary of a Dean-o-phobe blog at The New Republic Online. Ed Gillespie sends off a press release questioning Dean's commitment to family values.

Dean comes from behind to win a nail-bitter in Nevada, catapulting him to a stunning 35-point victory in Wisconsin.

Kerry wins Idaho and Utah, effectively knocking a near-bankrupt Edwards out of the race. Dean's all-volunteer organization in Hawaii delivers a solid victory, orange hats and all.

With momentum on his side, flush with grassroots cash, Dean sits poised for strong showings in New York, California, Minnesota, Ohio, etc. "Sharpen your pencils and get out your calculators," Dan Rather intones the Monday night before Super Tuesday. "The race for the Democratic nomination is finally heating up."

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.