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(cross-posted at

The Des Moines Register ran a poll this week which had some unexpected results( In case you missed it, Hillary Clinton came in second to John Edwards in a poll of Iowa Democrats, further weakening her aura of inevitability. It's clear that Hillary has already attained the status that doomed Dean in 2004. The media has labeled her too polarizing to win a general election, and Democrats are having serious doubts as a result. Democrats just want to win in 2008, and Hillary is too much of a gamble to make them happy. The question, then, is who will emerge as the consensus anti-Hillary?

Looking at the poll reveals that you can split the candidates into three groups. The second graph shows that, at least among Iowa voters, the candidates are either very well known, fairly well known, or relatively anonymous to Democrats. Edwards, Clinton, Kerry, and Vilsack comprise the first group, Clark and Daschle the second, and Bayh and Warner the third.

Vilsack's polling is by far the most telling. Even in his own state, where his name recognition is very high, 90% of Iowa Democrats know they don't want Vilsack as the nominee. This removes any notion of a "home-field advantage" if he decides to run. Similarly, Kerry's numbers betray a weak future candidacy. Despite winning the nomination and receiving almost 40% of the vote in the 2004 caucus, Kerry is barely polling above single digits. Although he'll probably run, there's little hope for Kerry to improve his standing.

There's no doubt that this poll is at least temporary good news for Edwards. He hasn't been raising a whole lot of money for himself, and the poll may temporarily shore up his fundraising ability. Yet, Edwards should be the de facto nominee, having run for vice-president on an unsuccessful ticket. He's got the name recognition, and people seem to like him, but he's polling at a level lower than the support he got in 2004. The expectations will be high given Edwards' history in Iowa, and there's a lot of pressure for him to live up to them.

Feingold, who will likely run to the left of everyone, has attained a fairly significant level of name recognition, but is polling at 3%. Daschle and Clark face the same problem - even with moderate levels of name recognition, they're not polling at any level of noticeable support. It seems doubtful that any of these candidates will be able to mount a significant challenge with the numbers they're currently showing.

That leaves the two unknown commodities - Warner and Bayh. Each offers the Democrats support in a region they're not normally successful. They have virtually identical support, name recognition, and favorability levels. If anything, Bayh has a slight edge in the favorability department. That seems to be the case the more Bayh campaigns in Iowa; everywhere he goes people leave liking the guy, even if they're not ready to totally support him.

So where does this leave us? Well, the race is clearly much more wide open than many thought. Hillary is hardly a lock for the nomination, and this may be a test of whether she's up for a bloody primary fight. If I had to list my own "heavyweights" in this race, I would have to say Edwards, Hillary, Warner, and Bayh each have a shot of locking up the nomination - as the race stands today.

Given their levels of support and success in fundraising, I would put Edwards at 4, Hillary at 3, Warner at 2, and Bayh as the most likely. I think that given Kerry/Edwards' lack of success on foreign policy, Bayh's credentials as an executive and legislator will appeal to a lot of Democrats. Bayh has the potential to come out of nowhere, like Clinton in '92 and Carter in '76, to capture the nomination and take back the White House.

Originally posted to Pat Robertson on Tue Jun 13, 2006 at 09:36 PM PDT.


If you had taken the Register poll, where would your support lie?

1%1 votes
3%2 votes
16%11 votes
7%5 votes
19%13 votes
0%0 votes
43%29 votes
7%5 votes
0%0 votes

| 66 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  As of this moment Feingold is at (0+ / 0-)

    100% in your poll.

  •  Bayh doesn't cut it for me. (0+ / 0-)

    Dull as dishwater and too conservative -- not for me; they're all too conservative for me -- to carry the Democratic banner.

    "And some fine place [Washington, D.C.] is. Its social leaders have all the style of Pyongyang combined with the sophistication of Fresno." -- Digby

    by Vico on Tue Jun 13, 2006 at 09:40:15 PM PDT

  •  Gore was not included in the Register poll. (0+ / 0-)

    an important point to keep in mind.

    •  Nor was Dean (0+ / 0-)

      Whatever the odds are that Dean will actually run in 2008, given the level of dedication by those who support him..."first, last, and always" such poll is complete without him.

      And I agree that Gore should have been included also.

      What we need here is an IRV poll!

      •  Dean is not far behind Gore (0+ / 0-)

        in terms of my preference for the nominee, but Dean did promise not to run. Unless circumstances emerge making it reasonable for him to run, he should not be expected to be a candidate. In fact, since he seems to be getting into the groove of things running the DNC, I would like to see him do that at least through summer of 2008. If the eventual nominee (Gore or otherwise) picks Dean for VP, i'd be very happy.

        OTOH, Gore would be one of the front-runners the moment he throws his hat into rink, and hence it is reasonable to include him in a poll, or as many pollsters have been doing, ask a separate question (or poll, if online) including Gore in the mix.

        •  I have no opinion (0+ / 0-)

          I don't have any opinion on the likelihood of a Dean candidacy at this point, much less the wisdom of it.

          The favored scenario among those who want to see him run again is that the Dems take back Congress on the strength of his 50-state strategy and then a clamor arises that he is able to capitulte to popular demand and renege on his promise in seeming good faith. Whether that will actually happen, remains to be seen. I think it is wise not to count your congressmen before they are actually elected to Congress.

          An alternative scenario, which some of us struggle not to favor, is that the Dems crash and burn in November, most of his "I liked Dean but" supporters fade into the woodwork, clearing the way for the carrion crows waiting in the wings to leap upon him and tear him to shreds. Then, with his career in the Democratic Party in ruins, he resigns his post at the DNC and...well, there are several scenarios after that, one of which is that he runs again as an independent candidate. A highly unlikely, but fascinating scenario, IMO.

  •  If Edwards can say he's the Hillary stopper... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... and make that stick, then he may draw enough early support to roll to the nomination.

    OTOH, unless Warner's team is asleep at the wheel, and they won't be, Warner will hard-sell himself as the best Hillary stopper.  Warner will have a lot more $$$ than Edwards, as well.

    Vilsack probably has no shot because Iowa caucusers will be either pro-Hillary or stop-Hillary, and few will want to waste their vote on a candidate who is neither, even if he is their ex-governor.

    Interestingly, if Hillary for some reason does not run, John Edwards is best positioned to be the liberals' stop-Warner candidate.

    Kerry may run for vanity reasons, and because he has enough personal money to stay in the race even though the big-money donors will stiff him, but it ain't looking good for him.

  •  That election is two cycles away (0+ / 0-)

    Polls taken today don't mean anything — especially since Iowa has a caucus rather than a primary.  Bottom line is, we have no clue right now as to what the political environment will be like, and right now we have bigger fish to fry:  Congress.  

  •  Prez. HRC - Not gonna happen (0+ / 0-)

    The "inevitability" of a Hillary Clinton nomination is a fantasy of the Republican party - given credence by the same brain-dead pundit class that thought Rep. Richard Gephardt was a serious contender in for the 2004 nomination.

  •  All I know is (0+ / 0-)

    Iowa Democrats picked Kerry.  And that's all I need to know about Iowa Democrats and their thoughts on the matter.

  •  That's some crazy thinkin' there Pat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Edwards is at 30% instead of the 32% he got in a caucus (do you know how those work) with a 4.5 MOE and you make a big deal out of that.


    And your analysis is that 2% Bayh is the likely winner?  Laughable.

    Why even use a poll that so strongly argues against your point, why not just write a hagiographic diary to Evan.

    Democrats are the party of those who are working, those who have finished working, and those who want to work. -- Elizabeth Edwards

    by philgoblue on Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 06:11:23 AM PDT

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