I'm sorry to say but this new compressed primary is the absolutely worst thing that the Democratic party has ever done. It's just another blunder and it should be the nail in Terry McAuliffe's coffin. Thanks to the compressed schedule the scrutiny on the candidates is extremely reduced, particularly on the front runner.
What's that you say? Dean got hammered by the media. True. However, that was because he had the misfortune of being in the lead before the primary season actually began. He took a drubbing for the past two months, and then Kerry managed to pull the run out from under him. It's at that point that the primary system began to fall apart.
Kerry's win in Iowa was fine, as was Edwards' second place showing. Dean and Gephardt blew it for a lot of reasons and Kerry and Edwards managed to catch on. I bear no ill will toward Kerry for that. Unfortunately with this compressed schedule momentum is too important. It trumps actual campaigning. It trumps appealing to the voters.
Although Kerry was one of the favorite sons in NH, his showing there was due entirely to Iowa. Before Iowa he was barely an afterthought in the polls. After Iowa he was suddenly the frontrunner. This came at the expense of everyone else in the field (not just Dean)!
Given another week or two of campaigning, as is the norm under the usual schedule, I feel the results would have been far different. I don't feel Kerry would have pulled almost 40% of the vote. Perhaps he still would have won, however I believe Dean would have done somewhat better. I also feel Clark and especially Edwards would have made a much higher showing. There was just too little time for the candidates to turn their fortunes around there.
Now we're on to the next seven states. Kerry is a horrendous fit for at least half of them. I guess he should be expected to do well in MO and also Delaware. In Arizona and New Mexico he is a horrible fit. People there are more independent and guns are more popular. It should be a perfect fit for Clark or Dean. Meanwhile there's SC where Kerry is the complete antithesis of what the people want there. If Kerry wins in AZ, NM and SC all he's won on is momentum. (I guess some of you may disagree, but IMO it is an extreme stretch to say Kerry is the type of candidate who naturally appeals to people in SC.)
If that happens all the other candidates may as well drop out. If that happens we also may as well just concede the general election and save the US tax payers a couple million dollars (we're going to need it for the deficit anyway). All it's going to prove is that in this compressed primary schedule momentum trumps all other factors, particularly issues and actual candidate appeal.
In that case, we're going to end up with John Kerry essentially because he won Iowa and that's it. That is absolutely unacceptable to me in light of, in my view, the very poor scrutiny he's been given. Other than momentum, I also don't feel he's done much of anything to show he is worthy of being the nominee.
I guess we'll see who wins next week and whether our primary process has been short circuited again. Hint: when people cite "electability" in the reasons they voted for someone, that's actually a code word for momentum. It has no other basis.