So people are wondering, OK, how's he gonna spin this
Well, not much spin really. It's been clear for a while that Dean wasn't that popular in Iowa. For a brief while he was beating Gephardt, but hovered around 20% or so. But we see how solid Gephardt was... people weren't excited about either of them. So the Dean Machine of volunteers didn't end up meaning much - and neither did Gephardt's. If you ask me, Iowans were burnt out on Dean and Gephardt, who've been there hard-core for months. That'll hardly be the case as the election moves on to other states.
I said several days ago that so long as Gephardt doesn't do well tonight, Dean is in good shape. I thought a Kerry victory would be particularly good for Dean.
Here's what I like about this scenario. We all thought that Clark would be Dean's major rival nationwide. I still think it won't be Kerry. So now Kerry and Clark will compete hard for the non-Dean vote in New Hampshire. Edwards will shoot for South Carolina, neutralizing Clark there. Dean could end up benefiting because the two major winners tonight will be diluting out the non-Dean vote in states that are very, very different from Iowa.
I'll admit that there are two alternate scenarios that are now possible. One is that Dean will be so wounded, that he'll lose New Hampshire. Then all bets are off, that really would be bad for Dean. The second is that either Kerry or Edwards really take off (Edwards more likely IMO).
But it's far from clear, from where we're sitting, that tonight won't end up being the night that saved Dean from having a single strong competitor in New Hampshire and on Feb 3rd.
Having said all that, if Dean should lose the nomination, I'll move on instantly and fight for our nominee. My leanings, as of tonight, are Dean then Edwards then Clark then Kerry. I like Clark a lot, but think he's too unknown an entity to gamble on. And I like Kerry as well, but I see him as a potential pushover in a way that I don't see the other 3. Although, he is the only other contender who rejected FMF's, which I think is VERY important. But, I don't want a variation of Gore or Dukakis where our guy doesn't know how to fight. And while Kerry proved he could win in Iowa after they were exhausted of attacks, he also proved fairly weak at delivering and responding to attacks from Dean in prior months. I just don't see him shouting above the Rove machine. But I'd certainly be there shouting with him if he's our guy.