FEBRUARY 2, 2004
- This round of primaries is turning out to have much more of an
open dynamic than the New Hampshire race.
There are seven races set to take place
on Tuesday, and the outcome could be anything from an all out sweep
by Kerry to a loss of lone frontrunner status.
One scenario has Senator Kerry winning
all seven states, which is possible but doesn't seem all that
likely. It seems at the very least that Edwards has a solid
shot in South Carolina.
However, as Edwards has admitted, South
Carolina is do or die for him, so a loss there and he is gone.
As for General Wesley Clark, as many as
four states are in play for him: Oklahoma, New Mexico,
Arizona, and North Dakota.
Notice that number: 4 out of 7
While some people have pulled back in
interest from following the primaries as the story being told is
that there is just one man, Senator John Kerry, running away with
the nomination, by all reports these four states are all Clark/Kerry
battles which could realistically tip either way. If Kerry
some how pulls out wins in all four, the race could be all but done.
But if Clark were to take all four, or even three of four, he could
easily win as many states as Kerry Tuesday evening, or even more
with Edwards very possibly taking South Carolina, and catapult
undeniably into equal frontrunner status with the Massachusetts
As Wes Clark's son Wes, Jr. told a New
Mexico crowd on Friday, as reported by the
Santa Fe New Mexican,
"We need New Mexico big
time... If we
win New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma, nobody will remember New
North Dakota, according to the
Bismarck Tribune, is "hard to call" and Clark is among the
favorites. As many as 40 percent of North Dakotans remained
undecided in a poll taken last week, and Kerry and Clark are the two
who have a shot at this one.
In Arizona, Clark led just a few weeks
ago. Now Kerry appears
to have the advantage, but there too it is still an open and fluid
race. The latest polls have the spread barely outside the
margin of error. However, the large number of undecideds mean
it is clearly an open race.
ABC News reports, "Kerry's focus Monday was on New Mexico and
Arizona, completing a one-week blitz of the seven states currently
in play... surveys around the country detect a huge group of
undecided voters, clearly large enough to sway the outcome."
Clark will be campaigning in both states
as well - even if ABC doesn't bother to mention it.
In New Mexico, according to Governor
Richardson, much of the Latino vote, which makes up 55 percent of
the likely primary voters, is still in play. Again, Kerry and
Clark are the two candidates fighting for the lead there, with Dean,
the former frontrunner in the state, on the way down.
"Kerry has a lot of
momentum," Richardson said in a television interview this week.
"Clark is very popular here. Had he visited more, I think he'd be up
in the polls."
Albuquerque Journal poll has Kerry riding his momentum into the
lead, but showing Clark moving into a tie with Dean for second and
fully 27% of voters still undecided - and none of this takes into
account the tens of thousands of absentee ballots already cast
before the Iowa caucuses occurred. About 50,000 people are expected to participate in the caucus, while almost 25,000 absentee ballots have already been returned. The largest number of these will
for Howard Dean and Wesley Clark, who were the two favorites back
then while Kerry was barely a blip on the radar.
"I already voted
for Gen. Wesley, Clark because I feel he's the most qualified to be
our next president," one voter told the
In addition, this
poll chose to leave out a large number of voters, including only
voted in the last two primary and general elections, according to
voting records." In other words, people who are voting for the
first time, or even the second time this year, or even people who
voted the last two times but not in the primaries, were not
included. They did this because there was a change in date for
the primary this year from June to February, but that is a large
group of people not to include.
In Oklahoma, Clark has a slight
advantage over Kerry, and Edwards has inserted himself into the race
At this point, what these four races
will come down to is whose supporters get out to the polls in the
largest numbers, whose volunteers can win over the large number of
undecided voters with last minute phone calls, and whose ads and
last campaign stops kick the last bit of momentum their way.
For the Clark camp, it seems imperative
they put their supporters on notice that Tuesday the possible fate
of the election is directly in their hands. Forget the media
calling Kerry the frontrunner. If the Clark people turn out to
the polls in Oklahoma and Arizona and are passionate in the caucuses
in New Mexico and North Dakota, they can propel their candidate into
solid frontrunner status.
If, on the other hand, the push and
enthusiasm are bigger from the Kerry camp, Clark could lose all of
the races and be in dire straits. The race is that dynamic and
those four states truly that much of a tossup.
Missouri seems solidly Kerry country, as
Look at that again. Only Missouri
and Delaware seem to be locks for Kerry. The other six he
could lose all of. Or, of course, win all of. Kerry is
in position in each of the seven races to pull of victories.
But truly Tuesday night we seem to have
a window of opportunity, for General Clark in particular. The
best case scenario for Edwards seems to be wins in South Carolina
and a surprise win in Oklahoma. While the best case scenario
for Clark is winning three or four out of the seven races.
The two biggest states are Missouri and
In the meantime, the absolute media
assault - much of it through simply ignoring his existence -
continues. As a typical example, today's Washington Post does
stories on Kerry, Edwards, and even Dean - who is not in position to
win anything on Tuesday. Clark, who is in far better position
than both Edwards and Dean, is entirely, again, ignored.
However, the Clark camp no longer is
taking this without response.
At a rally in Oklahoma City this
weekend, General Clark vowed to take on what he called, "The
Republican Mean Machine," according to one supporter who attended
the rally. By this he meant, this supporter said, the
right-wing domination of the media and the hatred this machine
Labeling it "The Republican Mean
Machine" was a very smart maneuver, as it makes it a battle of him
versus the Republican Party rather than versus the media, an easier
battle for people to understand.
And yet, Clark is clear that by "The
Republican Mean Machine" he means not just the ultra-baised FOX
News/talk radio Axis Of Bias, but also the rest of the media, which
is no different at this point. He in particular, according to
this supporter, referred to MSNBC, saying that such networks were
"trying to take him down," as the supporter put it.
This is the throwing down of the mantle
that Clark had to commit if he was going to have any chance in this
election. By not just vowing to fight "a long hard" battle
against against the media machine, but making clear he means the
whole media - even supposed mainstream stations like MSNBC - the
Clark camp sent forth the battle cry that, at the very least, makes
clear he will not go down without a fight. For Clark
supporters, there has no been no better news this primary season.
Remember, the Zogby polls that MSNBC
uses are the ones that were dubbed unworthy of use by both ABC and
AP, as reported by the
Washington Post, and, of course, by us last week. Clark's
reference to MSNBC as part of the Republican Mean Machine possibly
refers to this - the absurd polls pushing Kerry over Clark all week
long. For instance, today's MSNBC/Zogby poll has Kerry leading
Clark 36% to 24%, while other polls have the difference barely
beyond the margin of error.
"Zogby International, does all kinds of
controversial things to produce its headlines-grabbing tracking
poll," the Post reported.
Among them, Zogby takes the results he
gets - gotten by questionable methods to begin with - and simply
alters them as he feels like.
"Zogby also adjusts his sample based
on historic trends and his judgment of "what is happening on the
ground" in a particular race, and it is this imposition of his own
judgment that disturbs many pollsters.
"He will, for example, reduce
the proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds in his sample of
self-described likely voters if he suspects on the basis of past
voting history and the "lay of the land" that a sample contains
too many younger people. He also, on occasion, adjusts the
religious composition of his sample if he suspects he has over or
under-represented one faith. "
Nice little trick, huh? People
with credibility don't think so.
"Zogby is not a reputable pollster,"
said Warren Mitofsky, who is co-directing the media exit polls this
year for the major television networks and the Associated Press,"
and one ABC expert called Zogby polls, "crack for the weak."
This primary season MSNBC has teamed up
with Zogby and Reuters and has been putting Zogby's polls front and
The main thing to note about Zogby polls
is that by many accounts he comes up with results that push his
agenda - which happens to be the Bush/Limbaugh Republican agenda.
For example, as we detailed in this story,
right before the New Hampshire primary he released a poll that
claimed Dean had gotten within 3 points of Kerry even though, as we
reported, he clearly knew this was not the case. The idea was
to give Dean a sense a momentum, and so to push him higher in the
polls so that he was not wiped out entirely and so Clark didn't have
a shot at second place.
It has been one of many things that has
driven Clark supporters crazy, to have to sit and watch polls that
have been called disreputable nonsense and see virtually the entire
media report his results above all others. Now, Clark has made
clear he will not be putting up with this game any longer.
And, according to the account we were given, he made the RMM
comments directly in front of a rolling FOX News camera.
In any case, with one day of campaigning
left, the simple reality is that it is up to the people on the
ground. The battle is wide open. Any event over the next
day could shift the balance. Most importantly, the Clark camp
needs to make sure its supporters are not put off by a sense of doom
driven by the media's anointment of Kerry. If they realize
that their man truly can vault to the top on Tuesday night, they
might just be able to follow their leaders charge and stick one in
the eye of the Republican Hate Machine that has been doing
everything possible to drive Clark out of the race.