This is good news for Kerry, of course, who goes into February 2 two for two. Also for Clark, who seized that third metaphorical ticket out of New Hampshire that pundits at least seem to think is important, and more importantly avoided that fifth-place standing that looked like a real possibility given reports about his machine on the ground. Good news also, I’d argue, for Dean, the only candidate to run in both Iowa and New Hampshire and rank higher this time, and faces two candidates sharing the top three with him in New Hampshire – Kerry and Clark – who are struggling for the same electable-veteran niche.
My predictions for tomorrow:
Kerry comes in first, simply because Dean hasn’t had enough time to catch up after recovering from whatever combination of his combative stance in Iowa/ his overly-apologetic response to his combative stance in Iowa/ his insufficiently apologetic response to his combative stance in Iowa/ media harping on an imagined combative stance in Iowa/ some combination of the above one may choose to blame for the beating he took in the polls in the past week. Dean comes in second and he and Kerry both pitch themselves as comeback kids; Kerry as usual finds the media more credulous than Dean. Dean comes in closer to Kerry than to the Edwards, who comes in third behind him, lacking the committed and organized constituencies Kerry and Dean have mobilized. Clark does not much, if any, better than he’s been expected to the past few days, and likely even worse – in any case drastically worse than he was expected to a few weeks ago before Kerry stole his part as the anointed “Anti-Dean” and his campaign fumbled and failed to advance a coherent vision or take advantage of what could have been a real head start to build a machine in New Hampshire. If Clark does particularly badly, he strikes me as more likely than any of the other candidates to drop out shortly after, thus ending further embarassment and leaving his Presidential run as a whimsical coda on what many see as an accomplished career as a military public servant. Lieberman does worse than Clark, claims that he exceeded expectations, and argues that Kerry and Dean are both soft on defense and that only he represents a real choice between extremists. Kucinich does much better than Sharpton.