would he even have been nominated? remember, one of the key themes Kerry used in the 04 primaries (particularly when he was counterposed with Dean) was that he was 'electable' (a laughable notion for people on this board, who correctly saw him as a MA liberal with a long and exploitable roll call record). without the war vote this shtick may have been harder to pull off, and he'd have started to look a lot like Dean except older and less exciting.
Ironically, when we compare Kerry's record as U.S. Senator and Dean's record as Governor of Vermont, Dean was certainly more moderate candidate.
But, yes, there was a common misconception that "Kerry's war hero and experienced Senator, so he's better candidate".