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  Election What-ifs?
  Past Election What-ifs (US) (Moderators: The Chad Pygmy Marmosets, Apocrypha)
  George W. Bush vs. Howard Dean 2004
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Author Topic: George W. Bush vs. Howard Dean 2004  (Read 6827 times)
anvi
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« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2009, 09:29:47 pm »

Anti-war voters got on board with Kerry because they wanted President Bush out of office, so they dutifully went to the polls.  I remember that Kerry was generally believed by the public to have won all three debates, but those victories did not improve his polling numbers, which says to me that his performance in those debates overall was flat.  I don't think Dean wou
ld have done worse in the debates; he, unlike Kerry, had genuine convictions to argue for. 

Anyway, it's true, the centrist Democrats didn't like Dean, and they made no secret of it; Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry all expressed their disapproval of him.  But, Dean was governor of Vermont for 12 years (and friends of mine in Vermont remember him as a centrist governor), he was the runner-up in the Democratic nomination of 04 and his chairmanship of the DNC was instrumental in the Democratic party trashing its stupid "metro vs. retro" electoral strategy (which was Gore's and Kerry's playbook) and adopting a 50-state electoral strategy.  I don't know whether he would have beaten Bush or not (perhaps not), but he was not a "lightweight."
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pragmatic liberal
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« Reply #26 on: March 29, 2009, 10:41:56 pm »

Anti-war voters got on board with Kerry because they wanted President Bush out of office, so they dutifully went to the polls.  I remember that Kerry was generally believed by the public to have won all three debates, but those victories did not improve his polling numbers, which says to me that his performance in those debates overall was flat.  I don't think Dean wou
ld have done worse in the debates; he, unlike Kerry, had genuine convictions to argue for. 

Anyway, it's true, the centrist Democrats didn't like Dean, and they made no secret of it; Lieberman, Edwards, Kerry all expressed their disapproval of him.  But, Dean was governor of Vermont for 12 years (and friends of mine in Vermont remember him as a centrist governor), he was the runner-up in the Democratic nomination of 04 and his chairmanship of the DNC was instrumental in the Democratic party trashing its stupid "metro vs. retro" electoral strategy (which was Gore's and Kerry's playbook) and adopting a 50-state electoral strategy.  I don't know whether he would have beaten Bush or not (perhaps not), but he was not a "lightweight."

I never said that Dean was a "lightweight." I like Dean. I think he was an excellent chairman. And I think he would have made a strong candidate in certain respects and a decent president.

But I still think that on the whole he was probably a weaker general election candidate than Kerry. Yes, he excited a lot of people (including myself) but he left a lot of other Democrats fairly cold. And my suspicion is that his campaign would have been chaotic and fought a lot with the regular Democratic organization. Again, I'm not taking the "establishment"'s side in this - I'm simply stating what the reality would have been.

When it comes down to it, I think that there's a lot of revisionist history about 2004. The chief issue in 2004 was national security. The Iraq War divided people, but a small majority still felt it had not been a mistake. Bush was polarizing, but intensely popular with roughly half the population. And though Kerry was no Obama or Clinton, he was a stronger candidate than people remember.

Under those circumstances, the fundamentals pointed to a narrow Bush win, and I think that a Dean would have likely lost somewhat worse than Kerry. Again, that's not to say he *would have* - nobody knows what would have happened. And, yes, he *could* have won - just as Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt and Clark all *could* have won. The question is who was most likely. And I think comparing Dean to Kerry, Kerry still probably had slightly better odds.
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anvi
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« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2009, 11:27:22 pm »

Sorry, Pragmatic Liberal, the "lightweight" comment was made by Dubya Forever and my comments about that were directed to his characterization, not yours.  I should have specified that.

I certainly agree that national security was the number one issue in 2004.  The thing that I didn't like about the Kerry candidacy is that he and his team obfuscated the national security differences with the Bush administration instead of working them.  Working the difference is rule number one in campaigns.  Kerry dithered for a long time on where he stood on the Iraq war, and that dithering was a major cause of a lot of his blunders (the voting for armerment funding before he voted against it, the initial vote in support of the war and then the practically indiscernable nuance about the war in the campaign).  On national security issues, Kerry ended up looking like what he was, indecisive, and so Bush won the issue.  The national security issue deserved its place at the top of the list of priorities in 2004, and as such it deserved an honest debate between the President and an opponent who forthrightly disagreed with how he was handling national security.  As it was, I think the debate in the general election as it took place was a waste of the nation's time.  The needle wouldn't move in Iraq for several years after the election.
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izixs
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« Reply #28 on: March 30, 2009, 12:42:43 am »

Some of this discussion is pushing me towards making a habit in predictions of always having a best and worst case scenario for the candidates when making predictions. Though I have a weird feeling that even having both up might not let me be free of accusations of hackery.

Ok, here I go. First best case Dean scenario:



Reasoning: 50 state strategy works despite the tough political climate. Dean diffuses the gun issue early on in order to do well in the west and doesn't make any significant gaffs. And somehow Gephart destroys Cheney in the VP debate. I'm not quite sure how that happens, but I can dream.

Now worst case for Dean:


In this situation, Dean tries for the 50 state go, but runs short on money due to inept campaign mannagers, and thus isn't able to hold a defense in some normally strong dem areas of the country. He gaffs like crazy and is destroyed in the debates. DE and CT are narrow wins for Bush and only happen as a particularly nasty national smear of Dean (doesn't matter really, anything from being a loony liberal to eating babies) causes upsets in strange places.
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