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Voters Choosing Experience over Anger (posted January 28, 2004)

Senator John Kerry's impressive victories over Governor Howard Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire are signalling that voters are choosing experience over anger. For much of last year, Dean's aggressive anti-war message and populist rhetoric against Washington politicians paid off. He raised more money than any of his other competitors and soared to the lead in many election polls. His assault on the political establishment touched a chord within the Democratic party and galvanized grass-roots activists around the country.

However, in the last month, voters have shifted from looking for an angry candidate who could deliver a strong message to the Bush administration to choosing a calm and experienced messenger who they think has the best shot of beating Bush in November. Although he has not come across in a very forceful way to voters on the stump, Kerry has strong foreign policy and military credentials, and runs well among voters looking for the strongest possible candidate to contest the general election.

Look for a bruising battle between Dean and Kerry over the next few weeks as the two jockey for the heart of the Democratic party. With his lead having slipped away, Dean is going to have to point out inconsistencies in Kerry's record and draw out past votes from Kerry's long Senate career. Their confrontation is going to shift to television ads and direct mail barrages now that the "personal" stage of campaigning is ending and the battle is shifting to primary dates with large numbers of states holding their elections.

Unless Dean can break through in a few places, Kerry is going to start racking up delegates at a rapid pace. Kerry will benefit from the Democratic party "super-delegates", i.e., elected officials and party leaders, who are much more likely to support Kerry than Dean. When you add the super-delegates in, it looks like it will be very difficult for Dean to wrestle the nomination away from Kerry.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services