Sunday, December 15, 2002

Gore Gone

I was amazed when I flipped on my homepage and read the news. Gore seemed to me a lock to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, which left him with a less than 50-50 but better than 46-54 chance to win the general election. Yes, Democratic insiders and their soulmates in the media were down on Gore, but so what? In places like New Hampshire and South Carolina, such enemies are assets.

With Gore gone, two front-runners emerge: Rep. Richard Gephardt and Senator Joe Lieberman. Gephardt will have the full-throated backing of Labor, Lieberman has national name recognition (and a good network of support) from the 2000 campaign. One problem for Lieberman is that the calendar sets up badly for him. He's a Connecticut Senator in Iowa with no labor support. He's probably blocked out in New Hamshire by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. And South Carolina is not Lieberman country. Let's just say.

One thing to remember is that the 2004 primary season will be exceptionally short. The whole thing begins and ends inside of 8 weeks. Once the winnowing process (Iowa and New Hampshire) weeds out the Howard Deans and General Clarks, South Carolina will be the state where the race goes from 3 candidates to a two-man race (the TV networks can only afford to cover two candidates once the Super Tuesdays begin).

Had he run, Gore would have been one of the two, post-South Carolina. Now it appears that Gephardt will be one of the two, post-South Carolina. Given the make-up of caucus attenders/primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, the opening (post-Gore) is on the left, not the right. Which is good news for Senator John Kerry. Which is good news for George W. Bush.