Believe it or not, October begins on Monday. Third quarter fund-raising numbers for the 2008 Presidential candidates will be released. And it’s just three and a half months before the primaries begin.
So what are analysts saying about the race for the Democratic nomination at this point? Let’s take a look:
Headline: “Clinton is the candidate to beat.”So, Obama, Edwards, Richardson, and the others gave it their best shot, but it looks like the Clinton Machine was simply too much for them. You wonder why they even bother staying in the race at this point?
Headline: “Clinton Appears To Be The Likely Nominee”
Headline: “Analysts And Insiders Say It's Looking Like Clinton.”
Zogby: “Given where we stand now, it's hard to see a way to stop Clinton, especially if she has a strong showing in Iowa, which she very well may have.” Zogby said Clinton swept all demographic categories, leading among all age groups, among union and non-union voters, and among self-described progressives and liberals. “This is stunning,” said Zogby. “This qualifies as juggernaut status.
Larry Sabato, Director of UVA's Center For Politics: Clinton is the candidate to beat. “Over the years, I have followed so many of these and watched the candidates and the numbers and everything. . . . I don't want to give my own Crystal Ball away, but Clinton is just running away with it. When you put all the factors together and weight them properly as I think we have done with this analysis, good luck to the others.”
Democratic strategist Donna Brazile: “I think if I were Clinton's campaign manger, I would feel comfortable now that for the last three months Hillary Clinton has been in the driver's seat.”
Well, I can give you one very good reason: All of the above quotes and headlines were actually from October 2003, and they were all about Howard Dean.
Read back through the news coverage at this point in the last election and Howard Dean was the longtime front-runner, the “man to beat,” and Wesley Clark was stirring up things with his entrance into the race. In October 2003, Dean led the national polls, with Clark second, followed closely by Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman. (Remember Lieberman, Al Gore’s sublime choice for VP in 2000? A real, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, Joe was. We miss you, Joe!)
John Kerry was in fifth place and couldn’t even break into double digits, eking out a measly 9%.
But National Poll numbers are never as important as poll numbers from the individual primary states, analysts like to say. So, in October 2003, Dean and Gephardt were tied in Iowa, with 26% each. Kerry was struggling at 15%. John Edwards wasn’t listed anywhere, his numbers were so pathetic.
The results in January 2004? Kerry 38%, Edwards 32%, Dean 18%, with Gephardt a distant fourth.
In New Hampshire, in October 2003, Dean was running away with the race at 40%. Kerry was tanking at 17%. Wesley Clark and John Edwards were tied at 6%.
The results in January 2004: Kerry 39%, Dean 26%, Clark 12%, Edwards 11%.
I decided to look up these quotes and headlines about Dean after I saw the following Washington Post headline: "Clinton as the Insiders' Shoo-in." (“It's official: Washington insiders believe Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the Democratic presidential nominee.")
And, of course, the guy in the White house said this week that he thought Hillary would be the nominee. I don't know about you, but the last thing I would want as a candidate right now would be George W. Bush saying he thought I would be the nominee. Hillary's staff must have ordered a lot of extra TP after that little jewel came out in the media.
Hillary Clinton may indeed wind up as the Democratic nominee. But this is a funny world we live in, and I guess I still believe that in politics, as in football, anything can happen. That's why we still play the games and still hold the elections.
We'll know more in a few months.
UPDATE: Discounting the nomination process in 2000 (Gore was a sitting VP) and 1996 (Clinton's re-election), the next example of a contested nomination for the Democrats was in 1992.
Who was the front-runner in the fall of 1991? The guy who never ran: Mario Cuomo. A November 1991 national poll in the LA Times looked like this: Cuomo 38%, Jerry Brown 11%, Douglas Wilder 7%, Clinton 6%.
The Iowa caucus that year wasn't a factor, because Iowa's senator, Tom Harkin, was a candidate and no one else contested him there. New Hampshire was the first primary test. In November 1991, Bill Clinton only had 5% support, placing him fifth behind Paul Tsongas, Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin and Jerry Brown.
The results: Tsongas 34%, Clinton 26%, Kerrey 12%, Harkin 11%, Brown 9%.
That's an especially impressive showing for Clinton, considering that the primary took place just as the stories of his infidelities were coming out.
Other intersting poll numbers from that time period:
Gallup Poll, Oct 91: Clinton Favorability
25% Favorable; 16 Unfavorable; 17 Heard of, no opinion; 40 Never heard of
Bush 58% vs. Clinton 22%