Dean Breaks Through
Two things happened today to shut up critics like me of Howard Deanís electability. First, a man I respect greatly wrote a column attacking Joe Lieberman and my guy Kerry for their continual assaults upon Deanís chances against George W. Bush. Since I found myself grudgingly agreeing with Paul Krugmanís comments today, the second development cinched for me a change in my feelings on this race.
According to the latest Time/CNN/USA Today national poll of likely voters, for the first time the Democrat that does the best against W in head to head matchups is in fact Howard Dean. Since for months my arguing point against Dean has been that Dean does poorly against W in such matchups, these new results reinforce your support of him and give me reason to lay off and shut up about him. The fact is that after all of the negative attacks by his opponents of late, the questionable media coverage of him since Day One, and yes even his own gaffes of the last month, and with more and more people familiar with him, Dean now does the best against Bush than any other Democrat.
To all of you Dean supporters who have been with him all along and engaged in the verbal jousting that goes on here and at other nonDean blogs, congrats to you, your candidate, and the campaign. To me this is a significant breakthrough for Dean, and you should all be proud and crow a little or a lot; youíve earned it. For guys like me, Iíll be sticking with Kerry out of loyalty as far as the campaign takes him, also because jumping ship and switching is bandwagoning. But I will be refraining from future attacks on Dean because frankly he and his campaign have earned the respect that the frontrunner status and these results deserve.
Donít diminish for a moment the significance of the Democratic frontrunner being only five points behind the incumbent amongst likely voters at the start of the season. As I said, these results come after negative press against Dean, some of it self-inflicted, most of it not. Yes, Bush will use his surrogates and the $200 million to begin smearing Dean from this point on. But these results are after the ďcaptureĒ of Saddam and the constant news of our allegedly recovering economy. And still Bush is in a dogfight with Dean as of today.
If you, like me, support another candidate, urge your candidate to train his or her guns on Bush from this point on and to develop a positive message instead of continuing to hammer a negative one at Dean; heís earned the respite with these numbers. If you to this point are still uncommitted, you may think about taking a hard look at Dean and going aboard his ship and giving money. And to all Dean supporters, again congrats. Iím happy for you; your man made it through the gauntlet to this point in his best shape yet.
Remember, the goal is to dispatch George W. Bush this November, not kill each other off trying to prove a point. Howard Dean is the Top Dog now, regardless of whether you like it or not. These numbers give him and his campaign all the credibility they need. Let's get to work.
(Thanks to our friends at PollingReport.com for the link and graphic.)