Thursday Campaign Update
John Kerry’s lead over Howard Dean in the American Research Group daily tracking poll taken through last night has now grown to five points, 27%-22%, with Wesley Clark only three points behind Dean at 19%. The ARG poll does not as yet show a break out for John Edwards, who logs in at 9%, with Joe Lieberman coming in at 7%. Other polls taken in the state through yesterday show a Kerry lead ranging from five to ten points over Dean.
Kerry is showing signs that he is looking beyond New Hampshire to states where he may have the best chance to improve his standing. Apparently Kerry is having talks with Dick Gephardt about his prospects in Missouri, in an effort to get his support and help with the labor unions that supported Gephardt, something that Wesley Clark is doing also. Kerry is focusing his fire only at Bush, and not at his rivals, and it will be interesting to see how many of his rivals do the same in tonight’s debate.
Dean for his part joked about his post-caucus speech on Monday, and said that voters will look beyond his flaws. There was confirmation that his campaign was retooling its focus away from attacking others and defending itself towards a positive, experience-based message.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Democratic candidates have steered their tactics away from attacking each other towards touting their own experience and qualifications. And the Washington Post points out the importance of tonight’s debate to those who now find themselves chasing Kerry, again making the point that it may not be a given that Kerry’s opponents gang up on him tonight.
For his part, the shrinking George W. Bush campaigned on his paltry increase in job-training funds, when it turns out he cut these same funds last year. And Maureen Dowd and the Times’ editorial today reminds us that no matter what people thought of Dean’s post-caucus speech, Bush’s lies from last year and his health care proposals this year are more of a concern.