Surprise, Surprise: Kerry/Dean Ticket Runs Even With Bush/Cheney Nationally
Zogby came out with a curious poll late today that showed a John Kerry/Howard Dean ticket runs the same against Bush/Cheney as a ticket of Kerry/Gephardt. Both tickets in a nationwide telephone poll taken during the first week of June ran only two points behind Bush/Cheney, 45%-43%, with Ralph Nader pulling either 3% or 4%. It is very interesting that despite the media blacklisting of Dean since Iowa, this poll and a Fox News poll done last week show that his presence on a ticket with Kerry does not harm the Democratsí prospects this fall at all, although its impact upon down-ballot races is not known.
What is more noticeable in this poll however is the effect Deanís inclusion on the ticket has among several key Democratic constituent groups. Adding Dean to the ticket leads to lopsided leads for Kerry against Bush among the Democratic base. Young voters, lower income voters, single voters, and African American voters all reported large majorities in favor of a Kerry/Dean ticket against Bush/Cheney. When a Kerry/Gephardt ticket was substituted amongst these groups, the margins for the Democratic ticket shrank significantly, with the lower income voting block casting their preference equally for Kerry and Bush.
We can debate the usefulness of this poll, and the more intriguing question of who asked for this poll. But note that the MOE for this poll in the larger swing states is very small, so this poll canít be dismissed out of hand. Also note that a fundamental political dynamic is present here: as remote as this possibility sounds, adding Dean to the ticket locks up and energizes the base for Kerry, more so than adding Gephardt, thereby allowing Kerry and Dean to focus on swing voters.
What would be critical now for Zogby to do is to conduct this same poll comparing a Kerry/Edwards ticket to a Kerry/Dean ticket amongst all voters and specifically the Democratic base. Again, Kerry is about as likely to choose Dean as a running mate as he is to choose me, but there are simple political calculations at work here. A Kerry/Dean ticket runs even with Bush/Cheney nationally while locking up and energizing the Democratic base, and this can't be overlooked for a campaign that is putting people to sleep. The critical determinant is what such a ticket would do to the swing and independent voting block this fall, as well as the Nader voters.