Yes, Obama Has Already Impacted The 2008 Race
This blog, three weeks ago:
The Clinton camp may be moving towards an announcement so soon after the election for no other reason than to lock up their base and money before the Rock Star tempts it to stray. I suspect that Obama's rise played a role in Feingold's decision, as well as that of Mark Warner to forego a 2008 run, as some pundits think that Clinton and Obama will suck any remaining oxygen from other campaigns. That doesn't mean that John Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Biden, Wes Clark, Evan Bayh, Tom Vilsack, and Bill Richardson won't run anyway in the hope of hanging around to see how the main event plays out. But how many of them will get support this early if Obama waits a while to decide if he wants to be the ABC candidate?
Adam Nagourney, today's NYT:
Senator Barack Obama’s announcement that he might run for president is altering the early dynamics of the 2008 Democratic nominating contest. The move has created complications for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as she steps up her own preparations and is posing a threat to lesser-known Democrats trying to position themselves as alternatives to Mrs. Clinton, Democrats said Sunday.
But whatever complications he might pose for Mrs. Clinton are dwarfed by the shadow he is throwing over lesser-known Democrats. Almost without exception, they have approached this race with the same strategy: to try to emerge as the alternative to Mrs. Clinton and take advantage of substantial reservations in Democratic circles about her potential to win the White House.
There is only so much money, seasoned political expertise and media attention to go around, so the prospect of Mr. Obama eyeing the presidential nomination is understandably unsettling to his potential rivals. Whereas their original success was contingent on Mrs. Clinton folding, now they face the prospect of having to hope that two high-profile national Democrats collapse in the year leading into the Iowa caucuses.
As things stand now, Clinton will run, as will Obama. We know that Biden and Evan Bayh will run as centrist alternatives from inside the Beltway, but burdened with senatorial responsibilities as are Chris Dodd and John Kerry. John Edwards will run, without the burdens of being a senator, and Tom Vilsack is running already from the outside, as may Bill Richardson and Wes Clark. And then there is the 800-lb. gorilla who claims he isn't running, but who could change all this calculus overnight should he make a late decision next year to run.
The point is that anyone who gets in from this point on will have already taken into account how Obama's entry will impact their chances, fundraising, and staffing, and they will build their appeals around addressing what Hillary and Obama lack. No one will get into this with their eyes closed about how a Hillary-Obama media tour will crowd them out. As Nagourney noted, Obama's possible entry hasn't kept others from firing up their efforts, it simply has pushed them forward. Vilsack has entered the race and Bayh will this week. Biden is running as are Edwards and Kerry, and Dodd and Clark have piped up as well. The media may want to shoehorn this into a two-person horse race already, but there will be plenty of choices for us to consider in deciding whom to join and work for.
Update: Maybe Kerry is reconsidering running in 2008, and may opt to stay in the Senate and run for reelection.