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October 28, 2003
Clark waning, liberals waxing in primaries

Oh so predictable: supposed White Knight General Wesley Clark is sliding in the polls, while support for liberal candidates is increasing:

The small boom of support for retired Gen. Wesley Clark, which pushed him to the front of national polls in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, appears to be ebbing, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. ... Among registered Democrats queried about their 2004 choices, 15 percent chose Clark, down from 21 percent who expressed support for him in early October, when he led the field less than a month after joining the race. In the latest poll, Dean was in first place, with 16 percent support, just a whisker ahead of Clark and within the poll's margin of error.

Clark, pushed into the race by the Clintons and staffed with a number of Clinton supporters, has been an embarrassment on the stump. Either he can't come up with a position or he comes up with six different versions on an issue. On the $87 billion request for continuing military operations in Iraq, a subject that should be right in his strike zone, he refused to give an opinion, famously declaring that he was running for President, not Congress. On Iraq, numerous speeches show him supporting Bush's actions, prior to his actually deciding to replace him, and since then, he hasn't been able to keep his stories straight. Either he has opposed it completely, or opposed it without UN approval, or approved it but disapproved of the way it was done. (Oh, man, here comes the Clarkbot again!) He also had problems understanding election law, accepting money for giving political speeches after declaring himself a candidate, which a competent staff should have been able to avoid. His campaign manager quit three weeks into his campaign, citing the usual irreconcilable differences, but Las Vegas weddings last longer than that. In short, he's stumbled from the word go, and the whole appeal of a general is calm competence. Without that, he's meaningless.

It also showed that the Democratic mood may be swinging to the left, with 39 percent of registered Democrats now saying they would prefer a liberal nominee. Back in August, just 27 percent wanted a liberal standard-bearer to face President Bush next November. Support for a moderate nominee rather than a liberal among Democrats is down to 53 percent, compared to more than two-thirds in August.

In the post-9/11 world, a liberal nominee may make the leftists happy (and they drive the primaries), but the center wins presidential elections. Going left will not only lose the Democrats the White House (which may be a given anyway, with a recovering economy), it will likely lose them more seats in the Senate and House. An anti-war candidate is not going to get elected in the first Presidential election cycle after 9/11: security will continue to be a strong impetus for voting, and no one will trust a candidate whose best response to terrorism is negotiation with suicide bombers.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 28, 2003 5:35 AM

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» Tuesday Clarkbot from Independents For Clark
New Hampshire and Iowa Public Radio have a joint blog featuring one uncomitted blogger in each state, checking out the candidates. They have comments too. Stop by and say a good word about General Clark! Philocrites is a newly found... [Read More]

Tracked on October 28, 2003 5:42 PM

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