Friday, September 12, 2003
I’ll give Dean credit. Because of the war, I think he actually lucked into creating a new Democratic constituency that has media savvy and money. Before Dean’s campaign many of these younger voters (18-30) were either not engaged in politics, independent swing voters, or just election-day Democrats for social issues. Now, they feel empowered. Potentially, these techies might become in the future a “recognized” Democratic voting bloc like African-Americans, labor, Hispanics, women’s rights, environmentalists, etc. Even though Dean has not been able to reach out to ANY traditional constituency of the Democratic party, the establishment is starting to believe he is showing the “movement” and “excitement” needed to beat Bush. Funny, since NO traditional group supports him fully other than the small gay and lesbian contingent.
This race has become extremely fractionalized. Clark’s entry into the race will further break down the traditional constituencies. Dean should be most affected because Clark is vying for the same voters. I think Clark can cannibalize a good percentage of Dean’s voters.
So how does Sen. Kerry find his voice? He is never going to be able to show the “movement” or “excitement” that the establishment wants to see unless he leaves the generalist approach and openly courts one of the Democratic establishment factions. Swing voters will not get out to leaflet or raise money for you. If he could lockup one such group in the next couple of months, we go into a primary season with more than a fighting chance. While the veteran outreach has been successful (and needed) you wonder how many of the Senator’s core constituencies were neglected. What is Sen. Kerry’s core constituency that should be singing his praises? The Environmentalists! Clark is unknown on the issue, Dean is poor on the issue, Edwards is iffy, Gephart is iffy also.
Sen. Kerry is simply a visionary on environmental issues. I don’t know how many environmentalists are in Iowa, but I’ll bet there is a good percentage in NH. It is critical at this time to start locking in the energy and grassroots experience of the environmentalists.