Dean’s bad good news

The CBS poll of Democrats that we linked to last night, while showing an increase in support for Dean, also indicates a split in the Democratic party. Nearly half of those polled favor candidates who are “centrists” or better with respect to the war against Saddam and, perhaps, foreign policy generally. This can’t be good news for Dean. Certainly, he can expect the Lieberman, Gephardt, and Edwards backers to support him against Bush. But how likely is it that swing voters, with no attachment to the Democratic party, will do so in an environment where Dean’s true support comes from the left half of the party? Not very likely, in my view, unless things go very badly in Iraq.
BIG TRUNK asks: Who is the most likely to emerge as the Democratic alternative to Dean? I don’t think it will be Lieberman, although it could be Gephardt if he were to win the Iowa caucuses. Peter Schramm of No Left Turns says (and has said for some time) that it will be Wesley Clark. (Peter points out that in the CBS poll, Al Sharpton is leading both Kerry and Edwards.)
Clark has aligned himself with Dean on the war, yet as a candidate whose credentials are military, he presents himself as an alternative to Dean. In addition, he is the candidate of the Clinton mafia. In the piece Deacon links to in the post above this one, Tina Brown disparagingly refers to Clark as “cyborg hero of places no one can spell.” But isn’t Clark the likeliest alternative to Dean?
DEACON responds: I’m not sure. Clark may be the likeliest second place finisher, but that’s not the same thing as being the second likeliest to get nominated. Put it down to lack of imagination, but I just don’t see how the Democrats end up nominating a guy who supported Republican presidents until a year or two ago.

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