Tracking Hurricane Dean

Joe Klein takes his turn at trying to chart Howard Dean’s direction and velocity. Klein thinks that Dean is going Populist with “a unified-field theory of Republican depravity — jobs, the elderly, the economy, budget discipline, the environment — all have suffered because of Bush’s crony capitalism.”
This is a card that Democratic candidates for president nearly always play to one degree or another when the incumbent is a Republican. However, with the economy booming, I would have thought that 2004 is not a particularly propitious year to rely much on it. Klein reports, however, that the theme has played well in focus groups put together by pollster Frank Luntz: “‘When the candidates go after the special interests,’ Luntz says, ‘the dials go off the charts.’ (When Luntz ran similar groups in 2000, there was usually a negative response to politicians who were angry.)” I suspect, though, that this phenomenon will recede as the economy keeps improving. But this does not mean that Dean won’t continue to push the Populist message. He clearly feels the need to be angry about something, and it may be less risky for him to be angry about “corportate greed” than about Bush’s handling of national security issues.

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