The latest Zogby poll shows Kerry with a seven-point lead over Dean, 30% to 23%, on a three-day tracking basis. But the race appears even tighter than than that, as yesterday, Kerry outpolled Dean only 28% to 25%.
At this stage of the race, everyone is playing the expectations game, so Dean happily told the press he was “poised for a comeback.” And perceptions are obviously important. But in another sense, it matters little, in the long run, whether Kerry or Dean wins the New Hampshire race. Under the Democratic delegate apportionment system, each candidate who exceeds a threshold level, I believe 15%, will receive proportional representation at the convention. So unless or until one of the candidates clearly breaks away from the pack–something that shows no sign of happening yet–candidates with the will and the money to keep competing will continue racking up delegates. And as minor candidates drop out, it will be easier for the second-level candidates, Edwards and Clark, to reach the 15% threshold.
As conservatives, it strikes me that we should be hoping more for a continued close race than for any particular candidate to win, on the theory that any candidate that emerges from a brokered convention, or as a result of the intervention of party leaders, will be handicapped.
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