Dick Morris thinks that Bush’s weak poll numbers may radically change the face of the Democratic primary. First, he argues, there could be an anti-Dean backlash against Howard Dean, by Democrats actually interested in, you know, winning the election.
Then comes prospect of late entries to the race — and he’s not talking about Wesley Clark. Read:
So Bush can hope Dean’s surge continues and presents a McGovernesque target for him in November. But Democrats are slowly waking up to the possibility that they may have the ’04 election in their grasp, only to throw it away on the Dean candidacy. This is generating tremendous intra-party pressure on Gore and Hillary to run.
My guess is that Hillary would be just as happy to see Dean win the nomination and get slaughtered in November by Bush. That would make W a two-term president despite having no real base of popularity, and open the way for her to run in 2008. Since Dean has no chance of beating Bush, she needn’t worry that an incumbent Democratic president would bar her way until 2012, when she’ll be 65.
But Gore may suddenly see a real possibility of a straight run for the nomination and a general-election win. A review of the donor lists of the Democratic contenders shows that most of the former vice president’s money people are still sitting out the race. Were he to run, Gore would force out most of the other Democrats and likely make quick work of Dean. In November, Gore would enter the election as the favorite against Bush.
But Hillary would be most unhappy to see Gore get the nod. Since Al would be a good bet to win, her nightmare scenario of a Bush defeat and no open field in 2008 would be coming to pass. So should Gore begin to make a move, Hillary will likely get into the race to pre-empt him.
The White House must realize the temptation the president’s low ratings pose for Gore and Hillary, and understands that if Bush’s numbers keep sinking the pressure for one or both of these heavyweights to run may prove irresistible.
So Karl Rove et al are scrambling to raise Bush’s numbers in the crucial next 40 to 50 days, during which Hillary and Gore must make their move or watch the filing deadlines for the primaries pass them by.
I like Morris’s analysis of Bush’s poll numbers, and he might be right on target regarding Gore and Clinton. But what makes him think either of them are more electable (or perhaps “less unelectable”) than Dean?