Is Dean Unstoppable?

Dick Morris seems to think that he is. Then again, he also thinks Sharpton has a shot at winning South Carolina. (D.C. yes, S.C. no…)

Dean is by far in the best position, but he is vulnerable.

In the Kerry camp, Kerry is trying to pretend like his campaign isn’t dying. He’s acting like a stewardess on an airplane in which one wing is missing and the other is on fire trying to assure everyone that there’s no problem, and would they please return to their seats and eat their damn pretzels? In essence, it’s only a matter of time before his campaign ends up buying the farm. Kerry’s loss of the second-place title in New Hampshire to Clark only shows how bad he’s losing momentum.

This may seem like an advantage to Dean, but it all depends on how the Kerry vote swings. If the Kerry supporters move to the Clark camp, there’s going to be a real race between Clark and Dean – and that would be a race to watch. Clark has a lot of momentum to make up, and he’s made his share of mistakes, but he’s the one Democrat who could give Dean a real run for his money.

Gephardt may do well in Iowa, which will keep his campaign afloat, but his long-term prospects are slim. Despite his vociferous anti-Dean attacks, most of his support (which comes from unions and anti-free traders) will end up going to the Dean camp. The Edwards and Lieberman vote may end up as swing voters or stay home, as they represent the more conservative ends of the Democratic camp and there’s not much love there for Dean.

I can forsee Clark becoming the anti-Dean candidate, and having the remote possibility of pulling off an upset. Clark could be a marginably better candidate than Dean, but I don’t see any of the Democrats (except for Lieberman) being truly competitive outside their own partisan sphere of influence. Of course, this still means a tight race in political polarized America, but it isn’t enough to win.

Still, if Dean takes the trifecta of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and doesn’t crash and burn on Super Tuesday, he’s in. If Clark doesn’t drop out after that, it will only harm the Democrats coming into the general election. (Not that I’d mind.) Dean isn’t unstoppable, but he’s pretty close. Unless something happens to dramatically change the field before Super Tuesday, momentum is on Dean’s side and it’s up to the others in the field to desperately try to catch up before time runs out.

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