Undecided. Yes, Dean folks will tell you he is in the lead and his momentum is, in fact, impressive compared to other declared candidates. But the big story is actually that about one-third of the electorate in the Granite State either have not focused on the candidates or are not sufficiently impressed by them. What does this mean? Well, for one thing it lends itself to the conclusion that is not too late for Clark to get in the race as some would have you believe. A plurality of voters in this presidential-politics-obsessed state are not even stating a preference. Of those who are, that preference could change if the choices changed. Five months is an eternity in politics. Much can happen, much can change. The larger electorate is even less focused on the race at this point. Contrary to “conventional wisdom,” a Clark announcement in the next few weeks may be timed almost perfectly.
But another key point is clear in polls—Americans are not sold on another Bush term at this point. He has had an incredible opportunity to seal the deal and has not done it. His treatment by the press cannot get better. Hell, it has even seemed like they were on his payroll until recently. That should continue to change. “He’s decisive” will start to give way to “he’s impatient and pigheaded,” although perhaps few will be that blunt. The press likes to be charmed. He did that in 2000, but he hasn’t done it lately. More in the press are sensing they’ve been lied to and disrespected. Their patience with his inaccessibility will continue to grow thin.
Fatigue with war and terror alerts will be attached to Shrubya. An articulate, classy alternative will be very appealing, especially one that hits Bush directly on his perceived strengths. Clark seems to fit this bill very well. Karl Rove should be afraid—very afraid.