I am coming around to the belief that it is unlikely to matter. On the news they were talking about a poll in which people were asked if they would vote for Bush or the Democrat. It was 47-46 (forget which way, as if it matters.) That's an astonishingly high total. There aren't alot of people who have doubts at this point. So there aren't very many votes up for grabs anyway. But the more I thought about it, the less surprising it was. Bush dominates politics in a way that you'd have to go back to maybe FDR to replicate. He and Tom DeLay work in lockstep. In no way is the House an independent power. The Senate is slightly independent, but even there, everything is in reaction to Bush's agenda. There's nothing AT ALL on the national agenda that Bush didn't put there. And there's little if any opposition to his agenda. And he has a strong ideological agenda. I don't think there's any argument there. I can defend that if I have to, but I don't think it's necessary. Anyway, there's not alot of subtlety in his agenda. You either like it or you don't, and it's not complicated. And the War...this is Bush's baby, no matter what you think of the war. McCain wouldn't have fought this war. No prominent Democrat would have fought this war. It's the lead story on the news every night, and it's identified wholly with the President. When you add it up, this election is going to be a referendum on Bush alot more than is the case even for an incumbent. Again, discounting 1956 (which was a rematch anyway) you have to go back to 1936, IMO, to find another election that was so strictly a referendum on one candidate. If I'm right about that, what does it mean? The main thing it means is that Bush will win or lose and the Dem win or lose, almost certainly, on how things are going. If things get better, no matter how well the Dem. campaigns, he'll lose. If things stay the same or get worse, no matter how ineptly the Dem. campaigns, he'll win. But there's that window of things getting a lil' better but not much better, where the election will be close enough that the Dem. nominee will matter. That being the case, Clark, Gephardt, and Dean can help the Dems. I personally don't think Edwards can win North Carolina unless Bush is sunk anyway. If Edwards would win NC, then any of those 3 would win the election even if they lost in NC. I don't see Kerry pulling any voters those 3 don't already get. Lieberman is hopeless. Gephardt and Clark can get their home states for the Dems, and Clark might bring along a marginal southern state like Florida or Virginia. Dean clearly has tapped into a constituency that has not been interested in politics, and can bring an army of volunteers whose GOTV efforts will bring a couple of close states to the Democratic column, in the event of a close election. It also means you will NOT see a guy like Lieberman nominated for VP. I hope. The Dems will not nominate someone from a state the Dems are already gonna win, or lose. Which means that Gephardt and Graham are prime VP material. Also, the Dems need to consider someone like Evan Bayh, if he can swing Indiana. Is there an Ohio Democrat who can swing that state? Anyway, I think there's maybe a 10% chance that the election will hinge on what the Dems do, and a 90% chance that it will depend on whether or not people like what Bush has done. Maybe 95%. So for the Dems, the whole thing comes down to, who can get us two or three states we otherwise couldn't win, on the off chance it matters. Thoughts?