We can now start to think about Chapter 2 in terms of outcomes and not just inputs. Dean’s finish has to be part of the story; yes, he did a great job mobilizing people in real ways (babysitting, for crying out loud! As the Guiness ads say, “Brilliant!”), but we have to acknowledge that elections, at their heart, are about personalities, issues, and campaign styles. As just one placeholder link among many, here’s today’s Chronicle:
…Neither Dean nor Gephardt, who spent much of the campaign cutting each other in nasty political ads, was able to stop the bleeding.
…It was a very different Kerry on the stump the past few days. Instead of attacking Dean, he talked about his hope for the future and blanketed the state with ads that featured his war-hero past. …
I’m sure the good turnout was in part the result of a competitive field, but was it partly due to Dean? Should be on the lookout for analysis:
More than 120,000 Iowa Democrats, twice as many as four years ago but still only one in five of the state’s registered Democrats, braved the cold and snow to show up at the caucuses. A Fox News entrance poll showed that nearly half of those surveyed were attending their first-ever caucus.