Peter Beinart at Time has an analysis of the election that suggest, suprise suprise, that with Iraq back as a major campaign issue, maybe Dean may not have been such a poor choice of a nomineee (TIME.com: If Howard Dean Were the Candidate … — Oct. 04, 2004):
Political punditry is harder than it looks. That’s what a lot of Democratic voters must be thinking right about now. Last winter Democratic-voters played political consultant. They tried to step inside the minds of swing voters and figure out which Democratic presidential candidate could beat George W. Bush. With an eye cast coldly on November, they rejected the man who had first won their hearts, Howard Dean, and flocked to the more “electable” choice, John Kerry. Among New Hampshire voters who said beating Bush was their biggest concern, Kerry beat Dean by a whopping 52 points.
Democratic voters should stick to their day jobs. With just five weeks until Election Day, there’s reason to believe they guessed wrong – that Dean would be doing better against Bush than Kerry is.
In last week’s TIME poll, Kerry’s biggest deficit versus Bush was in “sticking to his positions.” Only 37% of registered voters in the survey said Kerry does that, compared with 84% for Bush.
Dean wouldn’t have that problem. Polls in Iowa showed him doing best among voters who value a candidate who “takes strong stands.”