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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Clark’s Bad Day….and Clark’s Good Poll

Well, General Clark’s campaign got off to, how shall we say this, a less than completely optimal start last week, what with the tepid announcement speech and then the embarrassing free association session with top national political reporters. At least he didn’t say, “it all depends on what the meaning of ‘never’ is”. For a good and rather amusing run-down of Clark’s bad day, see Joan Walsh’s article in Salon.com.
But, what the heck, he’s just getting started and apparently Democrats around the nation were not unduly disturbed by his early stumbles. In the Newsweek poll that was released this weekend, he leads the other declared Democratic candidates, albeit modestly, among registered Democrats and Democratic leaners, with 14 percent support, to 12 percent for Lieberman and Dean, 10 percent for Kerry and 8 percent for Gephardt.
Moreover, he does quite well against Bush in a direct matchup, only losing by 4 points, 47 percent to 43 percent (typically, specific Democrats do less well against Bush than an unnamed or generic Democrat, where we have seen a number of very close results lately). Significantly, Clark beats Bush in the south (47 percent to 45 percent), among young voters (48 percent to 44 percent) and among independents (44 percent to 42 percent). He also runs only a 4 point gender gap in support (45 percent among women and 41 support among men), another heartening sign for Democrats worried about their candidate’s ability to be competitive outside the Democratic base.
Kerry also fares well in a matchup with Bush, losing by just 48 percent to 43 percent, but Dean does not, running a 14 point deficit (52 percent to 38 percent) against the incumbent. This result, combined with Clark’s relatively good showing against Bush, both generally and among voter groups Democrats have been trouble with, can only reinforce doubts about Dean’s electoral viability and promote interest in a strong alternative.