Saturday, September 02, 2006

Impact Of Democratic Primary Changes On Bayh Candidacy

The Indiana Legislative Insight's Ed Feigenbaum reports that Sen. Evan Bayh is not pleased with the Democratic National Committee's decision to move the date of presidential events in Nevada and South Carolina near the start of the pack. Feigenbaum, before this decision, gave high marks to Bayh's efforts in Iowa where the first caucus will take place. He writes:

Before the DNC move, we believe that Sen. Bayh had led all candidates in time on the ground in Iowa (and probably in consumption of products on a stick at the Iowa State Fair), and he had made more than his share of recent visits to New Hampshire (well ahead of the snow).

The conventional wisdom is that the move will help candidates with non-traditional constituencies, give more regions a voice in the process, and slow down the race by increasing options for those who might not expect to fare well in the original first two contests. The change also should help former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), who is said to enjoy a strong organization in South Carolina, which will follow the Granite State.

If indeed Iowa turns out to be a winner for Bayh, the calendar change could actually benefit Bayh as a result of the bump he will have going into those two states. Quoting the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen, Feigenbaum reports:

The Des Moines Register’s sage David Yepsen writes that the changes might actually have the reverse effect: “Packing so many events so closely after the Iowa events just makes Iowa more important. There is not enough time between these caucuses and primaries for a candidate to recover from a setback here — or to slow the winner’s momentum.”

The National Journal's Chuck Todd has been ranking all of the prospective presidential candidates from both parties. Todd ranks Bayh's candidacy fourth in the top tier of candidates behind Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards and former Gov. Mark Warner, in that order. He puts Sen. Barack Obama in 5th behind Bayh, even though it is highly unlikely that Obama will enter the race. Obama bumped Kerry from the top tier Democratic candidates.

Todd is charitable to Bayh given how poorly he's been running in all early polling against other candidates, often placing as far back as 7th or 8th. I think he is way off the mark on Warner (no pun intended). There's not a chance in hell that Warner will outperform Bayh regardless of where Bayh ends up in the race. The acne-scarred Warner projects poorly on television and has a very spotty record on which to run. The fact that Warner is ranked so highly is indicative of the inside-the-beltway mentality that is driving Todd's analysis.

Edward's time has probably past already. Lacking any executive experience, the one-term Senator from North Carolina doesn't stack up well against the "alternative" group of candidates that will battle to topple the obvious front-runner, Sen. Clinton. The absolute worst thing that could happen to Bayh's candidacy is for Al Gore to enter the race. That will turn the race into a Clinton-Gore battle royale, which will leave the other candidates lost in their dust.


Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed when Republicans wax poetic about this subject.

It provided a good laugh.

Sen. Bayh is positioning himself as the chief non-Hillary candidate. In that category, he's done well.

But if Hillary does get into it, she'll do very, very well.

Lots of time between now and then.

The rules changes are being challenged instate by the NH delegation, which has statutory duties to be the first primary in the presidential season. It'll be interesting.

Rob said...

New Hampshire is going to thumb their nose at the DNC. The DNC instituted "penalties" if a state didn't follow their new calendar by saying their delegates wouldn't be counted at the national convention. But who cares about New Hampshires measly 29 delegates? It's less than 1% of the 3500+ delegates available.

The real value of the NH Primary is the momentum it provides. A good showing in NH makes you one of the automatic front runners. The NH Governor has already said that he has in writing a committment from 10 Democratic Candidates to compete in the NH Primary regardless of when it is.

Anonymous said...


All ten have told him they will.

The real story here, not mentioned in the earlier AI post, is that Sen. Bayh asked IN's DNC members to vote against the rule change. That was reported widely in conventional media. And, he actively worked the phones to get other DNC members to vote "no."

In fairness to all, it's a silly system, but those who have already worked Iowa and NH don't need to have the rug pulled out from under them.

And, there are no gaurantees the GOP will follow suit. They're going to havhe a wild wide-open 08 primary/caucus season.

Let the games begin!

Ben Fulton said...

I think Gore sees himself as more of an elder statesman than a serious political figure these days. I'd be seriously surprised if he jumped in the race.