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Jewish World Review May 31, 2002 / 20 Sivan, 5762

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems | IT'S still far too early to know how the 2004 field for the Democratic nomination is shaping up, but the lessons of the 2000 primary season would seem to tilt the field to a moderate, like Joe Lieberman or John Edwards, and away from Albert Gore Jr.

Since most states (unlike New York) let independents vote in either party primary, these voters have truly become the tail that wags the dog. Some 40 percent of all voters identify themselves as independents, more than say their loyalty belongs to either political party.

In 2000, that power was masked because the independent vote was split between John McCain, running in the Republican primary, and Bill Bradley, who sought the Democratic nod.

In each primary, the party loyalists sided heavily with Gore or with George W. Bush while exit polls show that the overwhelming majority of independents backed one of the two insurgents. But because there were two candidates who attracted independents, their votes were divided and could not overcome the party regulars in either primary.

Of course, there will, most likely, be no GOP primary in 2004 as Republicans rally around President Bush in his bid for re-election. That will leave all independents free to vote in the Democratic primaries.

This influx will tip the primary to the center and give out-and-out liberals like John Kerry of Massachusetts or Chris Dodd of Connecticut a hard time. The beneficiaries will be centrists like Connecticut's Joe Lieberman and North Carolina's John Edwards.

It thus becomes less likely that Gore will venture forth in 2004 to seek the nomination. The same folks who backed Bill Bradley in 2000 will be there in droves, their ranks augmented by independents who backed John McCain the last time.

The independent voter also changes the way we must analyze party primaries for the presidential nomination. In the old days, the Democrats held their primary and the Republicans theirs. But where independents can vote in either primary, the primaries are really a beauty contest among all candidates: All Democrats and all Republicans run against one another.

Voters select their candidate and then choose to vote in the primary in which he or she is running. Ideologically, this robs the Democratic Party of its leftist and the Republican Party of its rightist orientation and forces each to the center, particularly in years when only one of the parties has a primary.

In 2008, of course, both parties will have primaries as Republicans seek to find a candidate to succeed Bush (who, one assumes, will win re-election in 2004). The independent vote will be split, as it was in 2000, giving the advantage to conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. This leftward drift of the Democrats in 2008 is likely to make Hillary Clinton an increasingly viable candidate for the nomination.

The order of succession for president in this poor, benighted nation might well be Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. And don't count Jeb or Chelsea out!

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2001, Dick Morris