Monday, January 26, 2004

N.H. Polls: So far, I'm inclined to believe this Zogby poll over the others. It shows a tight race for first tier and second tier, which I think is accurate. I don't think Kerry is as far ahead as the ARG poll shows him (18 points over Dean). Both polls show Edwards and Lieberman rishing, mainly at a cost to Clark. I think that's accurate, too. Clark had an artificial bump from being the anti-Dean while Dean was self-destructing in Iowa. With all the candidates back north, Clark loses an edge. Any poll that doesn't show him dropping at least a few points is wrong, I think. I still worry that ARG is rolling too many independents into their sample (roughly a third of respondents, and pretty consistently). They surely have figures on the number of independents who vote in open primaries in N.H., but I'm skeptical.

Anyhow, I'm more confident today that at least Edwards will overtake Clark. Lieberman might, too. Does it matter? Are there only "three tickets" out of Manchester Tuesday night, as the saying goes? I 'm betting on more. Dean gets one automatically, for two reasons: First, his fundraising apparatus buys him a ticket; second, his rhetorical break with the mainstream of the party makes him "the other guy," the outsider. Edwards may get a ticket no matter what, since he's heading to supposedly friendly turf next -- South Carolina. And Kerry may win N.H., but he was supposed to anyway, way back when. A victory here may not be all the momentum he needs. If I have a prediction about Tuesday, it's this: The race will be closer than a lot of the polls indicate, and less decisive than the conventional wisdom says.

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