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Out On a Limb



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Any reporting I might do on New Hampshire is almost certain to be as lame as most of the reporting I’ve seen from the mainstream media on South Carolina, however…

After getting several head-swelling emails when I predicted Edwards’ big Iowa finish, I can’t resist the temptation to ruin my reputation. So here goes:

Dean comes in third. That’s my prediction for the big story out of New Hampshire. (Does the order of the rest of the candidates really matter?)

Why? Something I learned running campaigns in the 1990s that I called “voter booth conservatism.” It’s easy to shout “Go, Howie, Go!” in a high school gym. But when you put your finger on that voting machine switch and the phrase “leader of the free world” rings in your mind, it’s not uncommon for supporters of er, “less stable” candidates to get cold feet.

If there is a record turnout, and that turnout is fueled by thoughtful independents who really want to get rid of President Bush, those people are particularly susceptible to the fear of casting a really, really stupid vote.

Who will benefit? Maybe a bigger margin for Kerry, maybe a pickup for Edwards or even Lieberman. But Dean is Number Three, because he tries too hard.



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