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Am I Missing Something?

I'm not a Democrat, so I've not delved into the details of how they pick the head donkey. But why would someone as smart as Prof. Yin start dancing on Dean's grave? Why is it that when I watched Nightline last night, they've written off Dean because he's not won a state yet?

The Democratic primaries aren't 'winner-takes-all." They're proportional. And each state has a number of unpledged 'superdelegates.' I'm unclear what happens to a delegate when his candidate drops out of the race, but those very well may come back into play as well.

The upshot of this is that Dean is in second place, and Edwards is decidedly third. Furthermore, so long as Dean is the second choice in states that break for Edwards, that won't help Edwards so much. Given the unpredictable superdelegates and the proportional representation system, why is this not a Kerry/Dean race? Near as I can tell, you can win the Democratic nomination without ever winning a single state.

True, Kerry's got a big lead, and his momentum may mean it's in the bag already. But to the extent that there is a race, I'd think it Dean was the man still running. What accounts for the pessimism of the pundits?

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"What accounts for the pessimism of the pundits?" For me, this is THE question of the primary season. Why do they dance on Dean's grave when he's in second place? Why did they focus on the "scream" when anyone with any sense wouldn't? Why did they fall all over themselves after the Iowa caucuses to rediscribe John Kerry as "eminently electable?" I am a Democrat, and if Kerry's the nominee, I'll vote for him over Bush without blinking. But I've yet to meet a real live human being who professes to get excited about John Kerry. I've met people who are excited about Dean, Clark, Edwards, even Al Sharpton. But no one I know is excited about John Kerry. The most they'll admit to is that they think he's "electable." Whatever that means.
Well Dean's number are just awful in a lot of the next several states. And he plummeted... so I think people are treating him like he's headed down, and they have good reason to do so. Quite a few of the delegates you see as listed for him now are so-called "superdelegates" (CA, NY, NJ) and they'll all flee if he doesn't start winning. Has the bottom dropped out compeltely? No. But I'm not particularly surprised with the coverage he's getting, nor do I disagree with it. As for Dean being the "second choice" in states where Edwards might win, I'm not sure where you have in mind. Anywhere Edwards might win, he'll do so only by getting ahead of Kerry and Clark... Dean'll come in fourth, or if he's really lucky, third, in any such state.
Even though states divide up the delegates, the candidates must meet a certain threshold to get any. So most of the delegates they have said are going to Dean are superdelegates, who clearly will not vote for him at the convention if Kerry has it wrapped up. Dean might hope to stick around and torpedo Kerry, but he probably won't be close enough to do it at the convention.
Anthony, I agree with you 100%. You know, that 'shout' he gave really gave a bad image, however, they miss the point that he gave that shout to a bunch of KIDS who worked for him for weeks, and he wanted to encourage them by saying that being second on that state is considered, by him, as a big truimph. Moreover, I don't know what was wrong with that shout, but that only shows that he is 'human' and is not trying to fake an image. For example, you can see how hypocrite Edwards is, no offend, no one blames him for that, he was a lawyer, and a good one before, and that characteristic is important for litigators (especially, when they work in malpractice). As for Kerry, as you said, he is a great person, but there is nothing special about him. Moreover, there is an important thing we should consider, as Dr. Dean said, no one of the other candidates was against all of Bush's proposals. So people won't find a strong reason why they shoudn't vote for Bush again. Sorry, if this comment wasn't so clear, but all this thougths are mixed up in my mind, and they need some arrangement. visit my website :)
Dean actually came in third in Iowa, and about 20 points down. His scream was a big deal because it showed something to a national audience that had not previously seen him. The scream was OK for his concession party, but not with national news cameras showing it for the first time. Edwards, on the other hand, has a great stump speech, and when he gave it after the Iowa Caucuses you could see that he understood who he was talking to. Dean scared away many people with that scream, and though it might have been slightly overplayed, it was not by much. Aside from that, Dean cannot win, as Jonathon Cohn notes on tnr.com, because no one expects him to win the nomination. They no longer will vote for him and he will be coming in 40-50 points behind Kerry in almost every primary that he even comes in second. It is circular, but the voters are not interested in a guy with passion, but the one who will win the nomination quickly and move on to dealing with Bush.

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