The only good strategist in the Democratic Party is Hillary and she is best political strategist operating right now. I would not be surprised to see her enter the race if Bush shows weakness. (She isn't stupid enough to be suckered in by Newsweek poll that shows Kerry beating Bush.) News reporting about the race is so bad on all important elements that we can't say much about what the current candidates are trying do strategically, if anything at all. All the media reports are poll numbers, which proved spectacularly unreliable in Iowa. They never report on the strategic elements that matter. Right now, I would say that the nomination could easily go the convention without a clear winner, which, by the way, is what Hillary wants. She wants to delay the decision as long as possible to see if Bush will make a serious mistake.
New Hampshire should eliminate everyone except Kerry, Edwards, and Dean. After that, each of the three can probably do well enough to stay alive through the Super Seven Primary on Feb. 3. Edwards will certainly win some on that date (South Carolina, certainly, with a good chance in Missouri and several others.) Dean's organization and money actually gives him advantage on Feb 3 since the candidates cannot be everywhere between NH (Jan 27) and Feb. 3.
In Sun Tzu's strategy, we evaluate five elements when comparing opponents: philosophy, leadership skills, operations, current popularity, and trends.
Edwards is the only one doing anything to articulate a philosophy with his "two
America's" theme. He is also strong in personality. His operations suffer from limited money. His current popularity is the weakest, but the trends are in his favor since he will get some clear wins in the south.
Kerry has no philosophy, is the weakest leader, but his operation is excellent and now getting money, since money comes from popularity. He holds a good but not dominant position in popularity which could be considerably muddied on Feb 3.
Dean has a bit of a philosophy, is a good leader with a very strong personality. His operations are strengthened by his money and organizations. His popularity is still okay, but the trends have been seriously against him since his reaction to Iowa. However, the most important thing to know is that trends change, which is what Iowa demonstrated. As I said, his operation's advantage in money and organization could make a big difference on Feb.3 and I wouldn't be surprised (though the press would be shocked) if he won back much momentum after the 3rd.
Important point: None of these
candidates seem to be doing anything strategic to win. Neither they nor their advisors seem to understand strategy, which is kind of scary since one could be elected president. (Carter was the last president with no concept of strategy. Nice guy, but useless in terms of getting anything done.) For example, none of them are targeting their appeal at specific groups by interests or geography. They are winning endorsements from politicians instead of organizations, which represent the people these days more than elected representatives do.
For example, if I were one of these candidates, I would focus on winning single women, a big block of Democratic voters who are up for grabs. I would be looking for endorsements from people who represent this group. NGO's like NOW, women's entrepreneur associations (I am sure there are many), groups the represent single mother's, etc. Edwards has a real opportunity here, but hasn't done a thing to take advantage of it.
Similarly, I would like to see one of them, go after African-Americans in a significant way. Get endorsements from NAACP, CORE, whoever. One of them will probably make a deal with Al Sharpton, but endorsements from groups are more credible. Same goes for Latino groups. Big part of Democratic Party, but which of these guys is doing anything with them? Stupid!
Unions aren't as important as they once were in business, but they are huge among government employees, especially in education. Who is being endorsed by the various education unions? Government employees, especially teachers, are the strongest and most active Democratic Party supporters. A clear initiative to enrich teachers while eliminating accountability is a strategic part of any winning Democratic platform. Who has it?
In all these areas, everyone has copied Dean in attacking Bush rather than establishing winning position. Copying the leader keeps you in the race, but never gives you the lead AND Dean is no longer the leader. There are plenty of openings here and no one is taking advantage of them. Like I said there is no strategic thinking here at all.
Geographically, I have to give the edge to Edwards because electability
is a big issue. Both Dean and Kerry represent the New England party tradition
that has lost every election since Kennedy. While Edwards represents the
southern tradition that represents every Democratic President win since
Kennedy. However, NO ONE is
working to capture the hearts of the West and Midwest who are rife with
regional interests. See primary schedule is below. Arizona and New Mexico are
up on Feb.3, but who has separated themselves on immigration, a key issue in