No, not Howard Dean, “the Dean” of Iowa reporting, David Yepsen who has a solid analysis entitled “It’s the Electability Stupid.” A few excerpts with comments from me:
On Rudy: “Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the GOP race, which is surprising to many who thought he would fade as socially conservative voters became aware of his pro-choice positions. But with conservatives continuing to split their votes among several candidates, Giuliani has maintained his lead in polls.
It is also true that we media types may be placing too much focus on the importance of social issues such as abortion and gay rights as driving factors in the GOP race. (That may be reporting the last war.) After 9/11 and the conflict in Iraq, those questions move more voters than someone’s pro-life credentials. . .Giuliani has credibility on terrorism and security, thanks to his handling of 9/11, and Republicans looking for a winner are looking beyond his abortion stance.”
On Romney: “He has an executive style and runs a precise, corporate campaign. He’s a former CEO with a reputation for fixing the Olympics and building a successful business. He’s a Republican who won in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. All of that creates the image of a winner. He oozes electability.” [My only quibble here with Yepsen is that I think his policy changes allow Hillary, who I’m betting the farm will be the nominee, to make the race about him rather than her.]
On Fred: “The former senator and actor also carries a presidential style. But the early days of his campaign have had some fits and starts, and he’s late to the race.If he can show activists he can win in November 2008, he could rally conservatives and take votes away from Romney and maybe Giuliani. But if he fumbles his opening act, he’ll go the way of presidential candidates who peak on the day they announce.”
As for Hillary, he shares my view that in the debates: “She has given crisp, focused answers, while Obama has been too meandering and lawyerly and Edwards too angry. Americans don’t elect angry candidates to the presidency.” He goes on to note concerns among Democrats about her electability and her high negatives. On this point I think many underestimate how skillful she has become as a candidate. ABC ran a special last weekend on Billy Graham and the presidents he pastored to. She and a number of presidents were interviewed. She was breathtakingly good– eschewing the chance to take a political jab at Republicans, speaking of how Graham counseled her and Bill, and showing every evidence that she believes that religious faith is a positive thing in America. After sitting through more debates performances and speeches of hers than I care to count I can only say that the Hillary people will see in November is not the Hillary easily lampooned by Republicans. That is what will make this race so tough.