Monday, February 26, 2007

Odds and Ends

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 693

Lots of different thoughts flying around the Iowa corner of the blogosphere since the state’s former Governor announced last Friday that he was dropping his bid for the White House. The blog entries run the gamut from entirely practical, “So You Worked For Tom Vilsack, What Do You Do Now?” at Iowa Progress, to the just-short-of-silly “Senator Vilsack?” at Century of the Common Iowan. But, almost inevitably, discussion since the weekend has gravitated to the horserace after Vilsack: who’s candidacy does Vilsack’s withdrawal benefit?; who’s does it hurt?

I won’t claim any particular insight here, except to observe that in the latest poll I’ve seen on the Democratic race in Iowa, Tom Vilsack pulled 14%, putting him in 4th place behind Edwards, Clinton and Obama. That strikes me as 14% of likely caucus-goers who are suddenly entirely up for grabs. Some have speculated that the bulk of that number will swing to one candidate or another; as in almost everything else, Hillary Clinton’s name gets mentioned a lot in this respect. But I’m inclined to the view that Vilsack’s support will fragment, and will likely benefit the second tier of candidates most, if for no other reason than the campaigns of Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson have nowhere to go but up.

But most heartening to me is this observation from Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post that the biggest beneficiary of Vilsack’s departure is…Iowa, actually. They argue that with an Iowan Native Son out of the running, none of the other candidates have any thing left to scare them out of trying to compete in Iowa. I hope that turns out to be true, because it means more candidates here more often, meeting more voters, and hearing more of what’s on the minds of the people who’s support they’re asking for. And that can’t be a bad thing.

Lastly, and unrelated to any of this, Barack Obama’s campaign is conducting an organizing event in Grinnell next Monday, March 5th. Anyone who’s interested can learn more here.


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