This message resonates with liberals. And since Edwards delivers it with flare, it mesmerizes a media thirsting for some pizzazz -- and sanctuary from Kerry's colorlessness. While Edwards doesn't have much experience, he is everything Kerry's not: energetic, exciting, dynamic and a communicator of a consistent, discernable message.
But is it too late for Edwards? Well, under static rules of political analysis we would say yes, because Edwards has only won one primary and Kerry has won all but two. But Kerry hasn't won them because he's attractive to voters and Edwards hasn't lost them because he isn't.
With the frenzy of the front-loaded primaries, Democratic voters have been driven by a mob mentality centered on Kerry's presumed electability, and Kerry has been getting a free pass. But it appears the dynamics have changed and that voters are beginning to look under Kerry's hood (in deference to Ross Perot I had to switch metaphors).
If Edwards decides to take the gloves off and really challenge Kerry on his many expedient policy reversals and his lack of a compelling vision, and the media is willing to cooperate along these lines, momentum could shift in a hurry.
I realize Edwards didn't win in Wisconsin, but his last-minute surge could be quite significant, because unlike Iowa, where he just got Gephardt's union voters in bulk, he wooed the Wisconsin voters with his message, delivery, and perceived empathy.
Whether or not the media realizes it, Kerry's aura of invincibility has been punctured. If Edwards has time to penetrate it further, the voters might just see that in Kerry there is just no "there" there.
But I expect Kerry to avoid confrontation with Edwards like the plague -- a wise choice on his part -- which will require continued dissembling by Kerry, such as his recent insistence that his position and Edwards' on NAFTA were identical, though Kerry voted for and Edwards against. Yet Kerry just scored a big labor endorsement. Go figure.
The next few weeks should be interesting.
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