Here’s the story I’d like to see someone write.
Who really has what level of organization in what state?
Monday night Eli Segal, Clark’s campaign chairman, told a group of us that Clark, unlike Kerry, had organizations and lots of support in the states that come right after New Hampshire. Is that true? Or, to put it a different way, does he have a lot more than Kerry? And how about Dean? He’s been pouring money into post-New Hampshire states for a while. Where is he in Arizona and the rest of those states? And how about Edwards, who’s always banked a lot on hitting his stride in the South?
One hears a lot of general comments about this stuff. But I haven’t seen any solid reported pieces in a while that bring it all together.
This becomes increasingly important because the candidate who comes out of New Hampshire strong may face others who’ve done a lot more work on the ground in those states than he has. If it’s Kerry, is Segal right? Will he lack money and organization on the ground to fight against what still might be a crowded field? Consider for instance that we could see Kerry winning but with Dean, Clark and Edwards all near him in vote totals.
Another issue here is money. Clearly Dean and Clark have the most on hand. But I’ve always thought that the Internet funding model which Dean spearheaded and Clark picked up, changes the dynamic in a fundamental way. In the past the problem was always that longshot candidates would do well in New Hampshire and come out of the state with tons of momentum. But they just didn’t have the time to translate newfound support into political giving and they got worn down over the following weeks by better funded and better organized candidates. That happened to Hart in 1984 and to an extent to McCain in 2000.
With Internet fund-raising I don’t think it works quite that way any more. I think it creates a much more frictionless universe of political giving where a big rush of support could be quickly harvested in the form of political cash.