Richardson Improving in Polls Making Possible Four Way Race

There’s more signs that there just might be a four way race after all for the Democratic nomination. After previous polls showed Richardson improving in Iowa and New Hampshire, the latest Strategic Vision polls show gains in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Richardson also came close to John Edwards in second quarter fund raising after a bad quarter in many respects for the Edwards campaign.

The first problem for Richardson is that at the moment it is increasingly looking like a two way race between Clinton and Obama, and while it is always possible for a front runner to fall, the chances of both doing so are much remoter. At present it appears that either Clinton will walk away with the nomination, or the anti-Clinton vote will unify behind Obama to stop her. If both the Clinton and Obama campaigns should fail, and assuming Al Gore remains out of the race, it then becomes murky as to whether Richardson or Edwards has a better shot.

Edwards is counting on a win in Iowa to allow him to repeat John Kerry’s path to victory from 2004. This might not be as straight forward as many believe. While a populst like Edwards would be expected to do well in Iowa, such candidates typically do more poorly in New Hampshire. Kerry had the advantage of winning in Iowa, which was not where he would be expected to be strong, and then being able to go on to New Hampshire which was an easy win for him once Dean’s campaign self-destructed.

It is not clear how well Richardson would do in New Hampshire, but he has a fighting chance if he can be seen as a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Democrat in the tradition of Paul Tsongas and John Kerry. A decent showing in Iowa could allow him to beat Edwards in New Hampshire, especially if Edwards has more quarters as poor as the last one was. Richardson remains a long shot, but he has gotten himself into the race, and can be encouraged by the success of other long shots such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

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