>Howard Dean for President? A virtual shoo-in

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Howard Dean in the White House? In your dreams… but also in the latest session of that political anorak’s equivalent to computer solitaire, President Forever.

And a surprisingly easy victory over George W Bush it proved too. The more liberal Dean starts at a disadvantage compared to Kerry (running as Vice President in this scenario), but still has to target and win essentially the same states. This I duly did with a mix of advertising – moving away from the war onto domestic policy themes, which had more impact in battleground states – and building up a party machine in key states, which I guess the real Dean did in an innovative way via the internet – the dynamics of which are interestingly analyzed by inter-alia by Michael Goldfarb in the Power of Small Things.

In the fantasy election of 2004, Dean won key industrial states in the East and mid-West and the West Coast and nabbed a couple of Southern states, where Bush was weakening (Arizona, New Mexico) to come in with a comfortable if not huge majority of electoral college votes with state-by-state voting pretty polarized and few close results.

Perhaps it is not that unrealistic. Bush appears to have won in 2004 by mobilizing his base, rather than reaching out to the uncommitted, so could the Democrats have done the same?. Even allowing for the gaffes like the I Have a Scream speech, Dean does not seem to rank as a worse or less charismatic performer than Bush or the wooden Kerry. So the moderate instincts of Democratic primary voters seeking a military man/veteran capable of winning the centre ground might not have been well placed. On the other hand, Bush started out as a ‘war-time’ incumbent with a greater level of support than any Democratic challenger, so this may not have been a very viable strategy for the Democrats

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