The media are trying hard to avoid mentioning it, but my buddy Dennis had a good weekend, with third place finishes in Washington and Maine, ahead of Clark and Edwards, who get far more press attention. Maine was the first state where he broke into double-digit percentage, with 15%. Optimistic supporters are pointing to the steady upward trend: 1% to 4% to 8% to 15%. It’s an encouraging thought, but I honestly don’t expect to see another increase in Tennesee and Virginia on Tuesday.
I think that one reason for the strong showing in Maine and Washington is that both states had caucuses. I’m ambivalent about the caucus process; I think it has advantages and disadvantages. But I think it definitely tends to draw out voters who are more devoted to their cause, and put more thought into their decision, which naturally favors a superior candidate like Dennis.
Next week in Wisconsin could be interesting. I think the state that gave us Paul Wellstone would be a friendly environment for Dennis, who is far more similar to Wellstone than any of the other candidates. If Dennis manages to pull off another strong showing there, and Dean keeps his promise to drop out if he doesn’t win it (although he seems to be waffling on that), it could change the dynamics of the race in an interesting way.
On the local front, I joined a devoted group of fools on Saturday for a local contribution to the nationwide Banner Day campaign. I’m not sure how much consciousness we raised; we got lots of horn-blowing, waves, peace signs, thumbs up, thumbs down, and middle finger salutes. The banner idea probably made more sense to the folks who dreamed it up in warm sunny California than to us in sub-freezing 30 mph winds, worrying about the negative publicity for the campaign if we got blown over the railing into Interstate traffic.