Early on, I thought Lieberman would get the nomination, mainly owing to the name recognition from his run as Veep with Gore.
Now, I see in the polls he has taken a significant dive (from 21% to 13%).
Kerry has gained 1 percentage point, but because of Lieberman's losses, this puts Kerry at the top of the pack by 1%.
Sharpton has surprised me-- #4, behind Kerry, Lieberman and Gephardt.
Of course, this can all change in a moment.
I still think Lieberman will win the nomination. But, I don't think what I consider to be the authentic Democrat party wants him. I think they prefer a more liberal candidate. I think the machine behind the nomination (both parties have them) will opt for the more electable candidate. Unless they can mold Kerry to fit the preferred profile.
At this stage of the game most of the electorate, even the primary electorate, is not paying much attention.
Right now poll numbers signify name recognition more than anything else (hence Lieberman's initial numbers).
I don't think Leiberman has much chance to win the nomination however. He is too much of a supporter of business interests (notably the accounting industry) and too far to the right to be palatable to the democratic base.
He is also (in my opinion) a lackluster campaigner with very little charisma). Understandably he will be a source of pride to Jewish Americans, as Michael Dukakis was with Greek Americans, but that's not enough to get elected.
Sharpton of course has high name-recognition in the African-American community. Although he is perceived by many, if not most, whites as a demogogue, the African-American community tends to see him as an advocate for their issues, which is why his numbers should not be a surprise.
Gephart has a following particularly with blue collar Americans and (one would suppose) with some mid-westerners. He has a long record of being one of organized labor's most faithful friends in the Congress. Still, Gephardt, like Lieberman has not demonstrated an ability to inspire enthusiasm broadly in the Democratic party or among independents.
Kerry has a lot going for him. He presents himself as strong and articulate. he is a war hero. He is acceptable to a wide range of democrats, and he has (potentially at least) the vast financial resources of his wife. He presumably would not be too popular with conservative white southern Democrats. The conventional wisdom is that he would have to have a strong southern running mate (like Edwards or Graham)
Howard Dean is a long shot of course. However, Jimmy Carter was also also a long shot until he won a couple of primaries. Dean is well liked in New England. He could potentially hurt Kerry who will be pressured by the expectation game...ie. Kerry will be virtually EXPECTED to win the New Hampshire primary. If Dean wins or comes in a close second he will get a big boost. whether or not he could build on that would be the sixty four dollar question. If he had enough campaign funds to advertise and run aggressive campaigns in the succeeding primaries he might then make it very interesting.
Edward's poll numbers are low right now because the vast majority of Americans don't have a clue as to who he is. (same with Dean)
From what I have heard however, Edwards is an excellent, articulate, attractive campaigner. I think the repubs expect the nominee to be either Kerry or Edwards and so you can bet that the republican 'opposition research' folks are trying to dig up anything that they can use against him.
Carol Mosely-Braun is an interesting figure. She is not going to be nominated by the democrats to oppose Bush but she is likely to draw
strong African-American support. How much white support is unclear but it is probably safe to say that she'll be in the second tier of candidates with the overall electorate. Al Sharpton cannot be happy that she's running. If he had hopes of drawing large numbers of African-American votes and then becoming a power broker in the party a la Jesse Jackson, she makes it more difficult. As a matter of fact conspiracy theorists might even theorize that Mosely-Braun was induced to run for just that reason!