Momentum is on Joe's Side
My apologies for having to wait until the end of the day to write this second Biden post. Summer term finals are upon us here at Dartmouth College, so you can imagine I've been otherwise occupied. (Yes, my apartment is about five blocks from where Edwards spoke this morning; no, I was unable to make the speech.)
Last week, my post focused on why I'm backing Senator Biden. This week, I'd like to turn my attention to the momentum Biden has been getting lately. A great many New Hampshire activists and voters have told me they would support Biden if only they thought he could win--so many, in fact, that I am convinced if all of them already supported him, he'd be in the top tier today. This is my message to those voters: Not only can Biden win, the August momentum is on his side!
The big news is that the Biden campaign has finally begun airing ads in Iowa. This first one is called "Cathedral", and the second "Security." Take 90 seconds and give `em a look:
I'm really excited to see these ads up, and hope to see them here in New Hampshire soon. When Richardson went up his resume ads, he shot from obscurity to double digit polling numbers. Dodd's ads, on the other hand, did him no good: he still lingers behind Kucinich in most polls. I heard someone--I think it was Chuck Todd or John Mercurio on HotlineTV, but it could easily have been some other pundit or blogger--suggested that Richardson's ads went somewhere because his campaign had a message and a central focus backing them, whereas Dodd's ads had nothing behind them. If you sit through an entire speech and Q&A with Dodd, as I have done twice, you get a sense of what he stands for, but that doesn't come through in his overall campaign or in the debates. Ads will get voters to give you a second look, but you have to have something there for them to see when you do. (Please don't take this as an attack on Dodd; I like the guy, this is just how I view the Dodd campaign.)
If this is indeed the case, I think the Biden ads will make an impact in Iowa, as there is certainly a message and a focus to the campaign. Biden has a solid answer for any question you throw his way, but he is particularly strong on Iraq, so the campaign focuses on the fact that he is the only candidate with a detailed political solution for the conflict. Anyone who pays any attention to the campaign hears this message loud and clear, in part because Biden has received stellar reviews for all five of his debate performances. I personally think he won all five. Of the most recent debate, Chuck Todd said, "Biden seemed to have helped himself the most." CNN's John King, another avid campaign watcher, declared him the winner of the first debate. With this sort of message and substance, there's no way the new ads won't give Biden a boost.
The Iraq plan is also gaining momentum of its own. None other than Barack Obama has endorsed it, and CNN just ran this (admittedly goofy) report:
We can already see some of this predicted ad-boost coming via fundraising. Biden's low first and second quarter numbers may be the prime reason most folks haven't given him their second look yet, but I think you'll see things improve in the third quarter. To help keep the ad on the air, joebiden.com is pushing for $200,000, and had reached $100,225 as of 3:30 this afternoon. That kind of cash may represent little more than toilet paper to some campaigns, but it is the largest online push Biden has yet had, and so does represent momentum. It's also important to remember that the Senator was tied up in Foreign Relations hearings on Russia and Iraq during the last quarter (he is, after all, the Chairman), but now has the benefit of the August recess. As such, at the very least, I don't think you'll see the traditional drop-off in funds from the second to the third quarter, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. What's more, Dennis Toner will be helping beef up the campaign's financial unit, which can only represent more good news. True, the campaign will never have an Obama-style $30 million quarter, but it doesn't need to. As I have previously said, "You can only buy so much airtime, and you can only put up so many banners. It will likely take the Biden campaign about $25 million to be competitive." Anything more than that is only for impressing reporters.
I want to end on a note about endorsements, another key indicator of momentum. I have been told by campaign sources (as in, I don't have a link for this) that Biden has more endorsements from the Iowa state legislature than any other candidate. Just this Tuesday, the campaign announced three more important New Hampshire endorsements, including the state's newest State Representative, Jim Webber, elected just last month in a special election. Green joins seven other key State Representatives in endorsing Biden, including the Chairman of the Committee to Elect House Democrats, the Assistant Majority Leader, and a Manchester Fire Commissioner. Biden's also got the enthusiastic backing of a former Mayor of Portsmouth and a former NH Police Association president.
I admit, ads, cash, and endorsements don't equal votes, but they do get you attention, and when you have a message like Biden's, attention will get you votes. I won't follow in Lieberman's footsteps (yuck) and call it "Joe-mentum," but there's no denying that Biden's got it. If his MSM-designated second tier status is the only thing holding you back from supporting him, hold back no more, and remember--in December 2003, a month before Iowa and New Hampshire, John Kerry was polling at a stratospheric... 3%.