The Democratic hopefuls have provided social science entertainment over the last few months. What we've seen justifies the cliche -- it's a marathon, not a sprint. Had it been a sprint, Howard Dean would have the nomination in his grasp and John Kerry would be returning to his senatorial duties. But it is a marathon, each and every day, every public appearance, every step to a lecturn affecting public perception. As Paul McCartney once said, it's a long and winding road.
Here's my guess on how this shakes out: Kerry gets the nod to face off against President Bush. Dean breaks from his party and enters the race as an independent, much like Alabama governor George Wallace did 38 years ago.
In 1968, Wallace made a third-party bid for the presidency, garnering more than 13 percent of the vote and carrying five Southern states. The defection of southern Democrats helped sink the party's nominee, Hubert Humphrey, and made possible the election of Richard M. Nixon.
Kerry and the Democrats need to worry. Dean is going to diffuse the vote.
You think Dean's supporters are just going to walk away? Dean's campaign has made brilliant use of the Internet to drive awareness to its candidate. This grassroots effort has been one of passion, attracting A-list bloggers like David Weinberger and Doc Searls to build Dean's brand. Dean has a lot of wired support and is fully loaded with bits and bytes.
It's a three-man race for the presidency this fall - the incumbent, the vet and the doctor. And that's good news for George W.