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Howard Dean’s presidential campaign is doing well. He’s beating fellow Democrat John Kerry in recent polls taken in New Hampshire, according to the NYTimes.
This a front page story and it’s more proof of the NYPost’s Deb Orin’s observation last week that California is keeping the national political focus on Dean.
But there’s more to it than that. Dean and Total Recall are both bringing new voters to the political process. That’s bad, very bad, for professional politicians like John Kerry and Gray Davis. Their carefully pitched, carefully calculated message machines aren’t working as well as they once did. Partly, this is the Internet, on which the Dean campaign — much to the amazement of most political hacks — relies so successfully.
But Arnold Schwarzenegger’s not an Internet candidate like Dean. He’s a movie star who has more in common, politically, with Jesse Ventura than Ronald Reagan. A.S. and Dean are the candidates for people who have become apolitical, not because they don’t care, but because they don’t like the way politics is practiced. They’re tired of the nudge-nudge wink-wink between the parties, between elected officials and their donors, between the press and the candidates. They want change. Lots of it.
One of the more startling side effects of the recall is that people are now talking about California’s budget and tax woes with something that sounds like genuine interest. The rest of the country may laugh but, in California, more people are registering to vote, more people are talking about how they’re going to vote, and more people are going to vote in this short 8-week campaign with its shopping list of candidates than they did in the regularly scheduled gubenetorial election last year. It all adds up to one confusing mess. Which has anyone with anything like a professional interest in politics scratching their head, worried they’re missing something.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 4:38 PM | Permalink

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