period comprises the two year span from the last presidential election
to the mid-term congressional elections. In general, one can discern
two groups of presidential prospects: the active pre-candidates
and the coy and noncommittal.
A second group of pre-candidates are more noncommittal, stating that they want to "keep the door open" or are "too busy to think about it now." Some of these individuals are genuinely undecided about a run, wanting to see the shape of the political landscape after the 2002 midterm elections. Likewise, for potential presidential candidates who face re-election in 2002, it would not be prudent to start aggressively chasing a presidential dream and put their current positions at risk. Other prospects may be considering a run but not want to get in "campaign mode" two or three years out from an election. Some on the speculation list probably do not even have presidential ambitions, but may enjoy and encourage the talk because it bolsters marketability and media coverage. Finally, there is also a B-list. A number of officials and others are engaged in early jockeying to be considered for the vice-presidential nod.
Reaching a Decision
Each potential candidate needs to determine if he, or she, has the requisite fire in the belly to pursue a presidential race, can raise enough funds to put forth a credible effort, and can win, or at least shape the debate. The pre-campaign period provides a time to make that determination.
Aside from a few thousand party activists and pundits around the country are who are paying close attention, most Americans, facing more immediate concerns, pay little heed during the pre-campaign period. Likewise, while news organizations may occasionally run stories that have a 2004 presidential campaign angle or a paragraph here and there on presidential race implications or even just use of the "likely presidential candidate" label, the glare of the media spotlight is elsewhere.
The lack of attention to
a race that is still one or two years away is probably a healthy sign.
At such an early stage of the process the waters are murky and confused,
like a pond with koi flashing about. Careful study can provide some
insights, but there are a lot of meaningless polls and speculation and
the "big fish" may be hard to spot.
|...TheFlorida Democratic Party's 2002 Democratic State Conference, held April 12-14, 2002 in Orlando, attracted former Vice President Al Gore and Sens. John Edwards (NC), John Kerry (MA) and Joe Lieberman (CT), as well as Sen. Chris Dodd (CT).|
Visits to Iowa and New Hampshire
Visits to Other States: Cattle Call Watch
Raising Money and Supporting Democratic Candidates and Causes
Copyright © 2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.