Thursday, February 15, 2007

"Richardson Slowly Moving Up?"

Chris Bowers:
Over the past two weeks, I have a number of indications that Bill Richardson might be slowly migrating out of the so-called "second tier."
First, the long-term trends on the Dailykos straw poll show Richardson, slowly, but consistently, rising since last May. He has risen in four consecutive straw polls, a feat no other candidate has been able to match. In the most recent straw poll he actually rose from 5% to 7%, despite "other" and "no clue" being introduced as options (he actually had 6.79%, but the poll always rounds down). When rounding is taken into account, every other candidate either stayed the same from the January poll, or dropped in overall percentage. Additionally, and for whatever it might be worth, he wins every single Pajamas Media poll for Democratic candidates. He also is in a clear second place among 2008 candidates when it comes to Act Blue fundraising, so far pulling in $285K. While these are not yet numbers to cause your eyes to boggle, Richardson appears to be steadily gaining a decent netroots following.

Signs of slow Richardson growth are also coming from more traditional areas. National Journal, the ultimate insider magazine, took a poll of insiders where Richardson was the clear choice as the "long-shot" candidate most likely to emerge as a serious contender. Noting that his DNC winter meeting speech was "well-received," Hotline on Call also had him moving into fourth place in their latest 2008 rankings, behind only Clinton, Obama and Edwards. In the latest Gallup national trial heat, Richardson also scored 4%, while every other "second tier" candidate pulled in either 1% or 0%. Much like the Dailykos straw poll, Richardson has risen slowly, but consistently, over their last four surveys.

While this could all merely be a coincidence, the slow Richardson rise has the makings of a real trend. It is happening among insiders and outsiders, among the establishment and the netroots, in real polls and straw polls / online rankings. In a way, it all makes sense, since Richardson has numerous potential "niches" he can fill in order to slowly move his candidacy into the top tier. He is the only westerner in the race. He is one of only two governors in the race. He is the only Latino in the race. He has the longest resume in the race. He also seems to be well liked by libertarians, as I have suggested in the past and as the Pajamas media poll also suggests (consider that Ron Paul is the clear Republican winner in those polls, and you get a sense of the libertarian audience doing the voting). All of these potential niches could allow his campaign to slowly move upward. If they eventually result in him reaching double-digits, quite a bit of money and media attention will follow the resulting sense of viability.

As a final note, before it was stuffed into oblivion today, it should be pointed out that Richardson was only about 2% behind Wesley Clark in the MyDD straw poll. In fact, since that poll was IRV style, as the rounds went on, Richardson actually edged Clark for third place overall. Further, when I conducted a deeper analysis of a MyDD straw poll last year, among current candidates Richardson actually had the fewest last place votes. He might not be the top choice of too many people right now, but no one seems to dislike him. With a very long primary season ahead of us, and the possibility of burn-out taking place when it comes to the virtually over-exposed "top-tier," having no one dislike you could be an important way to start building support.
Who knows--in a few months, Richardson could very well emerge as a fresh faced, new top tier contender. I am not saying it will definitely happen, but the possibility certainly seems to be there.

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