I have posted on occasion about the upcoming political race, although it is only now heating up enough to be worth a lot of attention. The big question looks to be Iowa. If Dean wins there, the nomination process can be all but closed, and we can proceed to the general election. If he loses, it's still an open game.

FundRace--which I've tended to follow instead of polling data--suggests that the race is very tight between Dean and Gephardt. Gephardt is interesting because he's run to the left of Dean on everything except the war. Dean's claims to being a member of the "Democratic wing" notwithstanding, the Gephardt attack site makes only liberal criticisms of Dean's policies, excepting Dean's desire to cut national defense funding. It speaks volumes that Dean and the fellow to his left are leading the pack in Iowa.

All of that makes Dean's latest ploy curious to me. A lot has been said about Dean's "grassroots army," although it is in fact substantially smaller than GWB's. Nevertheless, it's larger than the ones fielded by other Democratic candidates. Dean has enlisted them, I see, to write letters to the citizens of rural Iowa. These letters are supposed to "to make sure everyone in the state has heard about Howard Dean's positive vision for America." (One wonders if the letters mention that job #1 in the "positive vision" is raising taxes.)

Now, here's the part I'm curious about. Most of these letters--you can see by following the link above--are coming from California, New York, or Massachusetts. Coming from rural America myself, I can tell you exactly how such a letter would be received in my home. "Hello! I'm from New York, and I'd like to tell you how I think you should vote." Sorry, pal. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I would have expected Iowa to feel the same way, but given the fundraising, maybe they don't.

Or maybe they do. Check the fundraising by county, and you can see that both candidates have gotten nearly all their money from less than a third of the counties in the state. Meanwhile, checking the fundraising by-state, for all candidates, we see that Iowa trends slightly Republican. If the two candidates of the left-left are leading the Democratic fundraising, but the majority of the money is going to Bush, one suspects a lot of those letters are being written in vain.

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