Kerry Edwards Surge In New Hampshire

Kerry, Edwards surge in New Hampshire; Health Care beats Iraq as Concern

Only 10 percent of the voters in New Hampshire think Iraq is the most pressing issue in the campaign. I was surprised to find that 22 percent put health care as an issue first, as opposed to 16 percent who focused on the economy.

The Washington Post reports of the voters in the New Hampshire primary, “Health care (22 percent) topped the list of issues considered critical by voters in a recent University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll, ahead of both the economy (16 percent) and the war in Iraq (10 percent).

It seems to me that what is really important in the recent poll figures on the New Hampshire primary is not the absolute numbers or the relative placing, but the graph of movement. I find the tracking numbers at zogby.com over the past week telling. Kerry went from 23% a week ago to 31% on Monday. That’s an enormous surge, with him ending at 130 percent of where he began. Unsurprisingly, Kerry’s Web Page has a section on health care entitled “Affordable Health Care for Every American.” Health care is an area where the ‘free market’ is clearly not working, but is rather producing 22% inflation that is extremely worrisome to employers and employees. And, of course, the tens of millions of Americans without health insurance of any sort are second class citizens facing penury or death if anything goes wrong. The problem is not, as Bush implies, malpractice suits which account for about 2% of the cost of health care. And, maybe this is an area where the electorate wants something done, and where a Massachusetts liberal can be trusted to do it.

Dean went from 25 to 28 in the same period. Good, but the rate of surge is far less.

Clark actually fell from 16 percent to 13 percent over the week, a bad sign for him. Edwards nearly doubled his numbers from 7 percent to 12 percent. If the Edwards surge continues on Tuesday, and the Clark decline steepens, Edwards could actually tie or beat Clark, setting up a very interesting race among two Southerners for South Carolina.

I saw Jerry Brown, former California governor and current mayor of Oakland on O’Reilly* when I was channel surfing, saying that it could be a 4-way race for a while. Brown may well be right about that.

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*P.c. readers should please not send me emails complaining about my watching O’Reilly. Life is hard and I have to get my laughs somehow.

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