Demo Derby
updated 1/20/2004 4:20:57 PM ET 2004-01-20T21:20:57

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry takes the lead in the first post-Iowa edition of Demo Derby, based on his triumph in the Iowa caucuses.

Kerry seemed to be faltering just a few weeks ago but his Senate experience, his improved performance as a stump speaker, and the crowd-igniting help of Sen. Ted Kennedy helped Kerry edge past the surprising North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in Iowa.

Based on his third-place performance in Iowa, Howard Dean now faces a must-win dilemma in New Hampshire next week.

In the past, adversity and news media criticism have always stoked Dean’s donors to give more money. Will his Iowa setback convince Dean donors to double-up their investment in him? As Republican pollster Whit Ayres points out, in 1988 the third-place finisher in Iowa went on to win the nomination.

And Dean declared in his concession speech Monday night in Iowa that he would not give up his fight for the nomination.

But that speech has some unsettling moments, giving an opening for Kerry to argue that steadiness is what voters want.

Wesley Clark, showing strength in New Hampshire, is about to endure the full brunt of competition from Kerry, Edwards and Dean. Clark has already been sparring with Sen. Joe Lieberman in New Hampshire. Both Lieberman and Clark decided to bypass Iowa to concentrate on the Granite State.

Laid low by his fourth-place finish in Iowa, Rep. Dick Gephardt will exit the race. Who will Gephardt’s allies, the Steelworkers, Machinists and Teamsters back now?

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