The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

It's appropriate that Chris Dodd would accept the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with the following accolade from Harold Schaitberger, IAFF president:

The man we trust to keep our country safe and our families secure.

If we've learned anything from events such as Hurricane Katrina, the recent mining tragedies, the collapse of the bridge in Minneapolis and the recall of toys and food made in China and even the administration's curbing of our constitutional rights, it's that protecting Americans goes above and beyond issues related to terrorism. And Chris Dodd, over the course of his campaign, has slowly but surely made the case that he is able and willing to be our fiercest protector on matters both big (the Habeus Corpus Restoration Act and The Gulf Coast Recovery Act of 2007) and small (his strong defense of dailyKos against the attacks of Bill O'Reilly.) In fact it was this very quality that Schaitberger cited time and again in his endorsement of Dodd today. Watch it:

So will this endorsement be a game changer for Dodd as Tim Tagaris argues over at Open Left? Well, it certainly was for John Kerry four years ago, as Chase Martyn at Iowa Independent describes it:

The IAFF's endorsement is highly coveted because of the influence it had in the 2004 presidential race.  In September 2003 when the IAFF endorsed Sen. John Kerry, that candidate's Iowa poll numbers hovered around the low teens.  After Kerry went on to win the 2004 Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary, columnists and pundits credited the IAFF's endorsement, which was Kerry's largest endorsement before he won Iowa, with much of the Massachusetts senator's success.

Now, certainly Dodd has a steeper hill to climb but if anything has the potential to put Dodd on the map in the early states and really build momentum for his campaign, this is it. For this endorsement isn't just a one day deal, as today's announcement by the international association will be followed by several endorsements by the state associations.  Check out Dodd's schedule over the coming days:

   * Upcoming Events
    * Aug 29th - IAFF Official Endorsement Announcement
    * Aug 30th - Iowa City IAFF Endorsement Rally
    * Aug 30th - Des Moines IAFF Endorsement Rally
    * Aug 30th - Council Bluffs IAFF Endorsement Rally
    * Aug 31st - Manchester IAFF Endorsement Rally
    * Sept 1st - Reno IAFF Endorsement Rally
    * Sept 1st - Las Vegas IAFF Endorsement Rally

And even then, the work on behalf of Dodd in these states will have only just begun. From The AP:

"The firefighters, they work," said Kathy Sullivan, former state Democratic chairwoman in New Hampshire. "I remember they did the series of firehouse dinners and had people come out and see John Kerry. Their membership does phone calls, does mailings. They actually do work to get their candidates elected. My theory on the importance of endorsements is, they're only as good as how hard they will work."

At the very least, today's endorsement gave Dodd the most and best press he has gotten to date (see the pieces by the AP, Bloomberg and Reuters,) even setting in motion a new "will lightning strike twice?" narrative, the answer to which we will all be anxious to discover over the coming weeks and months.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Chris Dodd, IAFF (all tags)

Comments

32 Comments

The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

2008 is not 2004.

In 2004, a relatively unknown and uninspiring New England Senator parlayed an endorsement into the nomination against an exceptionally weak field of candidates.

This year's field is so strong that I don't see lightning striking twice for another relatively unknown and uninspiring New England Senator.

The main impact of this endorsement is that it probably keeps Dodd hanging on until the Iowa caucuses where he and Schaitberger will have some leverage in deciding where to send Dodd's caucus delegates in precincts where he fails to achieve the necessary 15% viability (probably all of the precints).

Conventional wisdom has it that the longer a large field dilutes the votes in the process, the better for Senator Clinton as it prevents support from coalescing around one anybody-but-Hillary challenger. I don't know if CW is correct in that assessment or not.

by hwc 2007-08-29 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's

Gephardt was considered quite formidable in Iowa.

Your analysis is lacking imo.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-08-29 04:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's

Again, I mean no disrespect at all to the glorious old warhorses of the Democratic Party. But, Gephardt, Dodd, and Biden have all been grabbing at the brass ring for decades. All whispered about as "contendas" in their youth, all failing to get any traction as Presidential cycles have come and gone.

Maybe in Iowa, but nationally Gephardt was a big yawn in 2004.

Dodd's been around since he and his buddy Ted were infamous sewing their wild oats around the Georgetown bar scene as young lawmakers. If the American people were interested in electing Chris Dodd President, they've had ample opportunity to do so before now.

These are all great career Senators looking for one last shot of glory on the campaign trail. More power to the. But, they aren't going to impact the race with a field this strong.

by hwc 2007-08-29 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's

Actually, this would be the first opportunity Democrats will have to vote for Chris Dodd for President.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-08-29 04:14PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's

Not for lack of interest on Dodd's part. If he had been able to generate the fundraising for a run, he would have done so.

This time around, he was able to use his Senate seniority to get the insurance industry to fund what is basically a vanity campaign.

by hwc 2007-08-29 04:23PM | 0 recs
with all due respect to Chase Martyn

whom I like, he overstates the impact of the IAFF endorsement on Kerry's campaign in Iowa. I remember the firefighters' signs at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, but what saved Kerry's ass in Iowa was the organization his campaign put together in the summer and fall of 2003.

If he hadn't had that advantage going into the final month, Edwards probably would have edged him out.

I don't think the firefighters had much to do with the swing in momentum to Kerry.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-29 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: with all due respect to Chase Martyn

Desmoinesdem,

I don't mean to say that the Firefighters were Kerry's only volunteers, or that Kerry did not have field staff.  But the Firefighters played an important part in the organization that developed over Summer and Fall 2003 that led Kerry to his caucus victory.  IAFF was Kerry's big labor endorsement, in a field where Dean's labor support ended up failing on him.

But the signs at the JJ dinner, which were also at every Kerry appearance I went to that fall, were as useful for optics as the boots on the ground were for organization.  And during the 2004 election cycle, when terrorism and 9/11 were on everyone's minds, everyone had an enormous amount of respect for firefighters.  I don't think that much of that respect has faded since then.  There may be only one firefighter in the average precinct in Iowa, if that, but you've got to believe that everyone else in the precinct house will listen to what (s)he has to say before making up their minds.

by chase martyn 2007-08-30 08:57PM | 0 recs
as for "sending" candidates' supporters

Dodd supporters are unlikely to take their marching orders from some campaign operative they've never heard of.

Kucinich did "send" his supporters to Edwards on the day of the 2004 caucus, and most did that, but I know of several Kucinich supporters who ended up in the Dean camp on second preference, and one who went to Kerry.

I don't know enough Dodd supporters in Iowa to have any clue about who would be their most likely second choices.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-29 04:29PM | 0 recs
as for "sending" candidates' supporters

Well, based on polling, Dodd doesn't really have any supporters, so it would be tough to guage where they might go. However, Dodd, Biden, and Clinton all seem to appeal to the same base: traditional mainstream Democratic Party constituencies. None are youth oriented movement candidates like Obama. None are really fringe lefty candidates like Kucinich or Edwards (Ver. 2.0).

My sense is that Dodd, Biden, and Clinton have been running a tag-team operation since the beginning of the race. Dodd and Biden were positioned to go for the traditional mainstream base if Clinton's campaign faltered early. Obama's trying the Howard Dean thing. Edwards, somewhat improbably, has ended up being a more credible Dennis Kucinich -- probably out of necessity more than anything else.

by hwc 2007-08-29 04:48PM | 0 recs
Disagree

Dodd, Biden, and Clinton all seem to appeal to the same base: traditional mainstream Democratic Party constituencies.

Not at all, imho.

The people excited by Dodd (and there are a growing number) on Blue Hampshire, e.g., are, despite a broad age range, connected by an enthusiasm for progressive issues and a desire to restore the constitution. They are also folks who are not excited by either Clinton or Biden.

by Dean Barker 2007-08-29 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement
HWC:
I don't know about that.  I think the closer the primaries come, people will start gathering around the anti-Hillary candidate  I look back a few months ago at the Philadelphia mayor's race.  For most of the race, Chaka Fattah or Tom Know was winning.  In the end, Michael Nutter won going away.  Nutter wasn't even given a chance for most of the race.  Chris Bowers has a lot more of the details.
by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-08-29 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

Hillary has 80-85% favorables among Dems.  The idea of a substantial "anti-Hillary" vote is wishful thinking at best.

by Steve M 2007-08-29 05:18PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

What a limited understanding you have.

Maybe you are fixated on the word "anti-".

By "anti-" we mean, NOT SUPPORTING.

If she has 40% in a poll, that's still 60% "NOT SUPPORTING" her.

If she has 30%, that's still 70% not supporting her.  It doesn't matter what her favorability rating is among Democrats.

The general election has a much larger group of "anti-Hillary" voters.

by OE 2007-08-29 06:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

I'm pretty sure you're the one who doesn't understand.

If most Democrats have nothing against Hillary, but merely happen to support a different candidate, why would they "gather around the anti-Hillary candidate"?

According to the actual numbers, the most popular second choice among non-Hillary supporters is... Hillary.

So as the field consolidates, why would anyone expect people to "gather around the anti-Hillary candidate"?  Maybe your non-limited understanding can explain it to me.

by Steve M 2007-08-29 06:09PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

How well do you trust polls?  Why, on DKos straw polls, has Hillary only topped 10% once?  Why, in a few polls I saw, would Gore jump to the top if he entered?  While I believe 90% of Democrats would vote for her in the GE, if she was the nominee, there are still plenty of people that prefer Edwards, Obama or someone else in the primary.  For all her inevitability, she's remained right around 40% for a long time.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-08-29 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

I don't see that as responsive to anything I said.

There are lots of people who prefer a candidate other than Hillary.  But the fact that so many of them name Hillary as their second choice suggests that they are not anti-Hillary, but simply pro-Obama or pro-Edwards or pro-whoever.

You're not the first person I've seen suggest that the people who currently support a candidate other than Hillary will coalesce around whoever the anti-Hillary candidate turns out to be.  But there's simply no evidentiary basis for that belief.  If a candidate drops out, a large percentage of their supporters will go to Hillary.

I just think it's crazy to believe that when 80-85% of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Hillary, there's going to be any sort of movement to unite behind an "anti-Hillary" candidate.  If someone beats Hillary in this primary, it will be because more people liked that person, not because they all hated Hillary.  And I think that's a positive for our party.

by Steve M 2007-08-29 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

If someone beats Hillary in this primary, it will be because more people liked that person, not because they all hated Hillary.  And I think that's a positive for our party.

Bingo.

That's the great thing about having six strong candidates in the field. The second tier candidates in the Democratic race this year would be contenders in most election cycles.

by hwc 2007-08-29 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

The democratic race is actually alot more wide open than previously thought.

Let's remember that minorities (blacks), unmarried women, college kids, and all low income individuals vote in small numbers compared to everybody else.

When people actually vote everybody will be shocked how well Edwards performs in the Caucus.

by Djneedle83 2007-08-29 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

I hope my guy (Dodd) captures lightning in a bottle and his chance for doing so clearly increased, but personally, objectively, I still believe John Edwards has an excellent chance of winning in Iowa.

I am still stumped by the notion of what the Obasma path to the nomination is if he does not win in Iowa.

Dodd still needs a lightning strike  as Beeton correctly writes, but the chances of that imporved.

Obama clearly still has a better chance than my guy, but less so than a day ago.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-08-29 04:17PM | 0 recs
Obama's path

Obviously the best path for him would be to win Iowa.

An alternative path would be for him to come in second to Edwards in Iowa, with Hillary a distant third. For this to work, Obama might have to narrow the gap in NH before Iowa.

I think that Obama's post-partisan rhetoric is not going to carry him to victory in Iowa. I do not count him out, but I don't think that's what a plurality of Iowa Democrats are looking for in a candidate.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-29 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's path

I think Obama's decision to chicken out of the major Iowa candidate forums (Lance Armstrong cancer forum and AARP forum) will kill him in Iowa. Health care and seniors economics issues are major, major issues for Democratic primary voters.

You know much better than I do, but I also get the sense that Iowa voters expect the candidates to work for their support.

by hwc 2007-08-29 04:36PM | 0 recs
don't know about the cancer forum

but I agree that skipping the AARP forum would be a big mistake for Obama. In fact, I put up a diary on that last week:
http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/8/24/2215 6/0859

My money's on Obama changing his mind and showing up for that AARP forum. It's not just the live audience in Davenport, it's also the public television viewers who will see the broadcast (I think that includes a lot of elderly people).

Speaking of Davenport, I am going to be very curious to see where the Quad City voters go this time. Kerry did very well there--it probably helped that he is Catholic and that he got the local newspaper endorsement.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-29 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: don't know about the cancer forum

I think I read that the cancer forum had a live audience of 2000 people. That's a lot of voters in a caucus that attracts 125,000. Especially on an issue (health care) that is probably second only to Iraq among Iowa Democrats. As near as I can tell, Clinton and Edwards made serious substantive comments at the forum -- the kind of stuff that plays well in Iowa and New Hampshire where voters fancy themselves as product testers for candidate issues.

by hwc 2007-08-29 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's path

I honestly doubt it will make any sort of difference. He will have no problem getting his message out to the people.

by Max Fletcher 2007-08-29 10:08PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

I haven't seen any numbers, but I suspect that women probably make up 60% of the Democratic primary voters nationally.

The Democratic Party base is a collection of special interest groups. Minorities, unions, gays, environmentalists, seniors, Jewish, etc. You really have to look at the Democratic nomination race in terms of which candidates are best postioned to appeal the largest number of interest groups. The really good Democratic politicians understand those dynamics.

by hwc 2007-08-29 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

Hillary is strong across the board, with men and women, moderates and even some strength among liberals.  There is little acrimony towards her among mainstream Democrats.  If someone were to beat her, it would be in spite of her favorables, not due to a lack of them.

by Todd Bennett 2007-08-29 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

God, I'm sick of this crap.

I was hoping that Dodd and Biden would be dropping out by now so that we could get some better debates, not being endorsed by the IAFF and Jack Carter.

Why is no one in the media describing this endorsement as a KNOCK against Hillary Clinton, since she's from NY?

Every time you turn around Matthews is talking about how the Firefighters hate Giuliani.  No one is discussing anything about Dodd v Giuliani, so for the firefighters to endorse a relative non-player like Dodd is surprising.

At this point, it essentially negates their impact on the race.  No one wants to talk to them now.  Giuliani is the frontrunner on the GOP side according to the media.  Dodd isn't anywhere near there, so basically the whole "Giuliani v. Firefighters" storyline basically goes away now.

Was this a cop-out by the firefighters, or the ultimate sign of principle?

They don't stand to benefit at all from this.  That makes it a win for Hillary Clinton.  If Edwards had received this endorsement.  He'd all of a sudden be on the other side of Giuliani.

With Dodd, they don't get anything.

by OE 2007-08-29 05:57PM | 0 recs
I respect this endorsement

Dodd has a history of supporting them going back several decades. I think the endorsement is appropriate, although of course I would have loved for Edwards to get it.

It makes me mad when unions and interest groups endorse based on some grand political strategy. If there is more than one candidate in the race acceptable to them, they should either not endorse or they should endorse the candidate who has been there for them the most.

by desmoinesdem 2007-08-29 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

Hey this is a democracy, and Senator Dodd has made himslef available to serve us.  So respect that please.  He may be a player, but he is for sure a man that has carried some progressive water in the Senate so hear him out.  By the way, what polling evidence are you looking at that suggests Edwards is some heavyweight in this race?  I am not sure he even outdistances Richardson by much, so please, off the high horse on Edwards.

by Todd Bennett 2007-08-29 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

Previous comment to OE.

by Todd Bennett 2007-08-29 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact

I am sick of nonthinking idiots who can not wait for the fucking voters to vote.

by Big Tent Democrat 2007-08-29 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: The Impact of Chris Dodd's IAFF Endorsement

Just to reiterate what some previous folks said, it would be a huge overstatement to say the IAFF won the IA Caucus for Kerry.  No disrespect to Chris Dodd, but this won't be nearly enough to get him out the low single digits.  

by madorskytapir 2007-08-30 04:50AM | 0 recs

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