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Russ Who? Clinton No Gore in Popularity, And Feingold Isn’t Either

In between cutesy phrases like “their belief that moderation is akin to treason” and references to “the far-left altar” and a “radically pro-legal record”, Conservative Townhall Columnist Kathryn Lopez predicts in her latest column that Russell Feingold will be the Democrats’ nominee in 2008. Lopez bases her prediction not on any actual measurable trends, but rather on a conversation with a Capitol Hill staffer:

Move over, Hillary: Russ Feingold is going to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2008.

For far too long the assumption has been that the former first lady would be the Dems’ obvious pick. The storyline had dynastic flair, plus the sexy-milestone first-woman-president aspect. It had the wronged-woman-coming-out-on-top Style-section and glossy-headline opportunities. The idea launched many a Clinton-hater (hey, nothing wrong with that, I’m a card-carrier) book. It was scary while it lasted. But the moment’s gone.

Enter Sen. Russell Feingold, three-term Democrat from Wisconsin….

Says my previously cited Hill guy, of Feingold: “He is Dean 2004 without the delicate psyche … Feingold, like Dean, was ‘antiwar before it was cool to be antiwar,’ as Dean once declared about himself. He’s got the anti-corporate credentials, the enviro-radicals, the pseudo-reformers, the Labor Luddites just sitting out there ripe for Feingold and the grassroots lasso he’s sure to throw.”

He continues: “The first sub-primary of the Democratic field will be the contest for title of ‘outsider’ or ‘maverick’ who will take on the Establishment. Feingold will be that guy. Dean self-destructed in 48 hours because he never built the bricks and mortar required in Iowa and New Hampshire, instead relying on buzz. If Feingold marshals the kooky Left the way I think he will, he will take the field by surprise.”

Don’t be surprised. You heard it here. Dems, save yourselves — and America.

Well, I don’t know: saving myself for marriage was hard enough. But the empirical question is out there. Is Kathryn Lopez’s supposition correct? Is Russ Feingold stirring up a fever for the flavor in the so-called netroots online? How about we re-join the reality-based community and actually look at data that might asses this question. We might look at online petitions, where those netrooty-toots Lopez speaks of elsewhere in her article try to build buzz for a candidate. If you click here to take a looking at the numbers from three of those online petition sites, you’ll see Russ Feingold actually tends to do worse than Hillary Clinton, but they’re clearly standing in the shadows of Al Gore, who has mustered signatures an order of magnitude higher than either Clinton or Feingold.

Looking at another indication of popularity among those online “kooky left” Democrats, we could refer back to our July 2006 sales data for Election 2008 bumper stickers, buttons and shirts:

Again, Al Gore swamps both Clinton and Feingold, with Barack Obama doing better, too. Kathryn Lopez’s supposition doesn’t seem to be so strongly supported. Although Russ Feingold is clearly a contender, he’s not hitting it out of the park.

Oh, but maybe things are changing, right? Maybe they’re trending toward Feingold since the election victory of Ned Lamont in Connecticut, or something like that. Well, let’s look at an update in the sticker, button and shirt sales for the first half of this month, August 1-15:

Al Gore: 40.5%
Hillary Clinton: 16.3%
Barack Obama: 7.6%
John Edwards: 6.7%
Bill Moyers: 6.0%
Russ Feingold: 5.2%
Janet Napolitano: 5.1%
John Kerry: 5.0%
Other: 7.7%

If we’re ignoring Al Gore, which is clearly a mistake, there’s a surge of support for Hillary Clinton this month (and, interestingly, John Edwards, who’s been visibly making the rounds in New Hampshire and Iowa and showing up on TV a fair bit too). Russ Feingold hangs behind Bill Moyers, who experienced an unsolicited, bright but brief surge of calls to run for president last month.

Where is the Feingold tsunami? I like a lot of his politics, but I just don’t see it.

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