Howard Dean was at the top of the polls in Iowa leading up to the 2004 Iowa Caucuses. Richard Gephardt was polling well, but trending down. Gephardt had placed all his bets on Iowa and had to find a way to win. So Gephardt started running ads going after Dean. Dean countered back with ads attacking Gephardt.
While Gephardt's and Dean's ads turned Iowans off from their campaigns, John Kerry and John Edwards kept focusing on the issues and organizing. The night of the caucuses saw Kerry and Edwards come out on top with Dean and Gephardt coming in 3rd and 4th. Iowa was witness of a murder-suicide of the Dean and Gephardt campaigns.
After this week's spat between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I can see this scenario happening again. It is important for Clinton and Obama to finish ahead of the other one in Iowa. As the Iowa caucuses approach, whoever is behind is likely to air ads attacking the other. There is a good chance Clinton and Obama will do exactly what Dean and Gephardt did and we will see yet another murder-suicide scenario.
So with Obama and Clinton mainly focusing on beating each other and seemingly willing to do whatever it takes to do so, there is an opening for other candidates to have big victories in Iowa.
Originally posted at Century of the Common Iowan.
It was brought to my attention that David Yepsen had a post yesterday that had basically the same connection to the Dean-Gephardt attack ads back in 2004. I had not read his post nor had heard about before posting mine. I got the idea from reading Joe Trippi's book, The Revolution Will Not be Televised about the Dean campaign last week.