In today's WaPo, E.J. Dionne states, "The conventional wisdom, fed by shrewd Republican operatives and commentators, is that Democrats, so out there in their antipathy for Bush, will push their party into an extremist wonderland and lose white men, security moms and anybody else who does not share their desire for revenge. The opposite is true. Democrats will not have to spend inordinate amounts of time or money in this election year "uniting their base." Opposition to Bush has already done that. . . . This time the Democrats will have most of the election year to appeal to swing voters. Democrats are so hungry to beat Bush that they will let their nominee do just about anything, even be pragmatic and shrewd."
I'm not so sure. According to the most recent WaPo poll, in a race between Bush and a generic Democrat, the Democrat gets the support of 77% of self-identified Democrats. That's pretty good, but nothing like the 91% support Bush gets from self-identified Republicans.
In a match-up between Dean and Bush, Dean gets the votes of 70% of Democrats, while Bush gets the votes of 93% of Republicans.
To me, that sounds like the Republicans have done a better job of lining up their partisans than have the Democrats and thus will have an easier time during the campaign of appealing to swing voters, especially if Dean in the Democratic nominee.