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Overestimating Howard Dean

By Dave Menendez
Tuesday, February 3, 2004, at 11:06 PM

Summary: Clay Shirky’s Howard Dean post-mortem asks a valuable question: Why did we think his chances were so good in the first place?

Via Tim Oren, a long post-mortem on Howard Dean’s collapse by Clay Shirky at Many 2 Many. After seeing how so many people (including me) misjudged Mr Dean’s chances, I’ve been skeptical of articles explaining why he did so poorly, but Mr Shirky asks a slightly different question: Why did we think Mr Dean would do so much better than he did?

I won’t try to summarize, because it’s worth reading in full, but here’s a point I found interesting:

The size of the MeetUp in NYC was as much a testament to MeetUp as to Dean—it’s a wonderful tool for turning interest into attendance, but it created a false sense of broad enthusiasm. Prior to MeetUp, getting 300 people to turn out would have meant a huge and latent population of Dean supporters, but because MeetUp makes it easier to gather the faithful, it confused us into thinking that we were seeing an increase in Dean support, rather than a decrease in the hassle of organizing groups.