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Kennedy prospects for '84

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It's ''here-we-go-again'' time. A new Gallup poll shows that Democrats around the country heavily favor Ted Kennedy over Walter Mondale for their party's 1984 presidential nomination.

The poll is early, but it is meaningful. It says that Kennedy now has all the encouragement he would need (and indications are he would need very little) to become involved once again in the quest for the presidency.

Some political writers believe the Massachusetts senator wore out the Chappaquiddick problem in the 1980 race and is now able to launch a candidacy unencumbered by this handicap. But far and away the dominant view expressed by Kennedy watchers runs along these lines:

* Despite early polls, Kennedy, because of Chappaquiddick and now also because of his marital problems, probably will be denied the nomination again.

* With each year that passes, the magic and drawing power of the Kennedy name lessens. The disclosure of the John Kennedy tapes has doubtless reduced that appeal and hence Senator Kennedy's ability to lean upon it.

* Should Kennedy somehow win the nomination, he simply isn't electable. A further and intensive media replay of Chappaquiddick during the general election campaign would assure the victory of any reasonably good Republican opponent whose personal morality has not come into question.

* Thus Kennedy, by continuing to run in what really is a hopeless race for him, ends up merely damaging his party's prospects.

Kennedy did a lot last time to help defeat Carter. He rallied anti-Carter sentiment in an effort to deprive Carter of the nomination. This split was never healed. Kennedy never gave more than tepid, token support to Carter at and after the national convention.

Mondale may well defeat Kennedy in the primaries. Carter was far behind Kennedy in the early polls, too. But when the media started to pummel Kennedy over Chappaquiddick, his lead faded fast, enabling Carter, who was sinking in the polls, to lead his party's ticket once again.


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