Economist.com | Howard Dean

Economist.com | Howard DeanHOWARD DEAN, the former governor of Vermont, has been favourite to win the Democratic nomination to run against George Bush since mid-summer. That was when he scooped an unexpectedly large $7.6m of campaign contributions in the second quarter�far more than his rivals; when he started to appear at or near the top of polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states which hold the first votes for the Democratic presidential candidate next year; and when his signature issue�the mistakes of the war in Iraq�changed from an obsession of the Democratic left into a nationwide concern.

This week, Dr Dean’s campaign took two more big steps forward. On November 8th, he said he would forgo federal financing for his primary campaign�and would not be bound by the spending limits that go with it. And on November 12th, he received the endorsements of two large unions, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is the largest affiliate of the AFL-CIO organisation, and the even-more influential American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). These two achievements turn him from a �presumptive favourite�, still within reach of rivals, into a �prohibitive favourite��whom his rivals can beat only if he trips himself up.


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