Peter Hart, whose Washington polling organization is one of the nation's leading researchers of political and public policy issues, was Thursday's guest. Here are excerpts from his remarks:
"Howard Dean has been helped this week - not hurt this week. The more attacks on him by outside groups and others, the more you establish him as the front-runner and as a sympathetic figure."
"That is a dangerous strategy because it comes back around to who is going to talk to the middle. I think the independents are very open, very persuadable at this stage of the game. Both parties have a lot of work to do with them."
On cultural values as a campaign issue:
"The single best ... issue for the Democrats in 2004 is on the whole set of standards and values as it relates to this country.... [Polls and focus groups show] the tremendous sense of disappointment the public has in all institutions."
"The potentiality for defeating President Bush is there. The major question ... is the kind of campaign the Democrats will put together. If it is nothing more than an 'anti' campaign - antiwar, anti-economy - I don't think it will be enough."
"This is a full five-act drama and we are in Act One, Scene Three."