Key endorsements from Democratic establishment figures, superdelegates, and importantly, Democratic governors, are likely to come in over the next few days as well.
Kerry's experienced and big-time staff continues to make smart and aggressive scheduling decisions.
And then there's Kerry himself. He tastes the nomination, he's exhibiting confidence, and he will campaign aggressively for this.
There are a few ways we can see him being headed off:
(a) Some sort of national flap, whether it be an issue controversy or a scandal, that he handles poorly.
(b) His failure to live up to press expectations in the Feb. 3 states. If his opponents cherry-pick the states they want to compete in, Kerry will face different battles on different fronts, and he may run into trouble trying to quash four or five different flames. The Feb. 3 states, as we said earlier, are wide open, and most Democratic voters there are just now beginning to pay attention.
(c) Negative attacks from rivals who this week largely left him alone.
Although Howard Dean had a good showing in the early exit polls, priming the storyline for a "comeback," reality is beginning to set in.
His bad losses in Iowa and New Hampshire should not be underestimated. Dean put millions into both states, focused an enormous amount of time and resources in them, and set high expectations early on. Right now, it's not immediately apparent to us where, on Feb. 3, he can do well.
Dean seems to inclined to devote some of the next week to delegate-rich, union-vote heavy states that vote after Feb. 3 -- Michigan, Washington and Wisconsin.
These are, in theory, better states for him to do well.
If he wins nothing on Feb. 3 ,there will be some who question whether he can fight after that date. Still, some of Dean's supporters are surely going to feel he was not fairly treated this month, and they could rally, as many did in New Hampshire.
ABC News' Reena Singh and Marc Ambinder report that the staffers at the mid and junior levels of the campaign are chewing on the assumption that the senior staff may be moved around a bit to incorporate more people with field experience in direct operational roles. Finance chair Steve Grossman is said by several more senior aides to be playing a larger than usual role in advising Gov. Dean.
Several meetings to discuss strategy and operations are set for today in Burlington. ABC News has learned that Dean has consulted with former Vice President Al Gore about what his campaign should look like, going forward.
Dean huddled last night with -- and rode back to Vermont late last night with -- his Vermont posse: Kate O'Connor, his top traveling aide, and Bob Rogan, his deputy chief of staff.
Chief among the problems facing Dean: the need for more money. The campaign spent more than $10 million in Iowa alone, and, according to today's Wall Street Journal, they have about $5 million left. (See Singh's campaign report below for more).
Money is an issue for all: the Journal reports that nearly everyone has "exhausted their campaign treasuries."
Going into Feb. 3, Edwards and Clark can argue that they are headed to states with more favorable terrain, but they may be hard pressed to match Kerry in the kind of news coverage that dominates this phase of the nomination hunt.
The New Hampshire Wrap:
We lead with the B-Boys: