In Iowa, Richardson has moved from 1 percent support in the state to a middle tier all his own. That's more movement than any other Democratic candidate has seen this year.Sure, Richardson has made a few gaffs this political season, but who hasn't.
According to data maintained by the Web site RealClearPolitics.com, the average of all recent polls of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers has Hillary Clinton at 25.4 percent; John Edwards at 24.6 percent, Barack Obama at 19.9 percent and Richardson at 11.6 percent. The single most recent survey pegged Richardson at 14 percent in the state, just 8 points behind Obama.
Richardson's rise in the state raises two questions: Why did it happen? And can he sustain it as other single-digit candidates such as Joe Biden and Chris Dodd start moving?
Richardson has set the ambitious goal of finishing in the top three contenders in Iowa, which means he has to beat Clinton, Edwards or Obama, a feat that would deal an almost mortal blow to one of them and slingshot him into serious contention.
Richardson has something none of the top three Democratic contenders have: real executive experience. Unlike Hillary Clinton's "executive" experience as First Lady, Richardson has spent time in the Cabinet (as Energy Secretary) and is the governor of New Mexico. Richardson has real foreign policy experience-in that hellhole on the East River called the United Nations, in addition to being a Congressman from New Mexico. In short, Richardson may be the most qualified candidate seeking the Democratic nod.
The problem of course is that he is running in fourth among the Democratic contenders. But to be fair to Richardson, probably the only reason why John Edwards is polling better is that Edwards has practically made Iowa his second home for much of the past year, arguably Edwards could claim residency there.
Can Richardson, a Hispanic, crack the top three? I think so and I think that Edwards and/or Obama are the most likely victims. Can Richardson knock off Hillary Clinton? I would hope not because then the Democrats would have a more electable candidate, but for the past several presidential campaigns, Democrats have not demonstrated a proclivity for choosing the most electable person.
While I am not likely to vote Democratic anytime soon, Richardson is one candidate I could vote for without a gun being put to my head.