Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2004

Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2004
United States
January 14 to June 8, 2004

Candidate John Kerry John Edwards
Home state Massachusetts North Carolina
Delegate count 2,573½ 559
Contests won 51 2
Popular vote 9,930,497 3,162,337
Percentage 61.0% 19.4%

Candidate Howard Dean Wesley Clark
Home state Vermont Arkansas
Delegate count 167½ 60
Contests won 2 1
Popular vote 903,460 547,369
Percentage 5.6% 3.4%

Democratic Primary Results. Blue denotes a Kerry win, orange a Edwards win, green a Dean win and yellow for Clark.

Previous Democratic nominee

Al Gore

Democratic nominee

John Kerry

The 2004 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the 2004 Democratic National Convention held from July 26 to July 29, 2004, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Primary race overview

Ten candidates vied for the nomination, including retired four-star general Wesley Clark, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and Senators John Edwards and John Kerry. For most of 2003, Howard Dean had been the apparent front-runner for the nomination, performing strongly in most polls and leading the pack in fund-raising. However, Kerry won the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, which gave him enough momentum to carry the majority of the rest of the states.

Election issues

According to exit polls taking during the Iowa Caucuses, the top 4 issues were ranked as follows:[1]

  1. Economy/Jobs (29% of Respondents)
  2. Health Care/Medicine (28% of Respondents)
  3. The war in Iraq (14% of Respondents)
  4. Education (14% of Respondents)


Despite being characterized by many as an election on Iraq, the economy and jobs were repeatedly cited as voters' top or one of top three concerns during the course of the primary season. In Iowa, of those who cited the economy as their most important issue, 34% supported Kerry, while 33% supported Edwards, with Dean trailing at 16% and Gephardt at 12%.

Eventual nominee John Kerry, much like other Democrats adopted policy stances of tax-cuts for the middle class, increased spending for Social Security, assisting small businesses, as well as opposing corporate interests.[2] On the aspect of job creation, Kerry strongly supported the creation and safety of infrastructure-related jobs, like those in the railroad industry. During the course of the primary Kerry continued to advocate positions such as fiscal responsibility and end state fiscal crises by giving states increased fiscal aid.

Runner up John Edwards ran a position of support for the middle class as well as budget caps and enforcement.[3] Strongly opposing Social Security privatization, and interested in middle class tax cuts, Edwards's main economic theme was support for the middle class touting his own struggle, growing up the son of a poor mill worker in South Carolina. Another major component of Edwards's message was to be able to reinstate fiscal responsibility.

Howard Dean, despite taking many of the same positions of his rivals including Edwards and Kerry, had a starkly different approach on the issue of Social Security and tax cuts.[4] On taxes, Dean favored repealing the Bush Tax cuts not only for the wealthiest of Americans as Senator Edwards and Senator Kerry proposed, but for all, including middle and lower classes. On Social Security, Dean took the approach of working to keep retirees their pensions, but offered little or no solution to keep Social Security alive in the coming years and decades.

Iraq War

After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration argued that the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq had now become urgent. Over the course of several months, Bush presented several premises for war, but the turning point was that Saddam's regime had tried to acquire nuclear material and had not properly accounted for biological and chemical material it was known to have possessed, potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in violation of U.N. sanctions. This situation escalated to the point that the United States assembled a group of about forty nations, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland, which Bush called the "coalition of the willing", to invade Iraq.

The coalition invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. Most contenders for the nomination were supportive of the effort. Only Dean and Kucinich firmly questioned the aims and tactics of the administration, setting themselves apart in the eyes of war protesters. However, speaking before an audience in Peterborough, New Hampshire, John Kerry said, "We need a regime change not just in Iraq. We need a regime change here in the United States."[5] Republicans criticized Kerry for speaking out against a wartime president.[6]

The invasion was swift, with the collapse of the Iraq government and the military of Iraq in about three weeks. The oil infrastructure of Iraq was rapidly secured with limited damage in that time. On May 1, George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in a Lockheed S-3 Viking, where he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat in the Iraq war. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating "Mission Accomplished". Bush's landing was criticized by opponents as being overly theatrical and expensive. The banner, made by White House personnel (according to a CNN story:[7]) and placed there by the U.S. Navy, was criticized as premature. Nonetheless, Bush's approval rating in the month of May rode at 66%, according to a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll.[8]

On May 3, 2003, Democrats met at the University of South Carolina in the first formal debate between the nine challengers for the nomination. The candidates disagreed on the war against Iraq, health insurance, and even President Bush's tax cuts, but united in criticizing Bush's handling of the economy.

Dean emerges as front-runner

Howard Dean declared his candidacy on June 23, 2003, winning the MoveOn "primary" days later. His campaign would go on to lead most polls and raise the most money in the latter part of 2003.

On May 31, 2002, Vermont Governor Howard Dean formed a presidential exploratory committee. Though this was almost two years before the Iowa Caucus, Dean hoped the early start would give him some much needed name recognition. As a governor of a small state, Dean was not well known outside of New England.

In December of that year, John F. Kerry, U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced on NBC's Meet the Press his plans to form an exploratory committee for a possible 2004 presidential run, anticipating a formal announcement "down the road some months". Kerry's experience as a decorated Vietnam veteran generated some excitement among Democrats tired of being on the defensive about their candidates' suitability in the role of "commander in chief".

Two weeks later, former Vice President and 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore announced on the CBS program 60 Minutes that he would not seek election to the presidency in 2004. Gore had recently wrapped up a nationwide book tour and had been widely expected to run.

Other potential candidates were likely waiting to see what Gore's plans were, and thus the floodgates opened in January 2003. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Gore's 2000 vice presidential running mate, had previously promised not to run should Gore seek their party's nomination. Freed from that obligation, Lieberman announced his intention to run. Additionally, many other candidates announced their intention to form committees (a formality usually indicating an official run): U.S. Sen. John R. Edwards of North Carolina, U.S. Rep. Richard A. "Dick" Gephardt of Missouri, and Reverend Al Sharpton of New York. In February, more candidates announced their intentions: former Senator from Illinois Carol Moseley Braun, U.S. Representative from Ohio Dennis Kucinich, and Senator Bob Graham of Florida.

There were other potential candidates for whom some speculation was buzzing about a potential run. These candidates felt it necessary to officially state that they would not seek the party nomination. These included United States Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, and former U.S. Senator Gary Hart from Colorado.

In April, Democratic fund-raising totals for the first quarter of 2003 were reported. John Edwards raised $7.4 million, John Kerry raised $7.0 million, Dick Gephardt raised $3.5 million, Joe Lieberman raised $3.0 million, Howard Dean raised $2.6 million, Bob Graham raised $1.1 million, and Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun raised less than $1 million each.

In June 2003, Howard Dean aired the first television advertising of the 2004 campaign, spending more than $300,000. During that time, he formally announced his run for president, filing to form a presidential election campaign with the FEC. Later that month, liberal advocacy website MoveOn held the first ever online Democratic "primary", which lasted just over 48 hours. It was an unofficial and nonbinding affair, but with important symbolic and financial value. Of 317,647 votes, Howard Dean received 44%, Dennis Kucinich 24%, and John Kerry 16%. Had any candidate received 50% of the vote, the candidate would have received MoveOn's endorsement and financial support. Instead, MoveOn supported all the candidates.[9]

In July, the Democratic fund-raising numbers for the second quarter of 2003 were reported and announced. Howard Dean surprised many raising $7.5 million, John Kerry raised $6 million, while John Edwards and Joseph Lieberman raised roughly $5 million each. Dean's strength as a fund-raiser was attributed mainly to his innovative embrace of the Internet for campaigning. The majority of his donations came from individual Dean supporters, who came to be known as Deanites, or, more commonly, Deaniacs. His campaign's innovative use of the Internet helped to build a strongly supportive grassroots constituency, much of which remained intensely loyal to him long after the end of his candidacy.

By autumn of 2003, Dean had become the apparent front-runner for the Democratic nomination, performing strongly in most polls. Generally regarded as a pragmatic centrist during his time as governor, Dean emerged during his presidential campaign as something of a populist, denouncing the policies of the Bush administration (especially the 2003 invasion of Iraq) as well as fellow Democrats, who, in his view, failed to strongly oppose them.

During his presidential campaign, critics on the right labeled Dean's political views as those of an extreme liberal; however, in liberal Vermont, Dean, long known as a staunch advocate of fiscal restraint, was regarded as a moderate. Many critics on the left, who supported fellow Democrat Dennis Kucinich or independent Ralph Nader, charged that, at heart, Dean was a "Rockefeller Republican"socially liberal, while fiscally conservative.

Wesley Clark enters

Over the summer of 2003, several organized groups began a nationwide campaign to "draft" retired four-star general Wesley Clark for the Democratic Party's nomination for the 2004 presidential election. CNN on August 13 showed a commercial by one of these groups and interviewed Clark. He disavowed any connection with the "draft Clark" groups, but said he had been considering his position and that within a few weeks he would likely make public his decision on whether to run. He also fueled speculation with a television interview in which he first declared himself a Democrat.

On September 17, 2003, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Clark announced his intention to run in the presidential primary election for the Democratic Party nomination, becoming the tenth and last Democrat to do so (coming many months after the others): "My name is Wes Clark. I am from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I am here to announce that I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America." He said, "We're going to run a campaign that will move this country forward, not back."

His campaign focused on themes of leadership and patriotism; early campaign ads relied heavily on biography. His late start left him with relatively few detailed policy proposals. This weakness was apparent in his first few debates, although he soon presented a range of position papers, including a major tax-relief plan. Nevertheless, many Democrats flocked to his campaign. They were drawn by his military background, and saw such foreign policy credentials as a valuable asset in challenging George W. Bush post-September 11. Advisors and supporters portrayed him as more electable than Howard Dean, who was still the front-runner for the party's nomination. Despite the burst of enthusiasm for Clark in late 2003, Dean maintained a strong lead in the polls for the latter half of the year. Clark won the Democratic Presidential Primary in Oklahoma, the only state carried by Clark in the primary election.

Criticism of Clark began almost the moment he entered the race. Originally heralded as an antiwar general, he stumbled in the first few days of his candidacy. He was perceived as changing his answer on how he would have voted on the Iraq war resolution. His supporters argued that his perceived indecision was due to lack of experience with the media and their insistence on short "sound bite" answers.

Iowa and New Hampshire

Throughout the early campaigning between all candidates, the 2004 Iowa Caucuses appeared to be a two-way contest between Vermont Governor Howard Dean and neighboring Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt. Dean, the national front runner had been able to pour money into the first contest state of Iowa as well as the second of New Hampshire. In total, Dean spent nearly $40 million in Iowa and New Hampshire.[10] Gephardt, coming from neighboring Missouri won the state's caucus in 1988, when he first ran for the party nomination.

However, days before the Iowa Caucuses were held, negative campaigning by Dean and Gephardt took a late toll on the two campaigns in Iowa as well as nationally. This, along with the resurgence of John Kerry and the emergence of John Edwards as major contenders in Iowa, put the Gephardt and Dean campaigns on edge.

A poll released by the Des Moines Register days before the caucus was held showed Dean and Gephardt had lost any/all lead in Iowa. In the poll, John Kerry led with 26% of surveyed, Edwards came in second with 23% of surveyed, Dean came in third with 20% of surveyed, and Gephardt came in fourth with 18% of surveyed.[11]

On caucus night, as results were being tallied, it became evident that Kerry and Edwards were in a battle for first and Dean and Gephardt were in a battle for third in the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa results by county
  John Kerry
  John Edwards
  Howard Dean

After all votes were tallied, John Kerry received 38% of the votes, John Edwards received 32%, Howard Dean received 18%, and Richard Gephardt received 11%.

After poor showings, Gephardt dropped out of the race.[12] Kerry and Edwards claimed newfound momentum, while Dean attempted to down-play the results.

During the New Hampshire Primary, John Kerry was able to defeat Howard Dean once again, beating him 38%-26%. The final debate before the primary, was held at Saint Anselm College; Kerry's performance was superior to the others, helping him win the New Hampshire primary a few days later.[13] Kerry carried nearly all constituencies during the primary according to Exit Polling Data. Wesley Clark and John Edwards and Joe Lieberman competed for third place during the New Hampshire primary. Clark came in third with 12%, Edwards in fourth with 12%, and Lieberman in fifth with 9%.[14]

Final stretch

Super Tuesday 2004
Super Tuesday, 2004 held key Democratic contests including New York, Ohio, California, and Georgia

Nominating Contests - 10

  • Won by Kerry - 9
  • Won by Edwards - 0

Pledged Delegates at Stake - 1164[15]

  • Delegates won by Kerry - 844
  • Delegates won by Edwards - 207
  • Delegates won by others - 13

Key Results

Edwards' late stage momentum, as well as his departure from the negative campaigning which characterized other leading candidates,[16] carried him into a surprising second-place finish in Iowa with the support of 32% of caucus delegates, behind only John Kerry's 39% and ahead of former front-runner Howard Dean at 18%. He finished with 12% in the New Hampshire primary one week later, essentially tied for third-place position with retired general Wesley Clark. The following week, Edwards won in South Carolina and nearly beat Clark in Oklahoma.

Edwards on the campaign trail in 2004.

After Dean's withdrawal from the contest, Edwards became the only major challenger to Kerry for the nomination. However, Kerry continued to dominate, taking in wins in Michigan, Washington, Maine, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Nevada, Wisconsin, Utah, Hawaii, and Idaho. Remarking on an unexpectedly strong finish in Wisconsin on February 17, Edwards humorously cautioned Kerry: "Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear." Many other candidates dropped out during this time, leaving only Kerry, Edwards, Sharpton and Kucinich in the running. Dean, while not officially running, did not release his delegates, and still put in a strong showing considering that he was no longer mounting an official campaign.

Edwards maintained a positive campaign and largely avoided attacking Kerry until a February 29, 2004, debate in NYC, where he attempted to put Kerry on the defensive by characterizing the front-runner as a "Washington insider" and by mocking Kerry's plan to form a committee to examine trade agreements.

In Super Tuesday, March 2, Kerry won decisive victories in the California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island primaries and the Minnesota caucuses. Dean, despite having withdrawn from the race two weeks earlier, won his home state of Vermont. Edwards finished only slightly behind Kerry in Georgia but, failing to win a single state, chose to withdraw, making Kerry the presumptive nominee. President Bush called Senator Kerry to congratulate him that evening.

On March 11, after meetings with Democratic superdelegates in Washington, D.C., and former primary election opponents, Kerry accumulated the 2,162 delegates required to clinch the nomination. The DNC's website acknowledged him as the party's nominee at that time, four and a half months prior to the Convention.

See also the John Kerry presidential campaign, 2004


For more details on this topic, see 2004 Democratic National Convention.

On July 6, John Kerry selected John Edwards as his running mate shortly before the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, held later that month. Senators Kerry and Edwards were formally nominated by the Democratic Party at the convention. The Kerry/Edwards ticket was on the ballot in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. In New York, the ticket was also on the ballot as candidates of the Working Families Party.

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson served as chairman of the convention while former presidential advisor to Bill Clinton, Lottie Shackelford, served as vice chairman. Defining moments of the 2004 Democratic National Convention included the featured keynote speech of Barack Obama, a Honolulu native and candidate for the United States Senate from Illinois, Bill Clinton's opening night speech and the confirmation of the nomination of John Kerry as the candidate for president and of John Edwards as the candidate for vice president. Kerry made his Vietnam War experience a prominent theme. In accepting the nomination, he began his speech with "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."

Kerry and Edwards faced incumbents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney of the Republican Party in the 2004 presidential election. Following his official nomination at the Convention, Kerry received only a small bounce in the polls and remained "neck and neck" with Bush. This was the first time in recent political history that a candidate failed to receive a substantial boost in post-convention poll numbers. Some political pundits attributed this small boost to the unusually small number of undecided voters as compared with previous presidential elections.

The general election was won by Bush, who defeated Kerry. The election was fought primarily on the issue of the conduct of the War on Terror. Bush defended the actions of his administration, while Kerry contended that the war had been fought incompetently, and that the Iraq War was a distraction from the War on Terror, not a part of it.



Senator John Kerry

John Kerry, (born December 11, 1943) is the former senior United States Senator from Massachusetts and former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[17] In the 2004 Democratic Presidential primaries, John Kerry defeated several Democratic rivals, including Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina.), former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and retired Army General Wesley Clark. His victory in the Iowa caucuses is widely believed to be the tipping point where Kerry revived his sagging campaign in New Hampshire and the February 3, 2004 primary states like Arizona, South Carolina and New Mexico. Kerry then went on to win landslide victories in Nevada and Wisconsin. Kerry thus won the Democratic nomination to run for President of the United States against incumbent George W. Bush. On July 6, 2004, he announced his selection of John Edwards as his running mate. Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, who was Kerry's 2004 campaign adviser, wrote an article in Time magazine claiming that after the election, Kerry had said that he wished he'd never picked Edwards, and that the two have since stopped speaking to each other.[18] In a subsequent appearance on ABC's This Week, Kerry refused to respond to Shrum's allegation, calling it a "ridiculous waste of time."[19]

On November 3, 2004, Kerry conceded the race.

Withdrew during primaries

Candidates who withdrew from seeking the nomination.

Governor Howard Dean

Howard Dean (born November 17, 1948) is an American politician and physician from the U.S. state of Vermont. He served six terms as Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. Dean began his bid for president as a "long shot" candidate. ABC News ranked him eighth out of 12 in a list of potential presidential contenders in May 2002. In March 2003 he gave a speech strongly critical of the Democratic leadership at the California State Democratic Convention that attracted the attention of grassroots party activists and set the tone and the agenda of his candidacy. It began with the line: "What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President's unilateral intervention in Iraq?"[20] Iowa and New Hampshire were only the first in a string of losses for the Dean campaign, culminating in a third place showing in the Wisconsin primary on February 17, 2004. Two days before the Wisconsin primary, campaign advisor Steve Grossman "announced" through an article written by The New York Times Dean campaign correspondent Jodi Wilgoren that he would offer his services to any of the other major candidates "should Dean not win in Wisconsin." This "scoop" further undermined Dean's campaign. Grossman later issued a public apology. The next day, Dean announced that his candidacy had "come to an end", though he continued to urge people to vote for him, so that Dean delegates would be selected for the convention and could influence the party platform. He later won the Vermont primaries on Super Tuesday, March 2, 2004. This latter victory, a surprise even to Dean, was due in part to the lack of a serious anti-Kerry candidate in Vermont (John Edwards had declined to put his name on the state's ballot, expecting Dean to win in a landslide), and in part to a television ad produced, funded, and aired in Vermont by grassroots Dean supporters.

Senator John Edwards

John Edwards (born June 10, 1953) is an American politician who served one term as U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008. In the Super Tuesday primaries on March 2, Kerry finished well ahead in nine of the ten states voting, and Edwards' campaign ended. In Georgia, Edwards finished only slightly behind Kerry but, failing to win a single state, chose to withdraw from the race. He announced his official withdrawal at a Raleigh, North Carolina press conference on March 3. Edwards' withdrawal made major media outlets relatively early on the evening of Super Tuesday, at about 6:30 p.m. CST, before polls had closed in California and before caucuses in Minnesota had even begun. It is thought that the withdrawal influenced many people in Minnesota to vote for other candidates, which may partially account for the strong Minnesota finish of Dennis Kucinich. Edwards did win the presidential straw poll conducted by the Independence Party of Minnesota. After withdrawing from the race, he went on to win the April 17 Democratic caucuses in his home state of North Carolina,[21] making him the only Democratic candidate besides Kerry to win nominating contests in two states. He eventually became the 2004 Democratic candidate for vice-president, the running mate of presidential nominee Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Majority Leader Dick Gephardt

Dick Gephardt (born January 31, 1941) is a former prominent American politician of the Democratic Party. Gephardt served as a U.S. Representative from Missouri from January 3, 1977, until January 3, 2005, serving as House Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995, and as Minority Leader from 1995 to 2003. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 1988 and 2004. Gephardt was mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee in 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2008.[22] Although he dropped out of the presidential race, Gephardt was mentioned as a possible running mate for John Kerry. On March 7, 2004, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, seen as a strong possibility for the position himself, endorsed Gephardt for the Vice Presidency. "I think he's the best candidate," Richardson said of Gephardt in an interview with the Associated Press. "There's a good regional balance with Kerry and Gephardt." Nevertheless, Kerry announced that he had chosen John Edwards as his running mate on July 6, 2004. Interestingly, on that same day, the New York Post published an incorrect headline stating that Gephardt had become Kerry's running mate. Shortly after this false story broke, the headline was compared to the 1948 "Dewey defeats Truman" front page of the Chicago Tribune, which incorrectly reported the presidential election results of that year. In 2007, it was revealed in the book No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner by Bob Shrum, who served as Kerry's campaign adviser in the 2004 US presidential election, that Kerry wanted to choose Gephardt as his nominee for vice president but was convinced by Shrum and others to choose Edwards.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich (born October 8, 1946) is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives and was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004. In the Iowa caucuses he finished fifth, receiving about 1% of the state delegates from Iowa; far below the 15% threshold for receiving national delegates. He performed similarly in the New Hampshire primary, placing sixth among the seven candidates with 1% of the vote. In the Mini-Tuesday primaries he finished near the bottom in most states, with his best performance in New Mexico where he received less than 6% of the vote, and still no delegates. Kucinich's best showing in any Democratic contest was in the February 24 Hawaii caucus, in which he won 31% of caucus participants, coming in second place to Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and winning Maui County, the only county won by Kucinich in either of his presidential campaigns. He also saw a double-digit showing in Maine on February 8, where he got 16% percent in that state's caucus.On Super Tuesday, March 2, Kucinich gained another strong showing with the Minnesota caucus, where 17% of the ballots went to him. In his home state of Ohio, he gained 9% in the primary. Kucinich campaigned heavily in Oregon, spending 30 days there during the two months leading up to the state's May 18 primary. He continued his campaign because "the future direction of the Democratic Party has not yet been determined"[23] and chose to focus on Oregon "because of its progressive tradition and its pioneering spirit."[24] He even offered to campaign jointly with Kerry during Kerry's visit to the state, though the offer was ignored. He won 16% of the vote. Even after Kerry won enough delegates to secure the nomination, Kucinich continued to campaign until just before the convention, citing an effort to help shape the agenda of the Democratic Party. He was the last candidate to end his campaign. He endorsed Kerry on July 22, four days before the start of the Democratic National Convention.[25]

Senator Joe Lieberman

Joe Lieberman (born February 24, 1942) is the junior United States Senator from Connecticut, first elected to the Senate in 1988. Finally Lieberman withdrew from the race without winning a single contest. In total popular vote he placed 7th behind eventual nominee, Massachusetts senator John Kerry, future vice presidential nominee, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, retired General Wesley Clark and Reverend Al Sharpton.[26]

Rev. Al Sharpton

Al Sharpton (born October 3, 1954) is an American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and radio talk show host.[27][28] In 2004, he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election. He hosts his own radio talk show, Keepin’ It Real[29] and makes regular guest appearances on Fox News (including The O'Reilly Factor[30][31][32]) CNN, and MSNBC. On January 5, 2003 Sharpton announced his candidacy for the 2004 presidential election as a member of the Democratic Party. On March 15, 2004, Sharpton announced his endorsement of leading Democratic candidate John Kerry. Sharpton's campaign may have been orchestrated by Nixon-era trickster Roger Stone, as a way to attack Dean's left-leaning campaign.[33]

  • Liberal Activist

General Wesley Clark

Wesley Clark KBE (born December 23, 1944) is a retired general of the United States Army. Clark was valedictorian of his class at West Point, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he obtained a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and later graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master's degree in military science. He spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Clark joined the 2004 race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination as a candidate on September 17, 2003, but withdrew from the primary race on February 11, 2004, after winning the Oklahoma state primary, endorsing and campaigning for the eventual Democratic nominee, John Kerry. Clark currently leads a political action committee — "WesPAC" — which was formed after the 2004 primaries,[34][35] and used it to support numerous Democratic Party candidates in the 2006 midterm elections.[36] Clark was considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but, on September 15, 2007, endorsed Senator Hillary Clinton.[37] After Clinton dropped out of the presidential race, Clark endorsed the then-presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.[38] Clark currently serves as the co-chairman of Growth Energy, an ethanol lobbying group.[39][40]

Senator Carol Moseley Braun

Withdrew before primaries

Potential candidates who decided not to run

  1. ^ Jonathan Karl CNN Washington (January 7, 2003). " - Daschle decides not to run for president - Jan. 7, 2003". Retrieved May 2, 2013. 



Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage of the winning candidate in each county. Shades of red are John Kerry, shades of green are John Edwards, shades of yellow are Howard Dean, shades of blue are Wesley Clark, and shades of orange are Dennis Kucinich. Grey indicates tied counties.
2004 Democratic primaries and caucuses[41]
Carol Moseley Braun Wesley Clark Howard Dean John Edwards Richard Gephardt John Kerry Dennis Kucinich Joseph Lieberman Al Sharpton
Total Delegates¹ -- 60 167.5 559 -- 2573.5 40 -- 26
Superdelegates¹ -- -- 53 23 -- 381 2 -- 5
January 14 District of Columbia²
12% -- 43% -- -- -- 8% -- 34%
January 19 Iowa³
-- -- 18%
11% 38%
1% -- --
January 27 New Hampshire
-- 12%4 26%
12% -- 38%4
1% 9% --
February 3 (Mini Tuesday) Arizona
-- 27%
7% -- 43%
2% 7% --
-- 9%4 10% 11% 1%4 50%
1% 11% 6%
-- 4% 9% 25%
2% 51%
1% 4% 3%
New Mexico
-- 21%
11% 1%4 42%
6% 3% --
North Dakota
-- 24%
12% 10% 1% 51%4
3% 1% --
-- 30%
4% 30%
1%4 27%
1% 7%4 1%
South Carolina
-- 7% 5% 45%
-- 30%
-- 2% 10%
February 7 Michigan
-- 7% 17%
1%4 52%
3% -- 7%
-- 3% 30%
7% -- 48%4
8% -- --
February 8 Maine
-- 4% 27%4
8% -- 45%
16% -- --
February 10 Tennessee
1%4 23%
4% 26%
-- 41%
1% 1% 2%
-- 9% 7% 27%
-- 52%
1% 1% 3%
February 14 District of Columbia²
-- 1%4 17%4
10% -- 47%
3% -- 20%
-- -- 17%
10% -- 63%
7% -- 1%
February 17 Wisconsin
-- 2% 18%
-- 40%
3% -- 2%
February 24 Hawaii
-- 1%4 7%4 13%4 -- 47%4
-- --
-- -- 11% 22%
-- 54%
6% -- --
-- 1%4 4% 30%
-- 55%
7% 1%4 --
March 2 (Super Tuesday) California
1%4 2%4 4% 20%
1%4 64%
5% 2%4 4%
-- 1%4 4% 24%
-- 58%
3% 5% 3%
-- 1%4 2% 42%
-- 47%
1% 1%4 6%
1%4 1%4 3% 26%
-- 60%
2% 1%4 5%
-- 1%4 3% 18%
-- 72%
4% 1%4 1%
-- -- 2% 27%
-- 51%
-- 1%
New York
-- 1%4 3% 20%
1%4 61%
5% 1%4 8%
-- 1%4 3% 34%
1%4 52%
1%4 --
Rhode Island
-- 1%4 4% 19%
-- 71%
3% 1%4 --
-- 3%4 53%4
6%4 -- 31%4
4% -- --
March 9 American Samoa
-- -- -- -- -- 83%
17% -- --
1% 1% 3% 10%
1% 77%
2% 2% 3%
-- 4% 5% 16%
-- 70%
1% -- --
-- 2% 3% 7% -- 78%
1% 1% 5%
-- 2% 5% 14%
1% 67%
2% 3% 4%
March 13 Kansas
-- 1% 7%
9% -- 72%
10% -- --
March 16 Illinois
4% 2% 4% 11%
-- 72%
2% 2% 3%
March 20 Alaska
-- -- 11% 3% -- 48%
-- --
-- -- 3% 5% -- 77%
6% -- 1%
March 27 Expatriates5
-- 10% 19%
9% -- 56%
5% -- 1%
April 13 Colorado
-- -- 2% 1% -- 64%
-- --
April 17 North Carolina
-- -- 6% 52%
-- 27%
-- 3%
Virgin Islands
-- -- -- -- -- --
-- -- --
April 24 Guam
-- -- -- -- -- 77%
-- -- --
April 27 Pennsylvania
-- -- 10%
10% -- 74%
4% -- --
May 4 Indiana
-- 6% 7% 11% -- 73%
2% -- --
May 11 Nebraska
-- -- 7% 14% -- 73%
2% -- 2%
West Virginia
-- 3% 4% 13% -- 70%
2% 6% --
May 18 Arkansas
-- -- -- -- -- 66%
5% -- --
-- 3% 4% 14% -- 60%
2% 5% 2%
-- -- -- -- -- 81%
-- --
June 1 Alabama
-- -- -- -- -- 75%
4% -- --
South Dakota
-- -- 6% -- -- 82%
2% -- --
June 6 Puerto Rico
-- -- -- -- -- --
-- --
June 8 Montana
-- 4% -- 9% -- 68%
11% -- --
New Jersey
-- -- -- -- -- 92%
4% -- --
Color Key: 1st place
(delegates earned)
2nd place
(delegates earned)
3rd place
(delegates earned)


¹ Total delegate count includes superdelegates, delegates not assigned directly from primary or caucus results. State delegate counts include only those delegates assigned as a result of the state primary or caucus.[43][44]
² January 14 was a non-binding primary (no delegates apportioned). Ten of the District of Columbia's pledged delegates were awarded at ward-level caucuses on February 14; the other six were awarded based on the February 14 results in a convention on March 6.
³ Only local delegates were selected at the Iowa and Idaho caucuses. National delegates were selected later.
4 These figures are based on correctly rounded percentages based on complete counts directly from the state parties and from the Washington Post. These figures differ slightly from those reported in most major media outlets (including some linked at the bottom of the page), where percentages have been slightly mis-stated for some candidates in some elections (either by applying inconsistent rounding or by inconsistently excluding minor candidates or candidates who had dropped out).[45]
5 Expatriate Democrats, represented the Democrats Abroad organization, held their 2004 caucus on April 7 in Edinburgh, Scotland.


There were 4,353 total delegates to the 2004 Democratic National Convention, of which 802 were superdelegates: party leaders, even including some of the candidates, who were not bound by any state's primary or caucus votes and could change their support at any time. A candidate needed 2,162 delegates to become the nominee. Except for the Northern Mariana Islands and Midway Atoll, all states, territories, and other inhabited areas of the United States offered delegates to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. John Kerry won 4,255 votes at the Convention, including those won by all of his former rivals except Dennis Kucinich, who received 37 votes. There were 26 abstentions.

Summary of the election results

Candidates Votes % Delegates
John Kerry  9,871,270 61% 2573.5
John Edwards  3,133,899 19% 559
Howard Dean  894,367 5% 167.5
Dennis Kucinich  617,264 4% 40
Wesley Clark  536,148 3% 60
Al Sharpton  384,766 2% 26
Other  744178 5% 0
Total   16,181,892   100% 4322
Source: Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections

See also


  1. " 2004 Primaries". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  2. " Specials". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  3. " Specials". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  4. " Specials". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  5. Poor, Eric (2003-04-03). "Kerry calls for new U.S. leadership". Monadnock Ledger. Archived from the original on 2004-09-17.
  6. Pickler, Nedra (2003-04-03). "POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Hastert, Delay assail Kerry speech; Edwards chats with Bush; Dean writing a book". The San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2003-06-24.
  7. Bash, Dana (2003-10-29). "White House pressed on 'mission accomplished' sign". CNN.
  8. "Bush Jumpstarts '04 Fundraising". CBS News. Associated Press. 2003-05-24.
  9. "Report on the 2003 Political Action Primary". Retrieved September 28, 2005.
  10. Wilgoren, Jodi; Justice, Glen (January 29, 2004). "THE 2004 CAMPAIGN: THE FORMER GOVERNOR; IN SHAKE-UP, DEAN NAMES GORE ALLY TO RUN CAMPAIGN". The New York Times.
  11. " 2004 Primaries". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  12. "Gephardt to drop out of race". CNN. January 18, 2004. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  13. "Detroit News: Kerry talks tough, Dean tame in debate". Democratic Underground. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  14. "Dave Leip's Atlas of Presidential Election".
  15. CNN. "Super Tuesday, 2004". Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  16. Archibald, Randal (February 15, 2004). "Do You Need to Go Negative to Topple a Front-Runner?". New York Times.
  17. Bender, Bryan (November 20, 2008). "Kerry poised to cap long journey - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  18. Shrum, Robert (2007-05-30). "Kerry's Regrets About John Edwards". Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  19. Pitney, Nico (January 13, 2008). "Kerry Disregards Bob Shrum Book: "Ridiculous Waste Of Time"". Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  20. Wikisource:Howard Dean's speech of March 15, 2003
  22. "GOP Envisions Gephardt as Possible Obama Running Mate - US News and World Report". Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  23. Rick Lyman, "Down But Not Out, Kucinich Keeps Fighting", The New York Times, May 17, 2004.
  24. "Kerry visits spotlights Oregon's state primary." May 18, 2004. kgw news. Retrieved July 25, 2007.
  25. David Halbfinger, "The 2004 Campaign: Campaign Briefing -- The Democrats; Kucinich Endorses Kerry", The New York Times, July 23, 2004.
  26. "US President - D Primaries Race - Jan 13, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  27. "National Action Network About Us".
  28. "Fox News Bio: Rev. Al Sharpton". August 27, 2003.
  29. "Radio One Rev. Al Sharpton, Author Michael Eric Dyson and Atlanta's '2 Live Stews' Go National with News/Talk Network".
  30. "Al Sharpton On Ties To Sen. Thurmond". Fox News. 2007-02-27. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
  31. "Al Sharpton Talks with Bill O'Reilly". The O'Reilly Factor. 2005-04-13. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
  32. "Bill O'Reilly Interview Al Sharpton". Ifilm. 2006-02-02. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
  33. "THE 2004 CAMPAIGN: THE CONSULTANT; Sharpton's Bid Aided by an Unlikely Source". 2004-01-25. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  34. "WesPAC — Securing America". Retrieved November 2, 2006.
  35. "WesPAC History". Archived from the original on November 4, 2006. Retrieved November 2, 2006.
  36. "List of all endorsed candidates". Securing America. Archived from the original on November 4, 2006. Retrieved November 16, 2006.
  37. Fouhy, Beth (2007-09-16). "Wesley Clark Endorses Hillary Clinton". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-12-18.
  38. Clark, Wesley (2008-06-06). "Unite Behind Barack Obama". Securing America. Archived from the original on 2008-06-15. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
  39. "General Wesley Clark Announced as Growth Energy Co-Chairman". Growth Energy. 2009-02-05. Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  40. Jensen, Christopher (2009-05-08). "Ethanol Industry's 15% Solution Raises Concerns". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  41. 2004 Democratic Primary Election Events Timeline
  42. "Header". Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  43. " 2004 Primaries". CNN. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  44. " 2004 Primaries". CNN. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  45. "Democratic Party of Hawaii - Home". Retrieved 2010-05-24.

External links

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