WASHINGTON – Six months before New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary and no clear front-runner has emerged, but three of the nine Democratic presidential hopefuls are clearly trailing the rest of the pack, lacking both wide support, and in two cases, the cash to keep going.
Without either necessity, winning is now virtually impossible for the three stragglers.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (search), who's pushing taxpayer-funded universal health care, Pentagon spending cuts and a federal department of peace offers rousing commentary at his campaign events.
"Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Poor health care is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Discrimination is a weapon of mass destruction. Racism is a weapon of mass destruction. And lying to the American people is a weapon of mass destruction," Kucinich said Monday night on the campaign trail.
The Rev. Al Sharpton (search), a longtime New York civil rights activist, jokes regularly in speeches about his longshot status.
"There are some who say, 'Well, Rev. Sharpton, you can't win.' Well, I'll tell you a secret, there are nine folks running, eight of us are going to lose," Sharpton said at an event two weeks ago.
In the 1990s, Carol Moseley-Braun (search) was the only African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She wants to parlay that distinction into a trip to the White House.
"I want to be the voice of hope," Moseley-Braun said.
But none of the three has much hope according to the latest New Hampshire poll, the second this week to show former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean moving into a slight lead over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.
According to the Franklin Pierce College poll, the rest of the field appears stalled and well back in the single digits -- except for Kucinich, Moseley-Braun and Sharpton, who out of 500 likely Democratic primary voters had no support at all, registering at 0 percent.
Adding insult to injury, two non-candidates, former NATO commander Wesley Clark and Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, are actually beating them. Clark and Biden are not fund raising and have not even decided if they will run at all.
While 30 percent of those polled in New Hampshire say they are solidly committed to a candidate, 37 percent are undecided, adding to speculation that this race is wide open.
To compete effectively, however, campaigns need at least $10 million, and compared to the top tier, the longshots are broke.
Moseley-Braun is actually in debt. She raised less than $250,000 as of two weeks ago and has spent all of it and more, putting her campaign $78,000 in the red. Fox News has learned that she has even declined campaign invitations because she cannot afford airfare.
Sharpton, a preacher without a parish but with a long history of controversy and brushes with the law, has raised less than $200,000 and is $62,000 in debt.
Kucinich has raised nearly $2 million and still has $1 million of that in the bank.
But his war chest pales in comparison to the top-tier candidates, who have five to 10 times that amount.
Dean scored something of a moral victory on the fund-raising front this week. He challenged his online supporters to meet or beat the $300,000 that Vice President Dick Cheney raised at a South Carolina luncheon on Monday.
The Dean camp put out the call for cash on Saturday and by midnight Tuesday morning had raised over $500,000 online. That is a turnaround for the former governor who months ago observers pegged as an afterthought alongside Sharpton, Moseley-Braun and Kucinich.
Fox News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.