Friday, July 30, 2004
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Why this is a tough campaign to read
John Harwood and Jacob Schlesinger have a nice summary in the Wall Street Journal of why it will be difficult to reach the undecideds during this election season. Here's the gist:
posted by Dan on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM
Its important to realize that this is the high-water mark for Kerry, at least as far as media attention goes. If he doesnt walk away from the convention with a decent lead, probably double digit, he has a real problem. Bush hasnt started campaigning yet. Can Kerry survive being Dukakisized? Appearance is everything, and at this moment Kerry has been able to project his image the way he wants while ripping into Bush's basically unopposed for several months. Wait till Kerry's voting record shows up on TV spots, things like voting against Gulf War 1 are going to surprise a lot of voters, and I dont doubt Rove will time it well.posted by: Mark Buehner on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Appearance is everything, and at this moment Kerry has been able to project his image the way he wants while ripping into Bush's basically unopposed for several months. Wait till Kerry's voting record shows up on TV spots, things like voting against Gulf War 1 are going to surprise a lot of voters, and I dont doubt Rove will time it well.
What? From MSNBC.com, July 20:
"Bush spent roughly $164 million on his re-election effort through June, including about $12 million last month and $114 million from March through June. [...] Bush's biggest expenses included ads, which accounted for roughly $3 million last month and at least $84 million overall; mail-related costs such as printing, postage and mailing lists, about $4 million in June and $32 million overall; and staff pay, consultants and related personnel costs, about $2 million in June and roughly $15 million total."
Kerry has NOT been unopposed, and the vast majority of those Bush ads have been negative, and focused on things just like those you mention. Similarly, Bush and Cheney and various substitutes, including a lot of talking heads have been hammering on exactly those points.
So, Kerry is where he is over a pretty vigorous attack campaign from Bush. No doubt it will get more intense, but it's just plain not true that there's been no opposition.posted by: paperwight on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
The WSJ claims that
'By spending some $2.3 million on television advertising over the last five months, John Kerry has fought George Bush to a near-draw in Seattle as he courts affluent suburbanites who share his social liberalism but lean toward Republicans on taxes and trade.'
Kerry is at a near draw with Bush in Seattle ? If Kerry can't win the liberal Seattle, he would be in bad trouble in Washington or countrywide. The polls I've seen show him leading by a few points 5-6 or so in Washington. How can be at a near-draw in Seattle ?
Its possible that I'm wrong here, that Seattle includes conservative suburbs of Seattle and the like, but last time, Gore took King's county (Seattle area), by nearly 2 to 1 over Bush.posted by: erg on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
I live in King County. Bush will never carry this county. It is the home of too many crazed leftists. In how many areas of the country would return the clown that is Jim McDermott again and again with 70% plus votes in house elections?posted by: Gary B on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
"Kerry has NOT been unopposed, and the vast majority of those Bush ads have been negative, and focused on things just like those you mention"
But you have to realize that is but a fraction of what is to come, and its mainly been targetted at swing districts. Also the average voter is just starting to tune in to the nuts and bolts.
I have little faith that the undecided voter will make that much difference this election.
The extreme polarization that currently exists among voters has vastly reduced the size of that undecided group. And that same polarization is so intense and pervasive that it leads me to believe these undecided voters are simply uninterested, and are likely to remain so.posted by: wishIwuz2 on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Don't underestimate the swing voters. These candidates are so awful that the number of voters who make up their minds at the last hour will probably be greater than ever before.
For these voters, the decision will almost certainly come down to personal and idiosyncratic "character" questions.
I'd guess it will be a contest between overall battle fatigue (vote Kerry) and latent voter distrust of Dems' Carterism/wimpiness/flip-flopping (vote Bush).
If so, then you can bet that come September Bush will be talking non-stop about peace, sweetness, light, exit from Iraq, the beauty of the UN, etc.posted by: lex on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
In other words, Bush will run as an accomodating, multilateralist Democrat while Kerry runs as a tougher-than-thou Republican.
It'll be very interesting to hear how they handle questions about Iran during the debates.posted by: lex on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Yes, do no underestimate Independents or the Swing voters. They are a larger group than the media jackasses (or party lovers) want to acknowledge.
"How do you fight terrorists who are willing to kill themselves?"
The answer for the Democrats on this score is problematic... You kill them first. And that's led to a lot of knee-jerk reactions from the left. They're starting to re-consider, however.
I would point to a Tom Junod article I happend across today over at Esquire's site. This guy s hardly a right wing ideolouge, nor is the mag he writes for. And yet....
"What haunts me is the possibility that we have become so accustomed to ambiguity and inaction in the face of evil that we find his call for decisive action an insult to our sense of nuance and proportion." (Emph my own-Bit)
Given the post-convention grumbling I'm hearing from leftists all over the country today, some of which I've documented on my own blog today this will be a changing situation. And those changes will not be in Kerry's favor. I forsee this trend accelerating over the next two months. Based on what we know of Kerry, I doubt he'll recover from it.
Or for that matter if even the Democrats as a whole WANT him to recover from it.
'How do you fight terrorists who are willing to kill themselves?"
The answer for the Democrats on this score is problematic... You kill them first.'
Speak for yourself. I have no problem with that solution. The real problem is how to prevent their ranks from being replenished faster than you can kill them. Even Rummy recognized that.posted by: Aurge on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
I guess that you fall into the social liberalism category that was mentioned in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. I have been struggling to understand why you take John Kerry seriously, given your academic credentials.
Perhaps, it is the typical Northern prejudice against Southerners, who typically are Evangelical Christians. President Bush, despite being an Episcopalian, has a lot of that flavor. I suspect it has to do with growing up in Midland, TX. Texas is an amazing place. There are churches all over. Mostly in storefronts, but also the massive Baptist churches that could hold St.Peter's in a corner.
I have no confidence in John Kerry's national security stance. He told us that he will "respond to every terrorist attack". I would rather than we hit them first, rather than let them kill thousands or millions. OBL has said that he wants to kill 4 million Americans, half of them children. John Kerry, however, will only "respond" to such an attack.
I would be interested in hearing a more reasoned explanation about why you like John Kerry better than President Bush on national security and foreign relations. (I don't even think that John Kerry would be able to bring in the French to the fight, despite his French ties).posted by: Jim Bender on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
I think the country is so polarized that any large bounce is unlikely. Most moves we've seen after March have been pretty meaningless, just around each other.
Incidentally, Bush has spent a lot of money on ads so far. He'll be able to spend more money going forward, but its not clear to me that its more than 1.5 times what he's already spent. And of course he'll still target swing states. It would be foolish to waste time and money on New York or even California. A bogus poll in 2000 suckered Rove into spending money and time on California in the last days. If Bush had lost, people would have pointed to that as the crucial action that caused him to lose.
The convention will probably give Bush a bit of a jump. But like I said, I wouldn't expect a big jump in any case.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Zogby's most recent polls how bush in a shit-load of trouble. (via atrios)
Only 43% of the SOUTH, thinks the country is headed in the right direction -- approval ratings there are 44%.posted by: Jor on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Hi, this is off-topic but would really love if you could answer it. I saw this at Instapundit and was wondering if you, Dan, could cover this on your site. I don't know anything about economics. The NYTimes I guess is saying that Bush is helping the rich in this article.
Econopundit responded and said that it was not so.
I read what he wrote and have no idea what the heck he said and couldn't download the IRS info. Could you give your opinion too? Thanks.
I would be interested in what those who answered "No" to the "Do you think the country is headed in the right direction" question think would re-orient the country into the right direction.
Dissatisfaction with the country's heading doesn't necessarily indicate pro-Kerry sentiment -- I'm not happy with "where the country is headed" in a number of ways, some of them due to Bush's presidency. But I would expect Kerry to only exacerbate the problems as I see them.posted by: Twn on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Twn, Follow the link -- its pretty bleak for Bush. He's still "liked", but everything else is bad. Who exactly led the country to where it is today? Hmm... BTW, Bush'snew campaign slogann "american's turned the corner" -- I.e. the past four years havebeen bad, but give us annother shot!.posted by: Jor on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
I disagree with Dan that this is a hard campaign to read. The bottom line is that Bush is in trouble; the advantage a Republican President could expect to have with the renewed salience of foreign policy has been undermined by the difficulties we have had in Iraq, and the economy is only now beginning to recover after a recession that impacted on likely voters more than earlier recessions did.
If the economy picks up and Iraq settles down Bush could recover. Millions of voters who disapprove of him have not formed much of an impression of Kerry yet, and if things do start to look as if they are on the right track again public disapproval of Bush could abate. But if they don't he is toast, and there is a good chance that the election could end up not being that close.
There is only a little about the voters' decision that can be decisively influenced by the campaign itself, something I'm not sure Bush and his team recognize. They may be counting on Kerry self-destructing, which in important respects is what happened to Bush's opponents in the only other close elections he has run in. I suppose it could happen; like a lot of politicians Kerry acts as if having a spaghetti spine is politically shrewd, whereas at this level it is deadly. But ultimately this election is going to be mostly about Bush. If wages were rising and the Iraqi people really had greeted our troops with flowers Kerry could come off like Franklin Roosevelt and still get crushed, but under current circumstances he's likely to get more votes even if voters embrace him with great reluctance.posted by: Zathras on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
“I would be interested in hearing a more reasoned explanation about why you like John Kerry better than President Bush on national security and foreign relations. (I don't even think that John Kerry would be able to bring in the French to the fight, despite his French ties).”
Good luck. I have literally not heard anything uttered by Dan Drezner (nor Andrew Sullivan) regarding John Kerry on national security and foreign relations that makes a bit of sense. He dodges the hard questions. Me thinks that our host might be worried about losing favor with the Harvard elite. To be blunt, it could be a snob thing.
“If he (John Kerry) doesnt walk away from the convention with a decent lead, probably double digit, he has a real problem.”
The Rasmussen daily tracking poll does not look good for Kerry. What happened to the national convention bounce?:
“Friday July 30, 2004--For the third straight day, the Rasmussen Reports Presidential Tracking Poll shows Senator John Kerry with 48% of the vote and President George W. Bush with 45%. The Tracking Poll is updated daily by noon Eastern.”posted by: David Thomson on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
These candidates are so awful that the number of voters who make up their minds at the last hour will probably be greater than ever before.
A-effin'-men. I still don't know who I'll pull the lever for in November; but I do know that regardless of which one I vote for, I'm going to feel dirty afterwards. I have never felt as pessimistic about both candidates in all my previous voting career.posted by: David Fleck on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
About 50% of undecided or swing voters fit into the category "I usually vote for party A, but this particular candidate worries me." This usually revolves around a very narrow set of questions. There may be a single issue, relatively unimportant to the rest of us, which that voter has to decide whether it is important enough to break his pattern. There may also be an "I just don't trust/like/connect with this guy. And I should because we agree on a lot of things."posted by: Assistant Village Idiot on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Speak for yourself. I have no problem with that solution. The real problem is how to prevent their ranks from being replenished faster than you can kill them. Even Rummy recognized that.
The answer is the same; You kill them first.
The idea of killing those who attack us is not just useful on the battlefeild, you see. This is soemthing the Clinton Misadministration, and Certer before him could never figure out.
As a comparison, consider all the negotiating nee, Groveling, that Carter did. Note that Arifat just about had his own parking spot outside the White House during the Clinton and Carter years. Explain to me how many lives were saved as a result. Now, consider that this entire situation could have been dealt with, and millions, literally of live could have been saved, had Cater had the testicular fortuitude to have offed Arifat and his henchmen instead of trying to treat terrorists as equals.
I recognize that offends some people. I'm not sure I care about their inability to deal with reality, beyond mentioning that is what drives the majority of the far left's hate for Bush.
David Fleck, think of it this way -- Kerry is an unknown item. With Bush you know what you're getting.
So a vote for Kerry is a vote for hope, while a vote for Bush is a vote for despair.
I hate it that it's a choice between possible disaster and certain disaster. But that's what we have. Bush leaves me wishing Nixon could come back. Bush leaves me nostalgic for *Johnson*. Hell, compared to Bush I'd rather have Andrew Johnson. Bush Sr. would be a giant improvement, we could use an Education President.
“Now, consider that this entire situation could have been dealt with, and millions, literally of live could have been saved, had Cater had the testicular fortuitude to have offed Arifat and his henchmen instead of trying to treat terrorists as equals.”
Yup, that’s right. Jimmy Carter may be well intentioned---but on the practical side---he is responsible for the deaths of millions. His sucking up to Yasser Arafat and the United Nations has brought about untold misery and horror. The heck with Carter’s allegedly heart being in the right place. We should only be concerned about the results. The very fact that he sat next to Michael Moore during the convention deserves rebuke. Dan Drezner and Andrew Sullivan prefer to live in goo-goo land and ignore the huge numbers of Democrats who think like Jimmy Carter, and are unlikely to allow themselves to be marginalized in a Kerry administration.posted by: David Thomson on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Bush will have 150 Million dollars to spend on advertising between September 2nd and November 2nd.posted by: mark buehner on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Newsweek shows Kerry up 8 points (w/no Nader, 4 points withNader). http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040731/nysa010a_3.html
DT, its pretty clear why ANYONE would be better than Bush -- IRAQ. Even the idiots who supported the war all agree Bush foobard it royally. Its unimaginable that anyone else can be that incompetent. END OF STORY.posted by: Jor on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Newsweek has Kerry with a 4 point bounce (beating Bush by 7 points). Its the smallest post-convention bounce ever tracked by Newsweek.
If this holds its horrible news for Kerry. Assuming this bounce holds and also assuming Bush's convention bounce is identically small (both historically unlikely), the race would go back within the margin of error after the RNC convention. Kerry played what is traditionally the best card of the campaign and he still hasnt taken a commanding lead. That means he'll have to find a way to sway a few more percentage points, possibly through the debate. Meanwhile Bush simply has to meet the lowest of expectations to push the race back into dead heat, and if he does as well as is typical the race will be his to lose by mid September.
For reference, post convention bounces:
Carter 76: 16 points
Carter 80: 17 points
Mondale 84: 16 points
Bush 88: 11 points
Clinton 92: _30 points_
Clinton 96: 5 points
Gore 00: 19 points
Kerry 04: 4 pointsposted by: mark buehner on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
MB, Look at the Zogby polls -- country heading in wrong direction is approaching 60%. The economy is foobard. Iraq is foobard. Bush has NOTHING to run on. An absoultely shitty record. His new slogan "the country has turned the corner" is a f'ng joke. It means I've failed you for 4 years, give me another chance. IF anything, the convention for Bush is going to be SUPER risky. He's holding it NY -- no idea how many proterestors there are going to be. Could easily go into the hundreds of thousands. A hundred thousand people protesting Bush's policies -- its going to be hard to spin them has America haters -- when Bush is talking about NYC sacrafice.posted by: Jor on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Most ominous sign for shrub -- besides the fact he has NOTHING to run on -- is the fact that he lost his TWENTY point LEAD on WoT issues over the past 3 months. He is in a world of trouble.posted by: Jor on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
"I would rather than we hit them first, rather than let them kill thousands or millions. "
Well Jim, who are "they," that you are ready to kill first? How will you know who they are if their first act is terror? I guess we need to go by suspicious activities, yes? Kill anyone who is acting suspicious? Who decides?
I live next to your brother. He's pretty damn suspicious to me. And I have some friends who thinks he's pretty suspicious, too. We think he could be a terrorist. Should we arrange a killing?
I think society has been down that path before. But I guess we need to experience it all over again ourselves. Those of us who live through it, I mean...posted by: germ on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
What is going to make a difference is to what extent the Bush/Cheney campaign is willing to use the pundit chain to deride Kerry.
Case in point, Michelle Malkin's recent post asserting that "JOHN KERRY WANTS TO MAKE OSAMA THE NEXT O.J."
Sadly, these inanities work.
Kerry is already a "flip flopper" and he "doesn't support the troops." The people who can see through these sad hacks have long since made up their minds about for whom they will vote. Unfortunately, it's the "undecided" folks who are waiting for this sort of "info" before they make their decision in November.
Mark, you forgot to leave the actual reference (i.e. the source of your info). It'd be more interesting to see what they were bouncing from.
In a race that's already 50-50, doesn't seem like a whole lotta wiggle room to begin with.
And while you're at it, could you do a historical comparo with incumbent approval ratings before and apres convention?
Thanks in advanceposted by: memer on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Yo, Jor: those 100,000 people converging on New York are the same people from whom the Democratic Party wisely spent its entire convention trying to distance itself. A month from now, even you will understand why.posted by: Paul Zrimsek on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
So a vote for Kerry is a vote for hope, while a vote for Bush is a vote for despair.An interesting way of looking at it, J. Although I personally would probably reverse the poles of your dichotomy: a vote for Bush is a vote for hope (as in, "We've made this huge costly gamble and I hope Bush can do a better job than he has so far and make it work if we return him to office", while a vote for Kerry is a vote for despair (e.g., "We've gotten ourselves into this huge reckless illegitimate mess and it's failed and we have to get out at all costs." Or Jor's overwrought "economy is foobard" comments.)
But as somebody out there said, "Hope is not a strategy." Neither is despair.
But he and Mr. Kerry split the votes of active-duty soldiers and their immediate relatives
Is there any information breaking that down among branches of the service. I have two ideas for the difference between active-duty and veterans. First is the reliance on stop-loss orders to maintain forces in Iraq. Second is that a portion of Rumsfeld's military transformation has been emphasizing Navy and Air Force projects at the expense of Army projects, like artillery.
Both would not affect veterans as much as they do not experience the effects directly. Also, both affect the Army almost exclusively, since the Army is doing most of the fighting in Iraq now and thus has most of soldiers affected by stop-loss orders.posted by: Scott Smith on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
Only one problem with that idea. Those people they were trying to seperate them from, are the core of the party... they can no more seperate themselves from that group, than you can cut your heart out and hand it to me.
That attempt at speration will cost them dearly. and it's not realy a seperation anyway, merely the image of one.
Consider; Win or lose, the Democrats will veer sharply left after the election.posted by: Bithead on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
'Bush will have 150 Million dollars to spend on advertising between September 2nd and November 2nd.'
Where do you get that from ? He will have 75 million in Government financing, thats it. Before the convention, he has around 64-70 mill + whatever else he can raise. So lets assume he has a total of around $150 million to spent from now on. THat would include legal and administrative expenses, general campaign costs and the like. So Bush has around 100 milliuon to spend on advertisiing from now till election day ((2/3rs of his total cash, I calculate). He's already spent around 70-80 million on advertising, I think. So he's got around 1.3 times as much as he's spent already.posted by: Jon Juzlak on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
All this attention being paid to Kerry's post-convention polling numbers suggest of themselves that his pre-convention numbers were a worry. and so they are.
But I have been given an interesting name for the smallest convention- related jump on record.
We can call it a 'bunny hop'. (Evil Snicker)
posted by: Bithead on 07.30.04 at 12:21 PM [permalink]
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