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Bush and the Political Center

Who’s in the center of American politics? One way of capturing this group is to ask the question: “If the election were held today, would you definitely vote to re-elect Bush as president, would you consider voting for someone else, or would you definitely vote for someone else?”. Those who would definitely vote to re-elect Bush are the hard pro-Bush camp; those who would definitely vote against Bush are the hard anti-Bush camp; and those who would consider voting for someone else are the political center.

The Ipsos/Cook Political Report survey asks this question and here are the results of their polling in November: 38 percent would vote to re-elect Bush; 36 percent would vote against him; and 24 percent would consider voting for someone else. (All results here taken from Charlie Cook’s December 2 National Journal web column, which you can receive by email for free if you subscribe here.)

Here’s where it gets interesting. Our political center group–the 24 percent who would consider voting for someone else–is younger (44 percent under the age of 40) and tends to be pro-Democratic. About half (48 percent) are Democrats or lean Democratic, compared to only 34 percent who are Republican or lean Republican (19 percent are “pure” independents who do not lean either way).

That means if the election comes down to this particular version of the political center, the Democrats will have a built-in advantage over Bush. More evidence that Bush’s assiduous courting of his conservative base comes at a price.


If the poll was more sophistsicated, it would almost certainly have found that many of those who voted for Bush didn't know that he is far to the right of most Americans in his politics. If he were a lefty instead, Bush would be far to the left of Chomsky.

The truth is that most Democrats and the marginalized moderate Republicans represent American centrism.

Bush, and people like Ashcroft, do not represent the right: they represent the extreme right.

That is the message the Democrats must focus on, like a laser beam, if they want to win.


i completely agree. i have always said that the biggest lie gw told was selling the american people on the idea that he was a moderate: "i'm a uniter not a divider." he said during one of the debates. by doing this he played heavily on the voter's distrust of the contraversies that happened during the clinton years. for what ever reason gore was unable to fee himself from this idenification and gw came across as a moderate.

this was also why so many dems/greens voted for nader: they thought there was really very little difference betwen bush and gore. boy, were they ever wrong.

i think the dems should be working extra hard to point out were bush falls on the political spectrum and not allow the repubs to claim the middle ground. its still a hard fight though. the repubs are so much better at framing the issues than the dems. it really is very frustrating to see watch, while knowing your party has the moral upper hand but nevertheless they are unable to get their message across for a variety of reasons - some of which are their own incompetence.

I'd like to know how many of those in the Center think that Bush is a "good man." He really does engender a lot of trust - many, many people think he is a really good man - a regular guy.

I'm beginning to wonder if the effective way to go at Bush is to play to that, don't even try to fight that image, while pointing out the mistakes.

"He's a really great guy, but he has made mistake after mistake. I'm just afraid that he's not up to the job."

I think it will be a real uphill battle to try to paint him as an extremist. People see him on TV and they just do not see a winger.

But you can easily catalog the mistakes, the blunders, the miscalculations - without saying he's a "bad man." He's a great guy - but he just hasn't done a very good job.

I'm wondering if that is the only way to tar him with the folks in the middle...thekeez

an interesting line of thought.... what we are seeing is the genious of political spinmeisters at work. they sell the man as seperated from his policies, only a far rightist could like his policies but a lot of moderate people are gulled by the image without thinking about the disastrous implications of where he wants to take the country. it's interesting that Clinton had the exact opposite problem to a great extent in that people will usually qualify their observations with "I don't think much of him personally, but.... " and they will usually go on to extol his policies as farsighted and good for the country. perhaps the heat of a political campaign will marry the man (Bush) to the policy (right wing, extreme).

The problem is not as much how Bush (and teams) present themselves, but how much the media caters to them. Although it is not as universally bad as it was, the number of media breaks the right-wing get is mind-boggling. All the while they cons complain about how liberal the media is and how soft they went on Clinton/Gore. Working the refs, Alterman calls it.

I agree with your analysis-unless Howard Dean is the Dem nominee.

If he is, It will be a Democratic bloodbath up and down the ticket.

Bush is beatable, but not by Mr. Dean.

W keeps saying that his job is to make "tough decisions'.

The Dems should point out that The Magic 8 Ball can make tough decisions - The President's job is to make CORRECT decisions.