More on Yesterday's Polls
Several people have noted in the comments section for yesterday's post that Bush has been benefiting from a continued focus on his strong suit, even if that suit is weakening. I agree. My fixation yesterday was on explaining the very recent bump up in his horse race performance, which I do think is consistent with a rally effect tied to the press conference. But the two points are not inconsistent: the focus on his strong suit set the stage for the rally effect.
And the key implicaton of the two points is the same: as the mix of issues in play becomes more evenly-balanced, the reduction in Bush's huge advantage in the national security/foreign policy area fundametally weakens his political position, He can't assume, as was formely the case, that his national security advantage will drown out everything else no matter what the mix of issues. He's no longer strong enough in that area for that to be a reasonable assumption.
The DLC had a good article today on their website that goes over the recent polls and provides some similar, and very crisply expressed, analysis. I particularly like their summation of what Kerry needs to do moving forward:
Kerry's challenge is to define himself, his values and philosophy, his agenda and policies, as quickly and as clearly as possible. He must not only take advantage of Bush's vulnerabilities, but keep the GOP from making doubts about the Democratic Party and its candidate the focal point of the campaign, rather than the incumbent's poor record, broken promises, and empty future agenda. Most crucially, Kerry must undermine the bedrock premise of the president's case for re-election: that George W. Bush is the embodiment of the war on terror, and the indispensable man for keeping America safe. Kerry's ability and willingness to do just that are his best potential weapons as the campaign unfolds.
Sounds like a plan.