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Could Kerry Win in a Landslide?

Chuck Todd, editor of The Hotline, has an intriguing article in the new issue of The Washington Monthly that makes the case Kerry could indeed win in a landslide. In fact, he argues that, if Kerry wins, it is much more likely to be by a landslide than in a close election.

His reason for believing this is very simple: "Elections that feature a sitting president tend to be referendums on the incumbent--and in recent elections, the incumbent has either won or lost by large electoral margins." He goes on to say: "If you look at key indicators beyond the neck-and-neck support for the two candidates in the polls--such as high turnout in the early Democratic primaries and the likelihood of a high turnout in November--it seems improbable that Bush will win big. More likely, it's going to be Kerry in a rout."

I like the sound of that. (Clearly the man's a genius!) And here's Todd's take on the electoral fate of recent incumbent presidents, with a particular focus on Jimmy Carter and the interesting parallels between his presidency and Bush's:

In the last 25 years, there have been four elections which pitted an incumbent against a challenger--1980, 1984, 1992, and 1996. In all four, the victor won by a substantial margin in the electoral college. The circumstances of one election hold particular relevance for today: 1980. That year, the country was weathering both tough economic times (the era of "stagflation"--high inflation concurrent with a recession) and frightening foreign policy crises (the Iranian hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan). Indeed, this year Bush is looking unexpectedly like Carter. Though the two presidents differ substantially in personal style (one indecisive and immersed in details, the other resolute but disengaged), they are also curiously similar. Both are religious former Southern governors. Both initially won the presidency by tarring their opponents (Gerald Ford, Al Gore) with the shortcomings of their predecessors (Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton). Like Carter, Bush is vulnerable to being attacked as someone not up to the job of managing impending global crises.

Everyone expected the 1980 election to be very close. In fact, Reagan won with 50.8 percent of the popular vote to Carter's 41 percent (independent John Anderson won 6.6 percent)--which translated into an electoral avalanche of 489 to 49. The race was decided not so much on the public's nascent impressions of the challenger, but on their dissatisfaction with the incumbent.

Todd may or may not be right about all this. But he makes a clear case for his viewpoint and it's well worth considering.

Comments

Interesting, and it could be right. But even if Kerry wins by 10 percentage points, he's unlikely to win the sort of electoral college landslide that Reagan won in 1980, because the country is so much more geographically polarized than it was then. There were 18 states where Bush won by double digits in 2000, and they will have 148 electoral votes in 2004; and except for Kentucky, all of those states also supported Dole in 1996, when Clinton won nationally by 8.5 points. I would guess that nearly all of those states are likely to stay GOP in 2004 even if Kerry wins nationally by 10 points.

A few of these states would likely flip if Kerry won by 15 points or more, but Bush won 15 of the 18--with 109 electoral votes--by 15 points or more in 2000. And a 15-point loss for Bush seems implausible--the last incumbent to lose THAT badly was Herbert Hoover in 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression.

Still, a 10 percentage point win in the popular vote and a 390-148 win in the electoral vote would be a pretty compelling victory. We can hope.

Glad to see someone say this out loud. I've been having similar thoughts for a few weeks now. A well-run campaign should be able to convince many undecideds that Kerry is better fit to lead the fight against terrorism and to represent the interests of average Americams (mainly because both statements are true). If Kerry can pull that off, and dodge all the slime coming from Bush-Cheney, he'll win, big.

Kerry may not fare that well against the Republican smear machine on overdrive. The Republicans know that their voters are stupid people living in poor States, in the South and West; those people will believe any lie they are told, as long as it is delivered with enough attitude. Kerry's high-minded "we've got to get the U.N. involved in Iraq" floats like a lead balloon with those people.

Kerry will win in a landslide, only if the grown-up Republicans decide that having Kerry in the White House to take the blame for the consequences of President Moron's policies -- someone they can stone for the inevitable, ignominious withdrawal from Iraq and for raising taxes to maintain national solvency.

Oddly, Republicans remember Hoover, and I think more than a few look at Kerry, and see Hoover -- a personality that will alienate the Republican populist base, and the kind of deft timing, which will destroy the Democratic Party.

Be careful what you wish for

Brian: I actually have no clue what you meant to say with this post (try English next time), but I would offer a word of advice. Those Southerners and Westerners who support Bush are not dumb (most aren't poor, either ... poor Southerners tend to go Dem, since most of them are black). They are mostly just disinterested in politics, and therefore easily (and cheerfully and sometimes knowingly) manipulated. It will serve you will to think of them that way rather than as idiots unable to tell fact from fiction.

I, too, have been increasingly convinced of a Kerry landslide lately. I'm particularly amused by the Washsington pundits on Chris Matthews' show and others who talk about Bush as if he's already won and talk about Kerry as if he's running a terrible campaign. For two weeks now, they've been crowing about Bush's "big lead" in the Gallup and ABC news polls that give him a 5 point advantage over Kerry. Not only do they ignore the fact that other incumbent presidents were leading by 10+ points at this point in their re-election bid (even Bush senior), they also ignore all of the other polls which show the race to be even or in Kerry's favor. Unless things in Iraq change for the better (quite doubtful) and the economy grows jobs like gangbusters (theoretically possible), the ceiling of 46% Bush is averaging in the polls right now is where he'll end up in November. Notice that the few polls that have Bush in a lead of 5% are the same polls that have few, if any, undecided voters. Those are the polls to be most skeptical about because they're obviously forcing people to make a choice they're not ready to make. If I'm an ambivilent voter and I'm forced by a pollster to give an answer, I'm probably going to go with the one I know (the incumbent) rather than the one I don't (the challenger).

By the way, I'm paying close attention to Kerry's numbers over the next couple of weeks as he starts running those two excellent biographical TV ads in the battleground states. At this point, America really doesn't know Kerry and the more he looks like a reasonable alternative, the higher his poll numbers will go.

I have thought for some time that this election resembled 1980, with Bush playing Jimmy Carter and Kerry playing Ronald Reagan. The parallels are intriguing: a troubled economy and a foreign disaster (the Iranian hostage crisis with Carter, Iraq with Bush).

Reagan won by ten points, which I do not expect Kerry to duplicate. (I look for a margin of 4 to 6%.) But, like Reagan, he may have coattails, because Democrats will have a very high turnout. Presumably, they will vote for Democrats further down the ticket.

Many people will not turn against a war time president six months before the election. That would mean living in fear and helplessness for six months. Instead, they will turn against the war time president three weeks before the election, when they can do something about it.

Unless he screws up, Kerry will win in a landslide. But this won't be visible in the polling until much later in the race.

landslide ? yeak, i like to dream too. kerry would be lucky to win OH or FL or WV or NH.

I do wonder if there isn't a "rally fatigue" that sets in after awhile with the voters.

Yes, many Americans will rally to the side of the President in the face of adversity, even if that adversity is in large measure the President's fault. But over time obligating voters to extend that support turns into resentment.

I think that a lot of voters will continue to support Bush for some time because he's the only President we've got -- but only until we and they can switch to another. I have a sense that a good fraction of the American public will seize the opportunity at the last minute to dump him like an annoying houseguest to whom one stays polite until the taxi arrives.

I actually find a great many parallels with the 1980 election in the upcoming contest. Carter was polling 46% or so right up to the last minute, when almost all the undecideds and a few of the weak Democrat leaners opted for Reagan instead. I think that's likely how this one will turn out if things continue as they have.

Bush's numbers are helped by the crises in the short term, but in the end the consistent bad news is going to come home and harm him. No incumbent president has ever gotten re-elected on the "hard times ahead, trust me with them" platform (Van Buren, Ben Harrison, Hoover, Carter, Bush I).

I have doubts about a true landslide, but I think it will be a more comfortable margin than the polls indicate right now.

Kerry is running a horrible campaign right now.He has let Bush define him for the entire last month.He needs to get off his ass and start really campaigning or i'm afraid four more years are in order.I'm also afraid of an October surprise.What if Osama is captured a couple weeks or worse a couple of days before the election.Has anyone thought of the consequences of that happening? I have and it's not pretty.

There will be no landslide. Only the shrunken, semi-interested middle is going to move one way or another come election day. The other 90% is committed red or blue.

The upcoming contest will not be about health care, war, jobs or where the prime rate is. Its about religion. The reds are into it big time and are panting to vote for the "true believer" President who embodies their values and aspirations. The blues who yearn to establish a secular society can't wait to stick their collective legs out next November to trip the pious who live between the coasts.

If Kerry wins, and I hope he does, it shows that America isn't quite ready for a theocracy. Make no mistake. Moving this country closer to that promised land of a hard right Congress, a Scalia court and a President who believes himself to be an instrument of God is what drives the fevered reds.

This election will turn on who best energizes their base and turns it out on election day. Anyone interested in joining a crusade of main stream Christians, Jews, Muslims and secular humanists?

I'm afraid I must agree with both Brian Wilder and Joe Zainea. I too have been contemplating the spectacle of the democratic party getting stuck with the tar baby. But maybe Kerrry could pull it out by getting down on his hands and knees and begging for help...

As for the democratic backlash against President Historically Resounding Screw-Up, I think that all things being equal, a landslide might be plausible. But what is more plausible is that karl rove will sling some extra special deluxe sticky slime in september and october. (Not that the administration will appear to be connected to it in any way - heaven forefend!)

I'm afraid the democratic party will never be able to compete on a level playing field in this environment until they can bring themselves to lie as shamelessly as republicans.

As for republican voters - i don't know if they're stupider than other people, but I can verify that they are pathologically unable to face any facts that don't fit in with their preconcieved notions, and that they never read history. So we should forget about changing their minds (will never happen) and concentrate on getting out the vote!

I seem to remember that in 1980, GOP maverick John Anderson took votes mostly from Carter. I wonder if his vote actually tipped any states into the Republican column--as Ralph Dubya Nader did in 2000 and might do again this year.

Here is the 1980 results

http://www.presidentelect.org/e1980.html#state

If we assume most of Anderson voters were Carter voters (I was one!) you could argue that states to switch from Reagan to Carter are;

Ark, Ct, DE, Ky, Maine, Ma, Mi, Ms, NY, NC, Or, PA, SC, TN, VT, Ws,

If people vote on the issues, Bush would lose between 40 and 50 states. When polled beneath the sound bites, the vast majority of Americans reject the conservative agenda of higher middle class fees and taxes, Taliban-like, anti freedom social policies, corporate welfare, corruption, tax giveaways to the rich, draining our debt, starving public education, and denying quality health care to most americans.

The problem is the media. If Kerry can effectively get his message out, he wins in a landslide. If the media and Bush's hundreds of millions of dollars fool people into focusing on the difference between a ribbon and a medal, or an item in a defense budget as part of a larger contract or whether he's French, then it will be close.

Give it a rest. The Indy 500 has yet to be run. NBA championships lie ahead along with the Stanley Cup. People will get their first good look at Kerry at the Democratic convention. The base needs to turn out in Nov, but the swing voters will decide after the GOP convention. There is plenty of time for the campaign to happen before Nov.

By then we will know more about the course of Iraq and the economy, especially jobs. Bush has already lost Michigan. How far unemployment in OH drops below the current 5.7% will determine how Mr Bush fares there. My guess is that unemployment needs to reach 5% for voters to give Mr. Bush any credit at all on the economy.

I have to agree with bakho. Anybody who says that Kerry is running a "bad campaign" doesn't seem to realize that the real campaign won't start for almost another 4 months. And let's be honest, Bush hasn't exactly leaped out with a decisive, brilliant strategy (if he has, then please tell me: what is it?)

And another thing: nobody except the base really likes the kind of aggressive "red meat" attacks that many of my fellow partisans want to hear. I frankly believe such attacks are political orgasms; they feel good, but they don't get you anywhere, and sometimes get you into trouble if someone hears you make one.

Don't criticize Kerry's campaign till the season actually starts, and stay positive. The last thing we wanna do is give the right-wingers the impression that we don't like our own man.

"The last thing we wanna do is give the right-wingers the impression that we don't like our own man"

Very good point, though I'd worry more about what swing voters think. Ever heard an evangelist say "Yeah Jesus is great, but he needs to get off his butt and save more souls?" Of course not. Kerry is GOOD. Democrats are GOOD. Liberalism is GOOD. Now say it.

More on the Kerry Campaign:

http://salon.com/news/feature/2004/05/05/kerry/index.html

"The doom-and-gloom brigade is savaging Kerry because the race is still tied after Bush's horrible April. But the campaign has barely begun.

With just months to go in an election that ought to be a referendum on President Bush, the New York Times runs a front-page story: The Democrats are in serious trouble. Although Bush's approval ratings are low, the presumptive Democratic nominee can't get any traction. His campaign "continues to confront a cloud of doubts and reservations," the Times says, and voters are complaining that he hasn't offered the country a clear vision for the future.

It may sound like the Times on John Kerry in 2004. In fact, it's the Times on Bill Clinton in 1992.

The media began making funeral plans for the Kerry campaign over the weekend, and the New York Times led the way with a gloomy front-pager by Adam Nagourney. As it turns out, the predictions of Kerry's demise were more replay than revelation. It's certainly true that Kerry has problems -- his campaign lacks the money, the organizational structure, and the message discipline of the well-oiled Bush-Cheney machine -- but we've heard this before.

The Times painted an equally dour assessment of Clinton's prospects in a front-page piece in April 1992 headlined "Clinton Dogged by Voter Doubt." The Times said then that unnamed "political professionals in the Democratic Party" were troubled that Clinton hadn't made a better impression on the nation's voters. Nagourney's piece Sunday reported that "Democratic Party officials" have similar worries about Kerry."

I think it kerry wins, it will be VERY close.

The republicans, after all, will be purging and cheating wherever possible. Again.

If the Big Lie doesn't get you, the computer fraud (or its analog predecessors) will.

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040517&s=palast

I was musing on the 'landslide' possiblity a few weeks ago. The continuing bad news out of Iraq, the still-sluggish economy, and the Bush team's sudden and utter inability to make politically saavy moves are the sorts of things that, six months out, produce landslides. There are obviously a lot of twists and turns to come, including unpredictable exogenous shocks (Iraq explodes? Osama captured? North Korea detonates nuke? Economy takes off all of a sudden? Stock market crash? Kerry linked to string of prostitute murders?) that will make our May 2004 predictions about the 2004 election about as useful as a preview of the 2002 midterms writeen on September 10, 2001. But the point is that Kerry is well-positioned to win, and it's possible (with some breaks and continuing Bush ineptitude) that he could win big.

The possibility of a strong win (with the possible retaking of one or both houses of Congress) is remote, but it is there - and it seems much more likely than it did in, say, February.

Bush could still win this thing, and the Kerry campaign could fall apart, and so on and so forth. But the Dems have the potential for a big win in November, even though it's hard to see this far out.

But then, nobody was predicting Republican landslides/blowouts six months before the 1994 and 1980 elections.

I hope that Kerry wins no matter wheather it is by a land slide or by just a small margian. I do not think this country can take four mor years of BUSH AND HIS CARTEL, JUST LOOK AT THE SHAPE THE COUNTRY IS IN, LOSSING GOOD PAYING JOBS BY THE THOUSANDS, WE ARE LOSSING OUR EDGE IN SCIANCE, AND NEW DESCOVERIES, WE ARE IN DEBT OVER OUR HEADS NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY, WE HAVE LOST THE HARTS AND MINDS OF THE IRAQI'S SINCE THE STORIES OF TORTURE, HAS SURFFACED. OUR CORP. MAIN STREAM MEDIA IS NOTHING BUT LAP DOGS TO BUSH AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, AND I USE THE WORDS LAP DOGS VERY LIGHTLY, THRY ACTUALLY HELPED BUSH LIE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO GET US IN THIS WAR. I COULD GO ON BUT I WILL JUST SAY IT IS TIME FOR US TO WAKE UP TO WHAT THIS BUSH HAS DONE TO MY COUNTRY<IT IS TIME TO VOTE HIM OUT AND BACK TO TEXAS. H.D. COLE

I think Kerry would win in a landslide with Edwards on the ticket. People don't vote so much on issues as they do on emotions. Kerry/Edwards would evoke a sense of optimism and decency that would be impossible for the republicans to match. Bush/Cheney evoke a sense of perpetual fear, depression and meaness and cruelty. Republicans would be hopeless on domestic issues against Edwards. Adding Wes Clark to the team as a prominent adviser with the implicit suggestion that he would be in charge of cleaning up national security after the election (in much the same way republicans used Colin Powell to help Bush in 2000) would sew up the issue of national security for dems.

I do agree with Chris... The Bush-Chainme FUD campaign will grow tired without at least two October surprises to freshen it up and I don't know if Bushco can pull that off without it looking too desparate.

I do also think that Kerry will have to win in a landslide... if it's close, the Republican control of the election machine in Florida, Diebold, the Scalia court and their systematic black voter-disenfranchisement will make sure that Bushco wins if it's even the slightest bit close... there will be lots of hemming and hawing, but when push comes to shove, the Republicans who really know how to shove triumph... i.e. the bad motherfuckers win the fight in a dark alley with no observers to see what's really happening... and no paper trail in most of the states that go Bush.

If the above happens, maybe the media(ocre) will finally wake up (even if they do need their tax breaks)

The possibility of a Dem Senate will finally lead to some subpeonas, Iraq and the deficit explode and in 2008 we get the start of a Dem dynasty like Roosevelt after Hoover.

Otherwise, to win this and future elections, the dems might practice Akido... try to turn the Republican ferocity and manipulation against itself. to define them as ruthless liars...

But this ignores the politics of the identity-gut, that reptilian part of the brain that advertising industry so well understands and the dems so badly neglect... the identity/fear continuim that Rove has masterfully played in the red states...

How did the flock of the 700 club finally realize they were being fleeced and lied to? Only after some really horrible revelations, and even then, some refused to believe it.

I really do fear that many people think that the impeachment of Clinton used up the oxygen for a fight like that and no matter how bad bush gets, he won't be impeached.

As an aside -- I wish Al Gore could have hanged on in 2001-03 while doggedly and consistently pursuing the same themes as he did in the 2000 campaign... Arguably, he has been proven correct in many ways and his populist "class war" against special interests seems less out-of-touch now than four years ago. His flaws (mainly related to personal issues) would also be less significant, with the Iraq mess, job losses, Enron etc. drawing some attention to the current President's "accomplishments".


MARCU$

Somebody's already posted those Anderson figures, which turned a 50.8% tally for Reagan into a lopsided EV count. A third-party effect that large this time would surely help W. If Kerry runs a bad campaign (and so far I think he's doing fine), or Nader runs a really good one (and so far I'm mostly impressed by the state ballots he might not get on, and by the media exposure he's not getting), or terrorists attack inside the United States in the two months before the election, Nader could siphon enough anti-incumbent votes to give W. PA and FL. If Kerry runs well, everybody ignores Nader, and there's no rally effect during Oct, then things look good.

The Carter/Bush analogy has been operative truly since Selection 2000 -- both men were barely-known governors elected essentially on fluke (Watergate; Florida) at a time when the prevailing electoral mood was toward the other party. This put them in an inexorably uphill situation, alleviated by a foreign crisis that temporaily rallied the country (hostages; World Trade Center), but eventually created a sour mood. (The last month of bad news from Iraq almost perfectly parallels the Desert One fiasco of Spring 1980) Carter had an election year economy that was in some ways better -- his preceding three years had seen far better growth and more jobs -- but in some ways worse, as we had an actual recession in the second quarter. And, of course, there were the soaring oil prices -- which may be about to repeat for Bush. That will be one of two variables that hang over the public judgment on Bush in the economic area. The other: was the March jobs report a fluke, or will people continue to think we're in a funk?

Watching Bush's numbers slide into the mid-40s, I, too, have thought the landslide possibility very much alive (though I agree, no Reagan/Nixon thing, as there are 100-plus-EV states that will go GOP with Satan himself as the opposition). The best outcome for Bush at this point seems to be a squeaker, Truman/Wilson style win, which is historically rare; Kerry's the one with the more substantial upside.

I don't take the Nader threat so seriously, partly because I don't see even my most liberal friends anxious to burn themselves a second time, but also because I agree with the Keys to the Presidency premise, that substantial third party candidacies generally hurt the incumbent, not rescue him. (The same candidate can even hurt different incumbents: Perot clearly drew from Bush in '92, but took from Clinton's pile in '96) People forget that John Anderson originally emerged as a GOP primary candidate, and was in the Fall race as an alternative for those Pubbies terrified of Reagan. It was only as the election approached that his numbers dwindled to the point where he took almost exclusively from Carter. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I can see a situation where Kerry gets all the true lefty Nader votes, and Nader pulls only those folk who are disgusted with Bush but can't bear to vote for a Dem.

I think Bush is unlikely to get more popular between now and the election. A few weeks ago Bush had 9/11 ripped from his grasp as a "positive" campaign issue, and now he has nearly nothing left except depressing the Kerry turnout.

This suggests that if Kerry's "positive" campaigning succeeds then he will win big, by driving a big turnout.

Just some speculations.

Kerry is running a horrible campaign right now.He has let Bush define him for the entire last month.He needs to get off his ass and start really campaigning or i'm afraid four more years are in order.I'm also afraid of an October surprise.What if Osama is captured a couple weeks or worse a couple of days before the election.Has anyone thought of the consequences of that happening? I have and it's not pretty.
Posted by Allan at May 4, 2004 08:42 PM


Kerry's already planning for such scenarios. See the following:

Kerry gathers doomsday team

http://www.thehill.com/news/050504/kerry.aspx

Can Kerry's positive messages overpower Bush's
negative ads ? I thought Kerry might run a positive campaign because of his manager, Mary Beth Cahill. She did it before but I can't recall if her candidate wins or not.

> ...Nader pulls only those folk who are disgusted
> with Bush but can't bear to vote for a Dem.


Well, this would be the Pat Buchanan crowd; Old Conservative folks who simply want to punish "Shrub" for meddling in Iraq while embracing big government at home.


MARCU$

Kerry would surely win in a huge landslide if we had an electorate that knew what the Bush adminstration has done to diminish the greatness of America.. Unfortunately, the media shills for Bush and his PNAC thug puppeteers. (How many Americans know what PNAC even is...?)

If people knew, the outrage would be horrific. As it is, half the nation continues to be duped, and to swallow every bit of Rove propaganda supported and disseminated by corporate media networks.

TVNL said this over and over in many specific editorials. Here's a sample eye-opener: ONE NATION DIVISIBLE: The Appalling US Information Gap

http://www.tvnewslies.org/html/one_nation__divisible.html

Who cares--Either way, I'm gonna vote like I'm part of a landslide for Kerry and against Bush. Make no bones about it--my vote is a direct sign of how I feel about the incumbant--Bush or whatever his name is...

Grem-

" ... poor Southerners tend to go Dem, since most of them are black)."

I'm not sure your stereotype about most poor Southerners being black is any more accurate than the stereotype of there being more blacks than whites on welfare rolls.

"...The problem is the media. If Kerry can effectively get his message out, he wins in a landslide. If the media and Bush's hundreds of millions of dollars fool people into focusing on the difference between a ribbon and a medal, or an item in a defense budget as part of a larger contract or whether he's French, then it will be close. " Posted by dave

I heard on I think Hardball over the weekend that Kerry got great press in the states he visited last weekend. Not the typical "communion" "pro-choice" type stuff the glamour kids are harping about.


I just want to echo what everyone else is saying in terms of saying this is still early. It's true that most voters (the people who read this blog are *not* "most voters) are not squarely focused on the election precisely because it is still a long way off.

And believe it or not, most people still don't really think they know Kerry well, which is a good thing because he has plenty of time now to introduce himself, which is precisely what he is doing now both on the campaign trail and in ad buys.

I think it's been said before, but bears repeating, at this point in '92, Clinton was, like, 20 points back from Bush I. The fact that Kerry is so close is actually a very good sign.

Imagine if like Carter, Bush not only loses, but loses big and basically discredits the GOP nationally for a dozen years the way Carter did to the Dems.

Also, I want to note that I read on Salon where Roy Moore (the Alabama 10 Commandments judge) is preparing to run for president on the Constitution Party ticket. Big headache for Bush and Karl there, guys.

John Kerry's "go along" with the Bush endorsement of the
"West Bank solution" and Kerry's ruminations about more troops and getting an international force in Iraq do not put forward a sufficiently different foreign policy. A read on the foreign press indicates that there are few countries who will send troops so long as insurgents are rampaging--that goes for NATO nations and most UN nations. Where is the Kerry who said "How do you ask a man/woman to be the last to die for a mistake?"

Landslide? Not under current conditions.

I will vote for John Kerry because most of my adult life I've voted for the lesser of the two....

Kerry can keep a positive message and on the front page if he can present a cabinet candidate every two weeks - Dean for HHS, Robert Rubin for Treasury (responsible for the boom in the Clinton years and which the country would want back), Clark for Defense, Edwards for Attorney General, etc.

The convention could always take any of these men as the VP without disrupting the buzz

It will give more depth to his candidacy, build a forum for positive proposals, and keep the petty gop attack machine off balance.

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The key to a Kerry victory lies in his ability to animate the traditional Democratic Party base and maximize its turnout.

Thus far, I don't see that happening. In fact, he seems inclined to continue the tried and truly failed practice of triangulation, which in turn has rendered him consistently unable to sustain a consistent message. Two examples:

No. 1: Most of the party's traditional base opposes the war in Iraq. Kerry has offered little more than platitudes about "staying the course," and says that he seeks UN involvement, even though that window of opportunity probably closed months ago.

No. 2: Most of the party's base opposes the "No Child Left Behind" Act. Today, Kerry's "Daily Talking Points" notes a vague "plan to fully fund NCLB by investing in an education trust fund."

Look, I want George W. Bush hogtied and culled from the American political herd as much as anyone else on this thread. But truth be told, Democrats are looking to their candidate to stand for something -- and it's hard to stand for something when your feet are apparently planted firmly in mid-air.

Kerry needs to stop taking his party's base for granted, which he's doing by tailoring his appeals to a rather narrow demographic of "undecided voters."

Chuck todd's predicted rout of George W. Bush can happen, but will only occur if we maximize our own turnout.

it may help if people like Brazile stops attacking Kerry about stupid stuff like race.

I'm not sure I buy the landslide logic. nor am I convinced that kerry can afford to wait for july to shift his campaign into gear.

historically, the electoral battle isn't fully joined until the summer, but this election cycle is radically different. first, bush has spent a record amount of money on ads in the last 2 months alone. second, the bush campaign has been significantly more vicious than is the norm this early in an election year---the president seems to have given up his rose garden blush.

so while john kerry may not think the campaign's started, george bush certainly does.

and I think it's hard to argue that kerry is doing a good job: His message is muddled, he's gotten drawn into needless defensive posturing, and he appears generally lifeless. but the relevant inquiry isnít whether the campaign is lackluster, it's whether kerry's sustained any lasting damage. we don't know. and it may not be too late for kerry to rehab himself.

but the bigger question is why wait? why let the GOP define the terms of the debate and pound you on a daily basis?

my suspicion is that kerry's deeper problem---and the true impediment to winning in November----is the endemic problem that has plagued the democratic party since the '80's: an absence of a real political ideology----a void at the center. I think this is what people hint at when they argue that kerry needs to present an alternative to bush and a vision for leadership.

kerry (and the democratic party) needs a coherent set of first principles that are philosophically different from republican ones. in a republican world----a truly hobbesian place---people are venal, violent, and incapable of thinking for themselves. so from those assumptions flows a vision of government that's authoritarian, secretive, and punitive.

kerry needs to argue the alternative: a democratic government that rules by the consent of the governed----citizens engaged in the workings of their government and vigilant in the supervision of it.

call it liberalism, call it the new deal, but whatever its name, it needs to be intellectually embraced and repeatedly articulated. and it has to be a true belief system, not a series of campaign slogans grafted onto the frame of an ABB.

in my opinion, come november american voters will reward the candidate w/ the clearest sense of purpose. the next president of the US will be the man with the strongest faith in the in the rightness of his worldview.

whether john kerry can be that man is wholly dependent on john kerry.

Kerry landslide? More likely a W avalanche.
Florida electoral shenanigans boost Bush.
Diebold's O'Dell delivers Ohio to Bush.
E-voting glitches and fraud help Bush.
The GOP needs a plurality of popular votes to
"mandate" its agenda to January, 2007.
And a plurality of popular votes defers the
Electoral College issue for another 4 years.
And a stubborn 2 per cent or so will back Nader.
It looks red by 302-236.

Kerry does not have a prayer. I know a lot of you are getting euphoric wanting to believe Bush will be defeated, but it's not to be. The most liberal member of the senate? A man who is not liked in his own state? A topsy turvy voting record? A man with a flaky unlikable, wife who was born overseas? This against a popular wartime president? You have to remember when people all over America see how leftist, and opportunistic Kerry is, it's over! Sorry to piss on your picnic, but stop allowing yourselves the luxury of collective self-deception! Bush wins big in a landslide!

Interesting. All of the above posts seem to seriously ignore history. Both Dukakis and Mondale lead Reagan and Bush Sr significantly.
Coming out of the convention Mondell had a 10 point lead on Reagan and went on to lose 49 states. Dukakis had a 10-point lead just 2 months before the election and Bush still handed him his head in November.
The point? Kerry will need a HUGE boost of momentum considering he is losing most national polls by 4%. Though that is generally within the margin for error, he needs to be WINNING by 10 points just to lose a badly as Dukakis.
Especially when you factor the PEW research poll, which found the vast majority of swing states have swung heavily Red since 9/11. That leaves Kerry picking up no more then 200 votes, half from California and New York.
I weep for you my Liberal friends....