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All in All, Kerry Is in a Pretty Good Position

I've made some criticisms of the Kerry campaign (see yesterday's post). And loose talk of a Kerry landslide makes me extremely nervous. Still, it can't be denied that, as we head into the convention, Kerry is in a pretty good position and his opponent appears to have the short end of the stick.

Charlie Cook's latest column on the National Journal website (if you don't have access to their webite, you can sign up to get his column free here) crisply summarizes why the seeming deadlock in the horse race is actually very bad news for Bush:

Last week in this space, I discounted the widely held view that the knotted polling numbers between Bush and Kerry meant that the race itself was even. I argued that given the fact that well-known incumbents with a defined record rarely get many undecided voters -- a quarter to a third at an absolute maximum -- an incumbent in a very stable race essentially tied at 45 percent was actually anything but in an even-money situation. "What you see is what you get" is an old expression for an incumbent's trial heat figures, meaning very few undecided voters fall that way.

......This is certainly not to predict that Bush is going to lose, that this race is over or that other events and developments will not have an enormous impact on this race. The point is that this race has settled into a place that is not at all good for an incumbent, is remarkably stable, and one that is terrifying many Republican lawmakers, operatives and activists. But in a typically Republican fashion, they are too polite and disciplined to talk about it much publicly.

In a funny way, if this race were bouncing around, it would probably be a better sign for President Bush. It would suggest that there was some volatility to the race and that public attitudes had not yet hardened, and were thus still an eminently fixable situation. The dynamics of a presidential race usually do not change much between July and Election Day. This year, however, the race is much more stable than usual, which is ominous for an incumbent under these circumstances. The bottom line is that this presidential race is not over, but the outlook is not so great for the players in the red jerseys.

Well said, Mr. Cook. A related analysis that I highly recommend may be found today in Salon. Written by political scientist David Gopoian, "Maxed-Out GOP" argues that:

There are many reasons for the Democrats to be hopeful heading into Boston next week, but the most important of these may be that the Bush campaign has maximized its potential and trails in the polls. There is a boundary to the limits of any political coalition, and the Bush-Cheney campaign is near the edge of its electoral reach.

The Bush campaign has mobilized its core base of conservative white male Republicans very effectively. Now what? Now is when Karl Rove wishes he were Mary Beth Cahill, John Kerry's campaign manager. From nearly every angle that the Bush strategists peer, the turf they view for expanding their coalition is decidedly less friendly than the landscape enjoyed by Team Kerry.

Exactly. Gopoian goes on to offer some very interesting analysis based on estimating expected Republican and Democratic support from key voter groups and comparing currently observed Bush and Kerry support with the expected levels of support. (He doesn't go into detail on the methodology for his estimations, but it's basically done by looking at the partisan composition of different groups and combining that with historical patterns of partisan support for Democrats and Republicans.)

Gopoian shows that Bush has large shortfalls in support among independents (15 points below expectations), moderates (6 points lower) and liberals (11 points). He is maxed out among conservatives and is unlikely to make more gains there. Kerry, on the other hand, needs to make comparativelly modest progress among Democrats and moderate-to-liberal whites. As Gopoain puts it: "...Kerry needs to make small gains among friendly voters, while Bush needs to make huge gains among relatively unfriendly voters."

Not so good for the Bush team. Gopoian also has some interesting things to say about the demographics of the friendly voters Kerry needs to make progress among. Basically, we're talking about whites of moderate-to-low levels of education--more the white working class than, say, white professionals.

I'll be posting more about this last issue in days to come.

Comments

Very encouraging. I think Dems are already in a good place going into the convention, and they'll get bounce on top of that. Watch for Repubs to fashion their message negative to the themes that come out of the Democratic convention and that will erode the bounce a little, but not enough to do much damage. When the Repubs run out "girly man" Arnie at their convention he might as well be the terminator.

I'm not overconfident because I can't underestimate what this administration is capable of doing to stay in power. They wrote the book on dirty politics. Last week they floated the idea of delaying elections which is ratcheting up the fear factor. This week it's mock horror over what Sandy Berger's got in his pants.
By God, I think they're getting desperate! Anything to change the downward gravity of GW's poll numbers.

God, it would suck to be them. They've tried every trick in the book, but they can't make up for the fact that their guy's a lousy President.

Some years you just have a bad feeling about, and this has to be one for them. Where, other than in gerrymandered Texas, do they expect to make any gains in the House? Where, other than in Gore's most marginal winning states, do they have any chance of whittling away at the Democratic coalition? They no longer talk about major gains in the Senate. All of theie eggs are in the basket of their talentless President.

John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal said this past Sunday on "Meet the Press" that if Kerry can get a decent bump out of the convention and then sustain a lead of six to eight points for a little while - meaning, not two or three days - it will be tough for Bush to come back.

Right now, there has to be a lot of worry within the Republican party. It's easily seen in their actions. They are trying to fire up their base, as the authors of this site have said again and again. Will it work? Who knows. But like many have said, I'd rather be John Kerry right now.

It would be nice if someone woul informa that call-girl ring that passes for a mainstream press in this country.

They're only getting what they deserve. You can't campaign as a 'compassionate conservative' and a 'uniter, not a divider' then reinstate the Reagan Revolution once you get into office and hope nobody notices.

November can't come soon enough, and like many others have said, I worry that there is a lot of time for them to come up with something dirty.

The truth is that barring a serious surprise - at least bigger than Reagan's death and the capture of Saddam Hussein (which only produced short lived bounces), the GOP are going to lose this year.

It is obvious how desperate they have become. I take that as a good sign.

Jeff: Such a surprise could definitely cause people to shift dramatically to one side or the other. One scenario we absolutely cannot predict the outcome of is if there is another terrorist attack on US soil before the election. Will voters stand united with their president out of fear and "patriotism" or will they blame the president for not having adequately beefed up homeland security?

Especially with Bush's whole "American is safer!" and "Peace President!" schtick. So if there was another terrorist attack what would John Kerry do? Effectively he has no more power than a Senator...

There is POTENTIAL for a landslide, but it will take a lot of hard work to convince the public that Kerry is a solid candidate. And in the meantime you have a ruthless machine that will use every possible card they have to win. Sandy Berger - leak it all over the place. Woodward - butter him up, etc.

There is a huge set of tasks to win the Presidency, the Senate and the House. All three are battle grounds. And in all three the money, the incumbent's ability to set the agenda, and finally the media power of Fox, the Washington Times and other will be hard to fight.

I do worry though, that the bushies might just need to let his numbers slowly rise between now and Nov. The way it will work is, the "call-girl ring that passes for a mainstream press" (I love that image) will provide the carb-free diet of news: election campaign fluff dominating the news, nothing but sound bites, nasty rhetoric and whistle-stops. Which will in itself be the needed distraction from the real issues, which had been showing (up till around the time Reagan died) what a lousy job the chief exec is doing. If the repugs can get that circus-focus, will that be enough, just relying on the short memories of the voters? I fear so.

Kerry's campaign needs to figure out how to keep the spotlight on the visible, destructive incompetencies of the administration, and counter with strong, repeatable messages of their own: Get the Country back on the Right Track, Protect our Real Interests, Put American Principles First, Install Competent Leadership, Open Government... the list of mere *slogans* is endless and would force Bush on the defensive trying to counter them.

I would have to say that the thing that scares me most is not, "What will these Republicans do when they are desperate," but instead is, "What will they do when it is clear even to them that they have no hope?"

This administration, in a position of having nothing to lose, is a truly frightening thought. These are the sorts of people who would poison the villiage well because they lost a land dispute.

Kevin Phillips had an article in the Nation that Kerry could win handily if he appealed to the Perot/McCain republicans. I wonder if he will do it?

You guys are living in a dream world. National polls consistently overestimate Democratic votes by 5-8% relative to Republican polls -- closing polls had Clinton up by 12% over Bush (he won by 5%) and up by 15% over Dole (he won by 6%) -- check the Gallup archives. 2000 was the exception, but the last minute dirty hit on Bush regarding the drunk driving charge accounts for that. Unless you guys have another one of those up your sleeves, tied polls actually mean a 5% or better win for Bush and you know it.

You sound kind of ... desperate, John.

It's not true, JohnG. "Closing polls" in general didn't have Clinton up 12 percent in 1992. I remember the last poll published in USAtoday (which wasn't exactly yearning for Bush, was it) as 40:42 for Clinton, with Bush coming on strong. There may have been polls with Clinton up 12 % at this point. But whoever believed them was deluding himself.

And Bush jr. lost in 2000 not because of his drunk driving and getting away with it but because of Donna Brazile's get-out-the-vote effort. Ask Karl Rove. He was studying Brazile's feat for three years now.

Let's hope he didn't learn too much.

All the more reason to suspect that they will pull something dramatic - like dump Cheney. If they recruit McCain as VP, the entire dynamic changes and they instantly vastly expand their potential electoral reach...

"Gopoian also has some interesting things to say about the demographics of the friendly voters Kerry needs to make progress among. Basically, we're talking about whites of moderate-to-low levels of education--more the white working class than, say, white professionals."

As one of the "white-professionals," I'd think Kerry-Edwards would be more appealing to "white working class" than us. His whole message seems to be geared to them. Has he not won their votes yet because they have less time and where-with-all to be focusing on presidential politics four months before they're supposed to vote? Given the overall efficiency of the Kerry campaign, I'd be surprised if they don't have plans to get their message directly to these guys in the last month or two of the campaign. (I wouldn't be surprised to learn though, that they are not thoroughly prepared for unexpected events that will most distract these voters exactly when they need to get their attention.)

I do not believe this country is 45% Rep. 45% Dem 10% independent. The Democrats have an economic message that speaks to all Americans. The politics of "Opportunity" resonantes all across this land. Provide Americans with help to take control of their own destiny, remember we as Americans have nothing to Fear but fear itself.
To JohnG
"but the last minute dirty hit on Bush regarding the
drunk driving charge accounts for that."

Since when is getting drunk and playing russian roulette with other motorists somehow a dirty political trick?

One last thing if there is another terrorist attack on our soil where is the logic comming from that says people would vote to keep an adminisrtation that was on watch for 2 attacks?

If the GOP were in any sense a moral and ethical group I would say that this is Kerry's election to lose. When you consider the types of indictments that can come down with a Kerry win, including such things as the full disclosure of who participated in the Cheney energy task force, I realize that this criminal cabal is not going away quietly. They will stop at NOTHING to lose. If the shit hits the fan then the GOP will be out of the WH for a generation. We are not just dealing with 4 years of incompetence. What Cheney/Bush and their little brownshirt fucks are attempting is a total dismantling of the federal government and a massive redistribution of wealth in this country. There are TRAITORS in our midst. Shit, I wish Nixon were still in the WH.

JohnG,
Glad to see someone else who knows how to think visiting this site. Don't expect facts and logic to impress these folks. Many of them are like Frenchfries who still revisits the 2000 election.

They don't love Kerry nearly as much as they hate Bush. And that kind of thinking doesn't win elections.

With the new poll on hispanics out today in the Washington Post I have to say that Kerry is looking good. Even Matthew Dowd would agree: after the 2000 results he presented data that showed if the hispanic population votes in 2004 at the same percentages they did in 2000 Bush would lose not by the 540,000 votes he did that year, but by upwards of 2 million. BC04 clearly needed to change the hispanic math for this election and have come up way short.

JohnG and S Robinson are right. I often go to free republic or lucianne to read a devastating logical critique of John Kerry when I get tired of the kindergarten-level talk at this obviously amateur site.

I mean, how can "If the GOP were in any sense a moral and ethical group I would say that this is Kerry's election to lose. When you consider the types of indictments that can come down with a Kerry win, including such things as the full disclosure of who participated in the Cheney energy task force, I realize that this criminal cabal is not going away quietly" possibly compare to "THE FAGS AND DEMONCRATS ARE ALL GOING TO HELL ALONG WITH BUBBA AND HITLERY KKKLINTOON!!!!!"

"Don't expect facts and logic to impress these folks. Many of them are like Frenchfries who still revisits the 2000 election."

Yeah, that 2000 election is such old news, isn't it? So four years ago. Why don't we just get over it? After all, if Bush had received more total votes and had lost one vital state due to very questionable circumstances, I just know the Republicans would have gotten over it just fine - they being the grown-ups and all.

You're correct about one thing, S Robinson: I do dislike Bush more than I like Kerry. But my vote for Kerry is going to count just as much as if I loved him to death.

"He is maxed out among conservatives and is unlikely to make more gains there. " This may be true of social convervatives, but how can traditional conservatives--those interested in fiscal responsibility and smaller government--support Bush? When will they turn on him?

I notice Republican frothing over Sandy Berger has gone off the shelves at CNN and Fox with the release of the 9/11 report - none of which is good news for Bush.

Kerry has to hit hard on two Repub soft spots: domestic security lapses (foot dragging over appointment of a cabinet level intelligence director, underfunding security apparatus at home), and economic opportunity for all Americans, not just a few wealthy elites.

I like how the Dems are using the Republican values theme, but turning it into an economic values (jobs and healthcare) as well as personal morals.

They can use the same turnaround on the "Americans are safer now" mantra Bush has been mouthing. How much safer are we at home? Al Queda are socked away in their hideyholes, Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, Halliburton owns Iraq instead of Hussein, and oh yes, I almost forgot, the world hates us. On the home front we have Tom Terrific with his yellow/red alerts, chemical plants wide open, containers going unchecked, and borders under patrolled - especially in the west. What a mess.

The first thing the Kerry administration should do is appoint a cabinet level intelligence director and then focus on domestic security.

I think you dems need to read some insightful commentary for a change. Try this http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/blog_7_22_04_1010.html
for some on-point commentary.

JohnG,

No one is forcing you to come here. And frankly, like Bush, no one is going to miss you when you're gone.

"This administration, in a position of having nothing to lose, is a truly frightening thought. These are the sorts of people who would poison the villiage well because they lost a land dispute."

How seriously do you think this could actually occur? Wouldn't the Bush administration's corporate backers yank back the reins beforehand, not wanting to see their lucrative, stable American marketplace destroyed by another civil war, not to mention the effect a Bushite totalitarian martial law regime would have on the world economy. I would also like to think that our military would honor their vows to the Constitution. I hope so...

JohnG----

I've poked around RCP and this site, and while Ruy definitely has his point of view and a book to sell, he mostly sticks with quantitative analysis of publicly available polls. Most of the pro-Bush analyses at RCP and elsewhere are just wishful thinking ("ooh those dems messed up bad with the convention timing! that will do them in!", "gay marriage will be a silver bullet for conservative turnout") , questionable appeals to history ("Bush would have won the popular vote by a large margin had it not been for the DUI revelation", "look at how well the GOP has done in presidential elections since Nixon"), and the ever popular canard of conflating a Solid South with GOP victory.

RCP's analysis seems to rest on the unproven assumption that Kerry and/or the Democratic party is so hateful to voters that a presidential with sub-50% approval ratings who trails in every trial heat will be able to defeat his opponent once it is emphasized that his opponent is a DEMOCRAT.
And for good measure, 9/11 changed everything so the old rules don't apply.

So, while it is possible for Bush to win the election (all the big stuff has yet to happen), I'd have to say the Democratic boosters are standing on more solid ground and it's the GOP analysts that are engaging in wishful thinking.

Ned,
I don't expect civil war to suddenly erupt. After all, there was a quiet coup in 2000 and the public just rolled over. My faith in the American voter took a big hit in 2000, and I'm looking towards 2004 to restore my faith in the American democracy. However, a vibrant democracy stands on two legs: an independent media and a well educated electorate, so I'm not overly optimistic.

I imagine something like Cheney's suddenly going to have a little heart flutter or his new physician will suddenly discover something his old physician, who was replaced last month for drug abuse if I recall correctly, missed. How convenient. The conservative base can't complain that he was "dropped" in favor of a less conservative face if Cheney is sick, and that will throw the race into a frenzy.

Another scenario: a top AQ operative is captured. Remember, these rumors circulated a while back that pressure was being put on Musharraf to produce a high value target the week of the Democratic convention.

OR: some dirt will suddenly surface about Kerry or Edwards from the murky past. Who knows, but one thing is for sure. The Republicans are going to start digging deeper because they can't, they just can't run on GW's record of mishaps and screw ups.

JohnG:

McIntyre's article is interesting...but no more "real clear" than Cook's and Teixiera's analysis.

Particularly interesting to me is his assertion that Bush faces a "hostile, partisan press." Our media is giving us Sandy Berger on the front page, but saying nothing about the Plame case. Nowhere in the "liberal media" have we read a thorough analysis of Bush's military service, and how he almost certainly got the job to avoid Viet Nam, and then missed drills so he could work on a political campaign (or about the related question: why did he refuse to take the flight physical? Afraid of a "piss test"?). And only in the blogosphere have we seen comparisons of the policy benefits Bush claims for his domestic initiatives with their actual effects (See No Child Left Behind and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit).

Wouldn't such a "hostile, partisan press" be asking how, if our occupation of Iraq has made us safer, we still have to worry about attacks intended to disrupt our elections?

Anyway, Bush is in trouble, and inside the beltway Republicans are nervous, because they know that whatever the economic numbers say, most people don't feel better off. They are unemployed or working at a worse job than they had four years ago. Many know someone who died in Iraq, is still there after expiration of a service committment, or came back and told them how Cheneyed-up things are there (several meanings intended here). And instead of a President who reassures them, they have one who calls himself an optimist, then says they should be afraid of a boogeyman only he can root out of the closet.

I'm old enough to remember how people felt in 1979, and I am reminded of those days when I talk to people. We don't know why, but we don't like what we see, and that is not good for Bush.

I agree with Tim L.: it is the Bush Adminstration that has made this country so bitterly polarized--the people who see the rampant criminality in the government vs. the people with rose-colored blinders over their eyes, ears, and mouth, with some confused, relatively uninformed people scratching their heads on the sidelines. I share some of the "moralistic" and economic views of the Republican Party, but lean Democrat on social issues, and I think much of the American electorate is similarly mixed. But when you have a Republican Adminstration that is arrogant, lawless, and bullying as the Bushies, an Adminstration who openly says "You're either with us or against us," then what results is a bitterly divided election.

You can only inhale so much smoke before you start looking for a fire, and in the same way, with all the books, films, critical interviews, and now investigative reports that have come out against the war and the Bush Administration's policies, more and more people are becoming openly skeptical and questioning. Today's 9/11 report only adds fuel to the fire under Bush's butt, and further increases the number of potential voters that Kerry can convince to join him.

About closing polls

>>closing polls had Clinton up by 12% over Bush (he won by 5%) and up by 15% over Dole (he won by 6%) -- check the Gallup archives.<<

You're exactly right, but it's not because pollsters overestimated Dem turnout. Undecided voters break for the challenger 3 to 1. In 1992, pollsters assumed they'd break for Clinton, instead they went heavily to Perot. In 1996, it was the standard effect. Undecideds went for Dole.

So, basically, you're just reiterating how much trouble Bush is in. The only people Bush has sold on a second term is his base. If he hasn't sealed the deal with undecideds, they're not going to vote for him on election day.

Mara:

I expect some or all of those less ominous scenarious as well, and hope Kerry can surmount them (and maybe he's smart enough to have a few up his sleeve as well). And yes, the public accepted the 2000 election results.
But what if the Rove tricks do not work, and down to the wire, it looks like Kerry will win?
If Bush then tried to cancel the elections, after a terror attack, and declared indefinite martial law, would the public be as easily pliant?
This insanity is what I worry about the most...

I listen to Right Wing talk radio every day on my drive home from work (know thy enemy), and though they try not to let it slip, the fear in their voices is palpable.

I just read US News' extensive analysis on the Kerry "comeback" in the primaries. It's an excellent article, and though I was hopeful before, I am even more so now. These guys (the candidates and their campaign people) really know what they're doing. They're building slowly, and I expect them to simply grind unstoppably past the competition in the end - much like Lance did on the hills this week.

It's nice to have someone with intelligence, skill and a plan on your side. Imagine how great it'll be to have that in the White House.

anybody care to weigh in on what bush's increasing approval rating means? depending on the poll, he's gained several points in the last 2 months. has he bottomed out?

Bush is a Fraud and Fearmonger

The Net Net:

Bush/Cheney have nothing positive to run on via-a-vis Kerry/Edwards.

The only card the Bushies can play in their disingenuous political game is FEARMONGERING !

The rest of Bush/Cheney "platform' is just negative bullshit.

Lie, Spin, Repeat should be the Bush/Cheney mantra.

More Americans ( not the 35% or so hardcore Bush supporters ) are increasingly becoming sick and tired of it and are seeing through their ruse.

Kerry/Edwards are going to win the values debate ( GOP Values are 'Distorted' ) while generating an upbeat and positive campaign.

Bush/Cheney will be gone after Nov 2.

If Bush got a 2% improvement rate it isn't going to help much when you're as far behind as Bush is. Frankly, I haven't seen any stable improvement other than the usual 1-2% bouncing around between different polls. Bush is pretty much stuck between 40-45% in the polls.

Academics Says It's Kerry's To Lose

If the election were held today, Princeton Professor Sam Wang says Sen. John Kerry would win: "Counting the last six polls, the current probability of a Kerry win is 98 percent. Counting only the last three polls, the probability is 99.98 percent."

http://synapse.princeton.edu/~sam/pollcalc.html

checkout the graphics

This guy seems to dispute what a lot of people, including the authors of this site, are saying: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/blog_7_22_04_1010.html

Your thoughts?

I'm amazed at the maturity level of people with a different point of view and a different set of predictions that come here. It's one thing to tell us why we could be wrong with facts and reason; it's quite another to insult us, make unsupported claims, and then reach a conclusion that merely agrees with what you want to think. You've choosen the latter, but you aren't impressing anyone.

Is Kerry's victory a sure thing? Not really. It just looks pretty darn good right now, for a few reasons. There hasn't been a lot of movement in the polls in either direction - it's been a point or two for most of the, in both directions - for a while now. So assume things stay that way, evening out and all, up until the election. With a highly motivated base for the Democrats, a deflated base for the Republicans, and undecideds likely to break for Kerry in large numbers, it's not unreasonable to predict a win.

He has a lot of work left, but we aren't the ones panicking right now. The Bush campaign is.

Can we stop posting articles from realclearpolitics.com?

I just read the last article and the author doesn't present any evidence to counter what people such as Ruy are saying about Kerry being in a good position right now. All he says is that he doesn't agree, and thinks things will be different after the conventions and the anniversary of 9/11. Okay...

Does he really think people are going to come flocking back to Bush just because of the 9/11 anniversary? I also loved his comment about "a hostile, partisan press beating up on [Bush] relentlessly." That's pretty funny.

I'm glad we have someone on our side that actually relies on facts and real data to present his ideas.

"However, a vibrant democracy stands on two legs: an independent media and a well educated electorate, so I'm not overly optimistic."

Posted by Mara at July 22, 2004 02:21 PM

Well, I would add that the independence of the actual electoral process itself is an essential third leg that in the States needs bracing. In the States both parties gerrymander districts to advantage whereas in most other democracies, independent commissions draw the lines. One of the startling facts about American "democracy" is how uncompetitive so many races are (I mean a few years ago 98% of incumbents were winning re-election - how much more currupted can a system be!!) That American democracy functions so badly is one of the reasons there have been calls in the past for essentially undemocratic measures such as term limits, automatizing the process and taking power away from the electorate. The media too though amazes. For an outsider watching American politics, the utter lack of in depth policy discussion, the lack of journalistic analysis, it's all horse-race and one or the other side's propaganda points. You guys need something like a BBC or CBC. It is afterall the people's airwaves.

Perhaps the wrong thread for this. But for me as a non-American, the dimming of American democracy is far more frightening and potentially far more threatening than international terrorism which while deadly is with concerted police action ultimately containable.

I tend to look at things in terms of trends. I mean I tend to look at everything that way. Anyway, the trend of the polls has been a Bush descent, which seems to have finally bottomed out. However, that independent likely voter vote does look likely to break for Kerry, because the tendency is always to break away from the incumbent. I don't see it breaking for Nader, since Nader seems to be more likely to take votes from the left or those who are otherwise unlikely to vote anyway. Had there been a moderate independent candidate, it would worry me more.

However, I believe that the White House is, in fact, running scared while putting a brave face on things. The reason I say this is that I am observing an interesting phenomenon. The White House has no coherent, central message. They have been unable to come up with one that resonates and, instead of picking a message and beating that drum until it either gains momentum or loses for them, they are banging every drum in the music store to try and find one that makes a pleasing sound. The attack messages are a good example. Just a day or so ago, Bush gave a speech in which he said Kerry would expand the federal government, raise taxes, and have government intrude on people's lives. That's an old and generic anti-Democratic message, and it was stated in an old style. But it wasn't terribly consistent with other memes that have been, one by one, getting played.

Now, Bush has been beating the "Kerry will raise taxes" drum, but not consistently. The message hops around. Nothing seems to be successful in distracting the public from the failures of the economy and the Iraq fiasco and the fact that the Bushies ignored terrorism, despite warnings from the Clinton administration, before 9/11.

One more thing. I don't know what the right-wing salespeople in this thread are trying to accomplish. Mention some other site once if you like, but repeating it makes you look like a spammer. Is that other site suffering from a lack of interest and he's trying to drum some up? I've read the right-wing blogs a lot. They don't add much information at all. What I like about this site is the steady stream of poll analysis and the multitude of opinions. It is definitely a pro-Kerry site, but that's okay with me. I'm partisan and unashamed of it. I've picked my candidate. I'm even making the effort to help his candidacy, and not just by posting in blogs.

I am undisturbed by the invective sometimes, but not often really, launched at Bush in these comments. It tends to be true even if it isn't "reasoned analysis". The S Robisnon comment about "Bush haters" is the usual meme and it has lost its sting and its ability to draw a response. Frankly, the "hater" label has grown more boring than anything else. You can't accuse a bunch of people of being something they are not and expect them to get all excited about it. See, we know what we are, and we know the election isn't about hate, but about saving America from a degree of corporatism that is unhealthy for the general welfare. Actually, it is even unhealthy for corporations at this rate.

Re the posts of Bush supporters here I appreciate the tone of almost all of S Robinson's posts, which suggests to me a sincere interest in having discussions with those of different views than his.

A former prof of mine, Cass Sunstein, wrote a book a couple of years ago called republic.com. While raising the possibility that it could potentially do so, he was careful not to predict that the increasing use of the internet and other new technologies that enable people to choose the "news" and opinions they want to expose themselves to would contribute to what he sees as a troubling trend in American society for citizens to expose themselves mostly to those with viewpoints similar to their own, and likewise engage in discussions about public affairs mostly with those with whom they already agree. He believes deliberation is essential to a well-functioning democracy--and how can there be deliberation when citizens infrequently choose to discuss public affairs with those of differing views?

I continue to post at a site with widely varying views on public affairs. I have to say that after posting only there for two or three years, hanging out here feels like being in a warm bed.

Sharing Sunstein's concerns, I like and admire the concept, S Robinson, that you seem to be after and you are brave to walk into a lion's den as you've done in a most civil way.

Having said that, I'm not sure this site is the place to do that. That doesn't seem to be its main purpose, if you will. To post as a Bush supporter challenging on methodological or analytical grounds conclusions drawn by Ruy and posters here--absolutely, by all means!! Yes!! At least that's my two cents on that. So long as it's civil, this can only add to the intellectual vibrancy of the site.

But otherwise, as a place to debate political philosophy--well, as dean says, I don't have a sense, from the posts anyway, that folks here are in any way ambivalent about who they believe needs to be the next President.

Again, this is just my two cents on this. It isn't my site.

bt,
Thanks for the comments. I know this is a partisan Democrat site, but I enjoy the commentary and comments. I rarely agree with the political philosophy of those who post here, but I will never question their commitment.

dean,
Yes, I raised the "Bush haters" line again. I also raised an issue with your accusation that Bush cut military pay and benefits. Why did you choose to address one and not the other?

"JohnG,
Glad to see someone else who knows how to think visiting this site. Don't expect facts and logic to impress these folks. Many of them are like Frenchfries who still revisits the 2000 election.

They don't love Kerry nearly as much as they hate Bush. And that kind of thinking doesn't win elections."

That's all I noticed from you.

The thing about the "hater" accusation is that it is an excuse to ignore the accused. Once you say "he hates Bush", you can then safely ignore anything else that person says, regardless of whether the points are valid or not, because the notion is that "hate" is irrational, and therefore the "hater's" opinions are based on irrationality. That's how I have seen it used.

This tactic ignores two things: one is that the "hater" may have some very valid arguments and the second is that the "hate" may have a legitimate basis (I draw a distinction between the two).

The other thing is that the accusation is frequently made in the absence of any evidence of hate, but simply the presence of an argument against a Bush policy or against a second term for Bush. Keep your eyes open and watch for the "hater" accusation and see if I'm not right.

Why didn't I respond to that other bit about veterans? I was just skimming the comments atthat point when I saw that "hater" accusation. I'm sensitized to it. I get it a lot when I visit a righty blog and present an argument. I don't post things there like, "He's a dirty evil so and so and he ought to crawl back to Crawford" and so on. I'll post something like, "I find myself incredulous that the Bush White House is unable to determine who leaked Valerie Plame's CIA position to the press without an actual third-party investigation, or that, if they know who did it, they would conceal the fact and allow that person to remain. The first instance implies that the Bush administration is not in control of itself, and that the president cannot count on honest communication from his staff. The second implies outright criminal conduct. Neither speaks well for them."

The response to something like that is almost always and without exception, "You're a Bush-hater!" and followed up with invective.

I don't hate Bush at all. I just think he's a lousy president.