CNN has a poll that shows John Kerry beating Bush in a hypothetical matchup 53% to 46%.
This should be sober news to the White House, but the Democrats shouldn’t start gloating yet. Kerry has yet to take the heat that comes with being a front-runner – Dean’s been doing that for months. Bush has yet to even begin campaigning, and the news coverage has been overwhelmingly of the Democrat’s attacks against Bush in the primaries. Under such circumstances anyone would see their ratings dip.
When the focus turns to Kerry, expect these numbers to change dramatically. Kerry is hardly a dynamic or moderate candidate, and Bush has the war chest that ensures he can pummel Kerry in the general election season. Kerry is getting a boost and Bush is getting slammed – but when the primary season coverage ends, that advantage ends with it.
Dean would have given Bush a landslide, but Kerry is eminently beatable. His Massachusetts liberal views are dramatically out of the mainstream, and Kerry’s campaign style is as dynamic as Bob Dole’s was.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Bush still can’t lose – he can. This election is going to be close in terms of the popular vote, and Bush will have to put up quite a fight. However, Democrats would do well to remember that the polls showed another Massachusetts liberal beating a Bush 16 years ago, and we all know how that turned out.