Why Bush Is Strong

Matthew Dowd, the President’s pollster, has an analysis of the latest Washington Post/AP poll and why it shows good news for the President. Bush’s numbers have been rebounding around the same time Kerry’s numbers should be going up. As I’ve mentioned previously, Kerry won’t get a 15-point bounce from the convention even in his wildest dreams. A more moderate 7-point bounce is possible, but even then I think it will be short-lived.

Meanwhile, the President’s job approval numbers continue to creep up. The trick is taking these approval numbers and translating them into votes. If Bush can use August and the convention month to project a positive image of himself and elucidate a clear strategy for the next four years, I think we’ll begin to see the beginnings of a convincing Bush win. However, Bush is going to have to be on – he can’t afford to appear unpresidential or unprepared, and he has a strong tendency to do both. If his acceptance speech rises up to the level of his post-9/11 speeches he’ll win by a large margin.

August will be a key month in this contest, as it leads in to the true beginning of the campaign season. August is also the month where Kerry is tied up with federal spending limits, meaning that he can only make appearances and use local media while Bush can blitz swing states with ads. If Bush can make the best of his time leading up to the convention and New York goes well for him, this race could drastically swing to the President’s favor.

20 thoughts on “Why Bush Is Strong

  1. As I eluded to last night, this is only a 50-50 race in terms of popular vote. This largely stems from the fact that Bush is outperforming his 2000 numbers just about everywhere in the South, save for Virginia and North Carolina. Bigger margins in Tennessee and Georgia won’t help Bush get to 270 electorall votes. In the Electoral College, John Kerry appears to have a dominant advantage even without Florida, which I don’t expect he will win.

    The aggregate state poll numbers show Kerry having very few problems in the blue states of 2000. He shouldn’t rest on his laurels in the weak links, such as New Mexico, Wisconsin and even Minnesota, but the conventional wisdom is that Kerry will really have to see a tide against him to lose any of the Gore states. On the other hand, New Hampshire appears poised to turn blue while, as I said last night, Nevada is highly vulnerable to a targeted message related to Yucca Mountain the same way West Virginia was vulnerable because of the coal industry in 2000. This bodes badly for Bush.

    And again, it seems very unlikely that Bush can repeat in Ohio. Gore’s numbers were soft in traditional Democratic strongholds such as Akron and Steubenville, yet he still almost won after two months of ignoring the state. The economy in swing regions of Ohio (such as Canton) is absolutely horrendous, the state Republican Party is mired in scandal and blamed for the stunning fiscal mismanagement of state coffers, and Bush’s re-elect numbers are below 50 percent in Republican leaning-areas like central Ohio. The networks should be already be preparing the blue ink for Ohio on November 2.

    If Kerry wins the 2000 Gore coalition along with Ohio, New Hampshire and Nevada, which I project he will, he wins the Electoral College 289-249…..and life will be good.

  2. Mark: thanks for your biased commentary…given some of your other assumptions that were utterly disproven on other threads, I will take these with a grain of salt…

  3. AT, ignore my predictions at your own peril. I have thorough knowledge of regional voting patterns and every indication is that Kerry has virtually no chance of losing Ohio in 2004. I try to be as realistic as I can. You’ll notice that I’m not buying into the premise that Kerry will win Florida, even though nearly every poll shows him leading there thus far. I’m far from the point where I will call this race for Kerry, but he certainly has an advantage on the Electoral College turf wars.

  4. AT, in 2000, I made three (although technically two) incorrect predictions about state winners. I projected Bush would win Wisconsin and New Mexico, but that Gore would win Florida, which he unofficially did. In 2002, my only incorrect Senate predictions were New Hampshire and Colorado. I predicted Chambliss, Coleman, Cornyn and Talent would all win. I don’t base my predictions based on blind partisanship, much as I’m sure you’d like for that to be the case given that regional political reality does not bode well for Bush this November.

  5. The Dem convention is turning out to be a big yawner. It’s not generating any excitement, and the ratings are in the toilet.

  6. Mark: There are so many differing analyses going around that it brings up the one reality: no one knows what will happen…the pundits, the experts, those who think they are experts…no one really knows but everyone likes to speculate…

    As the old saying goes, that’s why they hold the elections…

    However, I think we also need to realize that Bush has not had his “at bat” yet…in essence, the Dems have owned the political stage for over a year now, with their pre-primary season, their primary season, their post-primary season, the naming of Edwards, and now the convention…

    Once Kerry finishes his speech tonight, that all changes…

  7. AT, only rigid conservative commentators are branding the Democratic Convention as ineffectual. Honest conservative commentators ranging from David Brooks to Bob Dole are evaluating it as hitting exactly the right buttons. Obviously it’s a ratings failure. Ratings success generally requires actual broadcast coverage. Given that Americans already know everything they need to know about Dubya, the GOP convention is likely to be even lower-rated, unless of course people decide to tune in to watch peaceful protestors’ skulls getting crushed by the Republican dissent police after daring to speak their minds outside the confines of their “free speech zones.” If all the GOP convention has to offer is Bush wiping the tears from the eyes of 9-11 widows at Ground Zero, people are more likely to be preparing their kids to return to school or watching the new fall TV shows premiering in the primetime hours that would ordinarily be filled with convention coverage.

    As for the state-by-state horse race, some of us have detailed knowledge of the voting patterns of swing states, including the swing areas in the swing states and places where both candidates could significantly improve their margins from 2000. The state of Ohio is one giant flashing blue light, with a perfect storm of a depressed economy, local scandals, and angry voters culminating against Bush and the Republicans.

    If turnout in the northeast quadrant of Ohio had been 60% in 2000 (instead of 54%), Gore would have probably won. That’s how soft Bush’s victory was there in 2000, and that’s when Stark County (Canton-Massillon) went for Bush. Given that their biggest employer, the Timken Company, just closed down months after Bush campaigned there talking about what wonderful shape the Republican-contributing company was in, it’s HIGHLY unlikely Stark County will repeat it’s 2000 mistake. Ohio is the kind of place that’s full of the sort of blue-collar types you chastise as having made “poor life choices.” I’ve heard or read many a conservative small-town Ohioan pontificate on how they’re with Bush on the cultural wedge issues, but as they stand in lines at the food shelf or unemployment office that extend into the parking lot, gay marriage doesn’t really seem like as much of a priority to them. Clearly, these are issues well beyond the comprehension of someone with as much disdain towards the working-class as you, but it all adds up to a political environment in which Kerry will have to try very hard to lose come November….and thus far, there’s no indication he’s seeking to lose the state.

  8. Unlike Mark’s usual diatribes, his electoral predictions are altogether reasonable.

    I actually see Florida is a much bigger problem for Bush than Nevada. Bush needs desperately to shore up the Cuban vote in Miami if he wants to take the state – which is why he should be massively harping on Kerry’s lack of support for the Varela Project and easing some restrictions on Cuba.

    Ohio is trending towards Bush once again. The only poll that shows a Kerry lead outside the margin of error was the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that had a margin of error of 5.0% and is a statistical outlier from other polls.

    I don’t think Bush will improve much on his 4% margin of last year, but I don’t see Kerry taking the state either. The last Columbus Dispatch poll (with a MOE of 2.0% and a very large sample size) showed Bush up by 3% – which I think is likely.

    Remember also that Kerry should be well ahead right now. The fact that this is still a 50-50 race shows that neither candidate is setting the world on fire right now. Kerry will get a convention bounce, but it won’t be the 19 points Gore got in 2000. Kerry should be at least 10-15 points ahead by the end of the convention – and if Bush can get a bigger convention bounce than Kerry, this race could widen very quickly.

  9. Mark: you seem to confuse my words…or perhaps you equate “blue collar workers” with those in chronic poverty.

    My point about “poor life choices” referred to those in chronic poverty…hardly the entire class of “blue collar workers”, many of whom are far from poverty. And I know many social workers and therapists who will back me up on my claim.

    And how about you, Mark…if you are underperforming your parents and even your grandparents economically, as you claim, then why don’t you get an education for a skill that will pay better? I’ve known immigrants to come to this country, knowing little English, with families to support, who still managed to work and support their families and get the requisite education for a bright future. Surely you are at least as good as they are…

  10. Jay, there are always questionable polls that show commanding leads well outside the parameters of every other previous poll samples. The most recent Minnesota Poll showing Kerry leading Bush by 12 and a recent Wisconsin Badger Poll showing Bush up by 12 in that state both come to mind. The aggregate of Ohio polls show it within the margin of error, but with Kerry having a slight advantage. The dynamics of this race will really have to change in order for Bush to win the state. It’s certainly possible if Bush’s convention goes well and if he goes toe-to-toe with Kerry in the debates, but I’d bet against it.

  11. AT, you have perfectly demonstrated the dysfunction of your worldview. You may not look down your nose at blue collar workers, but you have no sympathy for those whose livelihood is inevitably stolen from them by the global market forces you celebrate….and only proceed to wag your righteous finger about the need to improve their education and get more skills when global market forces grind them into dust. As I’ve said before, such rhetoric is good motivational advice for the unemployment office, but insufficient policy on how to govern a country where the new jobs created this year have an average wage of $8.30 an hour.

    As for me personally, not that it’s any of your business, I’m college educated and not in a position of poverty but am likewise not satisfied with my current situation. I am actively seeking a better course of employment, but am finding precious few alternatives superior to my current job. I would have to be making well over $50,000 a year adjusted for inflation to match my parents and grandparents salaries in the meatpacking industry. Clearly, very few of the new jobs being created with an average wage of $8.30 an hour pay that well, so as people who live outside your bubble of privilege know, reality is something entirely different than the GOP’s portrait of today’s economy.

  12. Mark: your comments about the economy are laughable.

    Those “global market forces” you mention are on balance overwhelmingly positive…studies show that they create far more jobs in the US than are placed overseas. Oh, well, I guess you don’t care about these benefits…

    And yes, Mark, there are plenty of great paying jobs out there…many are going begging for workers…it just takes the right person with the right skills…and yes, anyone healthy can make it…it just takes ingenuity and hard work and creative thinking…government can’t solve all of your problems for you…

    It’s interesting that those who don’t want the govt to solve their problems often are those who take the initiative to make their lives better, while those who try to blame their misfortune on others are the ones who spin their wheels…kind of like self-fulfilling prophecy…

  13. Another Thought, I officially give up in an effort to educate you about what should be an obvious reality that not everybody will achieve financial success in an economy where Wal-Mart is the largest employer. The haunting truth is that the Republican party benefits greatly from expanding poverty and diminishing opportunity for the low-skilled and semi-skilled in our economy. Of course you will defend a system that guarantees you millions more beaten down people to degrade and piss on. That’s what Republicans do.

    After the Clinton economy generated employment in parts of the country that previously didn’t have it, the welfare rolls declined by 70%, and your party’s decades-old welfare-baiting suddenly rung hollow. You’re clearly nostalgic for the good old days when you were able to rise blood pressure levels in your base by doling out invectives about “welfare parasites”. Now the GOP has raised the bar on the “worthless freeloading class” to consist of the working poor and the current middle-class blue-collar workers whom they know are about to become the working poor due to globalization pricing nearly all manufacturing employment in America out of existence.

    Just think, only a few posts ago, we were discussing the state-by-state electoral horse race. On that discussion, I shredded you into so many pieces you wouldn’t have made a decent hamburger. At that point, you went to the Republican playbook of misdirection, changing the discussion to how I’m a failure because my dad earned more than me in the meatpacking industry before immigration policy and Republican-supported laws destroyed it. I mop the floor up with you no matter the topic we’re discussing, but if you don’t mind, could we stick to me making a fool out of you based on election predictions?

  14. Jay, if you’ll notice, I didn’t suggest “welfare reform” was responsible for the hiring boom that took place in the late 1990’s. The welfare reform bill Clinton signed was irresponsible and a black mark on his legacy. The only reason it is viewed favorably is that we had an unprecedented streak of job growth to parallel it, providing employment for the people who would otherwise lose their benefits. The true test of welfare reform will come when traditional and employment levels are paralled with a diminished safety net. For millions of Americans, the outcome is unlikely to be pretty, and we’re experiencing the early stages of it right now.

  15. Mark, I’ve said it before but I must say it again after your last post of vitriol..it’s almost like you vomit these things up…they are nothing but a string of hyperbolic cliches strung together…it’s almost like that Perl script that Jay linked to that generate leftist cant…at any rate, the point I want to make is that I can understand why you underperform your parents economically…your powers of thought and clear minded reason are lacking…

    If you ever gave up your leftist propaganda and victim attitude you might rise higher in life and find out that this country isn’t so bad after all…

  16. While we are on the subject of the late 1990’s boom…let’s analyze the real causes for that…

    First, we had an economy on the upswing when Clinton took office…

    Then the GOP took control of the House in 1994, and imposed fiscal discipline as well as welfare reform and even tax cuts and reform (remember the Tax Reform Act of 1998)…it is these factors that produced the boom. Clinton, fortunate for him, was held in check by the GOP Congress…remember Hillary-Care, the disastrous health care program…if not for the GOP stopping that, you can kiss a lot of the economic boom of the 90’s goodbye…

    Of course, some of the boom was illusory…the product of an equities bubble. And some of it was the product of corporate fraud. And of course, in Clinton’s last year the bubble burst and we entered recession…

  17. AT, the 1990s boom was the product of partisan gridlock. Clinton couldn’t spend us out of prosperity and Newt couldn’t tax cut us out of prosperity. Had Clinton gotten what he wanted with HillaryCare, we may have been better off long-term, but the 90’s economic boom would have been unlikely to happen. If Newt had gotten what he wanted with the hundreds (or even one) of the tax cut proposals he and his Newtoids were whoring, the economy would have overheated and deficits would have exploded, most likely along with interest rates.

    As for my “misguided thought process,” we both seem to think alot alike in that we waste hours each day on a blog pointlessly debating political issues that we’ll never see eye to eye on. If I’m gonna take advice on my deficiencies of motivation, it’s probably not gonna be from someone who spends 15 hours a day or more blogging.

  18. Mark: thanks for that rational post (I really mean it…).

    I will say that Newt did get some very significant tax cuts through with Clinton, including a cut in the capital gains tax which was very instrumental in the boom.

    And the fact that gridlock, even by your own admission, would fuel an economic boom, only lends credence to the theory that big govt social programs are not necessarily beneficial to the economy as a whole.

    You are right…we probably expend too much time and energy cutting each other down on this blog…
    However, I am not dissatisfied with my current position in life, nor am I underperforming my parents 🙂
    And actually, if one takes into account the amount of time it takes to post, I probably spend less than a total of one half hour a day on this blog…I will admit I read other blogs, but in cumulative I spend maybe an hour a day on blogs…it’s just that it is in small, discrete chunks…

  19. I have just found this quote. I know it’s a bit off-topic of the debate above, but it’s in line with the title of the article… I still give it:

    “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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