Excellent sites to go to for Election
2004 coverage: Daily
Desk, the Swing
State Project, Political
Vote, Race 2004
With Bush back in the
office, what should Democrats and their supporters do?
A number of bloggers have commented on
this. Here are some links:
Left Coaster, Alas
A Blog, Skippy,
Marshall - and a
Voting Irregularities and
here to find out more.
Kerry for Dummies
A brief review of Kerry's career record
to answer Republican questioning on it. Read
The State of the
You can never tell if you watch too much CNN or Faux News or for that matter most of
the media (see Media
Matters' letter to CNN criticizing them for hiding polls favorable to
Kerry) , but Kerry is actually in a strong position (dare I say
"leading") in the Battleground States. Mystery
Pollster (Max Blumenthal) has helpfully compiled the data and
wonders whether Bush's strong lead in the red states might lead to a
2000-like situation where Kerry leads in the Electoral College but
loses the popular vote. Now, this speculation is premature because
even nationally Bush is not "leading" consistently and any
leads are within the MoE (and it certainly won't hurt to see this
MoveOn ad - capturing live Bush's
infamous joking about WMDs while soldiers were dying
"searching" for them - run all week next week). But I wonder what the RNC, Faux News and all
the sheep in the Republican Party who defended Mr. Electoral Vote Man
in 2000 will have to say about that scenario?
Ordinarily, I would
advise caution in interpreting subgroup findings, as the smaller
sample sizes come with considerably more sampling error. However,
when we see a consistent pattern across multiple surveys, we can
have a lot more confidence in the statistical significance of the
Here is the list of
what I have been able to cobble together (note that the definition
of battleground states varies from poll to poll, from 12 to 20
= among registered voters; LV=among "likely" voters
The pattern is
consistent: In every case Kerry runs better in the
"battleground states" than he does in the overall
electorate, although in some cases the difference is quite small.
Another survey that did not release specific numbers also showed the
same pattern: John Gorman of Opinion Dynamics noted
that his survey for Fox News showed a similar result: "One odd
factor is that much of the lead is concentrated in the so-called
'red states,' which were pretty much conceded to Bush at the
beginning. Thus his national lead does not reflect a big lead in the
battleground states that will decide the election. We may well be
facing a situation, as we did in 2000, where the popular vote and
the electoral vote produce different results."
Of course, it's still October and
there's still time for Bush's October surprise. And if that doesn't
happen, there's always Vote
Fraud to save the day for Bush - bundles of it. So it ain't over
until it's over.
It's 3-out-of-3 for
Kerry was masterful and definitely more
Presidential and in command of issues in this third debate than
President Bush was. It was an obvious win for Kerry in my view. My
concerns ended up being unfounded, with Kerry doing well to keep
the focus on his opponent and politely but forcefully refuted Bush's
repeated false attacks. One more thing: Kerry's composure
and strength is just astounding.
Josh Marshall has an excellent
summary - and I agree with it for the most part (for example,
unlike him I did call all the debates for Kerry off the bat). Go
read it. [Bush's litany
of lies will hopefully come out soon - especially the one about
Osama bin Laden. What
point. Why were there no questions on the environment or energy policy
or stem cell research?
It is no surprise that the early polls
are coming in for Kerry.
with some results:
CBS News Poll
CNN Focus Group
24 on the panel
Matthew Yglesias has one
more data point.
Kerry 52, Bush 39
That's CNN's quick
poll response. A clear win for John Kerry. The reason, I think, is
that even though both sides won some rounds, Kerry won the important
rounds, on health care and jobs. Especially on jobs. It's easy for
the professional media to overlook the extent to which job
overshadow talk about, say, the deficit since, by definition, media
professionals are not unemployed. Nor do media professionals live in
the areas of the country that are afflicted by job losses. But in
Ohio, West Virginia, and elsewhere that stuff's a huge deal and all
Bush said to people who are hurting is that they should go back to
school. It's pretty insulting for a president (especially this
president) to suggest that the reason folks are struggling is that
they're too dumb.
News poll was of uncommitted voters.
A CBS News poll
of uncommitted voters who watched the debate named Kerry the winner by
39-25 percent over Mr. Bush, with 36 percent calling it a tie. Sixty
percent said Kerry has clear positions on the issues. Before the third
debate, only 29 percent of the same voters said Kerry had clear
a breakout here. 81% of Democrats and 42% of Independents called
it for Kerry. Only 73% of Republicans and 35% of Independents called
it for Bush. With a heavily Republican biased sample, the Presidential
vote was 49-48 for Bush before the debate and 49-49 after.
USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll results are
striking, considering their tendency to have high Republican Party
ID in their polls. The link shows other good numbers for Kerry.
Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you
think did the better job in the debate – John Kerry (or) George W.
Corps poll of voters (who voted 49-46 for Bush over Gore in 2000
and are matched with Democrats or Dem-leaning in Party ID) shows a
shift in the Kerry-Bush horse race from 48-48 before the debate to
50-47 after the debate. Good showing Senator!
Dred Scott - and
One thing I forgot
to mention in my Debate #2 Roundup below -
President Bush's rather out-of-the-blue mention of the infamous Dred
Scott case, saying that he would never appoint a judge who would have
ruled in favor of the Dred Scott decision. Why is this important?
firstly he appears to have gotten the facts wrong (and likely
deliberately), as usual - as Atrios
involving the issue of slavery are particularly offensive, no matter
what the mistake.
- Another example
would be the Dred Scott case, which is where judges years ago
said that the constitution allowed slavery because of personal
Dred Scott wasn't
based on property rights. It was based on racism.
- The decision of
the court was read in March of 1857. Chief Justice Roger B.
Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery -- wrote the
"majority opinion" for the court. It stated that
because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had
no right to sue. The decision also declared the Missouri
Compromise of 1820, legislation which restricted slavery in
certain territories, unconstitutional.
But more importantly, why did he
pick Dred Scott of all cases and why now?
the answer (via
Kevin Drum) and it is not pleasant (remember, right-wing
conservatives in power usually talk in code!):
Dred Scott = Roe v.
to be a
by Bush's Dred Scott remark last night. It wasn't about racism or
slavery, or just Bush's natural incoherence. Here's what Bush
actually said [Fairshot's translation of Bush's remarks for his
religious Right base]:
elected to another term, I promise that I will nominate Supreme
Court Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Bush couldn't say
that in plain language, because it would freak out every moderate
swing voter in the country, but he can say it in code, to make sure
that his base will turn out for him. Anti-choice advocates have been
comparing Roe v. Wade with Dred Scott v. Sandford for some time now.
There is a constant drumbeat on the religious right to compare the
contemporary culture war over abortion with the 19th century fight
over slavery, with the anti-choicers cast in the role of the
Don't believe me? Here.
Further, Bush has to
describe Dred Scott as about wrongheaded personal beliefs, rather
than a fairly constricted constitutional interpretation because he
needs to paint Roe v. Wade the same way, and he wants "strict
constructionists" in the Supreme Court, so he can't really talk
about the actual rationale used in Dred Scott.
I can't emphasize
enough how important this is, and how much it needs to be
Fairshot is absolutely right.
Here is one
of the links (The National "Right to Life" Committee,
NRLC) from the Google search he points to:
In an 1857 court
case, known as the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court
ruled that slaves, even freed slaves, and all their descendants,
had no rights protected by the Constitution and that states had no
right to abolish slavery. Where would Blacks be today if that
reasoning had not been challenged?
The reasoning in Dred
Scott and Roe v. Wade is nearly identical. In both cases
the Court stripped all rights from a class of human beings and
reduced them to nothing more than the property of others. Compare
the arguments the Court used to justify slavery and abortion.
Clearly, in the Court's eyes, unborn children are now the same
"beings of an inferior order" that the justices considered
Blacks to be over a century ago.
Is this astonishing or
Is Bush Wired, as in -
wearing an earpiece with someone prompting him when he speaks?
let the links do the talking here (bold text emphasis and comments in brown
font are added by me).
Was President Bush
literally channeling Karl Rove in his first debate with John Kerry?
That's the latest rumor flooding the Internet, unleashed last week
in the wake of an image caught by a television camera during the
Miami debate. The image shows a large solid object between Bush's
shoulder blades as he leans over the lectern and faces moderator Jim
for those who do not subscribe to Salon.com].
The president is not
known to wear a back brace, and it's safe to say he wasn't packing.
So was the bulge under his well-tailored jacket a hidden receiver,
picking up transmissions from someone offstage feeding the president
answers through a hidden earpiece? Did the device explain why the
normally ramrod-straight president seemed hunched over during much
of the debate?
Bloggers are burning
up their keyboards with
speculation. Check out the president's peculiar
behavior during the debate, they say. On several occasions,
the president simply stopped speaking for an uncomfortably long time
and stared ahead with an odd expression on his face. Was he
listening to someone helping him with his response to a question?
Even weirder was the president's strange outburst. In a peeved
rejoinder to Kerry, he said, "As the politics change, his
positions change. And that's not how a commander in chief acts. I,
I, uh -- Let me finish -- The intelligence I looked at was the same
intelligence my opponent looked at." It must be said that Bush
pointed toward Lehrer as he declared "Let me finish." [for
the video - see
green warning light was lit, signaling he had 30 seconds to, well,
Hot on the conspiracy
trail, I tried to track down the source of the photo. None of the
Bush-is-wired bloggers, however, seemed to know where the photo came
from. Was it possible the bulge had been Photoshopped onto Bush's
back by a lone conspiracy buff? It turns out that all of the video
of the debate was recorded and sent out by Fox News, the pool
broadcaster for the event. Fox sent feeds from multiple cameras to
the other networks, which did their own on-air presentations and
To watch the debate
again, I ventured to the Web site of the most sober network I could
think of: C-SPAN. And sure enough, at minute 23 on the video of
the debate, you can clearly see the bulge between the president's
Bloggers stoke the
conspiracy with the claim that the Bush administration insisted
on a condition that no cameras be placed behind the candidates.
An official for the Commission on Presidential Debates, which set up
the lecterns and microphones on the Miami stage, said the condition
was indeed real, the result of negotiations by both campaigns. Yet
that didn't stop Fox from setting up cameras behind Bush and Kerry.
The official said that "microphones were mounted on lecterns,
and the commission put no electronic devices on the president or
Senator Kerry." When asked about the bulge on Bush's back, the
official said, "I don't know what that was."
So what was it? Jacob
McKenna, a spyware expert and the owner of the Spy Store, a
high-tech surveillance shop in Spokane, Wash., looked at the Bush
image on his computer monitor. "There's certainly something
on his back, and it appears to be electronic," he said.
McKenna said that, given its shape, the bulge could be the inductor
portion of a two-way push-to-talk system. McKenna noted that such a
system makes use of a tiny microchip-based earplug radio that is
pushed way down into the ear canal, where it is virtually invisible.
He also said a weak signal could be scrambled and be undetected by
bloggers argue that the president may have begun using such
technology earlier in his term. Because Bush is famously prone to
malapropisms and reportedly dyslexic, which could make successful
use of a teleprompter problematic, they say the president and his
handlers may have turned to a technique often used by television
reporters on remote stand-ups. A reporter tapes a story and, while
on camera, plays it back into an earpiece, repeating lines just
after hearing them, managing to sound spontaneous and error free.
Bush may have using this technique stem from a D-day event in
France, when a CNN broadcast appeared to pick up -- and broadcast to
surprised viewers -- the sound of another voice seemingly reading
Bush his lines, after which Bush repeated them. Danny
Schechter, who operates the news site MediaChannel.org, and who has
been doing some investigating into the wired-Bush rumors himself,
said the Bush campaign has been worried of late about others picking
up their radio frequencies -- notably during the Republican
Convention on the day of Bush's appearance. "They had a
frequency specialist stop me and ask about the frequency of my
camera," Schechter said. "The Democrats weren't doing that
at their convention."
The blog Isbushwired.com
have plenty of additional material, including other incidents
suggesting that Bush might be wired. For example:
prompting of Bush during a joint Press Conference with French
President Chirac earlier this year, accidentally carrying over to the
transmission. Note, as Marisacat points out in the post that "The
bleed thru was in advance of his words, not his voice
- at first I thought it was the bleed thru of both original
transmission and delay but no different voice - but his words.
Then he would track, repeat the words with tiny differences, breaths
taken at different times." [for the video, see
More on this, including other witnesses' comments, here.
the D-Day speech, I may not have yet relayed this transcript of Bush
and the "phantom voice":
President Chirac, given the fact that your government also
believed that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior
to the war, do you believe that there was a worldwide intelligence
failure? And despite your opposition to the war, do you believe
that Iraq is better, or worse off, today?
Mr. President, what role specifically would you like the French to
play in Iraq going forward? Merci.
PHANTOM VOICE: The French are going to provide advice...
PRESIDENT BUSH: Listen, the French are going to provide great
advice. President Chirac has got good judgment about the Middle
East, and he understands those countries well. The French are
going to work together to put out a U.N. Security Council
resolution that sends a clear signal the free world is united in
helping Iraq. And those are great contributions, for which I am
grateful, and so is my nation.
(b) Isbushwired adds:
A poster to IsBushWired
comments that she heard the prompter for Bush's 9/11
address on a New York station: "I was watching ABC in NYC.
I had no cable and I could only get ABC from my antenna at that time
(the only station that transmitters on the Empire State instead of
WTC). I definitely heard the prompter. I posted about it at the time
"Sure, Bush uses an earpiece sometimes," a top
Washington editor for Reuters said to me last spring. "State of
the Union -- he had an earpiece for that. Everybody knows it,"
he said, or assumes it. But everybody doesn't know it, I said. Why
hadn't Reuters investigated? The editor shrugged and said it wasn't
so different from using a teleprompter.
Except that a teleprompter isn't a secret. And Americans have the
right to know if the president can't or won't speak in public
without covert assistance.
...A news photograph from July 7 shows Bush with another odd bulge at the back of his jacket.
has some additional links here,
Lindorff's report, there have been some developments (with the New
York Times, the Washington
Post and Associated
Press picking up the story) in which the White House initially
claimed the video was doctored - only to backtrack and claim it was
probably just a crumpled suit, which is also implausible given the
perfect rectangular shape of the protrusion. Lindorff's
latest update at Salon.com also adds this:
The most important
piece of information obtained by the Post reporter was a statement
by the Bush campaign that the president was not wearing a
bullet-proof vest during the debate appearance -- one of the most
widely offered alternative explanations for the bulge in the jacket.
Another point of note that Cannonfire
lengthy quotations, taken together, paint a rather disturbing
picture. The first, which many of you have already read, comes from
Joshua Marshall (who offers his observation "with some
In 2001, 2002 and 2003
the president had his annual physical in early August. And after
each he's gotten a clean bill of health. To all appearances the
president is in excellent health.
But this year, according to AFP, he's decided to postpone his
physical until after the election.
On its face, the explanation makes a certain amount of sense.
"This has been a busier travel period for the president than
the previous three years," Scott McClellan told the AFP.
But can the president really not afford one day?
And another thing occurs to me.
What was the president doing in early August this year? Right
about then is when he was taking the traditional hiatus from
campaigning during the Democratic convention. It seems like then
of all times he had some time free.
Kerry-Bush Debate #2
Bush did better than in his
first debate but not well enough. Kerry did well but should have
done much better. Overall, my immediate thought after the
debate ended was that Kerry just did well enough to win the debate.
Bush showed himself to be clearly in need
of anger management (the new meme is "Furious
George"). It remains astonishing to me that nearly half
the country wants to vote for a supposed commander-in-chief who is
barely in control of himself when the myriad fantasies of his
Presidency and his judgment are challenged. If there was ever a
spoilt, incompetent brat in the White House, this is it. Kerry on the
other hand looked far more mature, balanced and in control. After two
debates, Kerry has impressed me far more than I expected (and even
some staunch conservatives
agree). Having grown accustomed to the almost unlimited amount of
carping I have heard over his supposed lack of charisma, I am glad
Kerry proved his critics wrong. Additionally, Kerry was to the point
for the most part, was moderate yet strong in his responses, and had
strong (yet inoffensive) messages countering Bush and the charge of
"flip-flopper". In other words he was playing both to his
base as well as the undecideds /independents, whereas Bush was trying
to shore up his base - which was disappointed after his debate #1
Kerry's biggest debating weaknesses were in the discussions on
domestic issues (the second half of the debate). Examples:
(a) I was dissatisfied at how he handled Bush's
attacks (on Kerry) on taxes and abortion.
Why not point out that Bush's fear mongering about taxes is absurdly
fake considering that the last time taxes were raised we had the most
unprecedented economic and jobs expansion in American history?
Why not point out that Bush favors not just a ban on the so-called "partial
birth abortion" (hoax),
but also favors a constitutional amendment to ban ALL
(b) I was a bit underwhelmed by his somewhat
weak comments on embryos used for fertilization - something
that he should have used more aggressively to completely destroy
fake morality on
the stem cell topic.
(c) Kerry's response to the budget deficit
reduction question was probably the most underwhelming of all. It
is clear that his proposals have little chance of reducing the deficit
by half in 4 years - but, being in this situation I was wondering why
he didn't go after Bush more aggressively to point out that what Bush
has proposed in terms of additional tax cuts and spending will add
much more to the deficit than Kerry ever would. Kerry also let Bush get
away with his completely
fabricated nonsense about non-defense discretionary spending in the
past 4 years, and Bush's
lie about not having part ownership of a timber company, among other
things. In the end, Kerry probably salvaged the situation by
reminding voters that he has actually fought repeatedly for balanced
budgets - which gives him far more credibility than Bush. But he let
this issue become a real fight rather than just a skirmish.
it was the time limit - and perhaps I am just being overly demanding
on Kerry. We'll see how he handles these topics in debate #3.
ahead to Debate #3
In the first two debates Kerry successfully attacked and almost
reversed the hoax
that "national security and foreign affairs are Bush's
strengths" - indeed Kerry has shown that he is far more
capable of handling the country's security and Iraq than he has been
given credit for.
However, his performance in the second half of debate #2 makes me
concerned that on domestic policy - which is widely consider
his strength (and it is) - he might actually be more vulnerable to
Bush's attacks unless he gets much sharper on this on the debate floor.
This is particularly true since
Bush and Cheney are going to continue to churn out egregious lies by
the dozen about Kerry - and the media will probably
not help much by their "fair and balanced" stand.
Will Saletan at Slate, who was disappointed with Kerry's
performance in debate #2, has some advice for Kerry on this
(especially on what he needs to learn from Edwards).
did the public rate debate #2?
Consistent with my own view, a majority of potential voters (a slight
majority in one case, medium in another) appear to have concluded that
Kerry won debate #2. More encouragingly, Gallup's
poll and the Democracy
Corps poll both show that independents and/or undecided voters
felt Kerry won by double digit margins -- while Kerry continued to
consolidate his base. Perhaps most importantly, Kerry's positives in
the polls (favorability, likeability, etc.) continued
to increase measurably. (NOTE: Zogby is showing Kerry moving "ahead"
(within MoE) of Bush slightly in the latest tracking poll.)
Iraq for Dummies ©
Given the joke that the Bush
administration has made out of American lives and American security
(especially in Iraq), it's time for us all to drink some Kool-aid and
check out Iraq
for Dummies ©. Now!
Exaggerate and stretch
while running for office? That's not allowed, said Bush and Cheney - 4
years ago. Ah, compassionate
conservatism at work.
we have blogger
Just My 2 with an appropriate flashback:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First, I want to
compliment the governor on his response to those fires and floods in
Texas. I accompanied James Lee Witt down to Texas when those fires
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, Al Gore did not actually visit Texas on this occasion with James
Lee Witt, the FEMA director at the time. He visited with his
subordinates. However, he did visit approximately 18 other disaster
areas with Lee Witt at other times. A small discrepancy right...
Well, not if you were part of the Bush/Cheney 2000 team. Here is what
MARY MATALIN: He did not accompany James Lee Witt in '96 or '98. He
never toured any of the fire zones. He did get a briefing in the
pilots lounge at the airport when he went down to campaign for
Governor Bush's opponent.
...Have we seen -- have we not seen this kind of compulsive behavior
in the leader of the free world, and don't we understand the dangerous
ramifications of somebody who just can't help themselves from making
the President at the time...
CROWLEY: The Gore camp says the vice president frequently travels with
Witt to disaster sites and suggests that Gore's statement was a
trivial honest mistake. George Bush says this is not about details,
but about the larger picture.
BUSH: If there's pattern of just exaggeration and stretches to try to
win votes, it says something about leadership as far as I'm concerned,
because once you're the president, you can't stretch.
the President again...
Bush also criticized Gore for saying, during Tuesday night's debate,
that he visited disaster sites in Texas with federal emergency
management chief James Lee Witt.
"It's a pattern of just saying whatever it takes to win,"
Bush said. Asked whether the discrepancy was a big deal, he said
"There's a pattern of exaggerations and stretches to try to win
votes, and it says something about leadership."
the coup de grace...
Bush's running mate, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, said he was
"puzzled and saddened to learn" that Gore had misrepresented
his actions during the 1998 wildfires in Texas.
"Al Gore has described these presidential debates as a job
interview with the American people," Cheney said. "I've
learned over the years that when somebody embellishes their resume in
a job interview, you don't hire them."
The Edwards-Cheney debate
worst it was a draw for Edwards. More objectively I think
Edwards just about won this debate (especially with the undecideds). Why? For three reasons.
Most importantly, Edwards did the job of telling people that KE04 have
a plan for most of the issues and highlighted the lack of a plan (or
worse) when it comes to BC04. I see that liberal Republican
William Saletan agrees in Slate:
If you watched this
debate as an uninformed voter, you heard an avalanche of reasons to
vote for Kerry. You heard 23 times that Kerry has a "plan"
for some big problem or that Bush doesn't. You heard 10 references
to Halliburton, with multiple allegations of bribes, no-bid
contracts, and overcharges. You heard 13 associations of Bush with
drug or insurance companies. You heard four attacks on him for
outsourcing. You heard again and again that he opposed the 9/11
commission and the Department of Homeland Security, that he
"diverted" resources from the fight against al-Qaida to
the invasion of Iraq, and that while our troops "were on the
ground fighting, [the administration] lobbied the Congress to cut
their combat pay." You heard that Kerry served in Vietnam and
would "double the special forces." You heard that Bush is
coddling the Saudis, that Cheney "cut over 80 weapons
systems," and that the administration has no air-cargo
screening or unified terrorist watch list.
As the debate turned
to domestic policy, you heard that we've lost 1.6 million net jobs
and 2.7 million net manufacturing jobs under Bush. You heard that
he's the first president in 70 years to lose jobs. You heard that 4
million more people live in poverty, and 5 million have lost their
health insurance. You heard that the average annual premium has
risen by $3,500. You heard that we've gone from a $5 trillion
surplus to a $3 trillion debt. You heard that a multimillionaire
sitting by his swimming pool pays a lower tax rate than a soldier in
Iraq. You heard that Bush has underfunded No Child Left Behind by
$27 billion. You heard that Kerry, unlike Bush, would let the
government negotiate "to get discounts for seniors" and
would let "prescription drugs into this country from
Canada." You heard that at home and abroad, Bush offers
"four more years of the same."
including Kerry, duck and cover when Republicans bring up values.
Not Edwards. He knows the language and loves to turn it against the
GOP. The word "moral" was used twice in this debate. The
word "value" was used three times. All five references
came from Edwards. He denounced the "moral" crime of
piling debt on our grandchildren. He called the African AIDS
epidemic and the Sudan genocide "huge moral issues." When
Ifill asked him about gay marriage, he changed the subject to taxes.
"We don't just value wealth, which they do," said Edwards.
"We value work in this country. And it is a fundamental
value difference between them and us."
Edwards applied the
same jujitsu elsewhere. He framed his vote against the $87 billion
Iraq appropriation as a vote against a $7.5 billion "no-bid
contract for Halliburton." When Cheney faulted Kerry's
inconsistency, Edwards argued that Kerry, unlike Bush, had been
"consistent from the beginning that we must stay focused on the
people who attacked us." When Cheney accused Kerry of weakening
America by subjecting its foreign policy decisions to the approval
of allies, Edwards replied that Bush, by refusing to persuade
allies, was leaving Americans to bear the war's costs and
My favorite moment
came when Cheney impugned Edwards' voting record. Edwards replied
that Cheney had voted against Head Start, Meals on Wheels, the
Department of Education, and the Martin Luther King holiday. It was
such a devastating flurry of kidney punches, so blandly and
shamelessly delivered, that my wife and I burst into sobs of weeping
laughter. At the skill or the gall, I'm not sure which.
The charge that did
the most damage was the one Edwards leveled at the outset: that Bush
and Cheney aren't telling the truth about prewar and postwar Iraq.
Edwards listed the evidence contradicting Cheney's assurances about
the current situation: the monthly escalation of American
casualties, criticism of the administration's incompetence by
Republican senators, and a critique issued Monday by Bush's former
Iraq administrator. Then he listed the evidence contradicting
Cheney's associations of the Iraq war with 9/11: testimony from
Secretary of State Powell and reports from the 9/11 commission and
To this indictment,
Edwards added two others. In Afghanistan, he blamed Bush for letting
Osama Bin Laden escape Tora Bora to strike again. In Iran, he
accused Cheney of opposing sanctions against "sworn enemies of
the United States"—and an emerging nuclear threat—because
Halliburton had business there. Together, the charges painted a
picture of an administration that spent its ammunition on the wrong
target, allowing more serious threats to flourish.
Edwards' assault took
Cheney completely off his game. Cheney spent the first 15 minutes
defending the administration, unable to deliver his prepared attacks
on Kerry. He lost his cool and started to snap at Edwards, saying,
"You probably weren't there to vote for that," and
"You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United
States Senate." Though Edwards was delivering the harsher
blows, Cheney looked meaner.
(2) Edwards was debating perhaps the
most powerful and nasty Vice President in American history and he more
than held his own as a presumed "new kid on the block".
While he did miss responding to some Cheney zingers, I was surprised at Edwards' pre-emptive
and consistent aggressiveness against Cheney. Remember, Dick Cheney's job was to pull off a resounding
victory for BC04 and he failed to do that even if you believe that
Edwards did not win or that the debate was a draw (as the bulk
of the media talking heads seem to think).
If the media really focuses on facts, they will unmask Cheney's
of lies in the debate whereas Edwards can at best be accused of some
exaggeration. Indeed, Edwards' frontal attack on Cheney may
have even forced Cheney into some mistakes. Here are links to multiple
fact checks which show among other things that Cheney lied about
meeting Edwards the first time yesterday, about not hinting of an Iraq
- 9/11 link, about who benefits from the tax cuts, about how
Halliburton is benefiting from the Bush administration, etc. etc. [of
course, Edwards relatively minor exaggerations, in comparison, are
Landay and Seth Borenstein (Knight-Ridder), Glenn
Kessler and Jim VandeHei (Washington Post), William
Saletan (Slate), Reuters/MSNBC,
Oasis, KE04 - 1,
[and updates -->] Kevin
Drum (Political Animal), Michael
Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek).
will take a minute to commend Knight-Ridder and the Washington Post
for elevating the importance of facts in this election. This year,
they have done better than any other newspaper or media as far as I
at DailyKos asks the following, after showing Cheney's claim that
he never met Edwards before to be a bald-faced lie:
Why would Cheney make
a lie so obviously easy to expose? It's almost pathological --
reality need not get in the way of a good zinger.
Brad DeLong responds
It's not almost
pathological, it's totally pathological--and based on an enormous
confidence in the incompetence of the press corps.
A final point of
Cheney urged the audience to go to FactCheck.com to get the
Turns out that FactCheck.com
is a George Soros site. [it redirects to georgesoros.com!]
He probably meant FactCheck.org,
which is a non-partisan site. But even if he meant that, look at the
top headline from the site:
Bush Mischaracterizes Kerry's Health Plan
Bush claims Kerry's plan puts "bureaucrats in
control" of medical decisons, "not you, not your
doctor." But experts don't agree with that.
The Bush Cheney 04
platform: The art of frightening people into voting for them
Two appropriate links to mark the
biggest hoax on Americans in a long time - namely, the claim
that Bush and Cheney have reduced the risk of terrorism against the
The first one is via Americablog
- and I entirely agree with John - it is absolutely brilliant - click
on one of the links below (whichever works for you) and watch it.
Watch this, NOW. Do not
pass go. Do not collect $200.
I've posted links to several different sites carrying the same video -
it's getting a lot of traffic.
2 (you have to to give this link a chance to download - if you're
on dial-up, good luck).
- Link 3
UPDATE: This video was apparently done by Brennan Houlihan. You can
read more about Brennan here,
courtesy of OliverWillis.com, they're also one of those hosting the
The second one is via Kevin
Drum (Political Animal) who brings to our attention the other part
of the Bush-Cheney strategy for this election:
QUANTIFIED AT LAST....This
falls into the category of stuff we already knew, but
it's nice to have rigorous confirmation anyway:
When the federal
government issues a terrorist warning, presidential approval
ratings jump, a Cornell University sociologist finds.
Interestingly, terrorist warnings also boost support for the
president on issues that are largely irrelevant to terrorism, such
as his handling of the economy.
showed that terror warnings increased presidential approval
ratings consistently," says [researcher Robb] Willer.
"They also increased support for Bush's handling of the
economy. The findings, however, were inconclusive as to how long
this halo effect lasts."
The full report is here,
and the basic result is simple: a terror warning leads to an average
increase in the president's approval rating of 2.75% and the
increase lasts for about a week — possibly two weeks at the
outside. The results are statistically significant at a very high
level and (assuming I read the report correctly) Willer properly
controlled for major events like 9/11 and the capture of Saddam
That's good to know,
isn't it? Until now, we might have lazily guessed that the White
House was going to stage some kind of terror alert for, oh,
mid-October or so. But with this new data in hand, I think we can
confidently expect it on about October 27 instead. After all, the
effect only lasts a week.
Incidentally, the DCCC's blog, The
Stakeholder has another excellent Bush debate fact-check video on Iraq
and terrorism here
(via Buzzflash). Don't forget to check it out as well.
The First Debate - and
Where We Go From Here
Kerry did well in the debates and
although I expect minimal shifts in the horserace numbers due to to
this, it should help significantly strengthen voters' views of him as
a dependable and credible leader. The work now is to keep doing what
he did in the debate, EVERYDAY, for the rest of this campaign. Plus,
his camp needs to aggressively fight the fabrications and spin from
the GOP and the media.
More detailed analysis is
here (including Fox News' latest fabrications about Kerry).
Take a look.
Who voted "for
consider Bush's recent rhetoric. His
latest ad says "Kerry voted for the Iraq war."
When he asked Congress for the resolution, when Andy Card rolled it
out after Labor Day, Bush claimed it
was a vote for peace:
At the time he signed
the resolution, he claimed it was
a vote for peace.
- you want to keep
the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force.
But it's -- this will be -- this is a chance for Congress to
indicate support. It's a chance for Congress to say, we support
the administration's ability to keep the peace.
And, even today, as the
running he says:
- Our goal is not
merely to limit Iraq's violations of Security Council
resolutions, or to slow down its weapons program. Our goal is to
fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to
America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully.
- Of course, I was
hoping it could be done diplomatically. But diplomacy failed.
And so the last resort of a president is to use force. And we
He claimed then it
was a vote for peace. He told Congress it was a vote for peace. He
then says that the vote for peace that he asked John Kerry to make
was actually a vote for war. The previous March he'd said,
"Fuck Saddam, we're taking him out." So, he told people it
was a vote for peace even though he'd decided it was a vote for war.
Maybe war is peace. Who the hell knows anymore.
Sure, we all knew in October what this vote was really for, and
Kerry should have too. But, it wasn't what Bush said.
More on the painting of
Kerry as a flip-flopper on Iraq
Buzzflash, I see Mark
Sandalow has this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, pointing
out what William Saletan did.
Flip-flopping charge unsupported by facts
Kerry always pushed global cooperation, war as last resort
No argument is more
central to the Republican attack on Sen. John Kerry than the
assertion that the Democrat has flip-flopped on Iraq.
seated beside Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, said Tuesday:
"My opponent has taken so many different positions on Iraq that
his statements are hardly credible at all.''
The allegation is the
basis of a new Bush campaign TV ad that shows the Democratic senator
from Massachusetts windsurfing to the strains of a Strauss waltz as
a narrator intones: "Kerry voted for the Iraq war, opposed it,
supported it and now opposes it again.''
Yet an examination of
Kerry's words in more than 200 speeches and statements, comments
during candidate forums and answers to reporters' questions does not
support the accusation.
As foreign policy
emerged as a dominant issue in the Democratic primaries and later in
the general election, Kerry clung to a nuanced, middle-of-the road
-- yet largely consistent -- approach to Iraq. Over and over, Kerry
enthusiastically supported a confrontation with Saddam Hussein even
as he aggressively criticized Bush for the manner in which he did
described Hussein as a dangerous menace who must be disarmed or
eliminated, demanded that the U.S. build broad international support
for any action in Iraq and insisted that the nation had better plan
for the post-war peace.
There were times when
Kerry's emphasis shifted for what appear to be political reasons. In
the fall of 2003, for example, when former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean
surged to the top of Democratic polls based on an anti-war platform,
Kerry's criticism of the president grew stronger. There are many
instances in which clumsy phrases and tortuously long explanations
make Kerry difficult to follow. And there are periods, such as last
week, when the sharpness of Kerry's words restating old positions
seem to suggest a change.
Yet taken as a whole,
Kerry has offered the same message ever since talk of attacking Iraq
became a national conversation more than two years ago.
Did Kerry claim that he
would have invaded Iraq even knowing what he knew today?
(Also see THIS
The answer is
NO. William Saletan in Slate looks
at the charge and shows that Kerry has been consistent in saying
that he would have voted for the Iraq war resolution to give the
President leverage, but he would not have gone to war the way Bush
Bush argues that this
is yet another Kerry flip-flop and that Kerry now endorses Bush's
war. At a campaign rally on Tuesday, Bush asserted,
My opponent has
found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the right decision to go
into Iraq. After months of questioning my motives and even my
credibility, Senator Kerry now agrees with me that even though we
have not found the stockpile of weapons we believed were there,
knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into
Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.
Does Kerry now agree
with Bush's decision? Would Kerry have gone into Iraq? Would he have
voted to give Bush the authorization had Kerry known what he now knows
about the absence of WMD and about how Bush would use the
The answer, if you look
closely at Kerry's statements over the past three years, is no. [read here
Of course, since this article was
written, Kerry gave this
excellent speech at NYU on 9/20/04. Go read/watch
it because he finally makes his stance crystal clear - making it
obvious that voting for Kerry means voting for a very different view
and a more effective approach towards the Iraq war. Accordingly,
William Saletan has provided
a summary of what Kerry stands for and does not stand for.
surprisingly, Bush has started blandly lying about Kerry's speech, as
Liberal Oasis points
For the second time
in two weeks, (click
here for the first time) ABC World News Tonight actually
performed a basic media function: truth-squadding.
PETER JENNINGS: We
were struck today by a very pointed attack by President Bush on John
First of all, this is what Mr. Bush said.
[begin video clip]
BUSH: We agree
that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison
And that stands in stark contrast to the statement that my opponent
made yesterday, when he said that the world was better off with
Saddam in power.
I strongly disagree.
[end video clip]
JENNINGS: And this
is what Mr. Kerry actually said. [emphasis original]
[begin video clip]
Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in
But that was not...in and of itself, a reason to go to war.
The satisfaction...that we take in his downfall does not hide this
We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less
[end video clip]
to keep track of the Iraq debate.
This is not to say
that ABC is by any means a flawless
In my opinion, Senator Kerry should
simply say the following to the American public:
"George Bush has
consistently misled you about a lot of things - whether it is Iraq,
terrorism, the economy and jobs, or healthcare. So, is there any
reason to believe him when he throws accusations at me, especially
ones that are repeatedly being shown to be untrue?"
CBS Rathergate Update
I said before, the memos have turned out to be
NOT "authentic". I'm glad CBS exposed the source of the
discredited memos (Bill Burkett) and apologized and is doing an
investigation on how they used it without fact-checking. Now, I don't
happen to hold a particularly high opinion of CBS anyway - remember,
CBS viewers were second
to viewers of Faux News in holding views that patently
contradicted the facts regarding the Iraq war. In other words, after
Faux News viewers, CBS viewers were most
likely to think that the U.S. found WMDs in Iraq, that evidence
was uncovered that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were working closely,
and/or that the majority of the people in the world backed the US war
on Iraq. This itself told me the caliber of CBS'
said that, Outlet
Radio (via DailyKos)
has an appropriate summary of the situation:
Rather, CBS News Anchor
documents he thought were true
- failed to
thoroughly investigate the facts
documents to the American people as true to make his case
confronted with the facts, apologized and launched an
- number of
Americans dead: 0
- should be
fired as CBS News Anchor
W. Bush, President of the United States
documents he thought were true
- failed to
thoroughly investigate the facts
documents to the American people as true to make his case
confronted with the facts, continued to report untruth and
stonewalled an investigation
- number of
Americans dead: 1100
- should be
given four more years as President of the United States
Bush National Guard
(Salon.com) has a remarkably
simple summary of the Bush Texas Air National Guard story. He
summarizes what is known and not known, what Bush was supposed to and
did not. This
is a must-read.
The Draft - the stormy
petrel of (more) war
Will there be a military
draft because of the morass in Iraq?
Senator Kerry charged
last week that Bush plans a major call up of reservists and Guard
members immediately after the election - something based on verifiable
information from Rep. John Murtha, and something that the Bush camp
I don't know where the truth lies for
sure. However, one can attempt educated guesses on this enormously
important topic, one which should be a major item for debate in this
campaign. At least Senator Kerry has made it clear that he will work
with allies across the world to build a larger international force in
Iraq (to stabilize the country) - allies who have been substantially
disillusioned with the Bush administration and who are now continuing
to pull troops
from Iraq despite the rapidly deteriorating security situation
there, which is claiming greater
numbers of American casualties every month for some time now.
President Bush has offered nothing other than "staying the
course", meaning that our troops should continue to sacrifice
their lives for his grand, failed
experiment, while he continues to amass
an unmatched record of flip-flops on Iraq in the process of
displaying unmatched incompetence (as certified
by several Republican Senators recently).
do we go from here? Well, since the Bush administration won't
be straight with us, we have to assume what is logical. The
logical conclusion one arrives at when one considers that Iraq's
security situation has reached quagmire proportions, while (relatively
small) allied contingents are leaving Iraq, is that there will be no
option other than institute the draft, as long as the Bush
administration remains in power. (Senator Edwards, speaking for
Senator Kerry, has already ruled out the draft if they are to be
elected to power).
potential introduction of the draft at this particular point in
time is fundamentally a disturbing proposition,
especially when thousands of lives (Americans and Iraqis) have already
been unnecessarily sacrificed for no fault of theirs, due to
dereliction of duty by those who sent our troops there to fight the wrong war
(based on myriad false
pretenses) against the wrong enemy at the wrong time -- while the Bush
administration continues to catastrophically underfund
National Security and ignore Al
Qaeda (the real terrorists behind 9/11), just
like they did prior to 9/11/01.
Johnson at Seeing the Forest has a timely post on the draft,
and I reproduce part of it here.
It's the Draft,
Stupid - Calling All Bloggers
In the 1992 election James Carville hung a sign in the Clinton
campaign "war room" that read, "It's the economy,
stupid!" He was saying that the issue that was going to win for
them in that election was the economy, and everything else was a
time-wasting distraction. Perceptions about the economy tend to
decide elections because people tend to vote in their blatant
In this election I think there is another issue that is a winner:
the Draft. I think if young people start to believe they could be
drafted they will register and vote because it is in their blatant
self-interest. There are enough young non-voters to completely
change the dynamics of this election - even in the short time
remaining to get them registered.
The news from Iraq is not good. We are not winning, the
anti-American insurgency is gaining momentum, and we obviously need
a lot more troops there as soon as possible. This is why we are
hearing about National Guard and Reserve call-ups, as well as
stories about troops being threatened
with being sent to Iraq if they do not re-enlist. It appears
that Bush is waiting until after the election to do something about
this - and this politically-motivated hesitation means that things
will be even worse in November than they are now.
It's just reality that our military is stretched too thin in Iraq,
and consequently is stretched too thin in the rest of the world. If
ANYthing happens in another location, like Korea, we are in trouble.
We should have a draft in effect NOW, but Bush will not discuss this
before the election for obvious political reasons.
If we can start getting the word out that a draft is coming, it will
be self-re-enforcing. Every time Bush calls himself a "war
president" it reminds young people that they are of draft-age.
If you are young, you better read Dave's
other post on this topic, as well, which leads succinctly with
this: The Draft – A Reason to Vote if You’re Under 30
been relatively silent on the CBS memo issue (largely because I've
been busy with my other websites), but one point does need to be made.
All this talk about right-wing bloggers and "experts" having
proven that the memos are fake is bunk - and not only that, the
work of long-time
Republican operatives and right-wing
media/columnists in promoting lies about the memos, the actual Bush
and his lies about it as well as the words
of multiple eyewitnesses who have attested to the validity of the
basic content of the memos been largely downplayed by the media. This
does not, of course, mean that the memos are NOT fake - they could
very well be. But proving a negative, in cases like these, is not
Neiwert of Orcinus has succinctly addressed the whole controversy,
so I'll just quote him:
pretty funny, really, how right-wing bloggers are serially breaking
their arms patting themselves on the back for having exposed "Forgerygate."
Actually, all they've really managed to prove is P.T. Barnum's
famous adage, perhaps recast as "There's a blogger born every
Have any bloggers actually yet proven definitively that the CBS
documents are fake?
Well, no. All they've been able to produce so far is a great deal of
speculation, much of it later proven to be entirely without
Times New Roman didn't exist in 1972? It existed in 1931.
You can create a nearly identical copy with MS Word? Perhaps that's
Word was designed to replicate an IBM typewriter.
The signatures look fake? Actually, the signatures are the only
thing that experts have been able to say conclusively are genuine.
Perhaps the most amusing of the "forgery" theories is the
recent suggestion that the documents released by Bush in 2000 (and
re-released by the White House this year) are also forgeries.
At least, that seems to be the conclusion reached by those mental
wizards at WizBang,
who have developed a theory that Marty
Heldt (whose work I've featured here several times) has also
been peddling forgeries. This by way of arguing that Heldt is the
source of the CBS documents.
The only problem with that? Heldt's sole source for the documents
was a FOIA request, a fact that's easily substantiated by others,
mostly journalists at the Boston Globe and elsewhere, who received
the identical documents. It's further substantiated by the fact that
the White House re-released the exact same documents earlier this
The source for the accusations against Heldt?
"Brooks Gregory", a supposed Democratic "political
consultant" who claimed on an Internet forum:
- I bought the
document package from Marty Heldt and we subjected them to the
most thorough investigation one could imagine. Why? Because if
there was anything there, we damn sure wanted to use it. But
guess what? Only two of those documents proved to be authentic
and they were not even related to the charge being levelled.
"Brooks Gregory" appears to be a fictitious person.
Certainly, there was no person by that name attached to the Janet
Reno campaign, as the hoaxter claims. And Marty Heldt has
confirmed to me that he "peddled" no documents to
anyone in any campaign, gubernatorial or otherwise, and the only
documents he dealt with at all were those he obtained through FOIA.
Now, exactly who is falling for a hoax here?
This has, of course, been the typical MO for right-wing bloggers
dealing with the CBS flap: Wrack your brains looking for seeming
logical flaws, find a tidbit that -- with the help of your own
faulty logic -- seems to fit, and then pronounce "AHA! I'VE GOT
IT!!!" Which then guarantees it'll be picked up by mainstream
media morons who've proven incapable of discerning shit from shinola
in this matter.
That said, see this
post by Jules Siegel - and the comments to the post. The message I
take away from this whole episode is that the memos are likely not
authentic (i.e., they are likely fake), but that their content has
been independently verified to be consistent with the statements of
the author (Killian) from that time. CBS and Dan Rather should be
doing far more to not just authenticate the memos (and expose the
source if they are fake), but also focusing their energies on
highlighting the fake claims from the right-wing regarding the memos,
as well as continuing to focus on Bush's national guard records. I for
one can't figure why all these media outlets are so reluctant to use
the rich research from
Paul Lukasiak who has already made the case against Bush?
More Confusing Polls -
What the Heck Does it All Mean?
In recent days, widely varying poll
results have been reported by different polling organizations. Some
polls show large or enormous leads for George W. Bush (over John
Kerry), while others show a tie or slight Kerry lead. However,
analysis by seasoned poll watchers show serious methodological flaws
in the former polls - especially the use of meaningless "Likely
Voter" models and unproven/incorrect Party ID weighting in
Registered Voter models. Adjusting for such flaws provides a picture
of a race that is essentially close and unpredictable - and
essentially dead even at this time. Other factors such as the
Margin of Error (MoE) in the polls, the Nader effect, the impact of
Absentee Ballots, and Undecided Voters, is also not properly accounted
for in some articles that provide "analysis" on polling
results. There are some broad lessons here for Kerry supporters - and
some feedback for the Democratic Party and Senator Kerry.
For details, continue reading
More on the post-RNC
Ruy Teixeira has another
interesting post, that further challenges the nonsensical results
from the Time and Newsweek polls - which I cited at some length earlier
Bush Really Have a 7 Point Lead?
I've certainly made
no secret of my skepticism. Now consider this excellent analysis
along the same lines by Professor
Alan Abramowitz of Emory University, one of the leading academic
analysts of American politiics. (He sent this to me in an email and
graciously agreed to allow me to share it with readers of this
1. The latest Gallup
Poll has Bush ahead of Kerry by 52-45 percent among likely voters
but by only 49-48 percent among registered voters. Based on the
numbers of registered and likely voters in their sample, this
means that Gallup is projecting that 89 percent of Bush supporters
will vote but only 79 percent of Kerry supporters will vote. That
seems unrealistic. It is way out of line with data from the
American National Election Studies on turnout among registered
Dems and Republicans in recent elections. For the past three
presidential elections, the turnout gap between Republicans and
Democrats has averaged 3 percentage points and was never larger
than 4 percentage points. The smallest gap was in 1992 (1 point),
the election with the highest overall turnout. Assuming that 2004
will be another relatively high turnout election, we should
probably expect a relatively small turnout gap, similar to 1992.
2. Among registered
voters, Gallup shows Bush leading by one point overall, with Kerry
leading 90-7 among Democrats, Bush leading 90-7 among Republicans,
and Kerry leading 49-46 among independents. This means that
Gallup's sample of registered voters includes more Republican
identifiers than Democratic identifiers. But in 2000, according to
the VNS national exit poll (which hits the overall percentages for
Bush and Gore right on the nose), Democrats made up 40.3 percent
of the electorate while Republicans made up only 36.5 percent of
the electorate. If you apply Gallup's trial heat results among
Democrats, independents, and Republicans to the VNS 2000
electorate, Kerry comes out with with a four point lead: 50.3
percent to Bush's 46.4 percent.
Food for thought, eh?
RNC dissembling and Post-RNC
polls - what lies ahead for Kerry?
After an astonishingly mendacious and truly despicable performance by
Zell Miller at the RNC, the dissembling and misleading (about Kerry)
continued with Cheney and Bush. A few fact checking articles reveal
the extent of the lies and deception:
Prism Distorts Some Kerry Positions, Glenn Kessler and Dan Morgan,
Damned Lies and Convention Speeches: Setting Kerry's Record Right -
Again, Fred Kaplan, Slate
President: Opposing Bush Becomes Unpatriotic, William Saletan, Slate
Glosses Over Complex Facts in Speech, Calvin Woodward, Associated
conventional wisdom regarding Miller's speech was that it was
egregious, with Miller taking a beating in the post-speech interviews
at CNN and MSNBC (Hardball) - one of those rare occasions where the
cable news media decided to try and significantly challenge a GOP
supporter on the facts, initial polls from Time and Newsweek seemed
to suggest that the RNC speeches actually played well enough to
give Bush a massive bump in the polls. But detailed analysis by Ruy
Teixeira and others showed that these polls had methodological flaws.
For example, here's Teixeira
on the Time poll:
Measurements of a
candidate's bounce should be based on polls taken before and after
That said, let us consider the results of polls taken during
the GOP convention. The one that seems to be freaking out some
Democrats is the
just-released Time poll.
The Time poll, conducted 8/31-9/2, has Bush ahead by 11,
52-41 in a 3-way LV matchup that includes Nader.
In an attempt to compare apples to apples, here are Bush-Kerry
results from contemporaneous 3-way LV matchups (except Rasmussen,
where only a 2-way LV result is available), with Bush's margin in
Zogby, 8/30-9/2: 46
Bush-43 Kerry (+3)
ARG, 8/30-9/1: 47 Bush-47 Kerry (tie)
Rasmussen, 8/31-9/2: 49 Bush-45 Kerry (+4)
In this company, 52
Bush-41 Kerry (+11) certainly sticks out. Could it have anything to
do with the different dates included in these surveys, even though
they are very close? Well, the Rasmussen data are from exactly same
period as the Time data (8/31-9/2).
But if you are
skeptical of the Rasmussen data, consider the Zogby data. The Zogby
data only include an additional day (8/30) when compared to the Time
data. But perhaps 8/30 was a very pro-Kerry day since the Republican
convention had just started. However, for Zogby and Time to
matchup (have Bush leading by 11) for the three days they share,
Kerry would have to be leading by about 21 points in Zogby on the
day (8/30) they do not share. I rather doubt that is the case.
hypothesis then is that the Time poll, for this period, is
exceptionally pro-Bush and therefore should be viewed with
Teixeira also weighed
in on the Newsweek poll real time (bold text is eRiposte
...I'll try to do the
same about the
new Newsweek poll, conducted 9/2-3, which has Bush ahead
54-43 among RVs.
Here are some
important points to keep in mind about the poll:
1. It is still not
a true bounce poll; only one night of the two covered by the
poll actually took place after the GOP convention was over. That
night is highly likely to be Bush's best post-convention night,
since it was right after his big speech and the huge media splash
the next day. And, in fact, Newsweek's data show that Bush
led by 16 points in their poll on this night and by only 6 the night
before. Don't forget that Kerry did very well in polls the night
right after his speech then fell off rapidly in the next few days.
So why do Newsweek
and Time insist on doing their bounce polls wrong so they're
almost guaranteed to get misleading results? Simple: their
publication schedule. They've got to have to data in time to dump it
into their print publication. If they waited to do it right the poll
would be too old to put in their magazine the subsequent week.
This is especially
egregious since even a poll conducted entirely after the convention
needs to be viewed with caution. As Charlie Cook points out:
A week or 10 days
after the GOP convention, the electorate should have stopped
bouncing and settled back down enough for horse race poll results
to once again have some real meaning.
2. Aside from the
timing, there are other reasons to be skeptical of the Newsweek
poll. As has been widely reported in various blogs, the partisan
distribution of the RVs in the Newsweek poll is quite
startling: 38 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 31
percent independent. This 7 point lead for the GOP on party ID does
not comport well with other data on partisan distribution this
campaign season--which have consistently shown the Democrats leading
by at least several points--and can't be blamed on a likely voter
screen since there was none.
Chris Bowers of MyDD shows, if you assume a more reasonable
distribution of party ID, Bush's lead is about cut in half.
Moreover, if you assume that the differential in partisan support
rates in the poll--94-4 for Bush and only 82-14 for Kerry--is, if
not overstated now, highly likely to converge toward parity in the
near future (as it has been for most of the campaign), even a Bush
lead of 5-6 points looks very unstable.
It's still a long time 'til election day. People should resist the
urge to push the panic button and insist that Kerry launch an
incendiary campaign against Bush's and his surrogate's personal
John Judis points out, there are interesting similarities
between this campaign and the Reagan-Carter campaign of 1980. These
similarities suggest that:
....just as Bush might
be wise to avoid Carter's mistakes, Kerry might be wise to
consider Reagan's successes in 1980. He is certainly going to have
to answer some of the Bush campaign's personal attacks, just as
Reagan occasionally responded to Carter--although Reagan did so in
a disarming manner ("there you go again") that put the
onus of disagreeability directly onto his opponent. But Kerry
needs to direct the public's attention, like Reagan did, to the
underlying reality of the economy, the Iraq war, and the threat of
Al Qaeda; and he needs to propose ways to deal with each that are
at least plausible, if not preferable to those adopted by Bush. If
he does that, and if he shows himself to be the equal of Bush in
the debates, he could discover, like Reagan did in 1980, that the
voters are ready to put someone new in the White House.
Amen. End of sermon.
Teixeira is certainly correct about the
support for Kerry in the post-DNC polls. Newsweek should have known
better than to do their polling in the utterly ridiculous way they
did. When they polled right after the DNC, they noticed Kerry's lead
was dramatic the day after his speech and diminished significantly
beyond that. So, it is ridiculous that they reported their results
with polling ENDING the day after Bush's speech, creating an apples to
oranges comparison. Not to mention, the likely GOP-overweighting in
To understand the real situation in the
horserace, it is instructive to look at other polls taken *BEFORE* and
*AFTER* the convention. Here's Teixeira citing
some leading comments from Gallup:
...here are some
interesting observations that are worth keeping in mind from a
just-released Gallup analysis of the bounce issue:
Based solely on
history, the Bush-Cheney ticket could expect to gain five to six
points among registered voters after this week's convention. That
would result in a 52% to 53% support level for Bush among
registered voters, up from 47% in the pre-convention poll.
results from Gallup's post-Democratic convention poll showed that
history might not apply in 2004, a year in which the electorate
was activated long before the conventions (usually the conventions
serve to activate voters), and a year in which relatively small
proportions of undecided and swing voters are available to the two
presidential tickets. Also, the post-Democratic convention poll
suggested that the Democratic convention might have helped
energize Republican voters. It is unclear whether the Republican
convention could have a similar paradoxical effect on Democrats,
or if Republicans will be activated, as is typically the case.
So, how did BC04 do compared to
(bold text is eRiposte emphasis) [note: also
see Kevin Drum]
I think those of us
who have expressed skepticism about the results of the Time and
Newsweek polls can consider ourselves vindicated. The
new Gallup poll, conducted entirely after the GOP convention
and therefore the first poll that truly measures Bush's bounce,
shows Bush with a very modest bounce indeed: 2 points, whether you
look at RVs or LVs. His support among RVs has risen from 47 percent
before to 49 percent after the convention, so that he now leads
Kerry by a single point (49-48) rather than trailing by a point.
But that's it.
Contrast Bush's 49-48 lead among RVs in this poll to Time's
50-42 Bush lead and, especially, Newsweek's 54-43 Bush lead
in the same matchup. Quite a difference.
Note also that
Bush's 2 point bounce from his convention (which, remember, is
defined as the change in a candidate's level of support, not in
margin) is the worst ever received by an incumbent president,
regardless of party, and the worst ever received by a
Republican candidate, whether incumbent or not (see
this Gallup analysis for all the relevant historical data). In
2000, Bush received an 8 point bounce. And even his hapless father
received a 5 point bounce in 1992.
So that's the big
story, right--Bush got a disappointingly small bounce and the
earlier Time/Newsweek polls got it wrong about the bounce and
how well Bush is doing. Nope, not if you're writing stories at USA
Today. You dasn't [sic] contravene the current CW about the
campaign (Bush surges ahead!) no matter what your own data says.
That's why we get
a story like this one, "Bush
leads Kerry by 7 points", which prominently features the LV
results (where Bush does have a 7 point lead) and resolutely refuses
to dwell on Bush's historically poor result from his convention or
on his almost non-existent lead among RVs.
Instead, the article
goes on to discuss some results from the poll that look pretty good
for Bush and, of course, allow Matthew Dowd to spin the poll's
results in the GOP's direction.
As usual, of course, Dowd
does a pretty good job of spnning the poll (we gained more than we
expected!), which is then followed by a very weak reply from Mark
Mellman where he essentially says the GOP's gains from the
convention will fade. That's not the right reply. The right reply is
what gains and and how very disappointed the GOP must be in
their historically poor performance.
But this is a
persistent problem: Dowd and the people behind him relentlessly spin
every poll and feed journalists various mini-analyses (can we call
them "analysisoids"?) that purport to show how great Bush
is doing relative to expectations, historical patterns, etc. and how
bogus any poll is that shows Kerry doing well. Where are the
Democrats on this one? The occasional lame quote from Mellman is not
enough to outgun Dowd in this particular part of the political
[eRiposte: This is exactly right and points to the continuing
ineptness of Democrats in using every opportunity to convey a clear
message backed by facts, which are available by the baleful]
Let me mention a few other results from the Gallup poll that
suggest the relative ineffectiveness of the GOP convention.
speech, which the media fawned over so ostentatiously, was not rated
any better by the public than was Kerry's--in fact, it received
slightly worse ratings. Kerry's acceptance speech was rated
excellent by 25 percent and good by 27 percent; Bush's was rated
excellent by 22 percent and good by 27 percent.
In terms of
whether the Republican convention made voters more or less likely to
vote for Bush--the real point of the convention after all--there
were almost as many saying the convention made them less likely
to vote for Bush (38 percent) as said it made them more likely (41
This is actually
quite a poor performance. The Democratic convention this year had a
substantially better 44 percent more likely/30 percent less likely
split. In fact, looking back to 1984, which is as far back as Gallup
supplies data, no candidate has ever had a more likely to vote
for/less likely to vote for split even close to as bad as Bush's
Well, what about the
tone of the convention? Do voters think the Republicans got that one
right? Nope. Just 39 percent think the GOP maintained the right
balance between criticizing the Democrats and saying positive things
about themselves, compared to 50 percent who think they spent too
much time criticizing the Democrats. By contrast, in 2000, 45
percent thought the GOP maintained the right balance in their
convention, compared to 38 percent who thought they spent too much
But this unfavorable
judgement on tone for the GOP this year is not without precedent. In
1992, just 26 percent thought the Republicans maintained the right
balance in their convention, compared to 56 percent who thought they
spent too much time criticizing.
Interestingly, and certainly surprising
to me, the Gallup battleground polls taken after the RNC actually show
is running STRONGER in the battleground states after the convention
(as Teixeira points out)!
Widens Lead in Battleground States!
Now that's a
headline you're not likely to see in the mainstream media, consumed
as they are with the storyline du jour about Bush's Big Mo' from the
But that's what the
internals of the latest Gallup poll tell us. Prior to the Republican
convention, Kerry had a one point lead among RVs (47-46) in the
battleground states. After the Republican convention, now that
battleground voters have had a chance to take a closer look at what
Bush and his party really stand for, Kerry leads by 5 in these same
states (50-45)! Note that Kerry gained three points among
battleground voters, while Bush actually got a negative one point
more! The Gallup poll's internals also show that Kerry continues to
lead among independents (49-46) and that both parties' partisans are
equally polarized for their respetive candidates (90-7). Note that
these findings directly contradict the results of the recent Newsweek
poll, which showed Bush doing much better among Republican partisans
than Kerry was doing among Democratic partisans. Note also that,
given the equal polarization of partisans and Kerry's lead among
independents, the only possible reason Bush has any lead at all
among Gallup's RVs must be because their sample has a GOP advantage
on party ID (my guess is 5 points) that is inconsistent with almost
all other polling data from this campaign season (see
my recent post on the Newsweek poll for more discussion
of this issue).
It's not just Gallup showing Kerry
leading in the battleground states. The Zogby poll also shows Kerry
maintaining his lead - as DailyKos
notes - although the news for Kerry isn't all good since Bush
has gained in the polls in many states. As Zogby says:
Coming out of the
Republican convention, President Bush has his best showing since
John Kerry accepted his party's nomination in late July.
The latest Zogby
Interactive poll still shows Mr. Kerry well ahead, leading in 12
of the 16 battlegrounds in Zogby's twice-a-month polls. But Mr. Bush
took the lead in two states -- Arkansas and Tennessee -- since the
poll conducted a week before his convention. And there are other
signs of strength for the president.
Mr. Kerry's 12 states control a total of 135 votes, while Mr. Bush's
four have 42. If you add up the numbers, you find that Mr. Kerry
would win the Electoral College 307-231.
Sifting through the
numbers, though, the results aren't as clear cut.
First, Mr. Kerry's
leads in three states -- Florida, Missouri and Nevada -- are less
than one percentage point.
Overall, looking only
at the states where the results are outside of the margin of error,
Mr. Kerry is ahead by just four states to three -- and his Electoral
College lead shrinks to 40-36. In fact, more states' results are
outside of the margin of error in this poll than in any since Zogby
began conducting polls for WSJ.com in late May.
Another sign of
shift: In the July 12 poll, which was the leader until now in terms
of the poll with the greatest number of states outside of the margin
of error, Mr. Kerry had six states (worth 80 votes) outside the
margin. At that point, Mr. Bush had none.
Many states show
improvement for the president. For instance, Mr. Bush increased his
lead in Ohio, a key contest, to 10.9 percentage points, his biggest
lead there yet and up sharply from the 5.6-point edge he had in
At the same time, Mr.
Kerry's lead in Pennsylvania slipped to its weakest since the Zogby
polls began in May. Mr. Kerry was ahead there by 2.8 percentage
points, inside the margin of error. In four of the five prior polls,
Mr. Kerry's lead was outside of the margin; his lead hadn't fallen
below 6.5 points in any of the prior Zogby polls.
All told, Mr. Bush's
numbers improved in 12 of the 16 states, most notably Tennessee.
That state, which has been volatile in prior polls, gave the
president a 9.6-point lead. In the mid-August poll, Mr. Kerry was up
Still, Mr. Kerry
picked up ground in Minnesota, Washington, Michigan and New Mexico.
His leads in the latter two states moved outside of the margin of
error. In Washington, his lead has been outside of the margin in
every poll since early June.
So, where does all of this leave Kerry?
Well, for one thing, there is no doubt that Kerry needs to fight back
harder than he has. He cannot continue to let the garbage and the lies
permeate. Secondly, he needs to make his message much clearer and it
appears this is starting to happen, based on the advice of Bill
Clinton and former Clinton advisors who have now joined the Kerry
campaign - as The
LeftCoaster points out - along with some critical comments on how
Kerry's previous advisors handled the Swift
Bill Clinton, in a 90-minute telephone conversation from his
hospital room, offered John Kerry detailed advice on Saturday
night on how to reinvigorate his candidacy, as Mr. Kerry enlisted
more Clinton advisers to help shape his strategy and message for
the remainder of the campaign.
In an expansive
conversation, Mr. Clinton, who is awaiting heart surgery, told Mr.
Kerry that he should move away from talking about Vietnam, which
had been the central theme of his candidacy, and focus instead on
drawing contrasts with President Bush on job creation and health
care policies, officials with knowledge of the conversation said.
In addition to the
strategic advice, Kerry at Clinton’s urging finally brought in the
heavy guns for the final 60 days.
and the recruitment of old Clinton hands came amid rising concern
among Democrats about the state of Mr. Kerry's campaign and
criticism that he had been too slow to respond to attacks on his
military record or to engage Mr. Bush on domestic policy. Among
the better-known former Clinton aides who are expected to play an
increasingly prominent role are James Carville, Paul Begala and
Stanley Greenberg, campaign aides said.
Members of both
camps played down any suggestion of a Clinton takeover of a
troubled campaign and insisted there was no tension between the
two groups. Still, these days, Mr. Lockhart is stationed in an
office on one side of the campaign war room; Mr. Shrum's office is
on the opposite side.
On Saturday, Mr. (Joel) Johnson drew applause from
Democrats assembled for a weekly strategy meeting at Mr. Kerry's
headquarters when he reassured aides that the campaign had settled
on a clear line of attack against Mr. Bush, people at the meeting
said. They said Mr. Johnson told the group that the campaign
wanted the entire party to heed the new talking points.
simple," Mr. Johnson said in an interview yesterday,
describing what he said would be the template for Mr. Kerry's
speeches and advertisements in the weeks ahead. "It's: 'Bush
has taken us in the wrong direction. If you want more of the same
for the next four years, vote for President Bush. If you want a
new direction, John Kerry and John Edwards.' It's not complicated.
Failed policies, jobs and the economy, health care."
Mr. Begala, who
said he would remain a CNN commentator, said he was delighted with
the changes. He added that Mr. Bush had succeeded over the past
month in transforming the race from a referendum on an incumbent
president to a referendum on Mr. Kerry.
"It was an
enormous shift," Mr. Begala said last night. Then, referring
to Karl Rove, a top Bush strategist, he added: "And it
required the cooperation of the candidate. And you know what? The
Kerry campaign is no longer cooperating. Sorry, Karl."
And if you want
evidence that Clinton’s team needed to come aboard now, you need
look no further than the inane comments from the current Kerry team
of Tad Devine and Bob Shrum.
about this last year, the fact that Republicans would come after
his service and the idea that they would come after what he did
when he got home," said one midlevel Kerry adviser who is not
part of the Clinton camp. "The idea that we got caught
flat-footed is just crazy."
Mr. Shrum, in an
interview yesterday, called such second-guessing
"ridiculous," saying, "We responded within six or
Six or seven
days? You call that a response, Ace? You can be buried in
six or seven days.
strongly in favor of responding to the Swift boats when we did or
around when we did, and so was Mary Beth," Mr. Shrum said,
referring to Ms. Cahill and the advertisements by the Vietnam
veterans critical of Mr. Kerry.
didn’t you do it, clown?
The extract above has an important
message for Democrats in general, as Liberal
Oasis has also pointed out.
In all likelihood,
Kerry's furious campaigning -- beginning at midnight Fri., blunted
the bounce (as LO
suggested on Fri.)
By being active,
aggressive and confident, he prevented Bush from getting victory
lap press that would have furthered his messages from the
Kerry's own messages were hemmed in by the mind-numbing
stupidity of the Beltway Dems, whining
to the press about strategy throughout the long weekend.
Instead helping with
strategy by amplifying Kerry's messages.
on 4/28 for the most recent time this page called on whiny
Beltway Dems to shut up.)
For the last time
(this year) Establishment people: this is all-out combat, and we
have one leader.
You have a problem
with the campaign, then tell it to the campaign.
Telling the media is for
your ego. Not for the cause. Not for the country.
There are 56 days
left. Get your damn game faces on, and get behind the big guy.
That's about right.
One point that the Kerry campaign and
many Democrats do NOT seem to be getting is that avoiding national
security in the campaign is likely to be a very bad idea. The notion
that this is somehow Bush's "strength" is utterly laughable,
considering how Bush and Cheney have seriously jeopardized the war on
terrorism in multiple ways - whether in their asleep-at-the-wheel
to 9/11 including the downplaying of the PDB, or letting
Afghanistan slip back to its pre-9/11 state, or creating a much
bigger haven for terrorism and a quagmire in Iraq (see here,
while more than
1000 American soldiers have died there (and thousands injured, many
grievously), or their abysmal
handling of homeland security after 9/11 (first responders, port-,
airline-, chemical-, nuclear- security etc.).
Drum points out:
Of course, there's
also the bigger question of what to talk about: national
security or domestic issues? I think this is really the core
question, and I'm appalled at the advice of Democratic bigwigs that Kerry
should focus on domestic issues. Fundamentally, I think this
election is all about national security. It's about convincing
people that Bush's vision is dangerous and misguided and that Kerry
can do a better job of protecting the country. More on this later if
I can get my thoughts in order.
A final point. There is a lot of
righteous anger in the lefty blogosphere about the mainstream media's
pro-GOP tilt - in the way they have given free rein to garbage groups
like the Swift
Boat Veterans for Truth, while continuing to ignore or downplay
critics of Bush who have unpleasant (and often factually accurate)
things to say about Bush. Digby has highlighted some of this in a
series of posts.
Isn't It Time
"How many times have you been arrested, Mr. President?"
They Can't All
Be Democratic Liars
George W. Bush: AWOL
Truth, established by the 20,000-member Texas online activist
has produced a 0:30 second television advertisement,
"AWOL." The ad features Robert Mintz, one of many who
served in Alabama's 187th Air National Guard -- when Bush claims
to have been there -- who have no memory of Bush on the base. In
other words, Bush failed to fulfill his military duty while others
were dying in Vietnam.
on whether Bush has really stopped drinking (also see Mark
Kleiman who says, "Bush's return to
drinking is apparently common knowledge in DC, though it seems
unlikely anyone will talk on the record") and here,
about Kitty Kelley's book that claims Bush snorted cocaine in Camp
David when his dad was President. Not to mention Bush's national guard
AWOL record or the
Although the media continues to
downplay things unfavorable to Bush, there is no reason why Democrats
should sit back and take the attacks on Kerry lying down.
UPDATE: The media is slowly
picking up on the Bush National Guard AWOL/fraud issue. Here's UCLA
Professor Mark Kleiman:
Marshall says 60 Minutes has the goods.
Better yet, Nicholas
Kristof has found someone who was part of the small unit -- 25 to 30
pilots -- that 1LT Bush allegedly reported to in Alabama, and
recalls looking for Mr. Bush (in hopes of partying with him)and not
finding him. (Yes, that's the same Mr. Bush who now can't remember
from one day to the next whether the thinks America can win the war
on terror or not.)
Kristof also links to
sober and apparently well-researched -- but extremely damning --
analysis of the Bush TANG record by U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Gerald
Lechleiter. In particular, Lechleiter shows that one of the
forms that supposedly supports Mr. Bush's claim to have done his
full complement of hours in 1972-73 is probably fraudulent: the form
was eight months obsolete on the day it was signed, having been
replaced by a different form, and it shows 1LT Bush as having flying
status when he'd been grounded in August of 1972 for missing his
Even accepting the
documents at face value, Lechleiter demolishes the contention that
1LT Bush had met his service requirement, simply by correcting
arithmetic errors in the document put out by the White House.
shows inconsistencies in the records purporting to show service in
Alabama, and unaccountable gaps in the documentation that ought to
have been present. He doesn't say it, but between the lines it's
clear that the record appears to have been both doctored and
scrubbed. What he does say is that 1LT Bush cheated the government
by taking pay for service he never performed.
If one of Mr. Bush's
defenders has a response up, I'd appreciate a pointer to it.
The Boston Globe is on the case.
In February, when
the White House made public hundreds of pages of President Bush's
military records, White House officials repeatedly insisted that the
records prove that Bush fulfilled his military commitment in the
Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
But Bush fell well
short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of
the records shows: Twice during his Guard service -- first when he
joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit
in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed
documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive
call-up to active duty.
He didn't meet the
commitments, or face the punishment, the records show.
Gee, our Wartime
President failed to keep a promise? Whodathunkit?
With rather endearing
Bushite brazenness, White House spokesman Dan Bartlett responds to a
story that accuses Mr. Bush of exploiting his family's power by
shirking service and not getting called on it by citing Mr. Bush's
honorable discharge as proof that he'd served adequately. That
Bartlett can say such things without laughing out loud suggests an
astonishing level of skill.
Pre-RNC polls, the RNC
and the GOP's new lying liar
Let's see. The cable and TV media increase
their coverage plans for the RNC, compared to the DNC. The talking
heads in the media talk
up "doom" for Kerry (so-to-speak) even though there is
no evidence of that - not to mention, how they downplayed Kerry's
lead/strong position vis-a-vis Bush for months. The Governor of
California (Arnold Schwarzenegger) "becomes
the first American to proclaim himself a follower of [former President
and criminal] Richard M. Nixon in thirty years" (as Brad De Long
says). He simultaneously expresses happiness over Nelson Mandela's
coming to power in South Africa, conveniently
forgetting to mention that the sitting Vice-President (Dick
Cheney) he is campaigning for was one of the key people (other than
then President Ronald Reagan - presumably another Schwarzenegger
favorite?) who did as much as he could to prevent the end of apartheid
and Mandela's coming to power. Not to mention, as LO
says, "sending out a
Hollywood millionaire to chastise anyone who is struggling to
succeed in today's economy as "economic girlie men," is not
quite the best way to convey compassion."
Saletan in Slate responds
to the RNC's pimping of Bush's so-called national security
"leadership" based on his showing up in Ground Zero a few
days after 9/11 and sending the military to war:
But isn't it odd to
see Republicans belittle the physical risks Kerry took in battle
while exalting Bush's armchair wars and post-9/11 photo ops? Isn't
it embarrassing to see Bob Dole, the GOP's previous presidential
nominee, praise Bush's heroism while suggesting
that Kerry's three combat wounds weren't bad enough to justify
sending him home from Vietnam?
Watching the attacks
on Kerry and the glorification of Bush reminds me of something Dole said
in his speech to the Republican convention eight years ago. It was
"demeaning to the nation," Dole argued, to be governed by
people "who never grew up, never did anything real, never
sacrificed, never suffered and never learned."
You tell me which of
this year's presidential candidates that statement best describes.
We shouldn't leave out the key lying
liar and attack dog of the RNC so far - former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Kudos to Glenn
Kessler of the Washington Post (via Atrios),
for doing (with rather undeserved emphasis on politeness) what
most of the mainstream media has been egregiously negligent in doing -
fact-checking standard GOP (now Giuliani's) attacks against Kerry.
Bold text is my emphasis.
Former New York mayor
Rudolph W. Giuliani made a number of specific attacks based on
statements allegedly made by Democratic presidential nominee John F.
Kerry in his speech to the Republican National Convention Monday
night. But Giuliani's description of those comments often lacked
For example, Giuliani said: "In October of 2003, he told an
Arab American institute in Detroit that a security barrier
separating Israel from the Palestinian territories was a barrier to
peace. Okay. Then a few months later, he took exactly the opposite
The context: When
Kerry made his statement about a "barrier to peace," he
was referring to, as he put it, the "Israeli government's
decision to build the barrier off of the Green Line [the de facto
boundary between Israel and the West Bank] -- cutting deep into
Kerry's stance was similar to the position taken by President Bush a
few months earlier, in July 2003, when he said in the Rose
Garden: "I think the wall is a problem, and I discussed this
with [Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon. It is very difficult to
develop confidence between the Palestinians and Israel with a wall
snaking through the West Bank."
The Bush administration has spent months negotiating with the
Israelis the precise route of the fence. Both Kerry and Bush opposed
involvement of the International Court of Justice in the matter.
Giuliani: "I quote John Kerry: 'I actually did vote for
the $87 billion before I voted against it.' "
The context: The administration's request for the funding was
controversial, even among Republicans, and various attempts were
made to split off $67 billion for the troops from the $20 billion
for reconstruction, or to turn the $20 billion grant into a loan, or
to fund some of the spending by raising taxes on incomes greater
than $312,000. Kerry voted for a different version of the bill, just
as Bush had vowed to veto a version that originally passed in the
Senate that would have converted half of the Iraq rebuilding plan
into a loan.
Giuliani: "Just a few months ago, John Kerry kind of leaked
out that claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal
of Saddam Hussein prefer him."
The context: The reporter who provided a pool report on Kerry's
comments at a fundraiser in March later said she had mistranscribed
the comments, and Kerry actually did not use the word
"foreign." He also did not refer to Saddam Hussein. Speaking
to supporters who noted the opposition to Bush overseas, Kerry said:
"I've been hearing it, I'll tell you. The news, the coverage in
other countries, the news in other places. I've met more leaders who
can't go out and say it all publicly, but boy they look at you and
say, you gotta win this, you gotta beat this guy, we need a new
policy, things like that."
From the full conversation, it appears clear Kerry is speaking
about dislike of Bush and his policies by leaders overseas, but not
necessarily the invasion of Iraq.
Giuliani: "He even, at one point, declared himself an
antiwar candidate, and now he says he's a pro-war candidate."
The context: Giuliani's statement appears derived from an
appearance by Kerry in January in which he was asked on MSNBC's
"Hardball" if he was one of the candidates "unhappy
with the war has been fought, the way it's been fought . . . are you
one of the antiwar candidates?" He answered: "I am. Yes.
In the sense that I don't believe the president took to us war as he
should have, yes. Absolutely. Do I think this president violated his
promises to America? Yes, I do, Chris. Was there a way to hold
Saddam Hussein accountable? You bet there was and we should have
done it right."
Chris Mathews, host of "Hardball," has protested to the
Bush campaign the use of the statement that Kerry called himself an
antiwar candidate, saying the remarks were taken out of context.
Now to the pre-RNC polls. Regardless of
the media spin, the polls show that Kerry and Bush are tied - not that
Bush is "ahead". Ruy Teixeira already showed this when he debunked
the media spin that the false attack ads from (and media orgy over)
the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" somehow downed Kerry a
bit. Teixeira even has a follow-up with Bush's dismal
numbers on the economy.
Having said that, I agree
with Josh Marshall:
There are articles
about a possible shake-up among high-level staffers, blind quotes
from Democratic insiders saying that after a couple more days it may
be too late; and I've gotten a slew of emails from readers either
asking me if I still think there's hope or ranting that they've had
it with Mary Beth Cahill or Stephanie Cutter or someone else.
All I can say is,
really, really, shut up and calm down.
Politically, this is
one of the worst things about Democrats -- and it has many sources.
As a group they seem to have a great tendency toward becoming
disheartened, turning on their candidate, doubting his strategy,
doubting his advisors, and so forth. Unfortunately, the candidates
and advisors have an equal tendency to be open to that kind of
fretting. And with the media playing the handmaiden to the
synergizing anxiety, the whole thing can become very demoralizing
and damaging for campaigns.
Many folks look back
and say Al Gore ran a terrible campaign. Maybe. Maybe not. For me, I
look back and see something different. I remember a campaign that
was far too sensitive to the spin and CW of the moment and thus
capable of being buffeted by the smallest political squall. This,
rather than any particular tactic or strategy, has always struck me
as its greatest failing.
The Bush 2000
campaign was wholly different. They had many reverses. But there was
never any serious question that a Rove or a Hughes would get canned.
And if there was, the campaign sent out a clear signal that it would
never happen. On many levels they were more disciplined.
That difference made
a big difference in consistency of strategy and morale among the
If you're a regular
reader of this column, you'll know I've been very critical of the
rapid-response from the Kerry campaign (wherever it may have gone
to) as well as their seeming disinclination to go on the offensive
and stay there.
But the difference
between the race today and where it was two, three or four weeks ago
is still very small. The difference in the national polls is very
slight. The last nine major national polls have ABC (tied), ICR (+3
Kerry), Time (+2 Bush), Fox (+1 Kerry), CNN (+2 Bush), NBC/WSJ (+2
Bush), LAT (+2 Bush), NPR (+4 Kerry), IBD/CSM (tied).
(Those numbers are
from the graphic on the front page of Pollingreport.com.)
Let me be clear:
Those polls tell me the momentum of the race has clearly moved in
the president's direction. And some of the state-by-state numbers
(like PA, for instance) show that even more clearly. For all that,
though, it is difficult to say that Kerry has lost the race when
it's not even clear that he's behind.
Again, this is not a
Pollyannaish post. The Kerry campaign needs to get control of the
debate back from the president. And they need to start hitting much
harder. But Democrats themselves need to be a lot tougher and
hardier about the cycles campaigns go through. And that applies to
self-serving Democratic 'insiders' too.
Support for Bush amongst various
cultural/demographic groups below GOP expectations
American, Jewish, and Hispanic support? No change since 2000
Catholic voters? It's probably worse than in 2000
Muslim and young voters? It's worse than in 2000
Regardless of the GOP spin that Bush's
(so-called) "leadership" in the "war on terror"
and his "outreach" efforts are going to attract a bigger
percentage of the vote from these groups this time around, the facts
remain unpleasant for Bush.
support for Bush? No change from 2000
DailyKos, we see that the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)
the results from a recently concluded poll of Jewish voters. And
the results are not particularly good for Bush.
POLL: JEWISH VOTERS AS DEMOCRATIC AS IN 2000
FOUR YEARS OF GOP EFFORTS TO TARGET AMERICAN JEWS HAVE
Washington, DC: A just-released survey demonstrates that despite a
four-year effort, GOP attempts to woo the Jewish vote for President
Bush have failed, with likely Jewish voters preferring Senator Kerry
over President Bush by a whopping 75-22 percent margin --
essentially identical to the 76-21 percent margin by which the same
respondents voted for then-Vice President Al Gore over then-Governor
Bush in 2000. (Please see footnote, below.)
The poll, performed
by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the National Jewish
Democratic Council and The Solomon Project, shows that American Jews
continue to strongly prefer Senator Kerry over President Bush. The
survey of 817 likely Jewish voters was conducted between July 26-28,
2004, and has a margin of error of /- 3.5 percent.
Among the poll's
** Senator Kerry
maintains a very strong lead over President Bush within the Jewish
community. Senator Kerry leads President Bush by a margin of 75
percent to 22 percent. Senator Kerry's lead is as strong as the
American Jewish vote was in 2000 for then-Vice President Gore over
then-Governor Bush; respondents voted in 2000 for Gore over Bush by
a margin of 76 percent to 21 percent.
** American Jewish
support for Senator Kerry is extremely solid. Fully 78 percent of
Kerry supporters indicated that there is "no chance" that
they will vote for President Bush, while only 52 percent of Bush
supporters are solid in their support.
** Jewish voters
overwhelmingly agree with Senator Kerry on the issues -- including
on Israel and the war against terrorism. On the issue of abortion,
for example, American Jews believe that Senator Kerry does a better
job on the issue than President Bush by a margin of 85-15 percent.
On the issue of the economy and jobs, respondents believe Senator
Kerry will do a better job by a margin of 79-21 percent. Even on the
issues of Israel and America's war on terrorism, American Jews
overwhelmingly believe Senator Kerry will do a better job, both by a
margin of 66-34 percent. Only 24 percent of respondents said they
were closer to President Bush on Israel than Senator Kerry.
** President Bush is
deeply unpopular among American Jews. President Bush is seen as
favorable by only 20 percent of respondents; a stunning 73 percent
see him unfavorably. Conversely, Senator Kerry is seen as favorable
by 59 percent of the respondents, while only 27 percent view him
** An amazing 77
percent of respondents believe the country is headed in the wrong
direction. The two greatest concerns of respondents are in the areas
of the economy and jobs, and terrorism and national security -- both
areas in which Senator Kerry is strongly preferred by American Jews,
according to this survey (see above).
NJDC also links to another
earlier survey from Gallup showing that Bush is unlikely to gain
amongst Jewish voters this year.
African-American support for
Bush? No change from 2000
Teixeira of DonkeyRising has pointed this out recently:
The other big
component of the minority vote, of course, is black voters and a
new poll by BET/CBS News suggests that Democrats will replicate
their traditional strong performance among these voters in this
The trial heat
question in this poll gives Bush only 10 percent support among black
voters, compared to 79 percent for Kerry. That 10 percent support is
the average GOP presidential support in the last three elections and
is unlikely to grow much, if at all, before election day since,
based on historical patterns, pretty much all the undecided voters
in this group should be allocated to the Democratic candidate.
And you can see why
given the incredibly negative views of black voters on Bush and his
administration. They give Bush an 11 percent approval rating, with
85 percent disapproval (!) Only 6 percent of blacks think the
country is going in the right direction, compared to 92 percent who
feel things are off on the wrong track. Just 9 percent think Bush
has the same priorities for the country as they do, while 84 percent
think he doesn't. And, by 90 percent to 8 percent, black voters don't
think the result of the war with Iraq was worth the associated loss
of life and other costs.
Hispanic support for
Bush? No change from 2000
Turning to key groups
for the Democrats in the upcoming election, today saw the release of
not one, but two, major new polls of Hispanics--one from The
Washington Post/Univision/Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and
the other from the
Pew Hispanic Center. And if you're Matthew Dowd, leading
Bush-Cheney campaign strategist, who has famously remarked that
"As a realistic goal, we have to get somewhere between ... 38
[percent] to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote" in 2004 for the
GOP to be successful, these polls are very bad news indeed.
Start with the horse
race results. Both polls give Kerry-Edwards a 30 point lead over
Bush-Cheney among Hispanic RVs. This is a wider margin than Al Gore
had among Hispanics in 2000, when he carried them by 27 points
Post (WP) poll (which was conducted in the 11 states with the
highest concentrations of Hispanics) has Kerry-Edwards over
Bush-Cheney by 60-30, even with Nader-Camejo included. The Pew
Hispanic Center (PHC) poll, which was conducted nationally, has
Kerry-Edwards over Bush-Cheney by a very similar 62-32. Note that
the Bush-Cheney figures of 30-32 percent aren't anywhere near the
38-40 percent target set by Dowd. And they're not likely to get much
nearer since one would expect Hispanic undecideds to break toward
the Democratic challenger, not the Republican incumbent.
These results are
actually worse for Bush and the Republicans than earlier polls this
year by the Democracy Corps and others, which gave Kerry and the
Democrats healthy leads but not quite this good. So Hispanic voters,
it would appear, are trending against the Republicans.
Dowd, of course,
refuses to accept this evidence, offering as a counter that a few
small Hispanic subsamples in conventional national polls have showed
Bush's support among Hispanics in the 40 percent range. But this
doesn't pass the laugh test. These samples of Hispanic voters are
not only ridiculously small (perhaps 50 voters or so), but they also
suffer from the well-known problem that standard telephone polls
make no special efforts (use of the Spanish language, etc.) to
secure Hispanics' participation and hence tend to draw more upscale,
conservative samples of Hispanics than the specialized efforts
Looking at the views
of Hispanics, as captured in these polls, it's not hard to see how
Kerry-Edwards could have such a commanding lead at this point. In
the WP poll, Bush's overall approval rating among Hispanics is 36
percent, with 54 percent disapproval. On the economy--by far
Hispanics' top voting issue--Bush's approval rating is worse, a
dismal 32 percent approval/60 percent disapproval. And his rating on
Iraq is worse still, 29/62. In addition, his rating on immigration
is 27/55 and his rating on education is 40/46. Only on the US
campaign against terrorism (54/38) does he have a net positive
But even on this
issue, where Bush gets his best approval rating, Hispanics still say
they prefer Kerry over Bush by 43-35. And they prefer Kerry over
Bush on every other issue as well: the economy (53-28); Iraq
(45-34); immigration (46-26); and education (51-27). Kerry is also
viewed, by 25 points (55-30), as the candidate who would do a better
job coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few
Hispanics give Kerry higher ratings than Bush on "understands
the problems of people like you" (Kerry, 53 yes/23 no vs. Bush,
37/55); "can be trusted in a crisis" (53/21 vs. 47/44);
and "is a likable person" (69/14 vs. 61/34). And even on
"is a strong leader", where Kerry and Bush get about the
same number of yes votes, Kerry's net rating is quite a bit higher
than Bush's (57/22 vs. 58/36).
On Iraq, contrary to
early media reports that Hispanics were especially supportive of the
war, the reverse is clearly now true. Hispanics believe that the US
is losing the war on terrorism (40-37) and that the war hasn't
contributed to the long-term security of the United States (48-44),
while the general public still has modest pluralities in the other
direction. And Hispanics overwhelmingly believe (63-21) that,
considering the costs and benefits to the US, the war with Iraq
wasn't worth fighting (the general public is only 53-45 that the war
wasn't worth fighting).
Finally, Hispanics in
the WP poll give the Democrats a 36 point advantage as the party
that has more concern for the Latino community (50-14) and a huge 41
point lead on party ID (66-23).
Incidentally, Teixeira has been pointing
this out for some time now.
Catholics' support for
Bush? It's probably worse than in 2000
...according to Pew
data pooled from May and June, Kerry is leading Bush by a point
among white Catholics. That may not sound like much, but in 2000
Gore lost white Catholics by 7 points.
Also in 2000, Gore
carried all Catholic voters by 3 points, even as he was losing white
Catholics by that 7 point margin. That suggests that a one point
margin among white Catholics implies a substantially larger margin
among Catholics as a whole.
And, in fact, a
recent Gallup report, based on Gallup's late May and early June
polls, does indicate that Kerry is running a solid lead among all
Catholics. According to that report, Kerry leads Bush among Catholic
RVs, 50-42. And note that Kerry has gained much ground since
January, when Bush was carrying Catholics 56-42.
So what happened to
Karl Rove's plan to tilt Catholics in Bush's direction by
emphasizing Bush's conservatism on social issues like abortion and
gay marriage? Well, it was always a suspect plan, given that
Catholics as a whole hardly differ from the rest of the population
in their views on issues like abortion. And, in general, there is
little evidence that centrist and modernist Catholics, which is the
overwhelming majority of Catholics–including among Hispanics–are
likely to vote the conservative social positions of the Catholic
church on issues like abortion or gay marriage. That was the
assumption underlying Rove's plan, but it is highly unlikely to
happen. Instead, polling data suggest strongly that these Catholics
are far more concerned and moved electorally by other issues, such
as the economy, Iraq, health care, education and so on.
Muslim-Americans' support for
Bush? It's worse than in 2000 - no surprise there!
Chinni in the Christian Science Monitor:
The Muslim vote long
fell fairly reliably into the Democratic column, but that changed in
2000. A combination of perceived slights by the Gore campaign and
active wooing by Mr. Bush led to a break in the conventional wisdom.
Major Muslim community groups actually went so far as to endorse
Bush in 2000, in large part due to one big issue: racial profiling.
On the campaign trail and in the debates, Bush used the issue to
talk about his support of the Secret Evidence Repeal Act, a proposal
to reverse parts of a Clinton-era law that made it easier for
prosecutors to use secret evidence in terrorism cases.
Polls in 2000 showed
Muslims favored Bush over Mr. Gore by a wide margin - some showed
support in the 90 percent range - and some groups argued that some
60,000 Muslim votes put Bush over the top in Florida.
It's amazing how much
can change in four years - years that have included Sept. 11, John
Ashcroft, and the Patriot Act. The latest poll by the Council on
American-Islamic Relations shows John Kerry with 54 percent of the
Muslim vote in the 2004 race, comfortably ahead of Ralph Nader, who
garners 26 percent. The president? With a little work he may break
out of the single digits with Muslim-American voters.
Islam is the fastest
growing religious community in the US. There are now, according to
some estimates, seven million Muslim Americans, making this the
second largest religion in the US. In the year 2000 presidential
election, as many as 80% of Muslim voters cast their ballots for
George W. Bush. The practical effects of such overwhelming support
for Bush can be illustrated most dramatically by looking at the
Florida results. While news coverage mostly focused on hanging chads,
and to a lesser degree the alleged disenfranchisement of African
American voters, the Bush victory in Florida, and thus in the
nation, would not have happened without the organized support of
Muslims. There are about 100,000 Muslim voters in Florida; 91% of
those going to the polls cast their ballots for Bush, 8% for Nader
and only 1% for Gore. According to some estimates, this means that
nearly 60,000 more Muslim votes went to Bush than Gore in a state
that was decided by several hundred votes.
As the 2004 presidential election approaches, sentiment in the
Muslim American community has turned around completely. In
Washington, DC, on June 29, 2004, a standing room only audience
listened to a panel of experts discuss the potential impact of the
Muslim-American vote on the coming election...The co-sponsor of the
event was the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
This is the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy
organization in the U.S. and it is led by Executive Director, Nihad
In key states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, Awad
continued, John Kerry, now has a large lead in support from
Muslim-American voters. His organization recently released the
results of its own poll of voter preferences, state by state. Poll
results from Pennsylvania, for example, show Kerry support running
as high as 57 percent, to only 2 percent for Bush. Awad also
described the decision making process within the Muslim-American
community that will determine whether various Muslim organizations
officially endorse Kerry. That decision, Awad believes will be made
several weeks before the election. One thing, however, is clear, he
concluded, “The Muslim-American community sees Sen. John Kerry to
be a better candidate.”
Support for Bush amongst
young voters? It's worse than in 2000
In late July, Teixeira said:
new Harvard University/Institute of Politics poll of college
students shows Bush in deep trouble among this group as well.
Since March, Kerry's already-wide lead over Bush among students has
increased by 8 points, from 53-40 to 58-37. Bush's approval rating
among this group has sunk to 40 percent, while support for the US
having gone to war in Iraq has fallen to 42 percent, with 56 percent
opposition. And, at this point, by 50-31, college students feel the
Kerry campaign is talking about issues that young people care about,
while, by 61-26, they feel the Bush campaign is not.
Sounds like a tough
sell for the GOP among the nation's students!
Here's some more recent data, from Richard
Morin et al. in the Washington Post:
Surveys suggest that
Bush's popularity has plummeted among 18- to 29-year-olds in the
past four months, posing a new obstacle to the president's bid to
win reelection and an immediate challenge to Republicans seeking to
win over impressionable and lightly committed young people during
their upcoming convention.
Four years ago,
network exit polls found that Bush and Democrat Al Gore split the
vote of 18- to 29-year-olds, with Gore claiming 48 percent and Bush
getting 46 percent -- the best showing by a Republican presidential
candidate in more than a decade.
But that was then. In
the latest Post-ABC News poll taken immediately after the Democratic
convention, Kerry led Bush 2-1 among registered voters younger than
30. Among older voters, the race was virtually tied.
Bush's problems with
younger voters began months before the Democratic convention,
Post-ABC polls suggest. The last time Bush and Kerry were tied among
the under-30 crowd was back in April. In the five surveys conducted
since then, Bush has trailed Kerry by an average of 18 percentage
Virtually every other
major poll conducted in the past month confirms Kerry's newfound and
perhaps transient popularity with voters under the age of 30. The
size of this advantage varies, due in part to the relatively small
number of younger voters and correspondingly large margin of
sampling error in each survey.
A Newsweek Poll
conducted on July 29-30 found Kerry with a 51-32 lead among 18- to
29-year-olds. The CBS News/New York Times post-convention survey of
registered voters showed Kerry with a 50-31 advantage among this
Kerry also led among
young adults in most surveys conducted during the weeks leading up
to the convention. The combined data from surveys of 2,891
registered voters conducted by the Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press in May and June showed a 15-point Kerry lead,
but its mid-July survey found the race tied. A Newsweek poll
exclusively of younger voters interviewed in mid-July found Kerry
with a 48-41 lead while a Post-ABC News survey put the Democrat
ahead by 9 points on the eve of his party's convention.
Taken together, the
post-convention surveys suggest that if the election were held
today, Bush would do about as badly among younger voters as
Republican Robert Dole did in 1996 when he lost to incumbent Bill
Clinton by 53 percent to 34 percent in this age group. Dubya's dad
was more popular with younger voters in both 1988 and 1992: The
elder Bush split the young vote in 1988 and lost to Clinton by 9
percentage points in 1992. Of course the Reagan era marked the
recent high-water mark for Republicans with younger voters, who gave
the Gipper his biggest victory margin of any age group in 1984.
Boat Veterans for "Truth" v. The Truth
For the most comprehensive coverage yet detailing the lies,
fabrications and distortions by the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush (er,
for the "Truth"), - about John Kerry - check out my coverage
Would you be surprised to know that a key operative who was behind the
ads that falsely smeared John McCain when he ran against Bush in 2000,
is also behind this smear attack against Kerry? That's Merrie Spaeth -
and among other things, she was also a coach of sorts to Kenneth Starr
during the Clinton impeachment hearings. Another key character behind
this egregious attack is John O'Neill, a Nixon protégé and patsy, a
long-time Kerry nemesis, and a partisan right-wing Republican who once
clerked for William Rehnquist, the current Chief Justice of the United
States. Read more, here.
Democratic Convention, Kerry and
post-convention polls: How did Kerry do?
Answer: The horserace bounce was small in
absolute terms, but the internals of almost all polls show Kerry did
pretty well; plus, he's leading the electoral vote count comfortably
at this time
The Democratic Convention, in my opinion, was above my expectations.
As much as one may be tempted to assign more drama than substance to
such conventions, I think there is one thing that this particular
convention achieved, which is worth noting. It made it clear that the
Democratic Party is not about to lay low on issues of national
security and foreign policy and aggressively challenge the so-called
policies of the Republican Party in this area. This is long overdue,
and in part it does move the party forward in the direction I had
hoped, when I last wrote
about this in 2002. Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards, along with
others like Gen. Wesley Clark, Barack Obama (a rising star in the
Party and running for Senate in Illinois), former President Bill
Clinton, and Teresa Heinz Kerry, all spoke well and highlighted the
key areas the party wants to focus on in this election, with Obama in
particular surprising many with his passionate call to arms
(so-to-speak). All-in-all a convention that made me genuinely more
optimistic about the Democratic party, even though I continue to have
misgivings about their political (as opposed to policy) competence at
times, owing to the ineptitude
with which they seem to be still approaching the fake GOP charges
surrounding Kerry's vote (or lack thereof) for the $87B bill. That
said, it was a good start to the campaign ahead; a summary of the Kerry-Edwards platform is available here.
to the post-Convention polls. Chris Bowers has nicely
summarized the polls that are out so far. Not unexpectedly, there
is a limited bounce for Kerry (considering the margin or
error in these polls) - which is not altogether surprising, as I highlighted in
my earlier post before
the Convention. This may very well be because of the high degree of
polarization in the electorate. The silver lining for Kerry, though,
is that he has improved his standing on numerous issues quite
significantly (high single digits to high teens in some cases),
even if that does not reflect in the horserace totals. You can see
that by clicking
here (for example). Also, Atrios'
summary says more than the horserace numbers.
- Kerry leads Bush as
"better qualified to be commander-in-chief," by 52
percent to 44 percent.
Anyway, here are the results from Chris:
Teixeira has definitely won me over when it comes to determining
the most accurate most important trial heat models. For me, it is
all about the two-way, registered voter trial heats:
940 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3 (7/22-25 results)
Kerry 52 (48)
Bush 45 (49)
776 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3.5 (7/1-7/3 results)
Kerry 49 (49)
Bush 46 (45)
991 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3 (7/11-7/15 results)
Kerry 49 (49)
Bush 43 (44)
1,366 RV, 7/30-8/1, MoE 3 (7/19-7/21 results)
Kerry 48 (49)
Bush 48 (45)
1,010 RV, 7/29-7/30, MoE 3 (7/8-7/9 results)
Kerry 52 (51)
Bush 44 (45)
UPDATE 8/7/04: Another handy page, where you can see the three-way
horse race results is 2.004k.com. Additional
polls since the DNC continue to show Kerry in a good position, even if
his apparent bounce per se is in the few % range.
John of Americablog (via Buzzflash) has a quick and
dirty, but original,
analysis that is worth noting. Rather than simply looking at
Kerry's absolute bounce in the polls, John looks at the percentage
of the undecided vote that Kerry picked up (temporarily or
permanently? - that is TBD) in the bounce. This is clearly an
important metric. The absolute bounce is clearly a function of the
available undecided voters; thus, as I've stated before, in a closely
divided populace with a historically low percentage undecided voters,
there is less one may expect in terms of a bounce. Anyway, here is his
conclusion: Kerry did as well as Clinton did in 1992 in capturing a
similar percentage of the undecided voters.
This election, as Newsweek notes, is
NOT AT ALL AN AVERAGE ELECTION. There are MUCH FEWER voters up for
grabs - most have already committed to one candidate or another. AP
reports 75% of Kerry and Bush supporters say they will
"definitely" vote for their candidate - that's a big jump
from 1992, when fewer than half of Clinton's
supporters said the same about their candidate going in to the
Clinton in 1992 was able to use the convention to woo 16 of the 66
"up for grab" voters - or around 1 in 4 of
the "up for grab" voters.
Last week, Kerry was able to woo 4 of the 17 "up for grab
voters" - or 1 in 4 "up for grab
voters." (And if you believe that only 10 percent of voters were
"up for grabs," then Kerry won over 4 out of 10 voters as
his convention bounce.) Using either figure - 1/4 or 4/10 - that's
pretty darn good, and just as good if not better than Clinton did with
his one-in-four "massive" bump.
Now I'm not arguing that Kerry got
exactly the equivalent of a 16 or a 26 point bounce, BUT, the fact
remains that Kerry inherited a very divided, set-in-its-ways
electorate. If only ten percent of the electorate were in fact
"up for grabs," and Kerry had gotten all 10 percent as a
result of his convention bounce, the media would still be saying
"gosh, Clinton got 16 percent, and Kerry only got 10%, so Kerry
didn't do as well" - even though, in fact, KERRY WOULD HAVE
GOTTEN ALL THE AVAILABLE VOTERS.
John also points
out, that the internals of the Fox News poll, are very positive
for Kerry. Kerry has gotten massive bumps in how voters perceive him
on areas where he was trailing Bush significantly. William Saletan of Slate states
the same thing based on other polls - that the internals of the latest polls are actually very favorable to
Kerry and troublesome to Bush. Polling pundit Ruy Teixeira of
Chris Bowers' General Election Cattle Call shows Kerry is a pretty
strong position. Chris also shows at MyDD
how Bush's favorables MINUS unfavorables margin is poor compared to
Kerry's. And via
Brad DeLong, I learn that Frank Luntz (The GOP pollster) seems
somewhat pessimistic about Bush's chances.
in all, Kerry has done well. Now the even harder work starts to keep
the momentum and win the campaign. And, please, will someone tell
the DNC and Kerry-Edwards to send
COMPETENT people to the represent them in the media, not just
well-meaning people who are often ignorant of the facts?
Polls and polls - and possibly NOT
MUCH of a "Convention bounce" expected for Kerry
Lots of interesting posts about polling data in the blogosphere today.
Of course, a "July
surprise" or an "October surprise" may change
everything - but so far, Kerry/Edwards seem to be in a good position
vis-a-vis Bush/Cheney. Still, a lot of hard work and challenging
months ahead for Kerry.
Ruy Teixeira at DonkeyRising
points to two recent poll analyses. A column by Charlie Cook on National
Journal, where Cook says that the relative stability of the horse
race so far (which he considers somewhat unusual) and Bush's sub-50%
numbers indicate that Kerry is in a good position at this time.
Teixeira also points to an analysis by David Gopoian in Salon,
where Gopoian says "...Kerry needs to make small gains among
friendly voters, while Bush needs to make huge gains among relatively
unfriendly voters..." in order to win.
at the Swing
State Project points to two more websites doing poll projections:
Vote Predictor and David Wissing at the Hedgehog
What I found most interesting was
Chris Bowers' call
that Kerry may not receive much of a bounce after the Democratic
Party's Convention next week. Bowers says:
Bush's solid states are as low as
I believe they can honestly reach: 118. Kerry's safe states are as
close to as high as I can imagine them reaching (291--only FL, IA,
MN, NM and WI could further become solid). Less than a week before
the convention, Kerry is looking very good ineeed. This point equals
his highest ever standing in the two-party vote, and he is within
three points of 366 EV's, and 291 solid EV's.
Considering all of this, I
wouldn't expect much of a convention bounce if I were you. Kerry is
close to maxing out how far he can probably be ahead by. A four
point bounce would be remarkable. Here is a simple formula I am
using to determine Kerry's maximum bounce: 12 - Kerry's current
trial heat lead- (undecideds * .5) = Kerry's maximum bounce. Check
out a few recent trial heats to see what a small number that is.
Congratulations to John Edwards and kudos to Sen.
Kerry for making a good choice. Not unexpectedly, meaningless nonsense
and spin about Edwards (and Kerry) is being pushed to the forefront by
the GOP. Let's see if that can be debunked, shall we?
1. Is Edwards really "too liberal"?
Campanelli at DailyKos has posted a letter
from Andrew Sullivan's website on this:
I'm growing a bit frustrated with
the media, including you, running with this Kerry and Edwards being
the first and fourth most liberal Senators. Everyone is citing the
National Journal's ratings but they are doing it sloppily. I have seen
no recent article that cites anything but the 2003 ratings where Kerry
missed 37 and Edwards missed 22 of 62 votes and both were setting
themselves up for primary battles where their base was essential.
Think what you may about missing votes and pandering a bit (seems
suicide to not do both when going for the nomination), but my larger
point is the media should be looking at this much more historically
and in years when Edwards and Kerry actually showed up to do their
jobs. I'll do it for them. Following are rankings and liberal scores
2003: Kerry - 1st (96.5) Edwards - 4th (94.5)
2002: Kerry - 9th (87.3) Edwards - 31st (63.0) Edwards made the
2001: Kerry - 11th (87.7) Edwards - 35th (68.2) Edwards almost tied
2000: Kerry - 20th (77) Edwards - 19th (80.8) Rankings past 20 are not
available nor are composite scores for all Senators, so Kerry is 21st
1999: Kerry - 16th (80.8) Edwards - 31st (72.2)
Average: Kerry - 12th (85.9) Edwards - 24th (75.7)
Now this paints a different picture. Certainly Kerry is a stalwart
liberal (although probably not or barely a top 10 liberal), but he
does hail from and represent one of the most liberal states. But
Edwards is definitely a moderate Democrat (if you define that as
somewhere in the ideological middle of the Democratic platform).
Jeff Horwitz pointed this out in Salon.com,
Observer article from February sums up the National Journal's
"[The National Journal] found
Edwards more liberal than 63 percent of his Senate colleagues in
2002. Put another way: He was more conservative than all but 10 of
the Senate's 50 Democrats. Over his four years, the magazine said,
Edwards fell into the 'moderate to conservative range' of Democrats.
"Edwards voted with his party
84 percent of the time last year and 90 percent over the four years,
according to Congressional Quarterly magazine. He supported
President Bush 76 percent of the time last year and 80 percent
So, should we say that if Bush and Edwards voted the
same way 80% of the time (overall) then Bush is only a "little
less liberal than Edwards"?
2. Is Edwards really that
"inexperienced" from a historical perspective?
As Josh Marshall pointed
out in response to yet another GOP-spin-laden, moronic Howard
Fineman article in Newsweek:
...That asterisk is a reference to
this paragraph, the second of [Fineman's] article ...
Except for Ike, I can’t think of
anyone in modern times that entered electoral politics and gained
a place on a major-party ticket on such a hurried timetable. Dan
Quayle, who’d held office for 12 years when George H.W. Bush
picked him, was a grizzled veteran compared with Edwards. Yes,
George W. Bush had been governor of Texas for only six years when
he won the presidency. But he had run for the House years earlier,
and essentially had spent his entire life in the family business
of politics. (A helpful reader points out to me that Richard Nixon
had a similarly rapid rise. Elected to the House in 1946, he
became Ike's running mate in 1952. But an Edwards-Nixon comparison
is hardly one that Democrats would like to make.)
So, Bush was in a hurry too. But
he once ran for the House between business failures and, besides,
for him politics is genetic. And Nixon did it in six too; but he did
bad stuff so that doesn't count.
Also of some interest on the
Fineman historical acumen watch ...
L. Willkie: Never ran for public office before presidential
nomination; nominated for presidency in 1940. Zero to sixty in zero
E. Dewey: First run for public office (District Attorney) in
1937, New York Governorship in 1942; nominated for the presidency in
1944. Zero to sixty in seven years.
Stevenson: First run for public office (Illinois Governorship)
in 1948; nominated for the presidency in 1952. Zero to sixty in four
Agnew: First run for public office (Chief Executive of Baltimore
County) in 1962, Maryland Governorship in 1966; nominated for the
vice-presidency in 1968. Zero to sixty in six years.
Ferraro: First run for public office (NY Congressional seat) in
1978; nominated for vice-presidency in 1984. Zero to sixty in six
Geraldine Sealey at Salon.com
especially strange that Republicans would want to raise the issue of
inexperience given who's on top of their ticket. John Edwards was, as
anyone who heard him during the primary season knows, born to a mill
worker and the first person in his family to attend college. As a
young boy, he wanted to become a lawyer to fight for working people.
And he did -- a really good one. After his successful career as a
trial lawyer, Edwards decided to try his hand at government. (Sounds
like the up-by-the-bootstraps,
private-sector-success-turned-public-servant stuff of many GOP
dreams). Edwards has served a term in the Senate, where he sat on the
Senate Intelligence Committee and co-sponsored the Patients' Bill of
Rights with John McCain and Ted Kennedy. But, the RNC says, he has
only served about six years in the Senate, so he isn't qualified to be
V.P. This is, perhaps, the definition of chutzpah.
Of course, Bush has quite a bit of
experience with "inexperience." He served about the same
amount of time as Texas governor, from 1994-2000, in a state where
the executive yields much power to the Legislature, and before that
he was a failed oil executive who used profits from the sale of his
Harken Energy stock -- sold miraculously right before the stock
value plummeted, which was the subject of an SEC insider trading
investigation -- to buy into the Texas Rangers, a deal that made him
a multimillionaire. If this man is qualified to be president, we're
pretty sure we can trust John Edwards as No. 2.
And if Bush wants to compare his
pre-government experience to John Edwards', he may not want to ask
David Rubenstein to be a character witness...[read Sealey's entire
3. Was Edwards John Kerry's "second
choice" behind John McCain? (This is the most meaningless blather
of all which needs no comment, but I'm including comments on this
because they are amusing.)
(a) MyDD notes
McCain's recent statement that he was not actually offered a VP post
has already demonstrated, on the March 18th CBS Early Show, John
McCain stated that Bush offered him the VP slot in 2000:
Look, I don't want to be
Vice-President of the United States, I do not want to leave the
Republican party, I would not be Vice President of the United
States on either ticket. I told President Bush when he asked me in
2000 if, when he asked me if I was interested, I said I was not
only did McCain himself confirm that Bush offered him the VP slot,
McCain has just confirmed that Kerry
never offered him the VP slot (via Brooklyndem):
SNOW: Now John Kerry, is it true
that John Kerry asked you to be his vice president?
McCAIN: Uh, no. No, it was never
SNOW: It was never offered. So,
it may have been discussed elliptically, but never flat out
McCAIN: Never was an offer, no.
SNOW: Right. But, so- I want to
just lay to rest once and for all: never approached you, never
hinted that he wanted to talk to you about being vice president.
All that kind of stuff was made up.
McCAIN: Well, I cannot attest to
that. All I can tell you is my conversations with him were private
conversations, but he never offered it.
(b) DailyKos notes
that in fact Cheney was Bush's second choice for VP behind McCain:
18th edition of CBS' The Early Show:
Look, I don't want to be Vice
President of the United States, I do not want to leave the
Republican party, I would not be Vice President of the United
States on either ticket. I told President Bush when he asked
me in 2000 if, when he asked me if I was interested, I said
I was not interested.
(c) Wonkette notes
an even more damning fact for Bush (dated of course) put forth
jokingly by the bumbler Chris Matthews - that Bush was McCain's second
choice for President (back in 2000 at least):
with the GOP claiming Edwards was Kerry's second choice and the Dems
saying Cheney was Bush's second choice, people forget that McCain
has preferences, too.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know who John
McCain's second choice for president is?
MATTHEW DOWD [GOP strategist]: Who's that?
MATTHEWS: George Bush.
(d) Brad DeLong has some more
Jack Balkin writes:
The Problem With Second Choices: I see that Bush is now running an
ad noting that McCain was Kerry's first choice for Vice-President.
The Dems should run an ad noting that Al Gore was the country's
first choice for President.
There are many riffs you can do on
George W. Bush was America's
second choice for president.
George W. Bush says John McCain
was John Kerry's first choice for vice president. I can assure you
that George W. Bush was not John McCain's first choice for
president--or his second, third, fourth, or fifth choice either.
George W. Bush complains that
John Edwards was John Kerry's second choice for vice president.
But what's wrong with that? John Kerry was John Edwards's second
choice for president.
George W. Bush is Ralph Nader's
first choice for president.
Carlyle Group founder David
Rubenstein says George W. Bush is his 25,000,001 choice for
Miscellaneous Bush, Kerry and Nader
The media's Kerry bashing
Liz Cox Barrett at CJR Campaign Desk has an excellent
entry on the incompetence of many in the mainstream media and
their ability to flip-flop effortlessly to spout GOP spin.
Once upon a time, not so
very long ago, there was a senator named John who found
himself on Al Gore's short list of potential running
The campaign press in
the summer of 2000 was entranced with John. It tumbled all
over itself to describe John as the perfect match for what
it saw as the somewhat wooden, robot-like Gore. One
newspaper described John as a man with "an easy
manner and good looks," a politician whose
"charisma [might] rub off on [Gore]," a person
who could "bring some charm to the ticket."
John's selection, it opined, would signal that Gore
"thinks the election will be decided on
personality." A television reporter also regarded
this John as "charismatic." Another newspaper
saw him as "younger and more telegenic than Dick
Cheney." Yet a third newspaper called him
"handsome," with "a record tailor-made to
undermine the standard Republican attack on liberal
This John's surname was
Kerry -- though if you guessed Edwards, you are more than
excused -- and the press outlets that offered the above
descriptions were the St. Petersburg Times, NBC
News, the Boston Globe, and the (New York) Daily
What a difference 1,460
"handsome," "charismatic" candidate
who four years ago had an "easy manner,"
"charm," and a record impregnable to Republican
attack has undergone a hideous transmogrification, as
described by reporters.
Let's listen in.
No longer handsome,
Kerry has been compared this election season to "The
Addams Family"'s heavy-browed Lurch (by both former New
York Times executive editor Howell
Raines and by CNBC's talk show host/comic Dennis
Miller). The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash sees
in Kerry's mug a "long-faced Easter Island
mask," while The New Yorker's Philip
"a long, angular face [that] has something of the
abstraction of a tribal mask." Kerry reminds
Knight Ridder's Dick Polman of "those long-faced
walking trees in 'Lord of the Rings,'" while the Chicago
a "droopy, hound-dog look." Kerry, it seems, was
repeatedly whacked by an Ugly Stick sometime between 2000
and 2004. (Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Botox, if
you -- like the Tribune
and other news outlets -- entertain that sort of
But there are worse
things than ugly; Kerry has also, apparently, lost any
shred of charisma, and is now utterly free of charm. In
April, the St. Petersburg Times wrote,
"...rarely do [Democrats] have much to say about
[Kerry's] personal appeal or charisma." On June 20,
the (New York) Daily News editorialized
that Kerry "is charisma-challenged by a
mannequin." (This from newspapers that sang the
praises of the charismatic and attractive Kerry not four
In March, Chris Matthews
wondered aloud on "Hardball" whether John Kerry
"has the stuff," given that "nobody ever
associated the word charisma with [him]." (Four years
ago, Matthews had no such doubts about Kerry. "I
think [Gore-Kerry is] going to be the ticket, I'll say it
here, because I believe that -- that Bill Clinton, to his
credit, set the standard: Pick a vice president who looks
right from day one like he could be president," he
declared in July of 2000.)
And, during a televised
Democratic primary debate last February, CBS's Dan Rather
asked John Edwards a question that perhaps set the rest of
the press pack a-wondering: Did Kerry, Rather asked
Edwards, have "enough Elvis" in him to beat Bush
-- "enough excitement factor, enough charisma, enough
Well, apparently no.
For, having lost not only his good looks but also his
charisma, the once charming Kerry has apparently grown
"aloof," a favorite word in the new press
lexicon. (Stripped of our face and our personality, we
have to confess, we might grow a tad "aloof"
ourselves.) Newsweek's Howard Fineman wrote in
February about "the matter of Kerry's public persona:
he can seem aloof, condescending and soporific." In
March, Gloria Borger asked her roundtable cohorts on
CNBC's "Capital Report": "We always called
[Kerry] aloof. Is he still aloof, or is this -- or is he
trying to warm up here for us?" On June 16, the Washington
Post's Lois Romano wrote
that Kerry "often comes off as aloof and
Could it be that not
just John Kerry's face, but also his manner and his
personality have really dissolved into a puddle of
wrinkles in just four years? Has he aged poorly? Has
caution suppressed his charisma? Has the once captivating
conversationalist become a snooze-inducing bore? Or could
it be that what has aged poorly is the press's hackneyed
shorthand descriptions of the candidate and his
attributes? That the Kerry press corps is tiring of the
grind of the campaign trail, of hearing the same old stump
speech delivered from the same old mouth, and that this
personal weariness has seeped into their coverage? In
2000, Kerry was a relatively fresh face to journalists
outside of Washington, D.C. and Massachusetts. In 2004,
after the Democratic primaries and months on the trail,
Kerry's face is fresh to no reporter.
The new fresh face --
despite also being a 2000 VP also-ran -- is, in the press'
estimation, John Edwards.
Bush's Kerry bashing
This one is older and I was remiss in not posting this earlier. I'm
just posting a couple of snippets. I recommend you read the whole
Bush, Unprecedented Negativity
Scholars Say Campaign Is Making History
With Often-Misleading Attacks
By Dana Milbank and Jim VandeHei
The charges [by the Bush team
against Kerry] were all tough, serious -- and wrong, or at least
highly misleading. Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has
proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than
$200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax
increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education
changes, albeit with modifications.
Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on
Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of
attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have
taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a
political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is
unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.
Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks
on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100
markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336
negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were
compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media
Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the
figures are accurate.
The assault on Kerry is multi-tiered: It involves television ads,
news releases, Web sites and e-mail, and statements by Bush
spokesmen and surrogates -- all coordinated to drive home the
message that Kerry has equivocated and "flip-flopped" on
Iraq, support for the military, taxes, education and other matters.
"There is more attack now on the Bush side against Kerry than
you've historically had in the general-election period against
either candidate," said University of Pennsylvania professor
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an authority on political communication.
"This is a very high level of attack, particularly for an
Kerry, too, has made his own
misleading statements and exaggerations.
But Bush has outdone Kerry in the
number of untruths,
Nader shows himself to be not just a narcissist-in-chief but
someone who will go to any length to elect Bush - even if that means
fraud is required.
The less said the better. Here are multiple
Nader is NOT
what he claims to be, not to mention how he's not shy about being
(to put it mildly).
UPDATE 7/12/04: More on this here
"Bias" in Polling
R. Chung (via MyDD)
has an excellent
analysis of how the results of various polling outlets compare to
their average. The analysis looks at how much more Bush-favorable some
polls are compared to others and how that reflects on the Bush v.
Kerry poll results.
I hope Chung will
not mind if I reproduce some of her excellent summaries and charts
- Some polls do seem to lean
consistently one way or the other.
- The amount that they lean
depends on the type of question being measured: for the same
poll, presidential job approval has a different pattern of bias
than head-to-head horserace polling.
- In job approval, the Fox poll
consistently reports findings that are more supportive of
President Bush than the average of all polls; the Zogby and
Harris polls are the opposite.
- In the presidential election,
the Fox poll consistently reports findings that lean more toward
President Bush than the average of all polls; the ABC-Washington
Post poll appears to lean the most in the other direction.
The table below shows the mean
residual difference between each poll and the average poll. That is,
on the whole, the Fox poll shows a 5.16 percentage point larger
difference in approval-disapproval spread than the average of all
polls; while the Zogby poll reports about an 11.15 percentage point
lower difference in spread than the average of all polls.
Harris, and AP-Ipsos polls
Note that the two polls that show
much smaller than average differences in the approval-disapproval
spread are the Zogby and Harris polls. What could be going on? A
quick look at the questions asked by those two polling firms reveals
that, unlike the other polls, PollingReport.com reports their
summaries as a combination of "Excellent/Good" and
"Fair/Poor" rather than "Approval" or
"Disapproval." Evidently, this way of combining ratings
tends to understate the approval-disapproval spread relative to
the other polls. One possibility is that some respondents who
gave the President a rating of "fair" would also
"approve" of the job the President is performing. Note
that I am not claiming that the Zogby and Harris polls are
wrong; I simply emphasize that they do not appear to be exactly
comparable to the other polls.
The AP-Ipsos poll appears to
report a smaller approval-disapproval spread than the other polls.
Interestingly, there is an oddity about the AP poll: the sponsorship
of the poll appears to have changed in November 2003;
www.pollingreport.com notes that "data from 11/03 and earlier
[were] co-sponsored by Cook Political Report." It
appears that AP polls after November 2003 are significantly closer
to the overall average than those before. Since the discontinuity is
so obvious, and because I am trying to examine current poll
biases, I have decided to exclude AP polls taken prior to November
2003. In contrast, although the Zogby and Harris polls appear to be
structurally dissimilar to the other polls, it does not appear that
the pattern of bias has (significantly) changed over time; I will
keep them in this analysis (see the technical note above for a quick
evaluation of how much difference in the overall average it makes to
keep the Zogby Poll in the analysis). The plot below summarizes the
overall biases for these polls and is a visual representation of the
table above, after omitting the AP polls prior to November 2003. The
Zogby and Harris polls are clear outliers and report (much) less
favorable results to the President than the other polls; the Fox
poll is an outlier on the other side and reports results more
favorably. The rest of the polls, including the now "cleaned
up" AP poll are reasonably close to the average.
The discussion above
pertains to the President's job approval ratings. What about Bush
vs. Kerry matchups? Does the bias in job approval that we observed
above extend to the horserace polls?
In my opinion, the value of this study will become
apparent over time, and really only after Election 2004. Saying that
some poll is closer to the average of all the polls doesn't mean that
the average is actually the correct representation of people's
opinion. Having said that, this is great work and a useful reference
for the future.
Is the tide turning a bit against the GOP?
I don't know but Kos
thinks it is...
After Texas redrew its political boundaries last year, the
Republican leadership in the House of Representatives was buzzing
with talk of big increases in their majority. But when
Representative Tom Reynolds of New York, the chairman of the
National Republican Campaign Committee, offered his outlook for
2004 on Wednesday, it did not include such expansive predictions.
"My goal," Mr. Reynolds said, "is to bring back
228 members of House Republicans next year."
That, as it happens, was the same number of Republicans in the
House until Tuesday, when Stephanie Herseth, a Democrat, squeaked
to victory in a special election in South Dakota, bringing it down
to 227. When reporters expressed surprise that Mr. Reynolds was
not predicting an even bigger majority, given the redistricting in
Texas, he simply reiterated his stance. "My goal is to bring
back 228," he said, adding, "I don't predict
Mr. Reynolds might not have been feeling particularly good. In
addition to Ms. Herseth's victory in South Dakota -- a state that
President Bush won in 2000 with 61 percent of the vote -- another
Democrat, Ben Chandler, won in a special election in February in
Kentucky, also a Republican stronghold. Though Republicans say
those losses do not have greater national significance for the
coming elections in November, the fact that Mr. Reynolds was
forecasting a status quo outcome could be telling.
Reynolds is using defeatist language, much the same way Democrats
were the past two years. The momentum is swinging our way.
Bush won South Dakota by 22 percentage points, the Kentucky 6th
by 14 points. On paper, these districts are not competitive, and
should not be competitive. And they would not have made any
observer's list of possible Democratic pickup opportunities.
When people like Larry Sabato and Charlie Cook draw up their list
of '50 competitive races', places like SD and KY6 don't get
But this is a different year. The usual rules don't apply. And
while November may prove a bust for Democrats, it also offers the
best chance of a Democratic majority in a decade.
The key is to contest every seat.
Every seat. He's certainly right about
UPDATE 7/12/04: See
article in The Progressive (via Salon.com),
Is New Jersey a Swing State?...PLUS...A note of caution from Ruy
Thomas Lang at the Campaign
in on the New Jersey - Purple State? question:
Yesterday morning on CNN's
"American Morning," former Clinton aide Lisa Caputo
nominated New Jersey's transformation to a "purple state"
as the "undercover story of the week." Last Monday, New
up as a battleground state in a Reuters piece laying out the
As Public Enemy once said,
don't believe the hype.
Almost two weeks ago the New York Times's Adam Nagourney
christened New Jersey a battleground state allegedly up for grabs
this election season. New Jersey, Nagourney noted, had "been
considered a lock for Democrats in presidential elections,"as
New Jersey's electoral votes went to Gore in 2000 and Clinton in
1996 and 1992.
Reporters putting New Jersey into the "in play" category
have mostly relied on polls showing a relatively close race there.
Last Thursday, Quinnipiac University released
a poll showing Kerry with a surprisingly low 46 percent to 43
percent lead over Bush in a trial heat that also included Ralph
Nader (5 percent). A poll conducted in early April by Fairleigh
Dickinson University also depicted a close election, with Bush
leading Kerry 48 percent to 44 percent (Ralph Nader again captured 5
percent of the vote).
Yet, a closer look at the facts reveals a New Jersey -- which Al
Gore won by 16 points in 2000 -- almost certainly destined to fall
to the Democrat.
To begin with, a number of other polls have shown Kerry ahead of
Bush. In early April the Newark Star-Ledger found that,
counting leaners, 49 percent of registered voters supported Kerry,
while 40 percent supported Bush. Then in late April, a Rasmussen
Report poll showed
Kerry with a double-digit lead over Bush, 51 percent to 39 percent.
More importantly, however, the New-Jersey-as-battleground hype
ignores the fact that, in 2000, while Gore ultimately crushed Bush,
early polls 2000 depicted a close race. In early May of that year,
American Research Group found Gore receiving 45 percent, Bush 44
percent, and 11 percent undecided. In June 2000, a Quinnipiac poll
had Gore at 41 percent, Bush 37 percent, and Nader 7 percent. That
same month Mason-Dixon Polling & Research released a poll that
measured Gore's support at 42 percent, Bush's at 40 percent, and
Nader's at 4 percent, and a Gannett New Jersey Poll suggested a Bush
victory with the Republican out dueling Gore 35 percent to 34
percent (29 percent were undecided).
Then, in August 2000, Gannet measured Bush's lead at 8 percent,
before the numbers miraculously shifted in the middle of month
giving Gore a 10 percent lead.
Simply stated, the early polls out of New Jersey have not proven to
be accurate forecasts of the November vote. Rather, they have proven
to be entirely unreliable. (This holds for non-presidential
elections also. For example, in 1996, a Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers
Poll administered just days before the election depicted
a dead heat between the Republican candidate Dick Zimmer and the
Democratic candidate Bob Torricelli at 41 percent and 42 percent,
respectively. But, when the votes were tallied on Election Day,
Zimmer by a ten-point margin, 53 percent to 43 percent.)
DavidNYC has more
on this at the Swing State Project:
Recently, there's been some
hand-wringing about the closeness of some trial-heat polls in NJ. I
maintained that Jersey is not a swing state, and I still do.
Chris, writing over at MyDD, actually
crunches the numbers and comes to the same conclusion.
Looking at the neglected step-child of polling stats -
approval/disapproval ratings - Chris observes that Bush is strongly
disliked. His only shot in NJ is to pump up Kerry's disapproval
rating, but given the Bush campaign's current financial straits, it
seems unlikely that they can afford to stay on the air in NJ. And
hence, NJ is going to stay in our hands.
In the meantime, Ruy Teixeira at Donkey Rising has
comments for some annoying Democrats:
...now that Kerry seems to have
taken a small lead in the horse race and now that the media have
finally aborbed the fundamental fact that Bush is doing poorly, not
well, in comparison to previous incumbent presidents, perhaps it's
time to strike a few cautionary notes. After all, the election is
still over five months away, the lead may change hands again several
times, and Kerry's position, while strong, is hardly unassailable.
A first cautionary note worth paying attention to is provided by
Matthew Yglesias in an
article on the The American Prospect website. As Yglesias
rightly points out, the elections about which we have relevant
polling data only go back to 1948, which is a mighty small dataset.
Hence, just as caution was well-advised when it appeared by
historical standards that Bush would win, so is caution well-advised
now when it appears that, by those standards, he is likely to lose.
Moreover, as Yglesias points out, if you expand the number of cases
under consideration by including elections where a sitting vice
president runs to succeed an incumbent president (1960, 1988, 2000)
as sort of quasi-incumbent elections, the historical picture looks a
Personally, I still think Bush is in a great deal of trouble. But we
should be cautious about relying too much on the historical record
in assessing his likelihood of losing.
Another cautionary note is struck by Terence Samuel, also on the Prospect
website. His article, "Chicken
Littles Recant", points out how quickly Democrats tend to
go from being more depressed than they should be by political trends
(oh no, Kerry's only running even with Bush; he should be ahead by
10 points; disaster looms!!) to being excessively optimistic
(Kerry's ahead, Bush is sinking fast--Kerry's going to win by a
As he points out:
This is an up moment, but
it was only a few weeks ago that some influential but unnamed
Democrats were wringing their hands on the front page of The New
York Times about how Kerry was blowing their big opportunity to win
back the White House.
Let's try to remember this
and not get similarly silly the next time the polls and news cycle
go south for Kerry.
Marshall cautions us not to conclude from the current good news
that now is the time for Kerry to ratchet up his aggressiveness and
take center stage away from the president. As he puts it:
will intensify in the coming months. And that will help the
president in many ways, getting some of the attention off him and on
to Kerry. But a judgment about the president like the [negative] one
I've described above, once made, can be hard to unmake. And for the
moment, with so many of the president's actions delivering abysmal
dividends to the nation he's led, that judgment is being made
against the president. So, for the moment, I'm not sure having Kerry
give Bush center stage is such a bad thing.
Of course, that doesn't
really tell us when Kerry should turn up the heat. But it's a
reasonable point that we should not necessarily assume that a bit of
good news means that time is now.
I recently discovered the Swing
State Project (SSP for short, hereafter)- an interesting site
analyzing the political trends in swing states.
methodology of the site's owner, DavidNYC, is described in brief here:
Any state where the margin between
(Gore + Nader) - (Bush + Buchanan) was ±10% in 2000 is considered a
swing state for the purposes of this project.
The 10% margin seems to me to be a bit high.
However, DavidNYC also recently provided a link to the swing state
assumptions made by others
- a nice compilation and reference.
Different organizations count up
their lists of swing states differently. Luke Francl tells us who's
Swing states are those states that
people believe the 2004 election will turn on. They are states
that were close in the last election. But which states are those?
And which states are each campaign and the outside groups focusing
on? The following is a list of swing states organized by group,
based on their websites and TV advertising. For a brief
introduction to the swing states, read
this Washington Post story.
Key Findings: There are
17 states (ignoring grassroots efforts) that all groups agree will
be key battlegrounds in the 2004 election. Kerry and liberal 527
coalition America Votes are focusing on the same core states, but
Kerry just moved into Colorado and Louisiana, which are thought to
be safe Republican states. Bush is advertising in Tennessee, where
neither Kerry nor America Votes are focused.
Kerry (17 states, plus
2): Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Added
recently: Colorado, Louisiana.
Bush (18 states, plus 2):
Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Added
recently: Colorado, Louisiana. [Added
in response to Kerry. - David]
Votes 527 (17 states): Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa,
Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and
Votes (16 states): Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa,
Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico,
Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and
Wisconsin. Note: Driving Votes is ignoring Washington and
Maine while adding Tennessee. I am not counting them as a major
group as it is a completely grassroots effort not affiliated with
State Project (21 states — see
methodology): Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa,
Louisiana, Maine (2nd CD), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada,
New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
[picture not shown]
The Bush campaign's list comes
closest to mine. My only true outlier state is Virginia. As I've
said before, I think this state is heading our way, and if the GOP
isn't careful (let's hope they're not), they're going to have a big
problem the day VA turns blue. Interestingly, by the way, there are
several states that had wider margins than VA but that are still
considered "battlegrounds." (Such as WA, MI and LA.)
Talking of swing states, both DavidNYC
Teixeira point out that Kerry is still leading or matching Bush in
the swing states - which now appear to have a new name "Purple
UPDATE: DavidNYC also responds
to a Washington Post article by the WaPo/ABC Poll Editors which makes
the same mistake that it criticizes.
Richard Morin & Gary Langer,
polling directors for the WaPo and ABC News, respectively, make the
argument on the WaPo
op-ed page that the list of swing states people are looking at
won't necessarily be the close, deciding states on election day.
Well, of course not: Some will and some won't. In asserting this
claim, they mostly cite a bunch of historical evidence about close
states in one year not always being close the following presidential
That's great - but so what? What matters are whether the states
which were close last time still look close this time, and whether
any states that weren't close last time look surprisingly
close this time. And on that front, they produce some pretty thin
evidence. One Wisconsin poll had Bush ahead by 12 points. So it's no
longer a battleground, then? Wrong - the
very next poll showed Kerry up by 8. New Jersey is
"neck-and-neck," they say? Yeah - in precisely one poll.
Two more recent polls showed Kerry up by 12 and 6 points.
I don't mean to disparage the idea of looking at past voting trends
- obviously, these matter a great deal. But unless you can show me
that an actual state we're calling "swing" really isn't,
or a state we're calling "safe" really isn't - in the
here-and-now - then it makes sense to stick with this list. And the
17 or so main swing states have polled consistently closely for some
The second half of the op-ed reads like a memo to the media:
"Please don't regard this as just a horserace to 270 electoral
votes and cover the issues, too." The problem is that the
electoral college just isn't complicit here. Even if we got rid of
it, the media would still treat this as a horserace - just as they
do every election. The only real difference would be that national
polls would be all-important, and campaign activity (and political
coverage) would focus on major population centers. So the media
ought to blame itself for shoddy coverage, not the electoral
The candidates and religion/God
Dwight Meredith at Wampum, as usual, has a
thoughtful and highly relevant post that reflects the pretty
lackadaisically poor coverage of religion and God (in the context of
Kerry and Bush) by the mainstream media.
I do not find efforts to explore
the ways that a candidate’s religious faith informs (or fails to
inform) his or her public policy positions to be inappropriate.
In the run up to the Iraq war, the National Council of Churches prepared
and ran an ad that featured a Methodist Bishop. The ad has been
described as follows:
In the latest ad, actress Janeane
Garofalo says she keeps wondering: Does the United States have the
right to invade "a country that's done nothing to us?' "
The choice of a Methodist Bishop to
deliver that message was quite pointed as President Bush is, of
course, a Methodist.
Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, the chief ecumenical officer of the
United Methodist Church, answers: "No nation under God has
that right. It violates international law, it violates God's law
and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Iraq hasn't wronged us. War
will only create more terrorists and a more dangerous world for
I find nothing inappropriate about that ad. I do find it
inappropriate that some networks and local stations refused to sell
time to show the ad “citing the controversial content.”
Similarly, I find nothing inappropriate about the media or partisans
raising the issue of how John Kerry’s Catholicism affects his
public policy positions. My concern is that the debate is too
narrow, not too broad. In particular, it seems to me that the
efforts to explore the subject have too often focused on Democratic
politicians, the Catholic faith and the issue of abortion.
Kevin T. Keith at Lean
Left links to this Washington Post story
in which some question why the debate is solely about abortion:
A question has been gnawing at
Frank A. McNeirney since he read that some Roman Catholic bishops
want to deny Communion to Catholic politicians, such as Democratic
presidential candidate John F. Kerry, whose public positions are
at odds with church doctrine.
Expanding the debate to include
issues other than abortion seems like a good idea.
Does this only apply to abortion?" asked McNeirney, 67, of
Bethesda. "What about the death penalty?"
a series of posts entitled Gonzo Journalism, suggests the
debate be broadened to include Republican Catholic politicians.
Atrios suggests some questions for Governor
George Pataki and Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger, both pro-choice Catholic Republicans:
1) Is it the Governor's position
that pro-Choice politicians should not be allowed to take
Atrios also wants to expand the
debate to other issues by asking
Catholic Republicans such as Senator Rick Santorum about their
position on contraception:
2) Does the governor himself take communion when he attends
3) Does the governor attend church regularly? Did he attend church
yesterday? Did he take communion?
Call the offices of Rick Santorum
and ask them what the Senator's position on the birth control pill
is. Does he think it should be legal to prescribe it? What about
I find those efforts to explore the
ways in which the Catholic faith affects politician’s thinking on
a variety of public policy issues to be completely appropriate. I do
not think that the exploration should be limited to politicians who
happen to be Catholic.
President Bush has long used code words to signal to evangelical
fundamentalists that he is one of them. I think that it would be
useful and informative to ask Mr. Bush directly about his beliefs.
For instance, I think that asking “Mr. President, do you believe
that the earth is closer to 6,000 years old or billions of years
old?” might elicit an interesting answer. Similarly as a belief
that Armageddon is nigh could effect one’s thinking about a whole
host of public policy issues ranging from environmental policy to
401k’s, asking President Bush directly about his beliefs on the
subject is appropriate.
As noted above, Mr. Bush is a Methodist. The Methodist Church, like
the Catholic Church, has taken positions on a whole host of issues
that are related to public policy. Some of those positions seem to
be at odds with the public policy positions taken by the Bush
administration. It would be appropriate to ask Mr. Bush if and how
he reconciles his public policy positions with his Methodist faith.
For instance, the Methodist Church teaches
We claim all economic systems to be
under the judgment of God no less than other facets of the created
order. Therefore, we recognize the responsibility of governments
to develop and implement sound fiscal and monetary policies…
How does Mr. Bush square that
teaching with his polices that have produced record deficits?
We support measures that would
reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. We
further support efforts to revise tax structures and to eliminate
governmental support programs that now benefit the wealthy at the
expense of other persons.
Did Mr. Bush consider that position
when advocating his tax cuts?
The Methodist Church rejects
“the permanent replacement of a worker who engages in a lawful
strike.” Does President Bush agree?
The Methodist Church believes
Every person has the right to a job
at a living wage. Where the private sector cannot or does not
provide jobs for all who seek and need them, it is the
responsibility of government to provide for the creation of such
Does President Bush’s accept the
Church's position on that issue?
It is Republican doctrine that corporations exist solely to promote
shareholder value. The Methodist Church disagrees:
Corporations are responsible not
only to their stockholders, but also to other stakeholders: their
workers, suppliers, vendors, customers, the communities in which
they do business, and for the earth, which supports them.
Does President Bush accept or
reject Methodist teachings on that subject?
The Bush administration is widely seen as the most secretive at
least since Nixon. How does President Bush square that penchant for
secrecy with the teachings
of the church that “citizens of all countries should have access
to all essential information regarding their government and its
There are many other examples such as school
of the United Nations and others in which it would be helpful to
know how Mr. Bush’s religious beliefs effect his public policy
We should expand, not narrow, the debate over how religious beliefs
shape candidate’s public policy positions. The debate should
include Republicans as well as Democrats, Protestants (and Jews, and
Muslims and others) as well as Catholics and a whole variety of
issues instead of a single focus on abortion.
I think that such a debate would be healthy and informative.
The smearing of John Kerry's war record
With random and not-so-random
frauds being allowed by the media to falsely smear Kerry these
last few days, it is worth reviewing some of the facts.
Drum (Washington Monthly):
BUSH vs. KERRY....I
have been goaded into writing another post about George Bush's
National Guard service. Via email, LT Smash objects to my
post this morning, saying my arguments "ring just a bit
hollow" given my obsession with GWB's service record earlier
this year. Meanwhile, Bryan Keefer at The Campaign Desk wonders why
no one is writing about the National Guard story anymore. "Why,
exactly, did the media drop the matter?" he asks.
Addressing these questions is an ugly job, I suppose, but someone
has to do it. Conveniently, though, I can address them both in a
First, John Kerry. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam; he won a
Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts; he displayed
conspicuous bravery under fire; he served his country honorably in
combat; and he left the Navy when his term of enlistment was up.
Is there any reason to suspect any problem with his service record?
No. Absolutely none, and he's busily releasing
his military records on his website to prove it.
But how about George Bush? Is it fair to suspect problems with his
service record just because there are gaps in his military file? In
a word, yes, and not because of gaps in his files. We have
his files, and it's those very files that raise questions. Let's
got into the Texas Air National Guard because high level friends
pulled strings to get him in. Ben Barnes, the Texas politico who
did the string pulling, testified
about this under oath in 1999.
John Kerry, Bush had the option of volunteering for service in
Vietnam or declining it. He declined it.
mid-1972, with two years left in his term, he
blew off his required annual physical and was grounded from
the same time, he left Houston for Alabama and subsequently
failed to show up for any kind of drills for a period of over
six months. Both
his retirement records and his payroll records confirm this.
mid-1973 his commanding officer was unable to give him his
annual fitness report because "Lt
Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of the
report." Was "not observed" just a term of
art? Perhaps, except that the document also says that Bush
"cleared the base" in 1972 and makes it clear that his
commanding officers believed he was in Alabama the whole time.
asked for more information, they were told yet again that no
information was available about Lt. Bush.
The problem is that Bush wasn't in Alabama for this
entire period. He had returned to Houston in late 1972. How is
it that he was in Houston, supposedly attending drills, and yet
his commanding officers thought he was in Alabama?
That's a considerable amount of
documentary evidence to arouse legitimate suspicion about Bush's
record. But there's more: the "complete release" of
documents from the White House in February seemed
to be missing some records.
Where was his final
Officer Efficiency Report? His pay stubs? The Flight
Inquiry Board report after he was grounded for missing his
physical? Even Albert Lloyd, who helped the Bush campaign make sense
of his records during the 2000 election, expressed
suspicion about the lack of original documentation in the file,
which would have placed Bush's whereabouts with more precision.
So: suspicion about Bush's service record really is
legitimate because there's plenty of good reason to be suspicious
about it. That's what makes Bush's case different from Kerry's...
Tom Lang at the Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk politely
reveals the fact that the Washington Times' coverage of Kerry is
as usual, a fraud (not to mention how much of the mainstream media
continues to get their facts wrong):
many ways can the press distort the picture painted by John Kerry's
military service records? Yesterday, we hoped we had nipped this one
in the bud with our report
on the press's consistent failure to track down just what the U.S.
Navy's policy was for awarding Purple Hearts and for reassigning
troopers in Vietnam who received three Purple Hearts.
Alas, today, the Washington Times' fatally-wounded
coverage of Kerry's newly-released service records makes
yesterday's various media bloopers look like journalism at its
In the fourth paragraph of Charles Hurt's Times report, we
get our first hint of who Hurt is going to rely on to build a case
that Kerry's military record is somehow flawed. Hurt quotes one Mel
Howell, a retired Navy officer who flew helicopters in Vietnam, but
who apparently never served with Kerry, as saying, "Most of us
came away with all kinds of scratches like the ones Kerry got but
never accepted Purple Hearts for them."
As Lt. Mike Kafka, a U.S. Navy spokesman, told us yesterday, in line
with official U.S. Navy documentation, wounded combatants neither
nominate nor award themselves Purple Hearts. The Purple Heart is
awarded only after a commander determines that a soldier or sailor
has incurred a wound inflicted by the enemy and forwards a
recommendation to his superiors.
One paragraph later, Hurt errs more explicitly, writing that it was
the award of his third Purple Heart on March 13, 1969, "that
let Mr. Kerry request a transfer out of Vietnam and into a desk job
eight months before his tour expired." Again, as we noted
yesterday, Navy regulations at the time specified that any trooper
wounded three times be reassigned outside of Vietnam (soldiers,
including Kerry, did get to request specific new assignments). Such
a reassignment could be stopped only by a soldier's request.
Next, Hurt turns to one Charles Kaufman, who Hurt describes as a
retired Air Force captain now living in Germany "whose job once
was to submit military award requests" to analyze a discrepancy
in Kerry's war records. (The Personnel
Casualty Report (PDF) on Kerry from March 13, 1969 does not
correspond in every particular with the injuries described in a Bronze
Star citation (PDF) that Kerry was awarded for action that day.)
Nowhere does Hurt note that Kaufman served in the Air Force, while
Kerry served in the U.S. Navy. Nor did they ever serve together. He
does note, however, that Kaufman declares of Kerry's wounds, "I
don't want to say it's a lie, but it isn't true," and "his
Bronze Star medal citation appears to be based on an injury he did
According to Lt. Kafka, the U.S. Navy spokesman, the Bronze Star is
awarded for bravery, independent of any wounds a soldier may or
may not suffer in battle.
Hurt then moves on to veterans who "say [Kerry's] record is
too good to be true." One veteran, Ray Waller, is identified as
"a combat medic in the Marines" who "was responsible
for determining whether injuries warranted Purple Hearts."
Waller tells Hurt he doesn't "remember anybody getting three
Purple Hearts and leaving [Vietnam], even within six or eight
months" of service. He adds, "if they did, it was very,
However, as noted above, Navy medics neither award Purple Hearts nor
recommend others for a Purple Heart. Commanders do that based on, as
US Navy guidelines put it, confirmation of medical treatment by
"the doctor that provides medical care."
The expansive Waller goes on to tell Hurt that he had "never
heard of" a shrapnel injury so minor that it did not require a
tetanus shot and time off which had led to a Purple Heart. As Lt.
Kafka notes, however, the written "Purple Heart Criteria for
the U.S. Navy" does not list either a tetanus shot or time off
due to injury as a requirement for receiving a Purple Heart.
Finally -- having apparently run out of sources who weren't there,
or were there at a different time, or were in another branch of
service -- Hurt winds up his piece by launching a trial balloon of
speculation attributed to no one at all:
One possible reason why Mr.
Kerry racked up so many battle awards in such a short period of
time might be the command structure. Because awards are generally
recommended by superiors, Mr. Kerry's bosses would have relied on
accounts of the action from Mr. Kerry and his underling crew
And because injuries warranting Purple Hearts are verified by
medics -- or corpsmen -- it would have been a soldier inferior to
Mr. Kerry who was in charge of determining the seriousness of his
Got that? It was up to corpsmen
reporting to Kerry to determine if the boss deserved a medal. In a
way, that's true, in that a wounded officer is going to be treated
by a medic. But no one thinks that calls into question every Purple
Heart ever awarded to such officers.
In short, little in Hurt's rambling, accusatory article is remotely
on the mark, other than his description of the discrepancy between
Kerry's Personnel Casualty Report from March 13, 1969 and the Bronze
Star citation issued for Kerry's actions that day. Even for a
reporter in a hurry, it almost takes an extra effort to get this
many things wrong-- but Hurt seems to have pulled it off.
If Campaign Desk ever gets around to awarding its own commendations,
Hurt is a prime candidate for our tinfoil star.
Yglesias at TAPPED, we find this commentary by Phil
Carter, who has done a somewhat detailed comparison of Bush's
and Kerry's records:
At the risk of being labeled a
partisan hack, I decided to compare the evaluation reports from the
military records of President George Bush and Sen. John Kerry.
Bottom line up front: I found significant differences between the
character of the two sets of documents. I feel somewhat qualified to
judge these reports, having been a junior military officer subject
to similar evaluation schemes.
...[snip to the conclusion]...
Analysis: In summary, the evaluations of John Kerry clearly
stand over those of George Bush. However, I think much of the
disparity owes to the difference between the two men's military
service. Had Pres. Bush served more time on active duty, or in
combat, we would have a more complete record on which to judge his
service as a junior military officer. A lot of people don't think
this service matters, but I do. It reveals important details of
these individual's character at an important moment in their lives.
And as I wrote
in the Chicago Tribune, it matters for other reasons too:
President Bush's 30-year-old
service record from the Air National Guard is relevant because it
shows us something about his willingness to share the same
hardships as the soldiers he now commands today from the White
House. The issue has never been whether he was guilty of desertion
or being AWOL--two slanderous charges leveled without regard for
the facts [eRiposte note: I
have seen no evidence for the former charge, but clearly there IS
evidence for the latter].
The real issue has always been the character of his service, and
whether it was good enough to set the example for America's 1.4
million citizens in uniform.
The great thing about our system is
that it lets you be the judge of these men when you vote in
November. Every American will come to his or her own conclusion on
this issue, and will decide which man is better fit to serve as
America's commander-in-chief. For what it's worth, I still haven't
made up my mind, and probably won't before November.
* * *
... these issues boil down to the president's willingness and
ability to set the example for the military he now leads as
commander in chief. Cumulatively, questions about then-Lt. Bush's
drill attendance, evaluation reports, flight status and early
discharge add up to questions about the character of his service
in the National Guard. Bush did receive an honorable discharge,
but such a document is the lowest common denominator of military
performance--it takes a lot of bad behavior to earn anything other
than an honorable discharge. The American public deserves to know
the full truth about the president's military record. It's
relevant to his character, and it's relevant to whether he's fit
to lead today's military by example.
Update: Kevin Drum points
us towards one key difference in the military records of each
man, with respect to their desire for service overseas. (Nice job on
the Photoshop and web design, too, by the way.)
For what it's worth, I think this reveals something quite striking
about the sense of noblesse oblige within each man upon their
graduation from Yale and entry into a life of privilege. Ironically,
I see great parallels between the choice of young John Kerry and the
choice of young George
Herbert Walker Bush (aka Bush 41, the current president's
father). Both men, with an eye on their future, made a choice to
seek dangerous duty overseas in the service of their nation. I wish
that more of America's elite graduating today would follow in these
men's footsteps by serving their country in uniform, or in other
ways such as the Foreign Service and Peace Corps. Service to country
is a fundamental duty of citizenship, and it is one that I respect
regardless of political affiliation.
Read Carter's entire post. It is very illuminating.
Eric Alterman has these pertinent links to posts at Kos:
about the president’s National Guard record?
Take a look at these:
Also see this useful
chart posted by Kicking Ass - comparing Kerry's and Bush's
Not to mention, the excellent David Neiwert's
reporting on his blog Orcinus here:
As Republicans -- speciously
-- try to raise questions about John Kerry's military record, it's
probably worth pointing out that many
serious questions remain about George W. Bush's military record --
some of them involving
potentially criminal matters.
The big question, of course, that lingers is: Why
did you skip that flight physical, Mr. Preznit?
He has more here
DailyKos has the last
word on the "medals" flak.
8/4/04: Paul Lukasiak hits
it out of the park with his incredibly detailed analysis of the
Bush National Guard records. The conclusions are well known - AWOL at
least and fraud among other things - but the analysis is worth
Does Bush's recent bump in the polls show that his position is
getting better and that he is really ahead of Kerry? Not quite.
With two recent polls showing Bush jumping to a lead over Kerry in
spite of bad news on Iraq and a lackluster Press Conference, we turn
to the always insightful Ruy
Teixeira at Donkey Rising to see what is happening:
The recent Gallup and ABC News/Washington
Post polls have gotten a lot of Democrats worried about how well
Bush is apparently doing. I've argued in the last couple of days
that these worries are considerably exaggerated and that
developments in the last six weeks fundamentally weaken Bush,
whether or not some polls show him ahead in the horse race.
Still, I know many are worried that Bush's ads in the battleground
states have worked and that, to be doing so well in general, he must
be making serious progress in those contested states.
To which I say: wrong! The
Annenberg election survey results I reviewed earlier showed that
Kerry's favorabilty rating remained unchanged in the battleground
states and that persuadable voters were uninclined to drink the
Republican Kool-Aid about Kerry flip-flopping, believing Bush, more
than Kerry, exhibited that behavior.
And now check out these just-released findings from the same ABC
News poll that contributed to Democrats' anguish about Bush being
ahead. According to data in The Hotline (I can't find any
link yet on a public website, but I'm sure one will eventually
appear), Kerry is ahead of Bush by 4 points in the battleground
states (50-46). He's even ahead of Bush by 2 points in these
states with Nader thrown into the mix and drawing a ridiculous 7
Note also that Bush's approval rating in the battleground states is
49 percent, 2 points under his national rating and that his approval
rating on the economy in these states is just 41 percent, 3 points
under his national rating.
you look closely at recent Gallup poll results, there are also
signs of poor recent Bush performance in battleground states (or, as
they call them "purple states"). Their latest poll had
Bush ahead overall among likely voters by 5 points. But he is only
tied with Kerry in the purple states. Moreover, that
represents a 6 point decline for Bush in the purple states compared
to Gallup's March 26-28 survey.
One must be cautious about these data, of course, because of sample
size and other problems (though note that the ABC News battleground
states sample is probably 300 or so, which is a pretty decent size).
But they do lead me to a hypothesis about Bush's recent improved
performance in trial heat questions. Instead of getting more votes
where he needs them--in the battleground states--his posturing is
mostly driving up his support in the hardcore red states, where he
doesn't need them. If that's true, Democrats should definitely
not be intimidated by recent poll results. Bush is preaching to the
converted--which can make him look better in a national poll--but
he's not winning many new converts where it counts.
He has more here.
Ryan Lizza, in this
New York Times op-ed, also makes another point, worth remembering:
Mr. Bush's chief campaign
strategist bragged that the president had defied the
"pundits" with his strong position, while Democrats were
crestfallen. If Mr. Kerry can't hold onto a lead during one of the
worst stretches of the incumbent's presidency, they whispered, how
can he defeat Mr. Bush when things get brighter for the president?
But Democrats should pause before they give up — and Republicans
shouldn't celebrate quite yet. President Bush's vulnerabilities
remain, even if they were not as apparent in this week's polls as
they were in previous surveys; the question is whether Mr. Kerry can
In none of the polls this week that purported to show the Bush surge
does the president have majority support. Any politician running for
re-election sweats when a poll shows him under 51 percent. Voters
who say they are undecided almost always end up opposing the
incumbent — they know him well, and if they were going to vote for
him, they would have already decided. Thus support for Mr. Bush
should be seen more as a ceiling, while support for Mr. Kerry, the
lesser-known challenger, is more like a floor.
The other numbers that keep
presidents awake at night are the so-called "right
direction/wrong track" figures, which ask voters about the
general direction of the country and often serve as a leading
indicator for a politician's overall health. Here, the news must be
worrying to the White House. Even as Mr. Bush's numbers against Mr.
Kerry and his job approval rating have risen slightly, the
percentage of Americans who believe that "things have gotten
pretty seriously off on the wrong track" has climbed to 57
percent from 46 percent last April.
Growing concern about Mr. Bush's Iraq policies is also evident.
According to one poll, 54 percent of voters disapprove of the way
Mr. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, and a record 65 percent
believe the level of American casualties in Iraq is
Why, then, did these same polls record a small increase for Mr. Bush
over Mr. Kerry? Mr. Bush's $50 million ad campaign probably had a
small impact, as did Americans' tendency to rally to his side during
a particularly trying period of the war.
Via Democrats.com, here are some more comments from
Dick Morris (a person with a reputation for lying - but I am including
his comments since John Zogby seems to concur with these numbers)
reproduced at Zogby:
One of the (very few) immutable
laws of politics is that the undecided vote almost always goes
against the incumbent. Consider the past seven presidential
elections in which an incumbent ran (1964, '72, '76, '80, '84, '92,
and '96) - that is, look at the final vote versus the last Gallup or
Harris polls. My analysis shows that the challengers (Goldwater,
McGovern, Carter, Reagan, Mondale, Perot, Clinton, and Dole) got 85
percent of the undecided vote. Even incumbents who won got only 15
percent of those who reported that they were undecided in the final
So . . . when Bush and Kerry are tied, the challenger really has the
More bad news for Bush: Democrats usually grow 2-3 points right
before Election Day as downscale voters who have not paid much
attention to the election, suddenly tune in and "come
home" to their traditional Democratic Party moorings. Remember,
virtually every poll (except Zogby) showed Bush slightly ahead of Al
Gore as the 2000 election approached - yet Gore outpolled Bush by
I had thought - and hoped - that Bush could open up a big lead in
the two months after Kerry locked up the Democratic nomination.
After all, Kerry is, in fact, way too liberal for the average
American voter. But Bush's negative ads - though good, plentiful,
and on target - lost their impact in April.
Additionally, as I've noted on eRiposte before, if
you look at the Gore vs. Bush Jr. polling trends in the year 2000, you
will notice that Bush
was ahead of Gore for the bulk of that year by an average of about 5%
or so - and yet Gore won in the end.
Josh Marshall of Talkingpointsmemo writes what I
suspected (in bold below - my emphasis), in this
New York Times op-ed:
...The actual shift in the numbers
was small — only a matter of a few percentage points, just about
the margin of error in the polls. And it might be explained by $50
million worth of President Bush's TV ads or Mr. Kerry's relative
absence from the nightly news. But the new numbers do suggest a
paradoxical question: could escalating national security crises be
bolstering the president's support — even if they are crises of
his own making?
Historical precedents are inconclusive. In terms of public opinion,
bad news from overseas isn't the same as bad tidings about the
economy. Crises abroad almost always rally the country around the
commander in chief, providing at least a short-term bump in the
polls. What's more, an environment in which national security is of
heightened concern to voters has historically tended to help
But the war in Iraq is unique. Rarely if ever have a foreign policy
and a president's fate been so clearly linked. Former commanders in
chief may have faced reverses in prosecuting the cold war — John
F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs, for example, or Ronald Reagan at
Reykjavik. And Vietnam, of course, ended the presidency of Lyndon
But these presidents did not choose or create these conflicts. In
contrast, America wouldn't be in Iraq today had President Bush not
chosen to put us there.
If Americans decide that Iraq is a disaster, why do they not see him
as the cause of the problem? Why has support for the president
bounced back (up four points in one poll) even as approval of his
handling of Iraq has fallen (down three points in the same poll)?
The pattern may not hold, and voters tend to react differently to
the outbreak of a crisis than to sustained bad news. Still, there
is a theory that might explain these apparently contradictory poll
results. In wars abroad, Americans don't want their presidents to
In part that's because a failure for the president is a failure for
the nation. Indeed, the logic may apply with more force in cases
like Iraq, in which the president has cast the nation on what is
essentially a war of choice. To admit that the president blew it is
to say the same of the public that followed him into the conflict.
And like its leaders, the public not only doesn't like admitting it
was wrong, but it will go to great lengths to avoid doing so.
The danger for President Bush is clear: the public's patience is not
unlimited, and eventual failure in Iraq will almost certainly sink
his candidacy. (Sometimes the conventional wisdom is actually
Of course Ruy Teixeira's latest
post suggests the last point above perhaps has some merit.
I've been arguing lately that,
while the horse race may have been dancing around a bit, the most
politically salient change has been the huge doubts that have been
raised about Bush's approach to Iraq in particular and to the war on
terror in general. Here
are some findings from Ipsos-AP that suggest just how serious
this damage has been.
First, consider the question of whether the Iraq war was a mistake.
You know when more people than not starting thinking a war was a
mistake (remember Vietnam!), the incumbent administration is in real
trouble. And Ipsos now has the first example of this. They asked the
question: "All in all, thinking about how things have gone in
Iraq since the United States went to war there in March 2003, do you
think the Bush administration made the right decision in going to
war in Iraq or made a mistake in going to war in Iraq?" The
response: 49 percent mistake/48 percent right decision. When Ipsos
asked the same question four months ago, however, they got a
lopsidedly positive reply: 67 percent right decision/29 percent
mistake. Quite a change.
Note that this question specifically mentions "the Bush
administration"; they also asked the same question with
"United States" substituted for Bush administration. That
question returns a more positive reply: 57 percent right decision/40
percent mistake. Interesting how the specific mention of the Bush
administration apparently moves people toward the
Now consider whether the war with Iraq has increased or decreased
the threat of terrorism. That one's been headed south for a while,
but these are most negative findings I've seen yet. First, the poll
finds that 47 percent say the military action in Iraq has increased
the threat of terrorism in the world, compared to just 25 percent
who say it's decreased that threat--almost 2:1 (25 percent say
there's been no effect). Four months ago, the increased terrorism
and decreased terrorism camps were exactly equal in size (38/38).
But here's the real mind-blower. Given a straight-up choice between
whether "in the long term.....there will be more or less
terrorism in the United States because the U.S. went to war in
Iraq?", the public believes, by 54 percent to 37 percent, that
the war will produce more, not less, terrrorism in our
In sum, Bush has little to be happy about given the
$40M or so that he has spent already attacking Kerry. However,
it is not going to be easy for Kerry and Kerry needs to very
quickly define himself clearly, strongly and succinctly to the
W. Bush's flip-flops, broken promises, waffling
With the Bush campaign, laughably, accusing Senator Kerry of being a
flip-flopper, it is only appropriate that we examine Bush's record.
So, we did - and we are continuing to do so. So far there are 43
instances of Bush flip-flopping or waffling or breaking a promise (a
promise made is a promise (un) kept). Take
does history say about Bush's chances? One perspective from Gallup
Billmon provides a link to the latest Gallup Poll results showing how
both Kerry and Edwards would easily beat Bush as per the opinion poll
if the election were held today. He also provides a link to Gallup's
analysis of the polling to-date. Here are some of Gallup's
comments (with bold text being my emphasis):
Gallup's most recent trial heat of
presidential preferences, from a Jan. 29-Feb. 1 poll, shows
President George W. Bush trailing Massachusetts senator and
Democratic front-runner John Kerry by a 53% to 46% margin among
likely voters. A review of historical trial-heat data from past
elections shows it is rare for an incumbent president to be trailing
at this stage in a campaign. At the same time, in the eight
elections analyzed here, there have been campaigns in which the
incumbent led in February but was defeated for re-election in
November. As such, it is hard to draw any inferences as to what
Bush's current standing means for his re-election prospects.
If history is any guide,
Bush's current deficit in the trial-heat polls suggests that he
could be in for a tough re-election fight. Four incumbent
presidents -- Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, Lyndon Johnson in 1964,
Reagan in 1984, and Clinton in 1996 -- never trailed their opponents
in the years of their re-election bids, and all four went on to easy
Return to Grassroots?
Ben Chandler defeated Alice Kerr yesterday in the Kentucky House race
- a special election for a seat vacated by now-Gov. Ernie Fletcher.
This win is significant for different reasons - key among them being
the facts that this is the first Democrat to win a GOP-held seat in a
special election since 1991 and that Chandler was helped at least
partially by the money he raised through left-leaning blogs on the
lies, bias, spin, B.S., and unsubstantiated rumors propagated by
mainstream and right-wing/conservative media against John Kerry
An eRiposte feature, that has been updated today (and will continue to
John Kerry and his prospects/electability in
Nov 2004 - some early commentary
I thought it might be nice to provide some links to recent
commentary by (often) Democrat-friendly and respected columnists on
John Kerry, who is one of my favorites, and also happens to be the
current front-runner in the Democratic primaries.
Lizza writes in The New Republic (TNR) about how John Kerry
became the front-runner, AGAIN.
Blumenthal writes in Salon.com about how John Kerry and his
impressive credentials were once considered a threat by, no less than,
Richard Nixon -- and on how Nixon attempted, unsuccessfully, to smear
Risen writes in TNR about how Kerry showed in the early
nineties that he could be tough even to campaign contributors,
dispelling the "panderer" label some critics are trying to
attach to him. This Washington
Post editorial (via Atrios
is a forceful response on claims that Kerry is beholden to lobbyists
(arising in part from a WP
article) - which have made it to a misleading Bush ad. political analyst Ruy
Teixeira writes in Salon.com on how he thinks Kerry could beat
Conason (Salon.com) has some advice for Kerry - and more
here - well worth it.
On the other hand, Peter
Beinart writes in TNR asking whether John Kerry is really
electable with respect to Bush or not. Jonathan
Chait writes in TNR, questioning whether Kerry's electability
has really been tested and doubts that he can win in the South in
Grunwald writes in TNR about parts of Kerry's history that may
come back to haunt him, thanks to Karl Rove.
The GOP's stand-in "media critic" at the
Washington Post, conflict-of-interest-prone Howard Kurtz has a column
covering the columnists/reporters who are eating crow over their
premature predictions of the death of Kerry's campaign. What I also
found worth highlighting is the kind of Kerry dislike/hate that many
in the Press seem to have, seemingly like their hatred of Al Gore
(leading to massive
fakery against Gore by the media in Election 2000).
..."Part of it is the boys on
the bus and the concept of pack journalism," said Tobe
Berkovitz, associate dean of Boston University's College of
Communication. "The press became enchanted with the Internet as
a political tool and got carried away with that."
When Kerry, the media's original front runner, fired his campaign
manager in November, his candidacy was described as
"troubled" (The Post); "faltering" (USA Today);
"in disarray" (Boston Globe); and "struggling to
convince campaign donors and supporters that he has more than a
fleeting shot at the party's nomination" (Los Angeles Times).
When the senator appeared on "The Tonight Show" and was
mocked by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, news organizations pounced
on what they cast as the perfect metaphor.
Many journalists, particularly in his home state, "respect the
guy but don't particularly care for him," Berkovitz said.
"He comes across as aloof and arrogant." The feeling was
sometimes mutual; before he got pink-slipped, campaign chief Jim
Jordan called the Globe's coverage "distorted, insignificant,
irrelevant and vindictive."...
UPDATE: Michael Crowley has an interesting
piece in TNR in which he dissects how Kerry consistently won by defying
caricatures of him as being a stiff who was out of touch with the
working class - by taking recourse to his Vietnam service and with the
help of Vietnam veterans.
Democratic candidate's prospects for 2004 examined in light of
Election 2000. Click here for our quick analysis.
Emerging *Democratic* Majority? Or not?
Ruy Teixeira looks at the 2002 election data to say that there is
still a case for an emerging Democratic majority, in spite of the 2002
election setback for the Democrats. A snippet:
year, John Judis and I published a book entitled The Emerging
Democratic Majority, which argued that a series of economic,
demographic, and ideological changes was laying the basis for a new
Democratic majority that would materialize by decade's end--not
certainly, we argued, but very probably as long as the Democratic
Party put forth decent political leadership to challenge the dominant,
but dwindling, current Republican majority. Our
book arrived in stores last September. Two months later, in the
midterm elections, the Republicans surprised nearly everyone by
winning control of the Senate and further solidifying their majority
in the House, unifying Republican control of the federal government
for only the second time in half a century. Needless to say, this
wasn't my ideal outcome...evoked a fair amount of understandable
ribbing and forced me to think hard about our thesis. So after the
election, I pored over survey data, county-by-county voting returns,
and a great deal of underlying demographic data and thought long and
hard about what the data showed. And as a result, I've decided that
... we're still right!...
First, despite the Republican tsunami described by many media outlets,
the actual electoral shift was quite mild. Though politically the
election was a landmark, the underlying numbers suggest a continuing
partisan balance. Democrats lost two seats in the Senate, six in the
House, and gained three governorships. As nonpartisan analyst Charlie
Cook has pointed out, "A swing of 94,000 votes out of 75,723,756
cast nationally would have resulted in the Democrats capturing control
of the House and retaining a majority in the Senate on Nov. 5. If that
had occurred, obituaries would have been written--inevitably and
prematurely--about the presidency of George W. Bush. Instead, we are
entertained by predictions that the Democratic Party, as we know it,
may cease to exist." Given
the very evenness of partisan division in this country, even minor
fluctuations in public sentiment can cause sudden lurches in political
power. Indeed, the last election differed markedly from 1994, when
huge Republican gains (52 House and nine Senate seats, 10
governorships) really did change the partisan balance dramatically..."
Bush II escape Bush I's destiny? Jim Puzzanghera seems to think it is
Puzzanghera says, among other things:
strong approval ratings, the president indeed faces difficulties in
his quest for a second term. Getting the U.S. economy moving again is
just one challenge on a long list that also includes defusing the
potentially explosive nuclear standoff with North Korea.
But this Bush is no George H.W. And while the president's re-election
is hardly assured, he enters the campaign in a much stronger position
than his father did.
Consider these differences:
• This President Bush is beloved
by his party's conservative base. His father, on the other hand, was
so disliked by that same group that, as an incumbent, he faced an
unusual primary challenge from conservative commentator Pat Buchanan
and lost some disaffected conservatives to Reform Party candidate Ross
Perot in the general election.
• Because of Sept. 11, 2001, and
the threat of more terrorist attacks, George W. Bush is conducting a
true wartime presidency that helps elicit strong support from many
Americans and allows him to appeal to voters' patriotism. Bush's
father also led the United States through a major military campaign,
Operation Desert Storm in 1991, but that threat was much different and
the war largely disappeared as an issue in the months after the
• The younger Bush has a
down-to-earth, straight-talking quality that appeals to many average
Americans, as well as a great ability to connect with voters on the
campaign trail. In all likelihood he will be the most charismatic
candidate in the 2004 race, no matter who the Democratic nominee is.
His father lacked those political and people skills, a significant
shortcoming in his race with the folksy and engaging Bill Clinton.
• The president has continued to
focus on the troubled economy while articulating a well-defined and
consistent plan to revive it. Whether or not his tax cuts revive the
economy, his opponents will have a hard time portraying him as
unconcerned or criticizing him for failing to offer a coherent plan,
as they did with his father.
``Right now you have a very slow-growth kind of anemic economy, you
don't have a recession and you have a president who has a very clear
plan about what to do with it,'' said Charles Black, an informal
adviser to President Bush who also helped run his father's failed
re-election bid. Even if the economy is not much better, Black said,
``The fact that his party base is sound, he's got a plan and is trying
to fix the economy gives him a chance to get re-elected.''
In offering a huge tax-cut
plan and trying to cash in on his postwar popularity to sell it to
skeptical voters -- as he did in Ohio last week and will do in Santa
Clara on Friday -- Bush shows that he learned much from the 1992
campaign. He is acutely aware that his father soared to an 89 percent
approval rating immediately after Operation Desert Storm in 1991 only
to lose re-election because of the widespread perception that he was
not doing enough to fix the economy..."
Reports from the California Democratic Party (CDP) convention
featuring Presidential hopefuls
Daily Kos has a few reports - Part
IV. Overall, as expected Howard Dean came out the swinging
favorite, particularly because of his anti-Iraq-war stance. Daily Kos
did feel Kerry was good, but the latter's speech was apparently
compromised due to factors out of his control (audio problems). John
Edwards apparently got booed for his strong pro-Iraq-war stance. Daily
Kos reports an interesting conversation with Gray Davis' very capable
tactician, who managed to get the Governor re-elected in spite of his
toxic standing in California:
how different is this state (and its "looney Dems") from the
rest of the nation? Will an anti-war message truly mean danger for the
Dems chances in 2004? No one was
happier to advance that theme than Garry South, Gov. Gray Davis'
brilliant tactician. Always eager to talk to the media, his words of
caution were printed in myriad media outlets this weekend.
Particularly, South was critical of Dean and his anti-war
I don't think it's a winning message. Dems have to be careful of
playing to the room and moving too far to the left.
While calling Dean a
"credible candidate", South refused to name him to his list
of viable candidates (Lieberman, Gephardt, Graham, Edwards and Kerry).
His reasoning was predicated on Dean's fundraising abilities, and he
might be right about the good' governor's achilles heel.
But ultimately, South was obsessed with the war. In his professional
opinion (and one that cannot be easily dismissed), opposition to war
will hurt Democrats nationally. Perhaps.
For every argument in support of South's assertions, there's another
one that refutes it. Ultimately, we simply cannot know..."
view is simple. Howard Dean is correct
in that this Iraq war is not justifiable. However, in our opinion,
the Democrats will definitely lose in 2004 if they do not strongly
take over the mantle of national security and foreign policy (see out two
part piece on this post-Elections-2002). That means leaving a
strong message to the folks out there that the opposition to the
Iraq war has nothing to do with being soft on terrorism, but the
actual opposite - being very thoughtful and calculating about how
terrorism will be dealt with. John Edwards or John Kerry may not be
right on this topic, but that does not mean we will not consider them
vs. Centrism - How the Democratic Candidates are trying to position
themselves so far
Liberal Oasis has some interesting coverage on how the Democratic
Presidential candidates are addressing the compartmentalization phrase
"liberal" - from the media. Here is what they say:
of the mission of LiberalOasis is restoration. To
rediscover ways to articulate liberal ideas and philosophy to all
corners of America, and to take away the Right’s ability
to use “liberal” as a catch-all slur. For the last few days,
LiberalOasis had been pondering which presidential candidate
would do the best job of realizing that vision, and
checked out how some have handled queries about liberalism.
Sen. John Kerry, in the
11/10/02 Boston Globe, after being asked if he was a liberal,
On some things. I'm
also a conservative on some things. I'm also maybe a Libertarian
on a couple of things. Maybe I'm a Green on a few things.
I'm a practical,
independent-minded person. I am a Democrat because I believe the
Democratic Party fights for working people and fights for the
little guy and fights to make opportunity more available to
Politically wise perhaps, and not offensive, but not
While Kerry said he was
everything, Sen. John Edwards, responding to a similar
question on CNN’s Inside Politics last January, tried to say
he was nothing:
I'm a mainstream North
Carolinian. I think my views and my values represent the values
of most people in this country.
don't make ideological decisions about anything. I decide about
what I think is in the best interest of the regular folks that I
grew up with and have fought for all my life, and without regard
to where it fits on some ideological spectrum.
It seemed for a little bit as
if Gary Hart might be the only candidate willing to
position him or herself as a liberal, when he told the NY
intellectual challenge is how to make liberalism relevant for
our time. How do you make the principles of equality and justice
and fairness work in a time when everyone's well off?
I struggle with that every
day. In my darkest soul, I sometimes wonder if it takes an
(Though as the reporter noted, “Hart: It Takes A
Depression” is not much of slogan.)
Dennis Kucinich jumped in, openly running as a liberal:
I was told before I
started it would be a cold and snowy day in Hell before a
liberal Democrat made it back to the White House. Yet the moment
I began my campaign last week, sure enough freezing temperatures
and blizzard conditions hit from Iowa to Washington DC.
It is the sign we have all
been waiting for. I tell you I am ready, so is this party and so
But Kucinich has not yet displayed how he can expand the
appeal of liberalism. Merely running as a liberal isn’t
good enough. And the fact
that his “cold and snowy day” line implied that Hell is a
swath between Iowa and DC, raises the question if he has the
skills to do so.
Then this week, Former
Gov. Howard Dean stepped up:
The press is all
writing about Dean is the big liberal of the race… Well, if
being a liberal is balancing the budget that's fine with me. And
I'll bet it's fine with most Americans.
being a liberal is joining Canada and Britain and France and
Germany and Japan and Italy and Israel in having universal
health insurance for all of its citizens, then you may call me
what you want… I'm proud of it.
This is even more surprising, considering last month’s Salon.com
report from Jake Tapper:
"Now why would you
say that?" Dean bristles, citing his fiscal conservatism
and his support for the death penalty. "What makes me a
'big liberal'?" he asks.
say that I thought he might be arguably the most liberal of the
five elected officials who are candidates…He
ends up agreeing that calling him the most "un-Bush"
candidate is a fair characterization. "I
don't mind being characterized as 'liberal,'" he says.
"I just don't happen to think it's true."
Since there is a shift in tone
and (less so) in substance, some will call this a calculated
move to appeal to the base. Maybe it is. But
it seems more like Dean had an epiphany.
He appears to have a bold
strategy in mind, one the LiberalOasis would love to see
implemented. Instead of
playing to the base for the primary, then running to the center
for the general, Dean is doing both at the same time. That
is the best way to re-energize liberalism, showing that it is
not the opposite of centrism, but that it is part of the
Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Vermont Governor
In the last week and more, we have been hearing some positive buzz
about Mr. Dean and thought he was worth covering in our
"inaugural" post on Election 2004.
thought large portions of his
speech on Foreign Policy at Drake University were right on the
money. He laid out the pros and cons of a war with Iraq, challenged
the need to go to war today, highlighted what needs to be done to
tackle Al Qaeda and North Korea and preserve our national security,
improve energy efficiency and reduce our dependence on oil - while not
destroying friendships and relationships built over decades. We think
his views in many respects coincide with our
to the DNC was interesting in that he not only explicitly calls
for the need to balance the budget but also asks why we need tax cuts
at a time like this. Although there is a controversial statement on
Conferederacy-supporting-Whites, the context of that is clear.
"...Let me tell you something else I'm
going to do. One of the things I thought was terrific about Bill
Clinton was that when he became President in 1992, he said that his
Cabinet would look like the rest of America -- and he did it. He did
it. I want all of our institutions of higher learning, - our law
schools, our medical schools, our best universities - to look like the
rest of America. I thought that one of the most despicable moments of
this President's Administration was three weeks ago when, on national
prime time television, he used the word "quotas" seven
times. The University of Michigan does not now have quotas, has never
had quotas, and "quota" is a race-loaded word designed to
appeal people's fears of losing their jobs. I intend to talk about
race during this election in the South. The Republicans have been
talking about it since 1968 in order to divide us, and I'm going to
bring us together. Because you know what? White folks in the South who
drive pick-up trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to
be voting with us because their kids don't have health insurance
either, and their kids need better schools too. We're not done yet.
Most of you know that six months before my last re-election I signed a
bill into law that made Vermont the first state in American to
guarantee equal rights to every person under the law - EVERY person
under the law. That bill was called the Civil Unions bill. And it said
that marriage is between a man and a woman, but same-sex couples are
entitled to the exact same legal rights as I have - hospital
visitation, insurance, and inheritance rights. All Americans are equal
under the law in our state..."
recent speech, he has stated he would link human rights and trade
think that is a good goal, but we also realize how challenging a
goal that is going to be.
Note: We recently participated in a Meetup.com
meet for Howard Dean. Interestingly, the New
York Times just covered how Dean is using the internet and getting
the support of forums like Meetup.com.