Someone called Zev Chafets, writing in the NY Daily News, argues that Bush wil win in a walk.
It is possible that no Democrat could beat Bush this year. The President has Ralph Nader on his side, and demography. Since the 2000 election, shifts in population have added seven electoral votes to the Red Bush states and subtracted seven from Goreland.
It’s true that, if things came out exactly as in 2000, Bush would gain electoral votes based on redistricting. But demography works both ways. Florida has absorbed more Northern migrants, Colorado has had an influx of people fleeing California’s high cost of living, Arizona has become an immigration mecca, and foreign immigration, especially an influx of Hispanics, has changed the dynamic in several other states.
Right now the polls look even. But that’s an optical illusion. The President has a Republican convention coming up and the power of incumbency to shape events between now and November. In other words, he’s way ahead. Kerry is a weak campaigner. Barring some kind of national disaster, his best shot is the debates. Democratic true believers think he’ll kill Bush, one on one. That’s what they thought about Al Gore, too.
I agree that Bush will hold his own in the “debates” and that he is more able to control events as the incumbent. He is also, however, at their mercy. Terrorist activity and events in Iraq–and to a lesser extent, the economy–are largely out of his control. His reaction to them is not.
Will Saletan disagrees. He notes that, although the head-to-head numbers haven’t moved much since the convention, other numbers favor Kerry.
Prior to the convention, Kerry’s favorable rating was nine points higher than his unfavorable rating in the ABC poll. Since the convention, this margin has grown to 19 points. Bush’s positive margin on the same question is just two points.
Before the convention, by a 51-43 margin, voters trusted Bush rather than Kerry “to handle the responsibilities of commander-in-chief of the military.” Now the candidates are even. Before the convention, more voters trusted Bush than Kerry “to protect U.S. citizens from future acts of terrorism.” Now more voters trust Kerry than trust Bush.
Bush’s job approval rating has been net negative in CBS surveys since April. Over the same period, his approval rating in ABC polls peaked at 51 but has been net negative in five of seven samplings. Even in the CNN poll, Bush’s approval rating has been below 50 in four of the five surveys this year, including the latest. And in CBS surveys, the percentage of voters saying that things in the United States are on the wrong track hasn’t fallen below 51 percent all year. The percentage saying things are moving in the right direction hasn’t risen above 42 percent. In the post-convention CBS poll, 59 percent say we’re on the wrong track. Only 36 percent say we’re going in the right direction.
These numbers are no doubt discouraging for Bush supporters. One wonders why they don’t translate into the head-to-heads, though. It may well be that people are simultaneously dissatisfied with the general state of affairs yet 1) don’t blame Bush or 2) don’t think Kerry would be an improvement.