September 23, 2004



STUNG by criticism that his campaign lacks di rection and focus, Sen. John Kerry has chosen to base his candidacy on an all-out assault on President Bush's record in Iraq — indeed, opted to move to the left decisively and attack the war head-on.

Liberals will cheer Kerry's new-found decisiveness, but it opens the way for Bush to deal him a counterstroke that can all but end this election and finish off Kerry for good.

Kerry's right flank is now gapingly vulnerable to a Bush attack. According to Scott Rasmussen's tracking polls, 30 to 40 percent of Kerry's voters disagree with his new leftward tilt on Iraq.

That is, even as the Democrat condemned the war in Iraq as a "diversion" from the central mission of the war on terror, a large minority of his own voters disagrees and sees it as "integral" to the battle to respond to 9/11.

Kerry has moved to the left, leaving about one-third of his vote behind. Bush can now move in and peel off Kerry's moderate supporters.

Let's give Mr. Kerry the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's taking one for the party here by rallying the base at the cost of his own election hopes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2004 10:49 AM

Rallying the base 'may' help in CA, NY, IL (?), OR, WA, ME, and IA, but it surely will hurt in NC, LA, GA, FL, OK, PA, NM, CO, MN, SD, and probably NJ.

Obviously, Kerry can't split hairs ad infinitum (as he has tried), but I think the idea that he is taking one for the party is oversold. I doubt the premise that going starkly anti-war will give him votes that would have gone to Nader, and it will not help Senate/House candidates who are going to be tied to John Kerry so tightly that the only way to escape is to publicly say they are voting for Bush (to which the appropriate question is: "then why aren't you a Republican?").

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 23, 2004 11:20 AM

jim hamlen:

I'm a Bush Democrat, and the reason that I'm not a Republican is that I'm really a pragmatic Libertarian.
I'm fiscally conservative and socially liberal, (more or less), but I also want to back candidates with a chance to win.
The GOP had most of my votes until they controlled Congress, and failed to downsize the Federal government. Since the GOP can't fill the bill, that leaves the Democrats, who are more to my liking on social issues, even if they're economically illiterate.

However, all that is domestic stuff, and for now America has to, (or at least should), focus on foreign affairs.
In the world arena, I like America to kick spleen, which Bush does to perfection. Plus, as the hard core conservatives are yelping, Bush spends like a liberal, and as oj notes, Bush's social views are religious liberal.

The Democratic Party consists of about 40% of all registered voters, and roughly 35% of Democrats identify themselves as "liberals".
There are further some 2% - 3% of registered voters who belong to third parties, and an unknown-to-me number of isolationist, Buchananite Republicans, say 10% of the GOP.

All together, the hardcore not-Bush vote can't be much more than 25% of all registered voters, which is why I'm amazed that a stumblebum like Kerry can poll at 40+%.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 23, 2004 12:40 PM

Michael -- If you add in the 15% delivered by the MSM, you're there.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 23, 2004 1:17 PM


I doubt if the "Buchananite" Republicans are 2% of the GOP. I agree that the hate-Bush crowd is probably only about 25% of the electorate, and many of the screamers don't (or won't) vote.

Kerry is polling around 40% because there are Democrats who won't vote Republican, and because (as you noted) there are other issues than just hating Bush.

The GOP's identification with religion probably draws or influences about 5% of the Democratic vote in any given election.

I doubt if the fiscal conservative disappointment will hurt the GOP too much - my guess is it might account for 3-5% of the GOP vote, and most of those folks will vote Bush anyway (despite Andrew Sullivan's hysterics). But Republican weakness on this point probably does dampen enthusiasm a bit. Reading Joe Scarborough's book ("Rome Was Not Burnt In A Day") does not make for a pleasant evening.

The biggest GOP hole is having its 'best' spokesmen leave office (Bill Armstrong, Fred Thompson, J.C. Watts, etc.).

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 23, 2004 2:03 PM

As long as the Dems have been in the position to be obstructive, either through the veto or the filibuster, I think a lot of people have been willing to cut the GOP some slack on following through with their domestic fiscal agenda. (I think the fears of the social are overblown, a mostly irrelevant to most voters.) But if this November they (and Bush) win a clear mandate, they'd better follow through with some real progress (IRS, Social Security, the budget) or we are in real danger of President Hillary come Jan '009.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 23, 2004 3:06 PM

What base? The base of the Democrat party has been the Black Community and the Unions financed by the Trial Lawyers and the Chattering Classes. No one but the Chattering Classes (heavy overlap with NY & LA Jewish population) is an anti-Iraq vote.

The union membership will be turned off by an anti-war campaign and the black voters will simply stay home. I would think that the Trial lawyers will be inclined to keep their hands in their pockets or spend their money on local races.

This move can only be explained as a demonstration of the degree to which the party is hands of the MSM, which is itself an institution in serious decay.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 23, 2004 3:18 PM

>Let's give Mr. Kerry the benefit of the doubt
>and assume that he's taking one for the party
>here by rallying the base at the cost of his
>own election hopes.

How can he, when from past experience Kerry's cosmos has room only for Kerry (and maybe his Sugar Mommy)?

Posted by: Ken at September 23, 2004 3:59 PM


The base is women.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2004 4:26 PM

It's hard to see why Teresa would let JFK "take one for the party" and waste her dead husband's money. She wasn't even a Democrat until this spring, if I recall correctly...

Posted by: brian at September 23, 2004 4:38 PM