June 29, 2004


First Ripple of a Political Tidal Wave? (E. J. Dionne Jr., June 29, 2004, Wasshington Post)

"I've never seen a time with so many Republicans expressing consternation about their party and a willingness to support the other party," said Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat whose district, in Washington's southwest corner, went for Bush four years ago.

Baird, a psychologist who has worked with statistics, is also skeptical of making too much of anecdotes. But he is running across plenty of them on the anti-Bush side. "If you contrast this campaign to the campaign of four years ago, you saw George Bush stickers everywhere and very few Al Gore stickers," he said. "Now, it's at least 50-50" between Bush and Kerry. Baird speaks of a man in a health club wearing a John Kerry T-shirt who told him: "What you have to understand is that I am a lifelong Republican." And the congressman chuckles over a car he spotted that "had an American flag, an 'I'm the NRA' bumper sticker and a John Kerry bumper sticker."

Inslee's metaphor of the 1994 Republican sweep piloted by former House speaker Newt Gingrich is intriguing because the Republican wave was not obvious in the polls at this moment in the campaign 10 years ago. A survey in mid-June 1994 by Republican pollster Richard Wirthlin, for example, found the Democrats with a three-point lead in the House races.

Yet many Republicans correctly argued that intense voter dissatisfaction with Congress, Bill Clinton and the status quo was moving the country decisively in the GOP's direction. Republicans then sensed that the energy on the Republican side could swamp Democrats by producing a turnout heavily tilted toward Republican candidates -- exactly what happened. Democrats feel a comparable energy could work for them this year.

All that's necessary to buy Mr. Dionne's thesis is that you ignore reality, in which Mr. Bush has stronger support within his party than any president of modern times. Of course, delusion is the stock in trade of the author of the comedic classic: THEY ONLY LOOK DEAD: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 29, 2004 10:58 AM

Good to see my Congresscritter Inslee doing something besides giving good reviews to Michael Moore's latest. Gotta love that scientific "bumper sticker" poll, too. I've seen exactly one Kerry sticker this past week (then again, I'm not getting out much these days.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 29, 2004 11:15 AM

Don't forget the scientific "yard sign" polling method. I live in a mixed suburban neighborhood (blue collar/white collar) that routinely goes for the Democrats. So far I've seen exactly one Kerry sign, about a dozen Bush/Cheney signs, three Dean signs, a Nader sign and two dozen "We Support Our Troops" signs - many of these homemade. If I had to hazard a guess I'd say it doesn't look too good for ol' JFK at the moment.

Posted by: Robert Modean at June 29, 2004 12:12 PM

Dionne may be right. Progressives seem to be extremely capable not only of creating alternative realities, but of convincing others of their truth.

Of course, the question is how many others.... And whether merely a middling sense of humor, or reading Orwell, is a sufficient antidote. Or whether we'll just have to wait for reality to kick in and do the dirty work.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at June 29, 2004 1:08 PM

It's hilarious to click on the link to the Amazon page for THEY ONLY LOOK DEAD: Why Progressives Will Dominate the Next Political Era and realize that the book came out in 1997, and is now out of print. Guess that "coming era" hasn't come yet, has it?

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 29, 2004 1:31 PM

Everytime I read something like this (the Right has splintered; Bush has divided his base; the Republicans who want to vote Democratic; and so on), it makes me think that EJ and his ilk are spreading oil on very rough seas (for their anointed candidate, JFK).

And just why do they think that the Republican base will even read what they say?

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 29, 2004 1:54 PM

Speaking of progressives, an associated press report quotes H. Clinton, speaking, yesterday, before a Democratic gathering in San Francisco: " Many of you are well enough off that...the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to have to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you to benefit the common good."

I'm all for that, as long as she's the one who determines the "common good". That's what progressivism is all about!

Posted by: at June 29, 2004 1:54 PM

What exactly is a "psychologist who has worked with statistics"?

Posted by: pchuck at June 29, 2004 2:08 PM

E.J. Dionne and Daniel Schorr are the two lamest pundits working today (excluding Maureen Dowd).

Both are so consistently wrong as to be bankable, and both have the ability to set one's teeth on edge with their smug prating.

Posted by: H.D. Miller at June 29, 2004 2:12 PM

Here is an E.J. Dionne Jr. piece entitled "Bush's Summer of Dissension".

The queasiness all these Republicans report is reflected in recent polling. A Pew Research Center survey released yesterday found that only 22 percent of Americans thought the military effort against terrorism was going "very well," down from 45 percent last October and 38 percent in January. An ABC News poll released Wednesday found that just 52 percent of Americans approved of Bush's handling of Iraq. And while 56 percent favored military action to depose Saddam Hussein, a quarter of those supporters dropped away when asked whether they would still favor military action in the face of opposition from American allies.

It is from September 9, 2002. Seems the Republicans did ok in November of 2002.

Posted by: pchuck at June 29, 2004 3:01 PM

I live in Cambridge, Mass, and I've seen 3 Kerry bumper stickers in the last 3 months. In 2000 there were pro-Gore and anti-Bush bumper stickers on every 4th car it seemed. Definitely less fervor for the Dems now, to judge by stickers. Maybe it'll pick up closer to the election.

P.S.- I haven't seen Bush stickers, but that's normal around here.

Posted by: pj at June 29, 2004 3:41 PM

My anecdote:
My father is a "moderate" republican, and my mother a democrat, both go purple when they talk about the war, and both hate Bush, but neither can muster any enthusiasm for Kerry.

I'm doing my best to keep it that way.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at June 29, 2004 3:52 PM

Jason, why do they go purple? worried about their SS?

To be snarky, war screwed up their retirement?

Posted by: Sandy P at June 30, 2004 1:05 AM

I was out of town and did not read the dionne article until this morning. I ran a lot of errands on main street today. main street is verry mixed black/white upper/lower income. I saw 2 Kerry bumper stickers. One paked near the theater that is running Fahrenheit 911 and one at a carwash that belonged to a white middle aged woman.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 1, 2004 6:02 PM


Posted by: link- at August 6, 2004 6:52 AM