June 14, 2004


Doubts Linger as Kerry Advances: Supporters Want A Sharper Image (Jim VandeHei, 6/14/04, Washington Post)

One standard barometer of voter enthusiasm is how strongly partisans support their presidential candidate. By this measure, Kerry is doing far worse than Bush, but markedly better than Al Gore at this point in 2000. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 68 percent of Democrats strongly supported Kerry and 89 percent of Republicans expressed strong support for Bush. In July of 2000, 55 percent of Democrats expressed similarly strong feelings toward Gore. [...]

Despite spending 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has not left a distinct policy mark, having chosen to focus more on investigations. And, at times, he has straddled both sides of issues. The Bush campaign frequently chides Kerry for voting for Bush's plan for education and the Patriot Act, only to criticize both on the campaign trail. In the middle of June, "it's unclear what John Kerry's vision and message [are] for the country," said Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the Bush campaign. [...]

At this point in 2000, it was clear Bush stood for lower taxes, sweeping education changes and a strong military. In 1992, it was clear Clinton was a "new kind of Democrat," who would cut taxes for the middle class and revamp health care.

Kerry adopted a cautious approach to this campaign, anticipating that factors outside his control, such as Iraq and terrorism, could alter the race at any moment, a top aide said. A senior Kerry adviser, who requested anonymity, said this has left many on the staff wanting, both in terms of strong leadership and inspiration. [...]

Many Democrats are bracing for a Bush resurgence -- if not in the weeks ahead, then after the GOP's national convention in August. After Bush's poll numbers dropped to what history says are perilous levels, he has hit a run of potentially good fortune.

Bush's plan to return power to the Iraqis at month's end is gaining support after the United Nations unanimously voted in favor of the U.S.-sponsored resolution. Back home, the economy is humming again. Nearly 250,000 jobs were added in May, oil prices are dropping and there are signs of a sustained turnaround even in the hardest-hit manufacturing belt.

Is it good fortune when you craft events yourself, as Mr. Bush has democracy in Iraq and the boom in the economy?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 14, 2004 11:28 AM

Well, he shouldn't get all the credit for the boom. Economies have cycles regardless of who's in power, and he came into office as the dotcom bubble was finishing bursting, so the economy had nowhere to go but up. But the tax cuts helped.

Similarly, Clinton has the advantage of entering office just as the '90-'91 recession was ending, so he could claim credit for some years of the boom that actually started in '83.

Posted by: PapayaSF at June 14, 2004 1:03 PM

shouldn't? What's that have to do with anything? And if there is still a business cycle why haven't we had a recession since 1982?

Posted by: oj at June 14, 2004 1:11 PM

He should at least get credit for not standing in the way of the economy rebounding. It must take a lot of nerve not to throw the engine of the government in gear when the economy is tanking and everybody is screaming, "Do something, do something!" even if you know that it's a bad idea.

Posted by: Governor Breck at June 14, 2004 4:18 PM

Orrin, what did we have in the fall of 2001, if not a mild recession?

Posted by: Joe at June 14, 2004 7:22 PM

In case anyone was wondering whether the media can possibly hide the booming economy: "Is the job market healthy or just less sick?", from CNN today--www.cnn.com/2004/US/06/14/workers/index.html.

They're sure trying awfully hard.

Posted by: brian at June 14, 2004 7:54 PM


Slow growth.

Posted by: oj at June 14, 2004 8:55 PM