Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Don't be so down on Kerry

Cross-posting a comment I made in response to this post by TheFerrett.

I suspect the political environment was such that a Kerry-style incoherent flip-flopping campaign was no worse than any of the alternatives. Yes, less than 50% of the electorate thought Bush was doing a good job, but that doesn't mean any one non-Bush position would be preferred over Bush by a majority.

According to the RCP average of job approval polls, in the week leading up to the election Bush's job approval was 49.5% favorable, 46.8% unfavorable. Assume that was inflated by people grading him on a curve against Kerry. Suppose, for the sake of argument, 55% of the electorate had major misgivings about Bush's presidency.

Many of them are firmly anti-war or anti-business. If a candidate doesn't sound like he might pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, if he doesn't sound like he might raise taxes and back major 'pro-consumer', 'pro-labor' initiatives, a lot of them will stay home or vote for Nader instad of voting for 'Bush-lite'.

Many of those 55% more-or-less approve of much of the goals Bush's defenders attribute to him, but don't think he's implemented them well. They'd love to vote for Bush-lite, but would eagerly vote for Bush to keep a Dean-type candidate out.

A lot of those 55% are disaffected conservatives who object to runaways spending under Bush, who feel that his immigration reform proposals went too far, who feel his tax cuts didn't go far enough, or who are upset we stopped with Iraq instead of also invading Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea. These people are not voting for a democrat. They may not like Bush, but they'll vote for him, vote Libertarian or Constitution Party, or stay home.

In order to stitch together a winning coalition out of that 55%, Kerry had to appeal to both of the first two groups, and look nonthreatening enough to the third that they wouldn't be induced to vote Bush to keep Kerry out. Tell me how he's supposed to do that without being a flip-flopping weasel.

In the end, it seems he ended up with most of the first two groups, but alienated a little too much of the second and also wound up motivating the third to turn out for Bush.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! »

4:54 PM PDT  

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