by John Hawkins | March 25, 2004 11:59 pm
I gotta tell ya, Republicans are waaaaaay too gloomy about how the 2004 Presidential election is going. I have people at work saying “Boy, Bush is in trouble isn’t he?” My father even told me it didn’t look good for Bush the last time I saw him on vacation. Then today, I see a teaser article over at National Review by Kate O’Beirne (nobody likes a tease Kate) that again seems to be hitting this same morose theme.
Now sure, in January and early February, things weren’t looking all that hot for the Bushies. The President’s approval rating was hitting new lows as Democrats pounded W. into the ground every night on the news while Bush’s own base griped about his excessive spending & his wildly unpopular immigration plan. Meanwhile, John Kerry was riding high on a wave of a positive coverage driven by his domination of the primaries. The poll numbers  were ugly. A poll in Jan showed Kerry up by 8, and polls in early and mid-Feb showed Kerry up by 9 and then 12 points.
But things began to change in late Feb — big time. Kerry locked up the nomination, gay marriage became a campaign issue, and most importantly, the Bush team kicked off their campaign in earnest. Well, almost like magic, the fractures in the conservative base healed over and the right started launching salvos at Kerry. Today, the national poll numbers lean towards Bush — not Kerry. And the numbers are going to continue to trend that way in my opinion. Why do I say that?
1) The Dems had a couple of months of largely uninterrupted negative attacks on Bush during the primaries and while they did manage to drive his numbers down, Bush’s approval ratings look to have bottomed out. I just don’t see Bush’s polls getting lower than they already have.
2) On the other hand, Kerry who is already LOSING in most national polls has a lot of room to fall. The average person doesn’t know Kerry’s record. All they know is that Kerry was in Vietnam and he’s not Bush.
3) Meanwhile, the Bush team has been successful at portraying Kerry as a flip-flopping liberal who’s weak on defense and plans to raise your taxes. That’s mainly because Kerry IS a flip-flopping liberal who’s weak on defense and plans to raise your taxes. The more that message gets out, the worse Kerry is going to do.
4) Kerry has a run a lackluster campaign so far in my opinion. In #2 I mentioned that all most people know about Kerry is that he “was in Vietnam and he’s not Bush.” Perhaps that’s because that seems to be the core of Kerry’s campaign platform. Kerry is not a charismatic man, he’s not very likable, he does not excite the Democratic base (although the idea of beating Bush does fire them up), and he doesn’t seem be running a very effective campaign. As I’ve said before, he’s the liberal version of Bob Dole — no offense meant to Bob Dole.
5) Last but not least, all the intangibles seem to be leaning Bush’s way between now and the election. The number of American deaths in Iraq have dropped and we’ll be handing the country over to the Iraqis this summer. The economy has been growing rapidly and although we aren’t producing jobs as fast as we’d like, we have had positive job growth every month from August of 2003 on. Expect the American people to become MUCH more positive about the economy before Nov. Also, with Kerry desperately (yet unsuccessfully) undercut Bush’s incredible success in the war on terrorism, expect that issue — which is Bush’s forte — to remain at the center of the campaign.
I expect Bush to ride the war on terrorism, a federal marriage Amendment, and the economic turnaround (look for positive ads from the Bushies on this subject as soon as we have a big job growth month) to victory over John Kerry who’ll be viewed as too weak, too indecisive, and too liberal to be President by November of this year. So cheer up fellas, it’s looking pretty good right now…
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