Election 2004 Analysis: The Kerry Campaign Is In Big Trouble

This should be John Kerry’s time to shine.

He has surprisingly almost achieved parity with George Bush in hard money raised and the 527 groups supporting Kerry have outspent the Bush supporting groups 15 to 1.

On top of that, Kerry has already had his “VP bounce” & his “Post convention bounce” — such as they were — while the Republican convention isn’t until September.

So how much is John Kerry ahead of Bush right now? None, he’s actually behind.

Just take a look at these numbers from Real Clear Politics, where they combine the national polls done each week and average them out to get their results….

In a Head-to-Head race it’s…

Bush (47.3) Vs. Kerry (46.0)

In a 3-Way Race it’s…

Bush (46.3) Vs. Kerry (44.8) Vs. Nader (3.3)

Now let’s take a look at the most important data, the battleground state polls. We start out with the red/blue 2000 electoral vote totals — Bush gets 271 & Gore had 267. Then we make the adjustments for the census data — states Bush carried in 2000 added 7 more electoral votes and those carried by Kerry lost 7. So we’re at 278 – 260. Then if we project the victors in each based on the latest numbers (although some of them are within the margin of error)….

Kerry adds…

New Hampshire (+4)
Nevada (+5)

Bush adds…

Pennsylvania (+21)
Wisconsin (+10)

Advantage Bush!

Setting aside my partisan leanings for a moment and looking at this strictly as a political analyst, I think Kerry is in deep trouble.

Not only is Bush going to get some kind of bounce from the convention, but it’s looking more and more likely that the Swift Boat Vets for Truth are going to continue to damage Kerry all the way until November 2nd.

And while the SBVFT would be a political nightmare for any candidate, they’re particularly harmful for Kerry. Here’s a guy who built his whole campaign around his time in Vietnam and now he has all these vets who knew him in Vietnam calling him a liar and saying he’s “Unfit for Command”. The Swifties are a real anchor around Kerry’s neck and unfortunately, he’s NOT going be able to get rid of them.

I say that because at this point, even if Kerry were to give up the whole “smear and stonewall” strategy, chose to release his military records, & gave some plausible explanations for the stories where it looks to be almost a certainty that he lied (like Cambodia and his first & third Purple Hearts), he would still spend the rest of the campaign being hammered by Vets & POWS talking about how angry they are at him for smearing them in his anti-war days.

So, I see Kerry as behind, losing momentum, and unlikely to catch up unless some sort of unforeseen event like a terrorist attack, extremely damaging new scandal, or new foreign policy disaster somehow swings the momentum back in his favor. Barring one of those possibilities, I think the race looks much closer than it actually is at this point and that it’s unlikely that Kerry is going to be able to pull it out.

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