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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Election updates

Several short election-related notes today:

1. Yesterday, I saw John Kerry's TV ad titled "War on Terror." In the ad, Kerry quickly hits on a number of themes that must be polling well: to win the war on terror the US needs to be tough and smart. The US must rebuild its alliances because it should not be carrying the burden of the war on terror alone. We need to strengthen homeland security by protecting trains and ports, he says. And we shouldn't be opening "fire houses in Baghdad and closing them down in our own communities." In the closing line, he emphasized that "a strong America begins at home."

It's short, simple and effective.

Indeed, in a subtle way it reminds me of Clinton's message from 1992. Many Americans thought the Bush I administration was too focused on foreign affairs, rather than on domestic issues. While 1992 was famous for "It's the economy, stupid," which arguably referred to the recession and need for new jobs, I think that related issues like health care and the burgeoning deficits (emphasized by Ross Perot) also played a big role in toppling that incumbent.

Can the same message work again, with the "homeland security" tweak? I think so. It also wears well with the Edwards's "two Americas" theme.

2. Based on the latest polling data, John Kerry would beat George W. Bush fairly handily in the Electoral College. Avery sent me a link to an encouraging post by Ted Barlow of Crooked Timber: Kerry 322, Bush 216.

Kerry is apparently doing well in many of the swing states and Bush is having trouble cracking 50% in some of his stronghold states.

And, of course, Kerry's numbers are going to get a big bounce from the convention. Gallup says the average since 1964 is 6%. Clinton in '92 got a 16% bounce!

Staying with Gallup's numbers, which have the national split Kerry/Edwards 50% and Bush/Cheney 46%...that could mean it will be 56% to 40% in about two weeks.

Or would that be 53-43? I'm not sure if the 6% is the total gap, or the amount the candidate gains (with a presumed loss by the opponent in this zero-sum game).

Anyway, if Kerry could get an 8% bounce, it could be 58% to 38%! Or maybe 54-42.

It's all good.

Imagine what the press will/would say. Maybe they'll declare that the knockout punch has finally been delivered?

Here's my post-convention/bounce headline: "Bush on the Ropes as Popularity Plummets."

And then Bush will have his comeback on the heels of his bounce in September. Sigh. But we have to be prepared for that.

3. Michael Froomkin at has a short, but very disturbing post about the way the Bush administration is limiting freedom of speech and assembly. This isn't entirely related to the campaign, but that is obviously a factor.

I clicked some of the links Froomkin has assembled. In some cases, people wearing anti-Bush or pro-Kerry T-shirts were denied access to presidential visits (note: not campaign events) even when they had tickets. The ACLU apparently got the Secret Service to agree that "protest zones" are antithetical to freedom of speech, but local police may be using them anyway.

Froomkin asks an interesting question:
the Secret Service’s official line is that they’d “do the same thing at a Kerry rally.” Has this in fact ever happened at a Kerry rally?
I cannot answer that, but it is relatively easy to find plenty of examples of former President Clinton facing his political opponents. For example, this was from a Seattle Post-Intelligencer story, December 2, 1999:
the president was driven to Westlake Center or the Pike Place Market for giant rallies of supporters. Bystanders waved, kids held handwritten signs and even conservatives smiled as they held up anti-Clinton placards.
Or take a look at this Houston Chronicle story from September 26, 1998:
Despite public opinion polls showing the majority of Americans want Clinton to remain in office, everywhere now, there are protesters. Talk radio drummed up scores of anti-Clinton picketers for a San Francisco fund-raising event attended by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday afternoon.

Hundreds more swarmed the a museum in San Jose where Clinton raised $600,000 for the Democratic Party. The crowd, divided into supporters, carrying "Peace for the president'' signs, and critics, one toting a "Clinton is the anti-Christ" placard, competed with each other in a booing and cheering contest as Clinton appeared Friday.
What is different now? Why shouldn't Bush have to see the faces and messages of those who oppose him, his war, and his other policies?

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