Back in March, I was predicting that Bush would win the upcoming election with a comfortable margin. This was a contrarian opinion at the time and is still so today. If we listen to the polls, the media, and the Democrats, Kerry has the edge on the upcoming election. But I'm still sticking to my guns and here are some of the reasons why:
Kerry has a record of flip/flops on many major issues facing this country.
This fact can be readily exploited during the heat of the campaign. His
extremely liberal Senate track record only appeals to a small segment of the
population. This is why he is now attempting to portray himself as more
The persona of Kerry leaves much to be desired. The average voter responds to subliminal signals with respect to a candidate. They see a picture of the candidate as president and ask themselves if this is the person they want to see on the nightly news for the next four years. Kerry has not had the charisma that people desire. His monotone delivery and expressionless face have even turned off members of his own party.
Bush, in contrast to Kerry, has been decisive and unequivical on many issues.
This served him well soon after 9/11 when the nation needed a response. His
decisive nature has worked against him in the Iraq war. The assurance that
Saddam had WMD's proved to be overstated at best. This has led to a loss of
trust in Bush by many of the electorate. In addition, some of his policy
decisions have disenchanted some of his conservative base.
The persona of Bush is a mixed blessing. It seems that he is most effective in one on one situations and small crowds. The way he walks and talks produces a variety of responses. To the psuedosophisticate, Bush is nothing more than a unintelligent cowboy. To those of us who are not easily impressed by a superior attitude - this portrays honesty.
The two most important external factors affecting the general approval ratings for Bush are the economy and the Iraq war.
The economy has responded nicely from its earlier lows and the consumer confidence index is suprisingly high. The current statistics compare favorably to the 1996 situation when Bill Clinton was reelected. The tax cut, low interext rates, and excessive governmental spending each played a role in the recovery. These factors must be coupled with the fact that the economy has a cyclical nature regardless of governmental intervention.
The aftermath of the Iraq war has produced many of the problems that should have been anticipated (see our commentary, The Economics of Terrorism , from last October). Although not readily apparent at the time, the decision to turn control of the Iraqi government over the the Iraqis in June was a wise decision. Most Iraqi's rejoiced at the fact that we toppled Saddam but, by the same token, they somewhat resented our presence. Once we were into a policing situation, our effectiveness was significantly reduced. The Iraqi population was reluctant to give us the intelligence which is so necessary in fighting terrorism. Now that they are in charge, the flow of intelligence has increased sharply.
As stated at the beginning, I predicted Bush would win the election as early as March. In fact, I expressed my opinion to a few disbelievers that he would win by 6 to 8 points! I have not wavered from this prediction since March and here are some specific comments that I use to justify my position.
Most of our impression of how a campaign is evolving is based on polls. An analysis of polling methods is needed at this point. Most early polls are based on interviews with the general public. As we approach election time, polls become more oriented towards registered voters and then, finally, likely voters. A rough breakdown of the population reveals that 75% are registered and only 50% are likely to vote. The proportion of potential Democratic voters declines as we move from the general population to the registered, and then to the likely voters. As a result, early polling will tend to favor Democratic candidates.
The media claims that there are very few undecided voters this year. This would imply that either candidate's poll results can only go up as the election approaches because those already committed will not switch. As I recall, Howard Dean and Dick Gephart were well ahead of their opponents in the Iowa Democratic Primary. In the last two weeks, both of their poll percentages dropped like a rock, thus allowing Kerry and Edwards to come from far behind to capture the majority of the votes. Voters tend to give pollsters an answer on which candidate they prefer, whether they have fully decided or not.
The approval rating for Kerry declines the more he appears and speaks. The fact that he has a large "war chest" actually works against him because he can purchase more media exposure. Again, looking at the Howard Dean campaign in Iowa, he had the biggest financial backing of any candidate and the resulting exposure revealed his weaknesses.
As Kerry continues to try to present himself in a favorable light, the activists in the Democratic Party are conducting a smear campaign against Bush which is bordering on psychopathic. Bush, on the other hand, has laid in the weeds and let this irrational frenzy develop beyond the point of credibility. I expect Bush and his supporters to put closure on the election in the next few months. He will do this by pointing out the obvious excesses of the Democratic activists and the naive positions taken by Kerry during his Senate tenure.
The momentum of the Kerry bandwagon has already begun to decline. His selection of Edwards as his running mate barely affected the polls. The recently completed Democratic Convention merely highlighted the transparency of their posturing. I expect the polls to take a turn towards Bush after the Republican Convention, if not before. Then, a couple weeks before the election, the electorate will become decided and likely voters will be the only voters who count.
From a practical standpoint, I would have to have the powers of Nostradamus to predict the outcome of the Presidential election within one point. Expecially since this estimate was made several months ago.
But, what if I'm wrong?