An eternity down, six weeks to go

With six weeks left before the election, what can we expect from here on in? Barring major unexpected external developments or a disaster by one of the candidates in the debate, I think there’s a fairly good chance that the race will tighten, but not a very good chance that Kerry will win.
The Kerry campaign and its MSM backers seem finally to have figured out what issue to focus on, and that of course is Iraq. The issue has this virtue: there is “a there, there.” The president did take us into the war based on claims about WMD that have not been substantiated by events. We have encountered serious resistance that doesn’t seem to diminishing and may be increasing. And, of course, the issue is vitally important. Another virtue is that the MSM can run with the issue. If CBS tells us it has a memo proving that Bush was a disgraceful Guardsman, that claim can be shot down. If it tells us that we’re “losing the peace in Iraq,” that claim can’t be disproved, and it will gain credibility as long as there are explosions and American casualties in Iraq.
Kerry does have a slight problem, though. He has failed to hold to a consistent position on Iraq, so that every time he opens his mouth he contradicts a prior position. Even USA Today has remarked on the problem, and was able to muster only one cheer for Kerry’s latest major address on Iraq. Moreover, if Kerry finally settles on a position, it’s likely to involve getting French support, etc., and therefore unlikely to resonate.
With Bush so clearly leading, however, I think the spotlight will be on him for a while, so that, regardless of what they think of Kerry, voters may have second thoughts as they re-focus on Iraq in the context of credible reports of deterioration. Thus, the race may well tighten. But if it does, the focus will return to Kerry, and his negatives are so high that he’ll likely have major trouble “closing the deal.”
In sum, I see at least a 50 percent chance that the race will become close again, but significantly less than a 50 percent chance that, if this does happen, Kerry will prevail.

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