I had planned not to say anything more about tomorrow’s election until, well, tomorrow. But I had one last thought that I don’t recall seeing anywhere. Here it is, for what it’s worth.
John Kerry has never had 50 percent support during the campaign. I don’t know what his high-water mark is, but 47 percent sounds about right. President Bush has often enjoyed better than 50 percent support, although arguably not since some moment after the Republican convention but before the first debate. This means that, for Kerry to win, a lot of people have to break new intellectual ground. For Bush to win, at most a somewhat smaller group just needs to remember what they liked about him.
It is possible, of course, that Bush fell from over 50 percent to under 50 percent (if that’s where he actually is) because people made the decision that he just isn’t acceptable. If you look at it that way, I suppose it can be argued that Kerry is in at least as good a position as Bush. However, the poll numbers don’t reflect that Bush is considered unacceptable by a majority — his favorables are always ahead of his unfavorables and his approval rating is consistently around 50 percent and several points in excess of his disapproval rating.
If my view has any validity, the question may boil down to whether anything has happened recently that would prevent the number required voters from remembering what they like or liked about Bush. I don’t think so. The economy is doing fairly well, the situation in Iraq hasn’t deteriorated recently, and the non-Iraqi terrorists have had no recent successes and none at all here since 9/11. The Al Qaqaa story is yesterday’s news about last year. The October surprise turned out to be a verbal attack by bin Laden against Bush. Finally, the president (somewhat to my dismay) has stayed a bit above the fray, saying nothing that is likely to antagonize very many people who have any chance of voting for him.
Bush surged after the Republican convention because people remembered why they liked him. There’s reason to hope that tomorrow he will surge again for the same reason.
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