Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Why Kerry will lose, part 2

Why Kerry will lose, part 2…

When we last left off, I was listing areas where the Bush administration was having trouble…and because I didn’t think Kerry was capitalizing, I was having a hard time seeing how he could possibly win. I’ll continue with what I see as just a few of Bush’s problems Kerry hasn’t/can’t capitalize on…

As a side noe, based on the response, I've clearly hit a nerve. Apparently, Kerry is doing fantastically well for a challenger and this president should be shaking in his boots because this situation never happens. My polls are all wrong, I've been assured, this is clearly a cake walk for Kerry. I'll simply ask you this...with so many commentators agreeing with me that Kerry is running a bad campagin (here-USWest comments, Chris Matthews last night, the DNC big wigs, media commentary, etc.) why is it that only the Yellow Dog Democrats on this site can't see the log in their own eyes?

Fifth, Kerry's inability to use the English language. He may be smart, Ivy League education, but Alan Keyes proves that won’t prevent you from saying dumb things. Heck, George Bush proves that. So when asked whether he regretted his decision to vote for the Iraq war, or whether he felt duped, etc., knowing everything that he knows now, Kerry said in one of his debates with Edwards, nope, he felt fine with his decision and would vote that way again. Umm, but Mr. Kerry, sir, you don’t approve of the war in Iraq. You think it was run by a mentally deficient blind monkey, you would have done it differently, you said the president either lied or misled the American people, you said this was not the most important thing, you said…or did you? What is your position? And don’t give me this nuanced crap, because what comes across is—I am George W. Bush. Or at least, I would have done everything he did. At best, it sounds like you’re trying to square the circle. [Update—he would have voted for war, but done the entire thing differently…so, how can you say you support this conflict if the whole thing was done incorrectly? More nuance…and to the American people, I guarantee you his position sounds like Bush’s.]

How about this: I originally voted to give the president backing in conducting foreign policy, as did many in the Senate. I assumed he would be conducting a diplomatic push in addition to his saber rattling—visiting foreign capitals, sending his cabinet members abroad to make the case, much as his father effectively used James Baker in the First Gulf War. In addition, I assumed he would be calling upon the full toolbox America has to offer, such as economic sanctions, arm twisting, trade, investment, diplomatic wrangling, loans, etc. But he didn’t effectively—or with much enthusiasm—communicate our goals, concerns, and interests to our allies. In addition, he chose to fight a war that alienated key allies and took our eye off of the real prize—bin Laden—at an inopportune moment. Therefore, if I had the opportunity to vote on this again, if time were reversed and knowing what I know now, I would not vote to authorize force, because I feel the president would misuse that opportunity as he did the first time around. Any questions?

Sixth, the VP laid out his rational for lower taxes at the convention. And, as previously mentioned, they were as follows: it would help us get out of this mess, and it did. Employment has picked up, mortgages are low, and first time home buying is high. Umm, right. All of those things were true four years ago, but more so. And without the massive jobs lost in between. And consumer confidence was higher. And we had a budget surplus. And we weren’t running record trade deficits. And Kerry can’t stick with these traditional “Democratic issues” and make a go of it?

Seventh, other foreign policy areas. Cheney mentioned Libya the other night. Now, I don’t have any inside dirt, but do you really think that Libya gave in, suddenly, even overnight, because we found Saddam cowering at the bottom of a spider hole on a farm in Iraq? Has anybody—press, Democrats, etc.—bothered to read the pieces in the NY Times or BBC about the multi-year effort that went into Libya, involving both the US and British? Or how that stretches back before the Bush administration came to power? Or how domestic political events in Libya, including the lobbying of one of Qaddafi’s sons, helped push the Colonel over the edge?

Is anybody going to mention Bush's flip-flopping and lack of policy on North Korea? His flip-flopping and only barely grudging acceptance of nation-building? What about a lack of policy on China? Iran? How about the fact that the EU (Common Foreign and Security Policy, my foot!) has a concerted effort to deal with Iran and we won’t even talk to them? How about Cuba, made any headway there? Glad we got rid of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but how’s that going? Smoothly? Got all the troops you need? What, you don’t, why not…? Oh, right, you had to send them to Iraq and possibly let UBL escape. Sounds like a good policy.

I’ll end it there, and leave you begging for the conclusion…more tomorrow.

Flame on!


Raised By Republicans said...

I never said Kerry was "doing fantastic." Why do you set exagerated versions of my statements up as straw men?

Also, I didn't say your polls were all wrong and leave it at that (which you imply). I gave a fairly detailed account of how your assesment of a flawed website gave biased results in favor of Bush. You can't just say I'm a Democrat and so dismiss the argument.

You are making some pretty grand claims, stated in strong absolute terms. I'm just trying to get you to examine the evidence in a clear, methodical way.

In response you exagerate my arguments to make them sound rediculous and dismiss my evidence as provided by a Yellow Dog Democrat without further comment.

Prof. Werner von Brawn said...

RbR's immediate response to my first posting was to say that I was "demonstrably wrong," that Kerry was leading, and that after a month in which he apparently did nothing but windsurf all day, he was clearly doing well. Or, the president was doing poorly. On that, you never specificied. So you're right. I never said Kerry was doing fantastic. Instead, you told me I was completely wrong and that it was clear Kerry was winning. And the indication was Bush either wasn't or couldn't lead in the race. So, yeah, not fantastic, but your assumption was Kerry was just fine. To me, if you run no adds, do nothing, and continue to stick your foot in your mouth, the other guy has a big party in his own honor, and you're still leading, that's doing fantastic.

Second, you showed that your results could be right, but I gave you hard numbers that showed I was also perfectly within bounds as saying that Kerry was losing. You may dismiss my particular poll (the LA Times) and you may dismiss how I arrived at them, but to continue to assert that Kerry is leading is demonstrably false as well. I demonstrated it. I didn't dismiss you as a Democrat, that was later, I showed you my numbers and you dismissed them. We could show each other numbers until we're blue in the face and not get any where. And, I resorted to name calling at the end, thank you very much.

Third, you have completely and utterly failed to address my points. Your only substantive point, it seems to me, is that my polls are wrong. And therefore, I have no point. But let's assume your polls are all right, Kerry is leading and has done so in the past at points. Do you think Kerry is running a good campaign? Do you think he has room for improvement? Do you not think this election is his to lose? If it is Kerry's job to get the independents/swing voters/idiots who can't make up their minds, doesn't it behoove him to run a decent campaign? Or are you saying that, no matter what kind of campaign he runs, he will win? That it is, in fact, Bush's to lose, and that the bigger idiot Bush looks like, that means a guaranteed win for Kerry? Or are you saying that while it is conceivable that Bush is ahead, he won't be for long as Kerry shows us how good he is at campaigning and breaks out the new ads? And why do you think Kerry will suddenly have good ads that attack the situation and make him look like he has POTUS potential? Why don't you tell us what you think the campagin situation is?

My regression to calling you on being a YD Dem., which you seem to be, is to again point out that you apparently don't see that this is a flawed candidate with a flawed campaign. You have never admitted that, or even addressed that issue. IF you think this is a campaign without flaws on Kerry's part, you are, without a doubt, a YD Dem. If you think this is a campaign without flaws, please, show me how. Kerry is hopeless, in many areas. I will again point to that radical right-winger Chris Matthews as arguing this point last night. I am not some raving right wing loony who thinks Kerry shot himself to get his Purple Hearts. I simply am calling it like I see it...he isn't running a good campaign. I didn't say he was a lock to lose, why must you exaggerate my claims? I simply said Kerry was going to win. No "lock." No "bet my wife" on it. No "sell my first born to gypsies" I'm so sure Bush would win. But "Kerry will lose." And then the caveat that this is based on his bad campaigning and that that might improve. That hardly sounds like a "lock" to me.

Since I'm here, I'll also take issue with LTG's statement that "Unfortunately, Prof. WVB's arguments seem to be all about persuasion of persuadable voters. Persuasion isn't the issue now." Au contrer, mon frer (I'd like a ruling from our resident half-Frenchman, Bell Curve...was that proper French?). The Republican party at this stage is looking to solidify it's base. They will vote Rep., have stronger loyalty to Bush than Dems do to Kerry, but there are some swing voters to get, namely, the horribly named security moms (Last election's soccer moms and this election's NASCAR dads? No, wait, that doesn't make sense...). Zell Miller, although a nut job, is one example of this (not sure about the "mom" part). So is the actor Ron Silver (sounds like a porn name), who has been making the rounds recently. As for the Dems., Kerry will live and die with whether he can mobilize swing voters...and despite my previous comments, I'm beginning to wonder if some of these might not be lost to Bush on the security issue. While it isn't election day, many are still saying security is the number one concern. We'll have to see where that goes.

All in all, I've survived quite well. There has been no counter argument that Kerry is, in fact, running a good campaign and that he himself is good at it, and you have all managed to show that either a) it's too early and polls mean nothing, b) nobody pays attention until the end (LTG says no "traction" on either side until the "clock starts to wind down"), and c) Bush is the one who should be wondering where it all went wrong. But on letter C, why should a president, with this many problems and low approval ratings, be thinking he has any shot of winning in the first place? Ahh, the crux of my Rove argument...

Raised By Republicans said...

Hr. Dr. von Brawn's argument in a nutshell is that Kerry should be doing far better than he is and that the fact that he isn't proves he's a bad candidate and so a guranteed loser in November. To this I ask the followig: Aside from strongly worded opinion (or celebrity opinion) what evidence is there that Kerry's actions have lost him support that he should otherwise easily get? What evidence might one recognize as refuting the "Kerry is a bad candidate" argument?

To answer Dr. von Brawn's questions:

"Do you think Kerry is running a good campaign? Do you think he has room for improvement?"
I think his campaign has been reasonable (not great, not idiotic, but reasonable). It's not the way I would have done it myself, but then I'm not exactly a campaign management expert. What's more I can see how unavoidable constraints on the campaign would guide it into the things its done. For example, the bio ads were necessary earlier in the season when 30% or more of the voters said they didn't know enough about Kerry to make a decision. The month of inactivity was due to Kerry's legit concern that he should save money for September and October.

"Do you not think this election is [Kerry's] to lose?"

No not really. Perhaps when I get all Yellow Dog tail waggy, but not when I put on my social scientist hat. In general, I think that an election is the incumbent's to lose. From what I've heard recently from the American Politics experts we know, their models predict a big lead for Bush but it isn't there. The best explanation they think they have for why it isn't is the war in Iraq.

"If it is Kerry's job to get the independents/swing voters/idiots who can't make up their minds, doesn't it behoove him to run a decent campaign?"

Kerry has solid leads among independents and moderates. By that standard he's doing decently - obviously 100% would be better but a solid lead is hardly grounds for condemnation.

"Or are you saying that, no matter what kind of campaign he runs, he will win?"

Good gosh no! If he started riding around on tanks with a photo of Willie Horton plastered on his back with a caption that read "Kick Me" I think he'd get creamed. Seriously, I think there are mistakes that Kerry could make that would end it for him. Calling for an immediate pull out from Iraq for example. Or getting bogged down in a pissing match with Bush about Vietnam. For a while Kerry was in danger of rising to the Bush challenge on that. But now it appears the Kerry campaign is content to let the 527s deal with Vietnam.

"That it is, in fact, Bush's to lose, and that the bigger idiot Bush looks like, that means a guaranteed win for Kerry?"
Guaranteed? I never said that. But I do think it's Bush's campaign to lose. I also think that he's losing it (barely) at the moment. The most recent polls by the best polling agencies support that view.

You also said something about the Republcian party being more unified than the Democratic party. That too is not supported by the evidence. I've seen numerous polls both nation wide and state by state that show both Kerry and Bush getting between 85-90% of their own party to support them. So both parties are similarly unified.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Prof. WVB - there's quite a difference between making pundit-like assertions ("Kerry is running a bad campaign!") and actually making an argument about why this translates into electoral failure. The problem is that most Americans aren't following the horse race and don't know who's running a good campaign or who isn't. We should be chastened by the Dean campaign's spectacular failure into making conclusions about elections based on insider views. Do you think that the right verbal punches by Kerry would swing the polls to 60-40 in his favor? I sincerely doubt it.

By the way, to answer your comment, mon frere, appealing one's the base is not "persuasion" -- and frankly both candidates are doing really well at this. This is actually the strongest part of Kerry's campaign, because Democrats so famously contentious and un-unified. Bush's uptick in the polls is, basically, a surge of support in the South, which he already had. Similarly, Kerry would not benefit from getting 60% in New York (as Gore did) rather than 55%.

Instead, the electoral math is fascinating, and it looks like this: There is no way, no how, that Bush wins CA, NY, MA, and about 200+ electoral votes. No way Kerry wins Texas, the South, Utah - again, 200+ EV. So this isn't about national polls, or NASCAR dads, or any such special demographic. The whole election comes down to the peculiarities of the electorate a very few states -- Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado, Nevada, West Virginia. The math is devastating for Bush, though: Bush won all except PA in 2000, and Bush must, more or less, win them all again this time.

This is why talking about Kerry's doing not so well on a CNN talk show is irrelevant. Each of these states has its own peculiarities and its own issues.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Prof. WVB: "There has been no counter argument that Kerry is running a good campaign, or that Kerry is good at it."

No, there hasn't been, but that's not because your arguments were brilliant. That's because it's not an important point. Kerry is running a good campaign insofar as he is concentrating on swing states, which is all that matters. It's not important how CNN is calling the horse race today.

Incidentally, the latest Fox poll (released today) shows Bush with a slight 47-45 nationwide lead over Kerry, a move from a 44-43 Kerry lead before the RNC, but an anemic "bounce" at best. And Fox is usually biased to the right. To paraphrase Carville, "It's the swing states, stupid."

Raised By Republicans said...

To all this I will add the following: In the past, post-convention bounces have been spikes in support. The people I've heard talk reasonably about it have said that a post-convention bounce USUALLY (and this is admittedly an UNusual election) lose about half their volume in the two weeks or so following the convention. Since the margin of error is about + or - 4 in most of these polls, for Bush to have a stable lead outside the margin of error, he would have had to have had an 8 point lead or better after the RNC. Only one credible poll (Gallup) has Bush with that kind of lead. Time and Newsweek have been exposed by Rasmussen and now also Zogby (see electoral vote calculator by vote master) as incorrectly normalized.

Rasmussen's meta analysis of the post convention polls shows Bush with post-convention lead that is right about at the margin of error and in the "battle ground states" Kerry has a lead that is within the margin of error. In other words, it's still tied.

Assuming (and this is an assumption with all the problems that entails) the past pattern plays out again, we'll see Kerry inch up into a narrow lead again over the next week or so.

All this seems to support LTG's assertion that persuasion is not an issue any more. At least not on the national stage.

US West said...

For starters: "Au contrer, mon frer" properly written is "Au contraire, mon frere." with an accent over the first "e".

Now for the important stuff: Looking at LTG's poll study, you can see it is really a 50-50 match. Figure in the margin of error and it goes either way. But these are polls based on asking people their opinion. Bow that translates into electoral votes is another story. So I think it will bee a hair raising evening Nov 6th and I don't plan on being alone for it.

I agree that Kerry's campaign isn't stellar, but that doesn't mean he is a bad leader or a poor candidate. I still say that he is the right candidate at the right time. He isn't exciting. But he comes with solid credentials and he has a stable hand on the rudder. Things are complex these days. And I don't have a problem with a candidate who changes his mind. But Kerry needs to make a more honest argument as to why he voted as he did. Just say why and stick to it. Then move on. People do understand this when it is explained properly.

We need to know what Kerry WILL do in the future. That is what he needs to focus on. Let's talk issues and plans. Kerry needs to attack Bush's "Ownership" plans for what they are: a code word for "more tax breaks for the over $200K crowd." Kerry needs to talk in detail about the deconstruction of important social programs. And the Press does get this, contrary to what some here have stated. The New Yorker gets it. The indy media gets it. Even the Economist gets it. But the folks reading this stuff are the choir.

At the end of the day, the undecideds have to either decide or stay home. And that is game, set and match.

So I am not convinced that Bush is going to win. I don't think it is that clear. As LTG pointed out, the debates are coming. And I add, Kerry has to sharpen his knife. The bar will be set incredibly low. Bush always gets a low bar (remember the Gore debates). (And anyone who thinks Bush 'won' those must be from the lowest common denominator) Someone like Kerry, the overachiever with gravitas, has got to figure out how to deal with that. So the good part is yet to come. And, may I add that 2 months is an eternity in politics!

Bell Curve said...

Let me summarize Brawny's argument so far.

"George Bush's record on the economy is terrible and yet he's still making the rationale for lower taxes. Iraq is a mess and his approval ratings are terrible. He is claiming Libya is a success even though he had little to nothing to do with it. Plus, he's a draft dodger. But Kerry cannot articulate this (or anything else) clearly enough, so he's running a bad campaign and will lose."

He essentially has one argument (so far) as to why Kerry will lose versus at least four as to why Bush will lose. I'm unconvinced.

Anonymous said...

I'd offer some meta-comments about this thread. So far, "both" sides of this discourse on this blog have spent a lot of time presenting opinion as fact. Maybe that is the bent of the "social scientist". Rather than being informative, it seems to have turned into a giant pissing contest.

I started reading this blog because it was informative. I am interested in opinion presented -- and well reasoned -- as opinion, not steroid induced name calling. Remember the blog is only a good as it's content, and such "discourse" becomes part of the norm.

Just a quick dig so that you remember your adoring fans...


Sam (who can't be bothered signing up for a blog)

US West said...

Thanks, Sam for that reminder.

But there is no reason a blog can't be both informative and opinionated.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I read for informed opinion, rather than "my governor can kick your governor's ass" type statements. There seems to be a fine line that is being crossed IMHO. Some writers here seem to be a little blinded by their own bias and self-righteousness (LTG is NOT one of them!).

I am arguing that authors here should not be dressing up opinion as fact. It's boring, the left-wing equivalent of right-wing talking head shows, and only generates flame-wars.



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