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Thursday, October 28, 2004


Interesting Day For Thinking

Today, I ran into a very astute political source, one who has a penchant for calling the races correctly, particularly in New York State, but not only. I asked this source whether Tuesday would be a long night , and the rapid reply was "no, I think it will be over early." This seemed to support my last post, so of course, I had to ask the question I couldn't answer, which is which way is the election breakling? The reply - Kerry.

Well it really could be. We agreed that the polls are totally unreliable at this point. We know that there are a lot of newly registered voters not cranked into polling assumptions. The belief is that the majority will be for Kerry. Another assumption is that the undecideds always break for the challenger. I think that's the basis for my friend's view.

That got me thinking. What will be the decisive elements? What about those assumptions? And, maybe most important, what are the elements of a decisive victory, one that neither losing party would litigate to death?
The polls still lean Bush. Florida, almost even, still seems to lean Bush. Surprisingly, Pennsylvania leans Bush. And when New Jersey and Hawaii are considered "in play," that's bad for the Dems. Offsetting these are Ohio and Michigan, which Kerry is seemingly winning. Also, Iowa and Colorado are in play, never a good sign for a Republican.
Conservatives like me don't like to think in terms of groups (as Woody Allen was told in Annie Hall, "it's wonderful being reduced to a cultural stereotype") but it's hard to deny that people still vote in cultural, ethnic, religious and racial blocs. So what could happen that will surprise the Dan Rathers of the world? The elements of a Bush victory are:

Hold Kerry to no more than 75% of the black vote. This is surprisingly possible. Bill Cosby and the hideous Don King provide celebrity support for the President. More important, an emerging and growing Black middle class has had it with being taken for granted by Democrats and with the politics of victimization.

Erase the gender gap - The polls indicate that this has already occurred.

Contest the Jewish vote. Key in Florida and New Jersey, the President has been the most staunch supporter of Israel since Truman. Jews perceived (correctly) that the Clinton administration waffled in its support, as did the Carter administration. Kerry promises to follow in this dubious tradition. Of course, Jews have been reliable Democrats since Roosevelt, and the transition will not be complete for a few more years, but ultimately, the GOP will do better here.

A very strange dynamic is the uneasy alliance between Israel supporting Jews and the Christian Right, who have also been very strong supporters of Israel. But Jews, who tend to be understandably paranoid about civil liberties, don't trust the Falwell/Robertson crowd.

The elements of a Kerry victory:

Completely capture the Muslim vote and Michigan with it. This one seems easy. However, one wonders about Christian/Jewish backlash in states like Michigan.

Turnout - tried and true formula for Dems. However, is the assumption that new voters will be Kerry voters correct? Students on the Coasts and in the Ivy League can be relied upon, but Midwestern students?

The Latino vote -this is the other large new segment. If Kerry captures 65-70% of the Latino vote, Bush is in real trouble in Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, etc. And Bush has really underperformed with this segment, surprising in view of his success with Latino's in Texas. You would think that the party strong on legal immigration would do well with Latinos, but they have allowed themselves to be flogged on rights for illegals, and the Dems have simply communicated much better in the community.

Seniors -The Dems have succeeded in protraying the new drug benefit as crummy legislation, which it was. Of course, Kerry doesn't feel it is enough of a benefit. Frankly, it ain't much, though it still costs enough. Bush would have been better off with nothing than with this turkey, and Kerry has scored points with seniors as a result. That could tip Florida and Arizona.
At a meeting today, one of the attendees quelled election discussion by pointing out that he was absolutely sure who the President would be on November 3rd. When questioned, he responded "George Bush. Of course I'm not sure who the President - elect will be." Lawyers!
Tonight I watched George Soros speaking at the National Press Club. If I udnderstood his logic, it was: the hallmark of an open society is that no one knows for sure what the total truth is; if someone is so certain of the truth, he (Bush) must be wrong; Kerry has trouble stating his positions because he, like most intelligent people, knows he cannot easily discern the truth, therefore Kerry is the man; and the 50% who don't agree with me are full of it, and I can't see why there are so many of them.

My own take is that moral relativism of this kind, and the kind that sought to put Communism and Capitalism, Arafat and Sharon, etc. etc. on the same level, is just a lazy way out. It says that I am not going to take a stand, I'm not going to sit down and try to work out a strong opinion I am comfortable with, I'm not going to put it on the line. It's the kind of character that can opportunistically win medals one day, and castigate the cause for which he and his comrades ostensibly fought the next. It's Hamlet, Lawrence of Arabia, I see all sides and can't make a decision Jimmy Carter. It's great in the classroom, crappy in the White House.
In the end, every country gets the leadership it deserves. Look at France (ugh). Look at Australia where the people wisely kept the Howard administration in place. My admiration is for the kids volunteering to serve on the Iraqi police force and the new military, trying to build a new country in times of extreme peril. It's 1776 in Iraq. I feel sorry for the people who can't see it that way.

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