Monday, April 15, 2002
Adlai Gore in 2004-Patrick Ruffini has a nice breakdown of Gore’s Florida speech and a solid analysis of his prospects for 2004. What I heard of Gore's speech was fairly well-delivered Democratic red meat. I can't testify to the short-sleeve part. In a comment in that post, I posited three questions
(1) How many Bush 2000 voters would vote for Gore in 2004 and why? Rephrased-what has Bush done to cause his voters to desert him?Answer-not a heck of a lot. He has steered a fairly mainstream right-of-center tone in his first 14 months in office. If anything, he’s ticked off the conservative wing more than the moderate wing of his supporters, with a splitting-the-difference approach to stem cell research, a too-moderate education plan and not fighting hard for conservative judicial nominees. For moderate Republicans, he has been about as expected; he’ll lose few votes on the left. The deficit might be a leverage point for Democrats, if the red ink is still in place for FY2004. In theory, he has sided with the cultural conservatives on most issues, and thus he’ll get little in the way of a right-wing protest vote to a Howard Phillips or Pat Buchanan type of fire-breather in 2004 as things presently stand.
(2) How many Gore voters would vote for Bush in 2004 and why? Rephrased- what has Bush done to bring some Gore voters over to his side.Answer- solid, honest leadership with more intelligence than people expected, a simple tax cut that put money in people's pockets. The $300 rebate checks, coupled with more take-home pay in 2002 has given average Joes more money in their pockets. That’s going to help with blue-collar voters who will vote Republican if given a good reason to do so. He has handled foreign policy with a much better grasp of the big picture than the caricature of the West Texas Dufus the media was spinning 18 months ago. A good chuck of the Gore swing vote was looking at Gore’s alleged superior intellect as a reason to vote for him. He won’t have that advantage in 2004.
(3) Has Bush gained more Gore voters than he's lost to Gore?Answer-Oh, Yeah! This begs the fourth question-what does Gore have to do to win them back? If the economy is in good shape and the budget is in the black by FY2004, then Gore has to pray for a political miracle, like a big scandal in the administration or a severe mistake in anti-terror policy. If the economy is so-so in 2004, with a modest deficit still in place, then Gore will try to run as Mondale Lite, playing the deficit hawk and rolling back upper-income tax cuts (translation-tax increases) to “shore up Social Security and Medicare.” The Democratic voter will ponder the wisdom of backing their standard bearer of 2000, who would be president if it weren’t for some legal quirks in Florida. They might see the polls showing that Bush has won over a lot of swing voters and that someone other than Gore would be the man to bring them back, but their heart may overrule their head and offer up Adlai Gore in 2004. Gore backers should be reminded that, like Stevenson (who lost to Ike in ’52 and ’56), having every thinking person (translation-liberal) vote for you isn’t enough; they need a majority of the Electoral College. If Gore looks weak enough, a good outsider, like John Edwards or John Kerry, might come in and take the nomination away from him. However, if Gore wants it, it’s his to lose at this point. The institutional inertia of Gore being the ranking Alpha Male of the party will be hard to overcome, especially if he was as juiced as he was in the excepts of his Florida speech. However, they’ll lose, since the Democrats can’t win if their candidate is seen to be liberal and the Republican is seen to competent and somewhat centrist
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