Sunday,October 24 2004
WEB SITE UPDATE:
Some of you may have experienced problems with the web site recently. Last week we began the process of adding additional servers and increasing bandwith to handle all of the traffic we've been getting.

The result is that we've been battling a few bugs: Apache test screens popping up, some servers updating while others continue to display old pages, etc. Needless to say, it's a been a pain and an inconvenience for us as well as for a (hopefully) small percentage of our visitors. We apologize. We've fixed the problems and will continue to work to make sure RCP runs smoothly through the election and beyond.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.....

THE CIVILIZED BARBARIANS: You may have seen this quote from a column in The Guardian yesterday:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

Ah, yes, members of the "civilised world" are now calling for the assassination of the President of the United States. Members of the "civilised world" now take to describing a person whose political views they disagree with as "a lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat."

Give me a break. The European left is as rotten and rudderless as it is arrogant and paranoid.

I wish I could report that the political left in this country wasn't starting to look more and more like their trans-Atlantic brethren. I can't. Some of the behavior we're seeing from Democrats in America at the moment ranges from comical to bizarre to deeply disturbing:

These are just a few stories from the last week pulled off the top of my head. The list is by no means comprehensive, but it's plenty enough for Democrats to be ashamed of. And they should be.

The fact is Democrats are angry, desperate, and absolutely beside themselves at facing the prospect of another four years with George W. Bush as President. Frankly, I don' t blame them.

With so much invested emotionally, it will be a crushing psychological blow for liberals to see Bush reelected a week from this Tuesday. Furthermore, if Bush wins big it could be a defeat that threatens the very foundations of the liberal movement itself.

But even that is no excuse for some of the behavior we're seeing. It's no excuse for bending the rules, breaking the law, and generally treating this year's election with an "anything goes" mentality where the ends justify any means. The country deserves - and the Constitution demands - much more than that.

Post Script: In the interest of fairness I went looking to put together a similar list of shameful incidents involving Republicans. But aside from the currently disputed and unproven allegations of some Democratic registrations being ripped up and thrown in the trash out in Nevada, I couldn't find anything comparable. In fact, using the exact same search criteria that turned up pages of stories involving the vandalism of Bush offices, etc. around the country yielded surprisingly few results when applied to John Kerry. If you know of any incidents of Republicans targeting Kerry offices or supporters with vandalism or thuggish behavior, please send them through so I can post them. - T. Bevan 8:15 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, October 21 2004
ROBERTSON VS. REALITY:
So Pat Robertson popped up on Paula Zahn's show Tuesday night and said that President Bush told him in a meeting in early 2003 Bush believed we wouldn't suffer any casualties in Iraq. Robertson has said some bizarre things over the years, but this one takes the cake.

The mainstream media generally ignores everything Robertson says until he unloads some ridiculous remark like the one on Tuesday - in which case papers like The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times treat his comments as front page news.

Last night on Larry King, however, Bob Woodward said that in his extensive interviews with Bush conducted during the course of writing his books (Plan of Attack and Bush at War), the President indicated just the opposite:

KING: An interview yesterday on CNN, Pat Robertson, an avid Bush supporter by the way, says he urged the president to prepare the United States people for casualties before launching the war and he said Bush told him, they're not going to have any casualties. What do you make of that? The White House denied that today.

WOODWARD: Yes, I don't think the president would say that. Certainly didn't believe that. When I talked to him about it, in fact, he said, in making the decision to go to war in Iraq, or the war in Afghanistan, he knew there were going to be casualties and he knew he was going to have to comfort the loved ones afterwards, so that there was kind of a deep awareness of that. I don't think that makes sense.

In fact, the President said as much in the February, 10 2003 speech he gave at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. This also happens to be same time and place the where Reverend Robertson says Bush told him he wasn't worried about America suffering casualties in Iraq. Bush told the group:

"If war is forced upon us -- and I say "forced upon us," because use of the military is not my first choice. I hug the mothers and the widows of those who may have lost their life in the name of peace and freedom. I take my responsibilities incredibly seriously about the commitment of troops. But should we need to use troops, for the sake of future generations of Americans, American troops will act in the honorable traditions of our military and in the highest moral traditions of our country. "

Realizing that Bush's statement in Nashville doesn't totally disprove Robertson's claim, it does indicate that President Bush not only acknowledged previous casualties but recognized that his impending decision to use force in Iraq would inevitably cause more.

Furthermore, one would think that if President Bush was (to use Roberton's own words) so completely "self assured" of the fact invading Iraq wouldn't produce any casualties, it seems logical that President Bush would have shared this thought with a few more people than just Pat Robertson. So far, we don't have any evidence that he did.

So am I calling Pat Robertson a liar? No. But I do think he misinterpreted the President expressing optimism for the success of a difficult and dangerous mission in Iraq. It seems a whole lot more likely than accepting President Bush was so deluded he would assert the impossible.

And does the expression of optimism for success in Iraq automatically lead to the conclusion, as Andrew Sullivan puts it this morning, that Bush "had no inkling of the possibility of an insurgency" and that he was entertaining pie-in-the-sky fantasies regarding the outcome of the invasion?

I don't believe it does. But that's just me. Sullivan says he chooses to believe Robertson, which just goes to further prove that politics makes strange bedfellows. Who you choose to believe is up to you. - T. Bevan 10:15 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, October 19 2004
STILL BUSH'S TO LOSE:
With two weeks until Election Day, we're in the final stretch. There is enough evidence for partisans on both sides to point to why their respective candidate will win on November 2. Bottom line: Bush is ahead and continues to hold the superior hand, but Kerry cannot be counted out.

Contrary to much of the punditry you may have seen or heard this has always been George W. Bush's race to lose - and it remains that way today. It has always been my belief that 9/11 and the War on Terror changed the national political landscape to give the Republicans and President Bush a structural advantage, particularly in the first Presidential election post-9/11.

The early signs of trouble for Senator Kerry began to appear in the summer (ironically when many were beginning to write Bush off) when Kerry could not move out to a bigger lead than 2-3 points. Throughout this entire campaign Kerry has never been able to get ahead by more than three points in the RCP Average, and he has only had a lead over 2.5% three times: in mid-May at the height of the media frenzy over Abu Ghraib, right after the Edwards pick in early July, and right after his convention in early August. None of these leads lasted more than a few days. Senator Kerry should have been registering leads between 5-10 points after his convention and VP pick, not 2 1/2 points.

For nearly an entire year (starting back at the beginning of the Dem primary race) Bush's opponents and the left-wing 527's had been pounding the President furiously, on top of the daily media drumbeat of the "disaster" in Iraq. All of this negativity directed at the President succeeded in driving down Bush's Job Approval rating and the right/direction wrong direction numbers, but it didn't succeed in turning this President into Jimmy Carter. As I've said before, despite this ferocious onslaught, Bush's Job Approval bottoming out in the mid-40's was actually a positive for the President and a sign of his underlying strength with the electorate, not a weakness.

With Bush's Job Approval finding a floor in the mid-40's and Kerry unable to ever move ahead by more than 2-3 points, the Democratic ticket was extremely vulnerable to counterattack. So in August, when Republican 527-money turned their guns on Senator Kerry, specifically with the swift boat/post-Vietnam protest stories, Kerry began to absorb some serious body blows.

Republicans were extremely successful in driving up Kerry's unfavorables during the month of August, and this led right into the Republican convention where the spotlight was put squarely on 9/11 and the War on Terror. The end result was that as September rolled around President Bush opened up a 5-7 point lead in the RCP Poll Average, a margin he held for 28 consecutive days.

Faced with being completely knocked out of the race, Kerry was able to get back in the game with a win in the first debate on September 30. In four days days after that debate Kerry was able to pull within 1-2 points of Bush in the RCP Average. That 1-2 point Bush lead basically held steady through the final debate in Arizona last week. Since last Wednesday's debate, Bush has tacked on a few points and this morning leads by 3-4 points in both of the RCP Poll Averages.

So where does that leave us? The President's Job Approval appears to have stabilized around 50%, with the latest from Gallup, (the most important as far as job approval) indicating 51% approval. While the press makes a big deal about Bush being below 50%, it is probably the Kerry campaign that should be more concerned with that 50% number. Bush can win with a Job Approval at 47% or 48 %, but Kerry doesn't have a chance if the President's Job Approval is at 52% or 53%.

Back in April I wrote:

As a crude measuring stick for the state of the presidential race, an over 50% job approval for the President should translate into a Bush victory. A 45% - 49% job approval will mean a close race, but I would give President Bush the advantage.

I think these parameters roughly still hold true. At 49.5% in the RCP Average Bush is right on the cusp of where he needs to be to put this race away. However, on the cusp of victory is not quite the same thing as winning, and at this stage I would ratchet up the 45-49 leaning Bush range to 47-49. If the President's Job Approval were to fall to 45 or 46, as measured by the RCP Average, I think we would be looking at a dead heat race, with the momentum clearly favoring the challenger Kerry.

As things stand today, Kerry can't tolerate any more movement towards Bush in the national horse-race numbers or the President Job Approval. Trailing 3-4 points nationally and a Bush JA at 49.5% is absolutely the most Kerry can trail by and still hope to have a chance on Election Day.

However, the reason Kerry still can win with these type of numbers is because Bush is having a difficult time getting over 50% in most of the polls. The risk to the President is the undecideds come out to vote, and vote disproportionately for a change with Senator Kerry. Larry Sabato suggested last week he was "tempted to argue that Bush actually needed his full 5 to 6 percent September lead to insure a narrow victory."

I would disagree with that and suggest that unless there is strong momentum towards Kerry at the very end I think Bush will not underperform his RCP Poll Spread in the final results. What I mean by that is if the President leads by 2-3 points in the final RCP Poll average, I think he will win by at least 2-3 points. In other words I don't think the President needs a poll cushion going in to Election Day. Again, that is assuming there is not a strong final break towards Kerry, like the Bush DUI and the late break for Gore in 2000. For example if Bush is ahead 4-6 points with a week to go, but in the last three days that closes to only 1-2 points, that 1-2 point lead very well might not hold up.

The reason I think Bush will meet or exceed the final poll spread is:

1) I wonder whether there is a little bit of the Howard Dean phenomena with all the "energy" and young voters, and all the "new" people who are supposedly going to come out and put John Kerry in office. We heard this type of talk with Howard Dean earlier this year and when it came time to deliver, it was just that, a lot of talk.

2) I don't think the Black vote is going to come out in the type of numbers Senator Kerry is going to need. African-Americans certainly don't like President Bush, but they are unenthusiastic about Kerry and that will hurt the Democrats on the margins.

3) The GOP learned a hard lesson in 2000 when the Democrat's GOTV effort just crushed the Republicans. The GOP adapted and instituted their 72 hour plan which was extremely effective in 2002, and I suspect that will provide a powerful assist to the President, and could be worth as much as 1-2 points on Election Day.

All three of these issues are about turnout, and at this stage this is what the race is going to come down to in the end. Will the President's base simply overpower Kerry's and render the small number of undecideds a non-factor or will Kerry get the undecideds to break his way, and more importantly will he get enough of them to the polls on Election Day to offset the President's lead in the polls and Bush's more enthusiastic base?

I like the President's position, but Bush supporters should be wary. Kerry has kept within striking distance in the critical battleground states and any late movement for Kerry is all this race will need to be a dead heat going in to Election Day. J. McIntyre 11:48 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, October 18, 2004
SEXUALITY, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE:
One at a time. First, the Mary Cheney thing. There's been a lot written on this subject and I don't have a whole lot to add, except to say that it's clear John Kerry violated one of the fundamental unwritten rules of politics last week. You simply do not bring the children of your political opponents into the campaign.

If you want to talk about your own family, fine. But to cite someone else's child as an example of anything in the context of a political debate strikes most people as offensive. The visceral response we've seen to John Kerry's remark has nothing to do with the issue of gay marriage or whether people believe homosexuality is genetic or not. It only has to do with the way Kerry offended the average person's concept of what is decent, polite and respectful behavior. The fact John Kerry didn't realize this at the time, and hasn't seen fit to recognize it in the ensuing days is going to turn off some voters. We'll see just how many.

Subject number two: lies. I find it rather astonishing that Democrats and some members of the media (like Mark Halperin) continue to harp on President Bush's dishonesty while John Kerry runs around the country telling people the President is going to reinstate the draft and take away senior citizens' Social Secuirty checks. From today's Washington Post:

"This might be a good surprise for the wealthy and well-connected, but it's a disaster for the middle class," Kerry told the congregation at Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio. "The president's privatization plan for Social Security is another way of saying to our seniors that the promise of security is going to be broken."

In recent weeks, Kerry, who has complained about Bush lodging negative and unsubstantiated attacks, has made several cutting accusations about the president based on shaky evidence.

Obviously, this is in addition to the fact that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the entire Democratic national party establishment have gone into full "Selma 1965 mode," hyping accusations of voter intimidation and/or telling their operatives to make them up and generally scaring the living daylights out of African-Americans all across the country.

Finally, videotape. Sinclair Broadcasting and "Stolen Honor." As a general principle I don't think Sinclair should broadcast "Stolen Honor" unless they're willing to present a rebuttal from John Kerry's point of view (though it doesn't necessarily have to be from Kerry himself).

Provided they're willing to present both sides of the story - which is more than you can say about CBS and others - then Sinclair has the right to run whatever programming they want. And Democrats have a right to try and pressure Sinclair to pull the show by threatening local advertisers with a boycott of their products. That's how we do it in America.

But it is a bit remarkable that we are only two weeks away from the election and there still has been very, very little attention paid to John Kerry's post-Vietnam record by the mainstream media. Kerry keeps saying he's proud of those days standing up and fighting against a war he thought was wrong. Great. Then what's the problem with having a discussion about those days where people can be critical of Kerry's actions and he can step up and defend them? Again, that's how we do it in America. - T. Bevan 3:15 pm Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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