August 30 2004
CONVENTION COLOR: About three blocks away
from Madison Square Garden you can start to feel the security
for the convention. The first thing you notice is an inordinate
amount of police. Standing on the corner of Broadway and
34th street this morning at 7:45 am I counted more than
30 uniformed officers.
the streets around the Garden are barricaded and foot traffic
on the sidewalks is tightly controlled. About a block from
the convention I had to pass through a checkpoint and show
my driver's license before continuing.
the convention is even more daunting. Our group had to pass
through three or four different checkpoints where police
officers and Secret Service agents eyeballed our credentials.
came the metal detectors. It was like airport security on
steroids. All electronic devices had to be presented to
a TSA officer and turned on. Any items posing even the most
remote threat - including many items that seemingly pose
not threat at all - were confiscated and thrown in the trash.
the woman who is "managing" our group of bloggers
at the RNC, went through the metal detector and x-ray machine
just ahead of me. She was promptly divorced from a tiny
bottle of nail polish in her possession because it was made
of glass. A television reporter told me he had his can of
hair spray confiscated.
the convention hall is a blur of activity. We're parked
in a place called "Blogger's Corner" - which isn't
much of a corner at all - and we're adjacent to "Radio
Row" - which, you can probably guess, isn't much of
a row, either.
you might expect, various GOP luminaries have been holding
forth on radio shows and in the hallway right in front of
us - most notably Alan Keyes. The media loves Keyes, and
he clearly reciprocates.
I spent some time listening to the opening of Al Franken's
show (The O'Franken Factor) which is being broadcast from
a booth just around the corner. It's interesting to see
Franken working his schtick deep in enemy territory, but
I have to say he's doing a good job. He's a heck of a funnier
I write, Sean Hannity is gearing up to broadcast his show
from a table about 10 feet directly behind me. Sean has
the aura of a rock star: even though there have been other
people broadcasting at the table all day, the place has
been more or less dead silent. Now it's humming: at least
twenty people are surrounding the area listening, watching,
waiting for Hannity to begin.
MEAT: Enough color, let's get to some meat and
potatoes. This morning we had a Q&A with Matthew Dowd,
President Bush's chief strategist. Dowd talked about many
things but here are some interesting tidbits:
voters: The Bush campaign estimates the undecided vote at
about 7%. Dowd says the number of "true" undecideds
is probably half that, about 3 or 4 percent. Based on the
polling data they've aggregated on undecideds in battleground
states, the Bush team has compiled the following profile
on undecideds: they are overwhelmingly white, tend to be
older, go to church often and describe themselves as moderate
to conservative. Dowd says they can't find any self-described
liberals who remain undecided.
wisdom says that undecideds will usually break in favor
of the challenger. Dowd says that based on the research
they've done they feel they have a good chance of at least
splitting the undecided vote and perhaps
doing even better. Maybe this won't be the case in the
end, but that's what they're thinking at the moment.
also clear that while the Bush team is trying to win undecideds,
they're much more focused on getting out the base and targeting
voters who may potentially vote for Bush. The trick is finding
them and contacting them personally, which Dowd said makes
people 4 times more likely to vote for a candidate.
final notes regarding battleground states. According to
Dowd the good news is that two critical states, Pennsylvania
and Wisconsin, Bush is tracking three to four points better
than in 2000. The bad news is that Ohio is doing the opposite:
tracking two or three below where Bush was in 2000.
in the weeks leading up to the 2000 election, Gore basically
abandoned Ohio and still only lost the state by 4 points.
This year, Democrats are not making the same mistake. Campaign
spokesman Terry Holt told me that the liberal interest group
America Coming Together has spent months pouring money and
effort into their ground game in Ohio and that, along
with Kerry taking advantage of a struggling economy,
is making the state one of the toughest for the President
to hold. T. Bevan 3:25 pm Link
to a Friend