Tuesday, October 26, 2004

E.J. Dionne on Intensity

I think E.J. Dionne captured the fundamental dynamic that the polls are generally missing - and why the polls show the presidential race as so close.

In my heart, I know that this election is ultimately not going to be all that close. Standing amongst a non-loyalty oath signing crowd at the Kerry rally in Philadelphia yesterday, it was so plainly obvious that every one of the 100,000+ people in attendance were absolutely energized. From union workers to veterans (where I staked out my ground), office workers and government wonks, the intensity of the crowd was palpable and almost hard to contain.

When you watch a Bush rally on TV, what strikes you is the faux hollering. Anecdotally, in my own interaction with Bush supporters, very few are really, truly stoked - stoked to the point that they'll stand on streetcorners holding up signs, stoked to the point that they'll engage a random stranger on the subway in conversation about the election.

Going into the final seven days, I'm quietly confident. Every time I get a bit down, I go back and remind myself of something I posted several months back. The equation is very simple:

  • Almost no one who voted for Al Gore in 2000 will be voting for George Bus this time around. It just ain't happening, regardless of the rosey sweet nothings about Democratic churn that Karl Rove is whispering in the chimpmeister's ear.

  • Legions of folks who voted for Bush in 2000 will be voting for John Kerry this time around. Simply witness the burning Bush editorials from papers that endorsed Bush in 2000.

  • Ralph Nader will not be nearly the factor this year that he was in 2000.

  • Democrats have outperformed the GOP in new voter registration, by some accounts, by a margin of almost 5:1 -- let that roll off your lips - 5:1.
Folks, I really think BushCo knows that the race is pretty much over, barring some absolutely catastrophic (and I do mean catastrophic) event this week. This isn't cockiness or hubris on my part: it's confidence. Grab a slice of it.

EJ Dionne: The Intensity Gap

...this administration is desperately trying to have this campaign be about anything but the central purpose of democratic elections: to hold those in power accountable for what they have done. Bush does not want the election to be about his miscalculations in Iraq, his misleading statements before the war, his false predictions about the fiscal effect of his tax cuts. He wants to scare the country about terrorism and John Kerry. It is not an honorable approach to reelection. That is why moderate and independent voters are finding it so hard to support the president and why so many of Kerry sympathizers are so fervent in their commitment.
Addendum, 11:15AM: One thing I meant to mention earlier when I wrote about "anecdotal evidence" - while I work and play in a decidedly Democratic stronghold (Philadelphia), I live in a verrrrry hardcore Republican leaning location - New Jersey cow country. So I think I'm getting a decent snapshot of gut feelings from both sides. Many of the GOP folks I talk to in the area where I live are as fed up as me with the Bush administration. Of course, there's still the Kool Aid drinkers...