Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 10, 2004
POLITICS/HISTORY: Presidential Precedential

For all of President Bush's obstacles to re-election, there are a number of reasons why I have a hard time imagining Kerry actually winning this thing. The history of incumbent presidents is one of them. When was the last time an incumbent president got ousted really by surprise, without massive dissension in his ranks, without a huge overhang of economic doom? I mean, look how many things had to go wrong for incumbents to lose in the past century:

Bush I - Major fissures in the party (as shown by Buchanan's primary challenge), major third party candidate (Perot), more severe recession than anyone could claim today with a straight face (though they try), and his party had been in power 12 years, which always exerts a pull back to the middle. His opponent (Clinton) won with 43% of vote.

Carter - Major recession (remember stagflation?), international humiliations, malaise, major fissures in the party (between Kennedy's primary challenge and fighting between the Carter White House and Hill Democrats), and a serious third party candidate (John Anderson) who gave anti-Reagan voters an alternative to re-upping the incumbent.

Ford - Watergate overhang, gigantic debate gaffe (Poland), never elected in his own right, barely survived primary challenge by Reagan that split the party.

LBJ - Hung it up after New Hampshire primary after internal revolt on war, and his party was rent in two in November; never faced general electorate.

Hoover - Great Depression, and his party had been in power for 12 years.

Taft - Party split in two, Taft's popular predecessor (Teddy Roosevelt) ran as a third party candidate, his opponent (Wilson) won with less than 40% of vote, and his party had been in power 16 years.

Compare these to, say, Harry Truman, who saw his party split three ways and still got re-elected amid a weak economy and international crises. I think the forces of inertia and incumbency are stronger than we think, and may help Bush on top of his other strengths.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:08 AM | History • | Politics 2004 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

Another reason I feel that Bush is likely to win this thing is that Kerry is just about the weakest candidate I've ever seen. He's a Senator (I believe Kennedy was the last one to be elected, and he's no Kennedy), who has a very questionable voting record on the war (which is the key issue in this election), he was born into affluence and married into even more (which makes it hard for him to connect with normal people), and worst of all he's the definition of a New England Liberal!

His entire campaign so far has been running on Bush haters, and very little else. He may excite his liberal base, but is going to have major problems getting moderates to come over. And let's remember- you vote for the man you want in office, not who you don't want, so a wave of anti-Bush sentiment is not going to get him elected alone.

Posted by: Richard at April 10, 2004 2:07 PM

"And let's remember- you vote for the man you want in office, not who you don't want..."

What are you smoking?

Half the reason Bush got elected is not because he was the guy people WANTED in the White House....its because the people did NOT WANT Gore, on his own merits, or any other candidate with ties to Clinton.

A wave of anti-Bush sentiment could very well knock Bush off.

Lets put this another way. I have a 50/50 split of frineds between Reps and Dems.

Some from the Dem side were not so inclined to vote for Gore in 2000, and some didn't.

The Reps were definitely not for Gore, and they all voted Bush.

Three plus years later, and all of the Dems are more resolute than ever to get to the polls and vote Bush.

Meanwhile 25% of the Reps are definitely not voting Bush, and the remainder are only looking to him as the best alternative.

But go right ahead, you guys keep telling yourselves that everything will be AOK and Bush will get reelected.

And while you're at it, keep convincing yourselves that he's better than the first Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: C Giddy at April 10, 2004 2:39 PM

Meanwhile 25% of the Reps are definitely not voting Bush, and the remainder are only looking to him as the best alternative.

Yes... I'm the one who's smoking something.

While you were trying to blast apart my argument you made my point. People aren’t going to vote for Kerry just because they don't like Bush- many will vote for Nader, or not all- exactly what happened to Gore in 2000. Kerry does not seem to speak to the center of the country, and it will hurt him.

Three plus years later, and all of the Dems are more resolute than ever to get to the polls and vote Bush.

This is where Dems are just plain delusional- many people are "Bush Haters," and they will vote for Kerry just to spite Bush, but the vast majority of Americans (whether they have a favorable or unfavorable view of Bush) are not "Bush Haters." They're going to vote for the candidate that they most identify with, or shares the same values. This wave of Democratic unity against Bush just doesn't exist- look at the turnout of the Dem. primaries for proof.

You just keep convincing yourself that everyone shares your irrational hate of Bush, and that surely he will be defeated in November.

Posted by: Richard at April 10, 2004 5:00 PM

Irrational hatred?

I make my statements, observations of my friends...and you jump to the conclusion that its a sign of irrational hatred.

Take a look in the mirror.

A desire for Kerry over Bush is no more a sign of irrational hatred as the vote for Bush in 2000 was a sign of an irrational hatred towards Gore and Kerry.

Keep that in mind.

Thinking that the man in command is not doing the best things for this country and wanting to replace him can not be simply termed as irrational hatred.

Posted by: C Giddy at April 10, 2004 7:16 PM

“Meanwhile 25% of the Reps are definitely not voting Bush, and the remainder are only looking to him as the best alternative.”

You clearly are a closed-minded man, as you can’t bring yourself to understand why anyone would support the president. Ask yourself why you dislike Bush:

Is it because he “lied” to the American people? Any clear-minded individual can see that he did not knowingly mislead anyone. Besides, it didn’t bother you when Clinton lied to everyone.

Is it because you think he’s damaged the economy? I would point you to almost every major economic indicator. They show that not only is the economy not in decline, it is stronger then just about any other major world economy.

Is it because he’s “lost 2 million jobs?” You need to realize that the vast majority of those jobs never should have been created in the first place. They were part of the tech industry, which was built on speculation and little else. Those jobs are never coming back- and no president could have changed that. Also remember that the current unemployment rate (5.7%) is actually fairly low when you look over the past 25 years.

Is it because you’re anti-globalization? I’m sorry that free markets scare you, but perhaps you should take a quick economics course.

Is it because you dislike his politics, or because you were against the war? Do you think that John Kerry is more qualified? I can respect that. Please, by all means, voice your dissent. Just make sure it is informed dissent, otherwise it is irrational.

But be sure you understand that not everyone shares your view of the world. Obviously people making political decisions is what makes this country great, but when they do it based on lies and distortions I have a problem. I’m done now.

Posted by: Richard at April 10, 2004 9:05 PM

Also, Kerry's a Senator. As the first commenter pointed out, Kennedy was the last to win as a sittingSenator, and I can't think of another one in the popular Senate voting era.

Posted by: Josh at April 11, 2004 2:43 AM

Of my friends, the 25% of Reps that will now be voting against Bush are doing so because of...

a) his handling of his war...not enough troops to handle the aftermath of Iraq...the realization that invading Iraq may have taken our eye off the prize known as Bin Laden to begin with...his lack of diplomatic tact...

b) because of the apparent sway the religious right holds on him and the effect this has on issues such as stem cell research

c) the deterioration of civil liberties...the desire to constitutionalize a ban on gay marriage...even the recent events involving Howard Stern!

d) the secrecy...around the energy commission...around the Clinton anti-terrorism papers...Condi's ditched 9/11 speech, etc.

e) the blatant twisting of facts in every report from economic projections to global warming

f) Dick Cheney

g) John Ashcroft

h) tax cuts not exactly making their way into their pockets (I don't hang with many millionaires.)

etc. etc. etc.

Keep in mind, the reasons I just gave you are the reasons being offered by my right-leaning friends.

Most of these people are fiscal conservatives, who want to determine what's best for themselves, live and let live, not ban gay people from committing to each other, reduce gov't spending etc. And most of them like Bush the man...they just don't like the Bush Administration and everything it "produces".

Of the remaining 75%, I mispoke. Probably only half of those actually view Bush as the best alternative because for them HE'S SIMPLY NOT CONSERVATIVE ENOUGH!!! And these are good friends of mine, no, make that GREAT FRIENDS OF MINE...half my wedding party was Republican, and the only two wedding parties I've been in were for Republican grooms...and I know EXACTLY where they're coming from and I understand perfectly well why they hold the views they do. I don't necessarily agree with them and we argue vociferously but in the end IT IS NOT A KNEE-JERK HATRED!

They are not jack boot wearing, goose stepping Nazis and I'm not a birkenstock wearing, tree hugging Commie.

Sh#t, I grew up a conservative! As an eight year old I remember thinking Ford good, Carter bad...then it was Reagan good, Carter bad, Mondale and Dukakis bad, Bush not so bad.

Bottom line, I get the feeling that the only reason you yourself feel stereo-typed and misunderstood by the left.... is because you yourself stereotype and misundertand the left to begin with! In fact, you jumped right ahead and listed the five or so reasons you figured I'd offer for voting against Bush, and you summarily dismissed all but one of them!

I myself can't stand Bush. I'll admit it. His stupity and ham-handedness amaze me daily. We've now reached a point that even if he did something good, I'd be hard pressed to acknowledge it. In other words, the fact he finds himself on such tenuous ground with the liberals would never surprise me.

What I find so surprising is that I see so many who leaned right who now vow to not submit another vote for him or his administration.

That is not a perception that's a result of my irrational hatred... is a fact that reflects the dissatisfaction of so many who voted for Bush in 2000.

But go ahead, you guys keep giving yourselves reasons not to worry. You've got it in the bag.

Posted by: C Giddy at April 11, 2004 1:02 PM

"I think the forces of inertia and incumbency are stronger than we think, and may help Bush on top of his other strengths."

Does Bush have any weaknesses?

Posted by: C Giddy at April 11, 2004 1:35 PM

There isn't a poll out there, as far as I know, that doesn't show Bush running better among Dems than Kerry is among Reps, C Giddy's anecdotal evidence notwithstanding.

Posted by: John Salmon at April 11, 2004 11:50 PM

Does that imply that Bush is running better among Dems than Kerry is running among Republicans at this point?

I take it you have one of these polls?

Does it refer to registered Dems and Republicans or to those who'd consider themselves Dems or Republicans?

Posted by: C Giddy at April 12, 2004 12:06 PM

I'm not sure how it breaks down for each poll - probably self-identification over the phone - but almost every poll I've seen lately shows Kerry getting 85-90% support from Democrats and Bush getting 90-95% support from Republicans. Most of the swings you see between states, for example, depends on the breakdown of Dems vs. Reps in the state and how well each candidate runs among independents.

Posted by: The Crank at April 12, 2004 12:43 PM

"h) tax cuts not exactly making their way into their pockets (I don't hang with many millionaires.)"

Hmmm.... I'm no millionaire (highest family income ever reported is well under 100k), but I sure felt the impact of the tax cuts. I'm always astounded how low my taxes are. I think the tax cuts affect families more -- it seems my increased deductions come mostly from having two kids. And that's a fairly large voting bloc right there.

-- Chris S

Posted by: Chris S at April 19, 2004 1:09 PM
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