Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Unnamable: The Kerry Factor in the Platform Index

Here's my prediction from last October: "Bush is finished -- it's time to plan ahead for a struggle against a Democratic President in the White House who won't end the occupation of Iraq (thirteen months is a shorter period of time than you think)" ("George W. Bush, c'est fini," PEN-L, October 3, 2003). Judging by trends in the results of numerous opinion surveys about Bush's favorability ratings, his job approval scores, and presidential election match-ups, my prediction is likely to be borne out. In addition to the unpredictable possibilities of the capture of Osama bin Laden and terrorist attacks on the mainland United States before the election day (which would probably sway the undecided to vote for Bush), however, there is another factor that may complicate my election forecast. No, not the Nader Factor, but the Kerry Factor. Especially since the Green Party voted to nominate the little known Texas lawyer David Cobb for its presidential candidate -- on the grounds that he will get fewer votes than Ralph Nader, especially in the battleground states! -- the Nader Factor has unfortunately become less significant than it should have been had Nader been on the Green Party's 23 ballot lines. Essentially, the presidential election in 2004 is the Democratic Party's to lose. Lose it might, though, against the odds, given the Kerry "The Unnamable" Factor. In an op-ed in today's New York Times, we learn what it means for a political party to campaign for an Unnamable candidate, relying solely upon the strength of anti-incumbent sentiments. According to the op-ed, one of the significant indicators is "the candidate-to-opponent ratio" in a party platform:
Another platform indicator is the candidate-to-opponent ratio. In 1984, the Democrats, in their hulking platform, found it almost impossible to spell out their policies without reference to the Republicans. Ronald Reagan, for example, was mentioned 213 times, while Walter Mondale, the nominee, didn't come up once —- and he lost in a rout. Republicans tried the same tactic in 1996, singling out Bill Clinton 153 times —- and giving Bob Dole a paltry 45 mentions. If the strategy was to rally the base, it fell flat with the voters —- an important lesson for members of the "anybody but Bush" crowd, who trust hatred of the president, and not support for John Kerry, to ensure a Democratic victory this year. (emphasis added, Peter Buttigieg, Peter V. Emerson, and Ganesh Sitaraman, "Winning Between the Lines," July 10, 2004)
Worse, many of the ABB crowd -- too embarrassed to say a word about Kerry himself -- specialize in attacking Nader oftener than Bush, bringing down Kerry's standing yet lower in the candidate-to-opponents ratio. The worst-case scenario is that the ABB crowd may decrease votes for both Nader and Kerry (as well as for liberal-to-left candidates from the Green and Democratic Parties in the down-the-ticket elections) by depressing the voter turnout, allowing Bush to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat.


Arkansas IMCista said...

Saw a link to this blog in the otherpress section of Arkansas IndyMedia. You might take a look at the top feature article on that site, about the Bush Administration wanting to pass legislation giving them the authority to suspend the presidential elections.

While I agree that Anyone But Bush is failing as an election strategy, I am seriously wondering if we are going to have elections at all.

Commodore Luke Perry said...

The DLC and the DNC have decided they can win a close election without leftists, either in ideas or in votes. That's their call--afterall, it's about one half their political system, the last time I looked. I've warmed to Kerry. Of all the gross-out national security state cretins who will do nothing about health care, Kerry is about the best the DNC could have picked. With Edwards talking serious cornpone in the South and Midwest, it looks like they might muster as many votes as Gore did in 2000.