July 16, 2004

Fearless Predictions

Last January, the Northern Alliance met Hugh Hewitt for lunch at a restaurant in Long Lake, Minnesota. At the end of lunch, Hugh had us predict the electoral vote breakdowns by state, and thus predict the election.

Of the entire assembled Alliance, I was the second-most optimistic, behind only Hewitt himself. That surprised me; I've never been especially sanguine about any Republican in elections.

It's been a roller coaster ride.

But I think I can see the last corkscrew coming up. Here's why.

Now bear in mind I never really supported George W. Bush until after the 2000 convention (I was for Forbes), and never really got behind him until September 11. I've become a fan - but purely for personal reasons, not because he's my party's guy. Still, the party could have done much worse.

But the last year has truly been an amazing ride. Bad intelligence leads to an international shell-game for WMDs. Worse media bias has buried the real stories - the Oil for Food scam, French and Russian complicity with Hussein, Joe Wilson's perfidy, the overwhelming success in most of Iraq, the extent to which the entire world's intelligence indicated Hussein had WMDs, the success in the rest of Iraq at killing off the insurgents, the record-breaking speed of the turnover of sovereignty, and most of all the links between Hussein and the whole rogue's gallery of world terror groups, including Al Quaeda. The White House's seeming unwillingness or inability to defend itself. For a while, the pessimism of the likes of Rocket Man started getting to me.

Yesterday, Jeff Fecke of Blogomodleft commented in one of my posts:

drop by my site. There's a link to the latest Electoral College projection. Hint: 500 votes isn't gonna be the margin this time.
I don't like doing political predictions. Oh, it's not that I'm not usually right - I am. But the whole exercise is so subject to emotion, and devoid of any empirical logic, it's really only usable for entertainment purposes. And I'm not just talking amateurs - nobody got the last Minnesota election right, and the pollsters were pretty much all wrong about the 2000 election too.

So as re Jeff's prediction, I agree. Because as close as the polls are today, this next few weeks will be John Kerry's last honeymoon with success. I am starting to think Bush can not only win this thing, but by a controversy-proof margin.

As I said, part of it is emotion; I fervently hope America isn't stupid enough to elect Kerry and Edwards, two of the most vacuous empty suits I've ever seen on the campaign trail. I hope that the morally-incontinent majority of the Democrat Party, the ones awash in sneering, condescending partisan hatred, get their heads handed to them, have their aneurisms and leave the rest of us alone.

So yeah, emotion plays its part. In the 1990s, when we could afford to be trivial and vapid as a nation, we could indulge ourselves with a Bill Clinton, the presidential equivalent of a middle-aged guy buying a convertible.

There are no consequences to supporting John Kerry yet - supporting him doesn't have any actual effect on US policy. I think that translates into numbers.

Do a lot of people hate George W. Bush. Is it 48% of the population? No. I suspect (and it's just my suspicion at the moment) that John Kerry's support at the moment is:

  • 15% people who genuinely hate the President,
  • 15% beyond that that will vote Democrat no matter what
  • The remainder, who have as many reasons as there are people; contrarianism, inordinate attention to candidate hair, hot-button issues.
There are two numbers that I think deserve some attention here:
  • Bush's approval, which has never dipped far below 50%
  • The rising percentages that think Bush is the right choice for both the war and the economy.
  • the percentage that think Bush will be re-elected no matter what (about 3-2 the last I checked)
The first two mean that Bush is an acceptable candidate for swing voters - maybe, in the final moments before they step into the booths, the most acceptable choice. The third means Kerry voters might just stay home in droves when the chips are down.

Kerry's lack of bounce from selecting Edwards, especially in the South, was a big story - the polls barely budged, and it looks like Kerry is poised to lose the entire south (including, according to some polls, Florida). This, with full-court media adulation that made Jessica Lynch's reception look like a tough day on "Crossfile".

But I think his complete ineptitude as a campaigner is bigger. It's been said that when Cicero spoke people said, 'How well Cicero speaks,' but when Demosthenes spoke they said, 'Let us go against Phillip.' When George W. Bush speaks, people are sometimes inspired and sometimes they just joke about his pronunciation; when John Kerry speaks, people nod off and wish they were elsewhere. He makes Algore - a terrible speaker in his own right - look like William Jennings Bryan.

Long story short: the media will do their best. They'll continue to show Kerry/Edwards in the best light and softest focus they can possibly engineer. They'll increasingly pull out the stops; I have no doubt that they're working on a nother big non-story like the "DWI" from 2000, which may have cost Bush a clear majority. I have no doubt that story will be unleased at the strategically perfect time.

But I'm equally sure that as we get closer to the election, barring a terrorist attack, more people in the middle (and I think there are a lot more of them than the polls suggest) will realize both the seriousness of the war and the strength of the economy; Reagan showed us that the average voter can look at tax cuts, see their paycheck, and put two and two together.

And I think that after the Dem convention plays out, the endgame will be a lot clearer than the campaign itself; Bush will pick up points, Kerry will slowly lose them, and at the end of the day the "swing states" will mostly go for Bush. It will be a clear victory this time (although the moonbats will roll out the conspiracy theories anyway), although no landslide. If there's a terrorst attack, it'll be clearer still, because it will put into even starker relief the most salient fact of this election in my opinion; John Kerry could not be a competent leader of a nation in wartime.

So that's my prediction; Bush victory. We might not know it in Mid-October, but I think it'll happen.

I think Minnesota will vote for Kerry, although barely; the metro's influence will continue to wane. I think Wisconsin might go Bush - that'd be gravy.

Oh, yeah, one more; at least one major liberal blogger will have a heart attack or stroke, or be arrested for a violent crime of passion within a week of the election.

Posted by Mitch at July 16, 2004 09:44 AM | TrackBack

Hmmm. I actually go the other way--I'll expand tonight. But I think we're actually looking at a comfortable Kerry victory--mainly based on one major indicator. Right now, the percentage of people who say we're on the right track is 43%. The percentage of people who say we're on the wrong track is 53%. Numbers like that (along with history, which suggests undecideds break away, not towards the incumbent), plus the Bush campaign (hammer Kerry, pretend Bush doesn't exist) lead me to predict Kerry will be the first President since Bush pere to crack 50%--and will win by 5-7%. Not a blowout, but a solid victory.

I will agree with this: if the election swings Bush's way, I think it will swing that way and then some. I just don't sense this will be a 2000-style tie. But don't count on Democrats not turning out. From the Wellstone left to the Lieberman right, Democrats are united by a hatred of Bush that will drive us to the polling places in November. In many ways, I would liken this year to 1994; polls weren't showing a GOP sweep that year, and few expected it. But the Republicans were furious, and the Democrats just weren't. And we all know how that turned out.

Posted by: Jeff Fecke at July 16, 2004 03:12 PM

"... Bill Clinton, the presidential equivalent of a middle-aged guy buying a convertible."


I will be claiming that as my own when the guys get together to smoke cigars this weekend.

Way to go Mitch!

Posted by: Trudger at July 16, 2004 03:31 PM

As far as your final prediction goes, Mitch, I'll go you one better: It won't be a liberal blogger who goes nuts; it'll be a certain barely-heard radio host, and, true to form, he'll body slam his inebriated female co-host when a "Bush Stole Another Election!" skit goes on way too long and he gets way too into it.

Posted by: ccwbass at July 16, 2004 04:51 PM

We agree that there is no scientific significance to our predictions; That it is an emotional exercise.
In light of this understanding, allow me to be emotional;

Should I qualify that with reasons?
number one, I feel it so strongly that my bones are quaking. That's what emotion does to me.
And B, when I ask reasonable people who agree that W is charting the right course and Kerry is, as you so aptly put it, "an empty suit", they claim they are "sitting on the fence". I don't believe them. When they pull the curtain behind them, they will be alone with their true beliefs and will place an "X" next to "Bush-Cheney - Republican Party."

The media has portrayed W as being inept and has created a general perception that supporting W is a corrupt choice. But that media template is off-target.

Hugh's right. Landslide.

Posted by: pinkmonkeybird at July 16, 2004 05:59 PM

I hope you're right Mitch. I still very easily buy into Rocket Man's "woe is us" point of view. Everytime I hear Kerry speak, it frightens me that a large percentage of the electorate could even CONSIDER voting for him.

As to the approval ratings, I think it worth considering that Bush's disapproval/negative ratings include a significant percentage of conservatives who, on the War on Terror, say "faster, please", and object to Bush's increased government spending ("slower, please"). I cannot see too many of these people voting for Kerry.

Posted by: James Ph. at July 16, 2004 08:19 PM

It would be nice if Bush wins in Minnesota, but to be realistic it's just not going to happen, whether Bush wins or not. If Bush can win Minnesota, Kerry is toast.

However, if Bush does pull out a win in Minnesota, it will peg the schadenfreude meter for me - for the simple reason that so many DFLers are far too emotional and irrational about their politics.

True story: Last year a teacher at my wife's school retired and moved from the west metro to the Hudson, Wisconsin area. She stated that while her original retirement plans were to move out into an acreage just outside the metro area, she chose a Wisconsin location because she was disgusted that Minnesota elected a Republican governor in 2002. Wisconsin elected Democrat Jim Doyle governor in the same election.

Perhaps a Bush win could convince some hard-core DFLers to move to Canada?

Posted by: Steve Meyer at July 16, 2004 11:04 PM

FWIW, the Rassmusen poll now shows more voters believe Kerry/Edwards will win than Bush/Cheney. So that sorta annihilates part of your scenario. (I know, that can fluctuate, but if that number is anywhere close to 50-50 you should expect high Dem turnout.)

Posted by: Jeff Fecke at July 17, 2004 01:17 AM

I'm kind of hoping if W wins, everyone who says they're moving to Canada really will.

They'll enjoy it up there a lot more, politically.

(mmm. Less deadweight.)

Posted by: Mark Allen at July 17, 2004 10:30 PM


You really need to reel in your completely ingenuous acceptance of polls as-is. Their methodology is seriously flawed.

Captain Ed notes the problem:

Posted by: mitch at July 18, 2004 09:59 AM

I guess the biggest reason I have optimism is simply that Bush is where he is right now. Had WMD been found, Abu Ghraib not happened, unemployment got so high, Enron, Halliburton and all that other stuff we really wouldn't be talking about a close election. As it is, most of that is behind us now and it is pretty much 50-50.

If things in Iraq are relatively calm (a car bomb here and there is considered calm for its standard) and the economy adds 150,000 - 250,000 jobs a year Bush will win pretty easy. I'd guess both of those can be considered to have a 70% chance of happening....that is the chance I give Bush of winning.

Posted by: Dave at July 19, 2004 12:39 PM