I've been getting a lot of mail about my prediction that President Bush will claim 55% of the Popular Vote in this election. Some people have wondered whether I am serious about my call, or whether I'm just selling pro-Bush excitement. Yes, I am serious, and while I could go into the technical reasons how I arrived at 55%, for this article I'd rather just explain how it's really a common-sense position.
Since World War 2, what I'd call the modern political era, there have been six presidents who ran for re-election. Four got re-elected, and two were defeated. In a quick glance, I find Dubya's position a lot more like Clinton in 1996, Reagan in 1984, Nixon in 1972, and Eisenhower in 1956, than I do GHW Bush in 1992, or Carter in 1980. When a President wins re-election, it tends to be by a big margin.But there's more. I find Dr. Ray Fair's economic model valid, and that model says Bush will win with between 54 and 58 percent of the 2-party split. The three key issues voters say will decide their vote (Terrorism, Iraq, Taxes), are issues where Bush hold a commanding lead. Also, the state polls which are getting the most attention since the debates ended, all show Bush gaining strength. That means a small Bush lead now, is growing and will continue to grow.
But there's more. The polls right now like to push respondents to pick a candidate, regardless of their strength of support. And that inflates Kerry's numbers, to be blunt. EVERY poll tracking strength of support, has put President Bush well ahead of Senator Kerry in every poll this year, by anywhere from five to twenty points! That means, to me, that the people saying they support Bush and plan to vote for him, are likely to do so, but some of the people saying they support Kerry, will not, in fact, actually vote.
Also, there is the old myth that undecideds break for the challenger, 2 to 1. That's not true. Sometimes a challenger gets the undecideds, but sometimes the incumbent does. In 2000, for example, Al Gore (representing the incumbent party, since Clinton was President at the time) took 65% of the undecideds. A lot of people made a lot of noise about Kerry "winning" the debates, but when asked who they will vote for, of three focus groups asked, between 60% and 75% say they will vote ... for President Bush.
Finally, recall one critical question that warned us early that Kerry's support wasn't very good. All year long, most of Kerry's supporters have said they were not voting for Kerry, but against President Bush. Not too many people have thought it through, to realize that this means no matter what Kerry says, these Kerry supporters are paying attention mostly to the President. If he convinces them to switch back, that's a big thing, and no, there are no Bush supporters of any number who are basing their decision on anything Kerry says or does.
Bush 55%. It's for real.