I love getting mail. One of my readers, Marc Straus, asked me why I was so confident President Bush will win re-election. I sent him back a reply, then decided I should post my argument here, as well.
I predict a 55% to 43% Bush victory; there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic.
I'll put up another post between now and the election about why the numbers will be this high, but basically, it comes down to three factors; Key Issues, Strength-of-Support, and Turnout.
First, Key Issues. There's a lot of chatter, but over the past two years, people have clearly said over and over they really only wonder about three big issues: The Economy, Iraq, and the War on Terror. The Economy was weak last year, but has been steadily growing for a long time. Notice how the Democrats have had to progressively back off their talk about Recession, then about no new jobs, then they finally resorted to statistics, trying to get people to stop thinking things are good. That's not a winning hand. Next, things in Iraq have really settled down since May, with the Handover of Sovereignty and the coming elections, and the news that the Sadr Militia is disbanding. Then there's Terrorism. Kerry somehow still doesn't get it, to the point that he talks about the #1 issue with voters, as a "nuisance". All of these work to Bush's advantage.
Now, about Strength-of-Support. Even when Kerry had a lead this summer, I noticed that his internals showed his voters weren't hard-core, but soft, while the President's support has always been concentrated, very focused. Kerry never got around to specifics in his plans, and his attacks on Bush ran only on emotion; even with all the attention, there was never a scrap of substance to them, so Kerry also became seen as a man attacking a strong President. Strong enough, that even after a poor first debate, Bush was seen as a more decisive leader, and a better man in a crisis. That keeps things going in the same direction.
Then there's turnout. A lot of people talk about the 48-60% turnout, but few people pay attention to what causes the dropoff. In the end, the fact is that most people don't think much about elections, especially since most voters only show up for Presidential and Congressional elections. It's not routine, it means getting registered, then remembering to find out where and when to vote, and if you don't vote early (most people don't), then you have to remember to make extra time on one day to go to a place you have likely not been before. Basically, people only turn out in big numbers when they are really excited by a candidate, or they are really mad at his opponent. Simply put, Kerry is not exciting to very many people, but Dubya is, and more, Kerry has said the same things for so long, it doesn't really charge people up. But the attacks on Bush, especially the lies told, have revved up the Bush people.
Put it all together, and yes, I'm comfortable with the idea that President will put up big numbers. Actually, President Bush had the chance for some really big numbers, but he is not as eloquent as Reagan, and the media has slammed him pretty good. But with a good economy and a decent foreign policy, 55% is not unreasonable.
Thanks to Marc for his question, and to all of you for reading, and your comments! Alternative opinions are also welcome, but I'd like to see your reasoning, as well.