Time to make a fool of myself. On June 4, I posted my prediction for the Presidential election on my office wall. I have President Bush carrying 36 states and winning 348 electoral votes. It sounds kind of crazy, and I’ve felt rather lonely with it for about a month. But after more reading I see that I’m not the only person on Earth who doesn’t think it will be close.
Number-crunching economists such as Ray Fair and Nigel Gault agree with me. Their econometric models are predicting Bush will take 56% to 58% of the two-party vote. As of this writing, the Iowa futures-traders are slightly less optimistic, but they are valuing the Bush vote share at about 52% of the two-party vote–and that’s just two days after John Kerry’s selection of John Edwards as his running-mate. Previously Bush futures have been selling at 60 cents for a $1 contract.
So why do I think will Bush win big? I may be wrong, but I have several reasons. Here are just three that are hitting the front pages right now.
1. The Running Mate: Vice presidential nominees rarely make a difference–probably Lyndon Johnson was the last one who did. Still, the choice of John Edwards was expected to give Kerry a momentary bounce in the polls.
Well, a handful of new polls came out at the end of last week, and it just hasn’t happened. If anything, Bush improved his standing, surging to a 49%-45% lead in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released Thursday. That was a statistically significant 5% improvement for Bush over their previous poll.
This is not to say Edwards is actually bringing the ticket down, but his failure to help Kerry in the short run is curious. Perhaps the public doesn’t share the media’s enthusiasm for the young Democratic messiah?
For all his good looks, John Edwards is a political lightweight. He went straight from fooling jurors and swindling doctors as a trial lawyer, to buying himself a Senate seat in 1998 over the hapless Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R.-N.C.). And that’s his whole career. If John Edwards were running for re-election this year in North Carolina, polls suggest that he would probably lose. That dims his regional appeal, which was always one of the main arguments for his selection.
It’s not just Republicans who are saying Edwards won’t help Kerry in the South, but Kerry himself, speaking in the universal language of “putting your money where your mouth is.” Despite recent public polls showing Kerry competitive with Bush in two must-win Red states–in a dead heat in Arkansas and six points back in Louisiana–Kerry decided to stop advertising in those states a week before making his veep choice.
Kerry did not make a major mistake choosing Edwards–he is probably the best of Kerry’s realistic options, although an unexpected dark-horse candidate could have been more exciting. Rep. Dick Gephardt (D.-Mo.) has always been a dud on the stump, and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D.), in many ways the safe choice, is not flashy enough to excite people outside of Iowa. Besides, John Kerry is a snooty, boring Massachusetts liberal, and John Edwards balances him out by bringing some “levitas” to the ticket.
Then again, he might bring a bit too much. President Bush found the right line when a reporter asked him last week the difference between Edwards and Vice President Dick Cheney. His reply: “Dick Cheney can be President…Next?”
2. Same-Sex Marriage: This issue will directly affect the presidential contest in two important states: Michigan and Oregon. Voters there will be deciding on state constitutional amendments to protect traditional marriage. This will create a strong turnout on the social Right in two states where self-identified Republicans and Democrats are already near parity.
In Oregon, which Bush narrowly lost in 2000, this alone could be decisive. Michigan, on the other hand, hasn’t had a good Republican year since Geoffrey Feiger–Dr. Jack “Death” Kevorkian’s lawyer–ran for governor as a Democrat in 1998. But Michigan is by no means a Democratic state.
Missouri Secretary of State (and gubernatorial candidate) Matt Blunt (R.) failed in his attempt to put a marriage initiative on the November ballot; voters will instead take it up in the August primary. But same-sex marriage will indeed be important there and elsewhere, especially after this week when the U.S. Senate votes on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Kerry and Edwards–if they show up to vote this week–will almost certainly vote “no” on FMA. All rhetorical dodges aside, this places them firmly in favor of same-sex marriage, and you can bet Republicans won’t let anyone forget it.
There is another aspect of this, as Kerry and Edwards are already quietly selling themselves as “the gay ticket.” Last May, Edwards took a big risk by endorsing radical social experimentation on helpless children–or as he called it, “the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt children.” The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute issued a statement last week calling Kerry/Edwards “the most gay-supportive national ticket in American history.” This definitely isn’t going to win them support from blue-collar voters in West Virginia or Ohio.
3. ‘Dude, Your Country’s Right Here’: If you watch a lot of CNN and read the New York Times, you might get the impression that many people actually heed the hard Left. You would also be surprised to hear that things are actually going pretty well in America right now. The average person who doesn’t read The Nation or belong to an anarchist commune realizes this.
Kerry can scream all he wants about the economy, but people are now finding jobs, and good economic numbers keep rolling in. Interest rates are still quite low, unemployment claims have fallen to a four-year nadir, hundreds of thousands of new jobs are being created by the month, self-employment has surged, and the stock market is back on the upswing. Kerry has even abandoned that line he used to drop all the time about “the worst economy since Herbert Hoover,” because he had to–it’s obviously silly and false.
And what of Iraq, that other huge crisis that will supposedly decide the election? As much as Michael Moore and others on the Left complain about that ill-considered invasion, the situation there has stabilized considerably of late and casualties are relatively few. This is not exactly Vietnam, where everyone knew someone who had died.
And oh, in case you’ve forgotten, the Democratic ticket now has two senators on it who voted to go to war in Iraq. Both Kerry and Edwards will complain about the war’s particulars, but Kerry has no right to do so. He’s the one who drew up the Bush War Plan, letter by letter, in a September 2002 op-ed in the New York Times–including the part about a unilateral invasion if the United Nations fails to act.
Next to Kerry, Edwards looks positively hawkish. While Kerry spent the entire presidential primary obfuscating his pro-war position on Iraq, Edwards was trumpeting his support for the war. In February 2002, just months after al Qaeda terrorists–not Iraqis–had destroyed the World Trade Center, Edwards declared on CNN, “I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country.” On MSNBC’s Hardball in October 2003, he reiterated his support for the already-completed invasion, despite the lack of support from the United Nations: “I think we couldn’t let those who could veto in the Security Council hold us hostage,” he said.
So both Democrats have endorsed the unilateral Bush foreign policy that has the hard Left in hysterics. I haven’t seen the news stories yet on how Edwards’ selection will generate extra support for Nader–I don’t expect Times reporters to write anything that could throw their candidate off-message–but you can bet it’s going to happen.
Most important of all, George W. Bush just isn’t Adolf Hitler, Dick Cheney is not the “spawn of Satan,” our civil liberties are still very much intact, and America is not being irretrievably destroyed or thrown into a new Great Depression.
It’s an awful challenge to remove a sitting president. It only happens when things are going terribly wrong, which they are not–Michael Moore notwithstanding.
David Freddoso, Assistant Editor for Human Events, writes for Brainwash.