Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

May 12, 2004

by V

He's not even nominated yet!

Panicky Dem staffers who like to see their complaints in the Post (and the Village Voice) saying "Kerry's screwing it all up!" would do well to listen hard to pollster Mark Mellman. He provides a useful sanity check for anyone inclined to treat May like it's November:

Kerry's legendary lead =The Hill.com=
...some incumbents who went on to lose were doing better than Bush is today. The president's father led Clinton by six points at this stage but was beaten anyway.

Thus, Kerry's [5-point] margin is 11 points better than was Bill Clinton's at a similar point in time against Bush I. What, you haven't seen that "Kerry stronger than Clinton" headline?
Excellent media jab.
... I keep referring to "this point in time." Why? Because campaigns are events that unfold over the course of the cycle. Most of the movement in polls comes in the aftermath of the conventions. Incumbent presidents are the best-known politicians around. Challengers are usually not as well known. Kerry is no exception. Today, many voters are expressing a preference for the Kerry they donít know over the Bush they do. That is striking. Often, unpopular politicians still lead at this stage.
The election is not tomorrow. Kerry's running neck-and-neck even before he's had his big nomination party hoo-hah.

And you know, funny thing: there's a full-length Presidential campaign season that starts right after the party's convention. Weird, I know! But I think that's how it usually works.


Well. Don't relax, exactly.

But stop acting like the sky is falling. So far, Kerry's doing better than just about any challenger, ever (and raising more money than any Democrat in history).

That's praiseworthy, not panic-inducing.
Posted by V at May 12, 2004 03:22 PM

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