Sunday, June 27, 2004
A Pew poll out today shows a seven-point shift in President Bush's direction in the election and rising confidence in the mission in Iraq. Furthermore, the poll confirms something we've suspected for a long time, while President Bush's grassroots overwhelmingly supports him because of his leadership and positive agenda, an unusually low number of Kerry supporters are inspired anything having to do with the candidate's agenda or leadership qualities. For Kerry supporters, it's mostly about anger.
73% of President Bush’s supporters say that their choice is a vote "for" him, rather than a vote "against" Kerry, while just 37% of Kerry’s supporters say that their vote is "for" him. Pew has been asking this question since 1988, and Kerry had the lowest percentage of positive support ever while President Bush had the highest.
|Candidate/Year||% Pro||% Anti||Pro-Anti|
The negativity in Kerry's support is unprecedented. To put these numbers in context, during Bill Clinton successful challenger campaign in 1992, more voters said theirs was a vote "for" him. When Bob Dole challenged Bill Clinton in 1996, just half of his voters said theirs was a vote "against" Clinton. And during the closely contested 2000 election, a roughly similar percentage of voters cast "for" votes for either candidate.
This is odd, because one would expect that the Bush-Cheney Official
Blog would post only information that is favorable to their
candidates. They try to put a positive spin on the numbers, by
pointing out that just 37% of
Kerry’s supporters say that their vote is "for" him. That
is not exactly flattering for Mr. Kerry, true. But it also means
that an historically unprecedented number of people plan to vote against President Bush in
2004. Is this really good news for Bush??? This means that Bush has a greater number
of active detractors now than Clinton had in 1996!
The Pew Foundation analysis of the poll includes the following quote:
Notably, all of Bush's gains occurred after Reagan's death on June 5.
There are two surviving Republican ex-presidents now, and neither
shows any signs of imminent demise. So Bush can't count or a
repeat of that boost. Also of interest, in the Pew analysis, is
The significance of this is that people are getting inured to the
constant stream of bad news from Iraq. Thus, it would appear that
a good strategy for the Democrats to follow would be to make sure that
people stay emotionally engaged in the Iraq situation. There
is an interesting wrinkle to this. Some of the conservative
bloggers have bemoaned the fact that the news media in the USA tend to
focus on the bad news coming out of Iraq. We do not hear about
new schools being built, improvements in the power grid, etc. The
implication is that perhaps the President would not look so bad, if the
media would provide more balanced coverage.
As an ABB blogger, I am
pleased to note that it would not help the President if the media
increased the coverage of positive developments in Iraq. In fact,
it would hurt his chances for reelection. Why? Because it
would make it harder for people to ignore the bad news. The
contrast between good and bad would steadily draw attention to the
situation: if the news never changes, it ceases to draw
attention. If the media were to start presenting
up-close-and-personal accounts of individuals in Iraq who are doing
well, it would heighten our interest; it also would heighten our
despair, when the inevitable bad news came along. It is easy to
stop caring about people whom you do not know. Likewise, it is
hard to ignore bad news when it happens to someone you care
Therefore, I urge everyone, conservatives and liberals.
authoritarians and libertarians, to join together for a common cause,
and start to post more about the positive things that are happening in
Iraq. Togetherness is good. Cooperation is good. Even
if we can't agree on anything else, let's cooperate on this one
(Note: The Rest of the Story/Corpus Callosum has moved. Visit the new site here.)
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