I am past due to put on the record my prediction about the outcome of the US Presidential election. I know, I know, I should have posted this before the polling started to come out showing that Kerry, rather than getting the traditional post-convention bounce in support, may have actually lost ground during his big showcase last week. Actually, though, my views on how this race will turn out have been pretty well set for the past month or two. Honest.
The following should be taken with the enormous, bone-snapping, soul-crushing caveat that it is subject to events such as a major terrorist attack, aliens (the extraterrestrial kind) landing on the White House lawn, or the like.
In spite of lunatic Democrat optimism and polling that has shown Kerry with a small but consistent lead for months now, I think George W. Bush will be reelected. He will carry a (very small) majority of the popular vote, will lose no more than one state that he won in 2000, and will pick up a handful of states that he lost in 2000.
The Dems and their allies in the press have thrown everything they have at W, beginning in the 2000 election, through the Florida recount, and right up to the present day. They have nothing new left to attack him with, I am quite confident. The persistently partisan and anti-Bush media has managed to inure the public to bad news from Iraq or elsewhere. The Bush campaign has not really activated yet, on the theory that nothing they do before Labor Day will really matter. In short, Bush has tested the bottom of his market for approval and votes, and it is somewhere in the mid to high 40 percent range.
By contrast, Kerry and Edwards are still pretty unknown to non-political-junkie Americans, and the Republican attack machine has (wisely, from a tactical point of view) held its fire on these two. They have enjoyed months of positive coverage and a showcase convention. However, their support even among Democrats is not particularly strong – Edwards never won a primary, and Kerry is notable for not exciting the Democratic base. The Democrats, in short, have tested the top of their market for votes, and it is somewhere in the high 40 percent range.
With the race statistically tied, Bush has nowhere to go but up, and Kerry has nowhere to go but down.