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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A sense of perspective Part II

I am sort of having an open conversation with Gary here, but anyone else who feels like it please join in. In response to my post immediately below (edit: in the time it took my to write this sentence someone did!). Gary said:

Your point is valid. I think most of us here in the colony are just too close to the trees to see the forest. Nothing seems to have any traction in this election. But Kerry, is now losing in the polls and will probably lose the election.

To begin with I would hardly start to discount Kerry yet. We are still seven weeks away from the election, and a great deal can happen in seven weeks. Kerry's difficulty, I feel, is that he has to find something positive to campaign on. The problem his support is based on something essentially negative: getting rid of George Bush.

I can't remember whether it was last night or this morning, but I was listening to the results of a poll that showed something interesting. Around 80% of Bush likely voters were voting for him, with only about 10% were voting against Kerry. In contrast only around 40% of Kerry likely voters were voting for him, while around 50% were voting against Bush. This basically infects Kerry's message.

Kerry's second problem is that he chose to stake his Convention appearance around his service in Vietnam. In many ways I feel this was foreshadowed by those who argued during the Primaries that Kerry's military service would be an assest against George Bush's national security credentials. The difficulty is that Kerry spent only a very short time in Vietnam, and as Rod Stanton (welcome, btw) points out Kerry has lied about at least some of his time there (I personally only followed the Cambodia issue - I can't speak for the tour of duty issue). It also ignored his activities when he returned, and that is an aspect that has only just begun to be addressed. This contrasts with George Bush who, to the best of my knowledge, has never based a campaign around his National Guard service.

The question now is can Kerry jettison some of this negative baggage? I don't know, but I think the UK 1992 General Election is revealing. John Major was clearly losing at the start of the campaign. roughly half-way through he changing his entire tactics, and began going everywhere with a soap-box, which he would promptly stand on to speak. It was a gimmick, but it gave a sense of energy to the Tory campaign. The Tories won that election with a slim majority. Turn-arounds can happen, and campaigns can become re-energised. But that has to come from John Kerry.

So, I would urge Gary first of all to not to give up hope in his cause. There's a great deal of time to go.

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