Thursday, November 04, 2004

Campaign Dynamics

In response to information I had posted in an earlier post, Gabriel at The Sanity Prompt didn't think there was any way that Bush/Rove wouldn't bring this information up:
I can't believe that a campaign operation as skilled as GWB-Cheney '04 would miss this opportunity.

To which I replied:
The Republicans haven't run a good campaign since 1994, and there weren't that many before that. Republicans absolutely suck at campaigning. The fact that they've succeeded as well as they have is a testament to the bad ideas espoused by the left.
Of course after the election Gabriel called me on this:
Still think Republicans can't run a good campaign? I think this one was a work of strategic brilliance. Not only do they win, they win by clearly stating exactly what they believe. Kudos.
I will admit to being happy with the election results, but I'm of a mind that it should not have been as close as it was. Imagine back after September 11th I said that the Democrats would nominate a northeastern, liberal, gigolo senator who lied about his military record, slandered veterans in an effort to improve his political viability, sided with every tin horn dictator who had it in for the U.S., and ran regular polls to find out what his opinions are. Even if you were given to side with said candidate, would you honestly think he had a prayer of getting more than %40 of the vote? Ann Coulter writes (yeah, I know...):
Of course, we could have done it a lot earlier on election night but for "Boy Genius" Karl Rove. It's absurd that the election was as close as it was. The nation is at war, Bush is a magnificent wartime leader, and the night before the election we didn't know if a liberal tax-and-spend, Vietnam War-protesting senator from Massachusetts would beat him.
If Rove is "the architect" - as Bush called him in his acceptance speech - then he is the architect of high TV ratings, not a Republican victory. By keeping the race so tight, Rove ensured that a race that should have been a runaway Bush victory would not be over until the wee hours of the morning.

Now, to Gabriel's credit, I'd like to point out the following:
  1. I was amazed that Bush talked openly and frequently about Social Security reform. He wasn't just touching the third rail, he was dancing on it. And it wasn't just this issue, but several issues that Bush touted that should've been turned into campaign killers.
  2. I think, at least for me, it's difficult to assess the mindset of the Kerry voter. Here in northeast Ohio, I was amazed at how fervently union thugs pushed for Kerry. Are they so self destructive that they'd vote for a candidate who has said he won't work as hard to defend America and will make an effort to pass regulations that will kill their industry? Of course unions, like many other lefty special interest groups vote out of a 'gimmie goodies' type of premise. They could care less about the ideology, as long as there's presents under the tree (or someone else's presents are taken away). It's probably quite unrealistic of me to expect any mass conversions of these constituencies.
  3. The press really skews the results. If they had gone after Kerry with the same ferocity that they used to go after Bush, this election would've been over at the end of September.

Additionally though, Republican ads were rarely as effective as the Left's and Bush did nothing to crack down on the violence directed at Republican offices (imagine if the NRA had organized protests that resulted in the destruction of Democratic campaign offices).
There's only so much Rove/Bush could do, I guess; but at least living up here, I saw one too many an outrageous charge by Kerry, et al. go unchallenged.

Update (11,5,2004): Mark Steyn agrees:

But he’s [Bush] very poor at selling them [ideas] to the American people, and what seems obvious to him isn’t necessarily that obvious if you’re in one of the many cities with a reflexively anti-Bush monodaily. It should have been a bigger victory, and Republicans need to examine carefully why it wasn’t.

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