Even before the Democratic primary season had ended, I thought that the biggest challenge for John Kerry would be to move his base and the country beyond the anyone but Bush mentality. That syndrome would (and will) be enough to make this quite close. But I’ve never thought it would be enough to close the deal:
Kerry is still clearly the man to beat. But while he has successfully convinced us that he has been in a war, he hasn’t convinced enough people to go to war for him. Kerry the war hero must turn his boat around once more. If the troops are to follow, the winning battle cry will be neither “electability” nor “anyone but Bush.”
The key question will be whether or not John Kerry can rise to the top of the heap and become the star of his party and of this election cycle. Anyone but Bush is powerful and channeling anger can be effective, but I don’t either will be enough to get Dems all the way to the Oval Office.
And now we’ve come to this point. With just over two weeks to go until the election, John Kerry has overcome many of the Bush team attacks and performed well at the debates. But the passion in this campaign is still (as Howard Dean likes to say) largely about sending George Bush back to Crawford, Texas.
And that still might not be enough. The latest Zogby poll indicates that President Bush is supported by about 92% of Republicans while Kerry is supported by about 81% of Dems.
All of the polling has been fluid and this race is too close for anyone to get a real handle on. What we know is that Bush has performed poorly enough to lose. What we don’t know is whether enough people will feel impassioned to vote for John Kerry and not just against George W Bush. That not so subtle difference could be enough to send a new man to the White House. If that happens, W can go anyplace he likes.