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This is a follow-up to my diary from yesterday, which showed that, according to the poll averages from Real Clear Politics, the Obama/Romney race is nearly identical to the Obama/McCain race at this stage in the campaign.

http://www.dailykos.com/...

Today I decided to go back eight years to see how the race between the incumbent George W. Bush and the challenger John Kerry stacked up to today's.  And, frankly, I was a little surprised to find that Kerry actually led Bush through the months of July and August 2004 by anywhere from one to three points (on today's date Kerry led Bush by 2.5%, 47.5 to 45).

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/...

At first this might appear rather disconcerting because it shows that races really can turn around even when they appear to be locked-in this early out from the election.

But, as elections are basically a referendum on the incumbent, I think it demonstrates the strong position Obama is in vis-a-vis Bush and the weak position Romney is in vis-a-vis Kerry. After all, the thing that would eventually flip the race for Bush was the swift boat ad war that was to come.   It's much harder to redefine an incumbent than it is to define a challenger, and it is obvious that Kerry was much better liked at this point in the race, pre-swift boat, than Romney is now.  But there was obviously room for the Republicans to chip away at that likability, which is exactly what they did...and what Obama is doing to Romney now, only ten times more effectively.

Which brings us to the other difference.  Obama is no John Kerry who allows charges to go unanswered.  And his critics are, at least on the face of it, more absurd than Kerry's who, thanks in large part to a compliant media and no push-back from Kerry, at least had the veneer of respectability and credibility which helped to sway public opinion.  Obama's critics, on the other hand, have been so crazy and over-the-top for so long, the general public has already learned to tune them out.  Donald Trump, Orly Taitz?  Could any politician be luckier in his enemies?  Apparently, charisma and likability work as a pretty effective shield against baseless character attacks.

But. mainly, it's incumbency that protects him at this point.  The one politician the general public is tuned into and feels like it knows personally is the President of the United States.  It's pretty hard to convince people that the man they've been observing on a daily basis for well over three years as Commander-in-Chief is not the man they think he is.

So, again, take it for what it's worth, but Obama looks to be doing better at this point in the race than Bush was doing eight years ago.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Off the top of my head I can't name the name of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    juca

    an individual or organization, but I do recall there were Republicans who were strongly opposed to W's re-election. Nothing anywhere near equivalent to that for Obama.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:19:36 AM PDT

  •  yeah the key is this (5+ / 0-)
    Obama's critics, on the other hand, have been so crazy and over-the-top for so long, the general public has already learned to tune them out.  Donald Trump, Orly Taitz?  Could any politician be luckier in his enemies?  Apparently, charisma and likability work as a pretty effective shield against baseless character attacks.
    Obama has been attacked for over 4 years. Hard for negative ads to have an impact NOW.

    On top of all of it is the simple fact that Romney sucks as a candidate and his campaign is bad too. That is a bad combination this late in the game.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:24:50 AM PDT

  •  Yeah, but Dems weren't using their power to pass (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    juca, JTinDC, Anne Elk, Calamity Jean

    Dozens of laws making it impossible to vote Republican. For all intents and purposes, Romney has been defeated already - the REAL opponent is voter suppression and dirty tricks. And that opponent is far more subtle and dangerous, and liable to win.

    Romney 2012 - Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentation of their women!

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:26:26 AM PDT

  •  What I'm worried about is voter suppression. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JTinDC, Supavash, Calamity Jean

    Bush wouldn't have won without it (and some have said some funny vote counting in Ohio).  The Republican Party is planning on a win for Romney any way that they can get it.  The ads will get much more frequent and much nastier, and many Democrats, in critical states, may find on election day that they can not vote.

    Republicans are all to happy to have us go into the fall feeling like we are winning.  It is hard to believe that Romney could ever win without cheating-- I, for one, will be very uneasy until the votes are counted.  

  •  can't supress a 5 point lead (0+ / 0-)

    If Obama goes into election day leading by 2 or more points even voter suppression won't help Romney. I saw Rendell on TV and he said he is almost sure the court will put voter ID on hold for this election while they do more investigation on how it would disenfranchise voters.
    Also keep in mind Rasmussen skews the RCP average towards Romney.

  •  oops Rendell was talking about in PA (0+ / 0-)
  •  There is... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Delilah, Calamity Jean

    ...a lesson in this:
     

    And, frankly, I was a little surprised to find that Kerry actually led Bush through the months of July and August 2004 by anywhere from one to three points (on today's date Kerry led Bush by 2.5%, 47.5 to 45).
    Kerry was going to be elected president until Rove attacked Kerry's patriotism, & Kerry refused to forcefully respond.

    Rule of thumb #1 in presidental politics:  If somebody attacks your patriotism, you cast all political calculations to the wind, call a press conference, and tell everybody who is attacking your patriotism to go to hell.

    In presidental politics, having your patriotism attacked is synonymous with having your family attacked.

    A presidential candidate must NEVER allow his/her patriotism to be questioned, even if it means the candidate talks himself/herself out of the race.

    Which leads to this:  At the Republican National Convention, Obama is going to have his patriotism attacked over & over & over.

    I hope Obama doesn't go John Kerry on us when this happens.

    Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate. ~ Proverbs 22:22

    by wyvern on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 08:20:34 AM PDT

    •  ah, but Obama holds the trump card...... (0+ / 0-)

      He's the guy who got bin Laden.

      Which even has its strengths on the R side, because if they really think Obama is a Muslim, then why on earth would he kill bin Laden?

      trump card.


      "A recent study reveals Americans' heads are larger than they were 150 years ago but sadly there is no indication that the extra room is used for anything." - entlord

      by AlyoshaKaramazov on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 09:35:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I knew Kerry was going down (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anne Elk

      at the time of the Repub Convention.  People always talk about the Swiftboats ads, and that's true.  But you could SEE things turning negatively simply by  the sight of Repubs at their convention with purple bandaids and flip flops, ridiculing Kerry, and then crying like babies during Bush's speech.  They had passion (negative and positive) on their side and they quelled whatever upside Kerry had enjoyed in the summer months leading up to the convention.  

      Meanwhile, Kerry's weakness was now amplified by the  fact that his campaign refused to go on the offensive.  They has no response to the attacks.... I recall thinking, if Kerry won't fight for his good name -- this man with shrapnel in his ass for his country !!  -- then why would the undecided voter believe he would fight for them?

      I don't see President Obama charting this path...he's on the path of aggression and according to Politico (yeah, that  online rag), hates Romney for being an empty suit. I hope that Politico story is true because they (the Obama campaign) won't hold back.  

      I vote Democratic because I am a woman with self-respect , who rejects bigotry of all kinds, subscribes to science, believes in universal health care, embraces unions, and endorses smart internationalist foreign policy.

      by Delilah on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 09:40:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same old, same old. (0+ / 0-)

      They've been attacking his citizenship for the past four years. It's just white noise now.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 11:45:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  add to thisthe fact that................... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Delilah, Wildthumb

    John Kerry was no Barack Obama.

    And......

    (I swear I'm saying this with a straight face) Mitt Romney is no GWB.


    "A recent study reveals Americans' heads are larger than they were 150 years ago but sadly there is no indication that the extra room is used for anything." - entlord

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 09:32:55 AM PDT

    •  Yeah I can't believe (0+ / 0-)

      I am thinking this but GWB - the most disastrous president of my lifetime -- actually had more core principles than Romney.   Bush actually had some of his own ideas on immigration and education, which were humane.  I am saying that of a man who started an optional war and who called millionaires "his base".  But Bush actually believed what he was selling .  Romney has no core.  Really.  It's despicable the way in which he is prepared to say/do ANYTHING to win.  People were not thrilled with the country in 2004 but they knew what they were getting with Bush.  

      I vote Democratic because I am a woman with self-respect , who rejects bigotry of all kinds, subscribes to science, believes in universal health care, embraces unions, and endorses smart internationalist foreign policy.

      by Delilah on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 09:49:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And he sure ain't Reagan. (0+ / 0-)

      I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation - the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence. --The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley

      by Wildthumb on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 11:02:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It also seems that Kerry and Romney (0+ / 0-)

    have a few things in common as nominees. They both came out of their respective primaries as survivors rather than as competitive winners like GWB and Obama did. They are both somewhat awkward individuals in public, i.e. lacking the common touch. The campaign logic that the incumbent is a failure, and will lose because of that, is common to both. As we saw in 2004, figuring on self-destruction by an incumbent is not a sound strategy.

    The universe may have a meaning and a purpose, but it may just specifically not include you.

    by Anne Elk on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:15:58 AM PDT

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