By working so hard to negate the traditional advantage Republicans hold on security and defense issues, did Kerry miss an opportunity to build a bigger lead in the race on issues like the economy and health care?
That may be the lesson from the latest Democracy Corps (a group run by Stan Greenberg and James Carville) memo: http://www.democracycorps.com/reports/analyses/Small_Bounce_Big_Opportunity.pdf
This issue has concerned me throughout the campaign. Don't get me wrong: I believe we are in reasonably good shape to win in November and there's no doubt that Kerry needed to establish credibility on issues of national security.
But Democrats tend to win elections when issues are fought on their turf (health care, jobs, education, etc.), and Republicans tend to win when issues are fought on their turf (defense, taxes, and, uh, gay bashing, I guess...).
In attempting to blunt Bush on the one advantage he was perceived to have prior to the Convention, I wonder if Kerry went a little too far. By pushing the dynamic of the campaign toward security, defense, and values, I fear we may be giving Bush a chance to get back in the race.
Again, I know we're in pretty good shape. But I think Kerry didn't quite optimize his chance to position himself as the candidate of change. The country is very anxious about the economy and health care, and Kerry gave those issues 2nd billing to defense/security/terrorism at the convention.
While we're doing pretty well now, I suspect we'd be in even better shape had Kerry placed a much stronger emphasis on issues like jobs and health care.
In any event, read the Democracy Corps memo.