Posted by Ed
In recent weeks, I've begun to wonder whether we could witness a landslide Kerry victory in November. I know, I know--this theory seems unlikely, especially since some recent polls have suggested that Bush's position is getting stronger. But I can't help but wonder if this election will be like the 1980 election, in which Reagan and Carter were essentially tied in the polls on Labor Day, only to see Reagan pull ahead in the final weeks to win the election by 10 points.
I'll readily admit that this hope is based in part on wishful thinking: every day, it seems, we get new evidence of the president's incompetence. If I had to bet on the outcome of the election, I'd bet on a narrow Bush victory. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to see this Washington Monthly article by the Hotline's Chuck Todd. His assessment:
There are perfectly understandable reasons why we expect 2004 to be close. Everyone remembers the nail-biting 2000 recount. A vast number of books and magazine articles describe the degree to which we are a 50/50 nation and detail the precarious balance between red and blue states. And poll after poll show the two candidates oscillating within a few percentage points of one another. There are also institutional factors that drive the presumption that the race will be tight. The press wants to cover a competitive horse-race. And the last thing either campaign wants to do is give its supporters any reason to be complacent and stay home on election day.
But there's another possibility, one only now being floated by a few political operatives: 2004 could be a decisive victory for Kerry. The reason to think so is historical. Elections that feature a sitting president tend to be referendums on the incumbent--and in recent elections, the incumbent has either won or lost by large electoral margins. If you look at key indicators beyond the neck-and-neck support for the two candidates in the polls--such as high turnout in the early Democratic primaries and the likelihood of a high turnout in November--it seems improbable that Bush will win big. More likely, it's going to be Kerry in a rout.