The Year Of One Percent
Browsing the headlines at BuzzFlash, I came across this article:
One percent. That was the statistic that blew my socks off in the latest Stan Greenberg poll for Democracy Corps. One percent of the voters polled said they were undecided. In 25 years of full-time political work, having looked at thousands of polls in hundreds of races, I can't ever remember reading that only one percent of those polled were undecided about an election. I can remember a few times when it got down to three percent, maybe once or twice it slipped down to two percent - in the last days leading up to the election. But folks, we're still eight months out. The challenging party barely has a nominee, and it's not a nominee that is already well known nationally, such as Dole or Mondale or Nixon or Eisenhower.
It's early spring, and 99 percent of voters are already stating an opinion on the race.
That's not to say some people won't be changing their minds. The numbers will bounce around a little bit, going back and forth some. But absent some truly cataclysmic event, this presidential race is shaping up to be every bit the barnburner that was 2000. And this country is as intensely politically polarized as it has been since the Civil War.
There is little cause for doubt about this polarization in my recent personal experience. Coworkers I know to be Good Orange County (CA) Republicans are becoming very vocal, singing the 'praises' of their Leedur to everyone that will stand still long enough to listen. You hear the same old tired tripe, but as the author of the linked article writes:
No matter how bad his policies have been, no matter how many lies and how much incompetence is exposed, no matter how many politically insensitive things his economic team says or does, no matter how many sweetheart deals for contributors are revealed, no matter how many whistle blowers come forward, George Bush has some big things going for him that will make him tough to beat:The American people have known and respected his family for a quarter century.
He exudes toughness in scary times.
He has virtually unlimited supplies of money.
A lot of voters bonded with him in the harrowing days following 9/11.
Finally, and maybe most importantly as more and more scandalous things are coming out, is the incredible polarization of this electorate. Any time someone says something bad about George Bush, even if they are as credible as people like Foster and Clarke, there is an unshakable 47 percent of the electorate who assume that Bush is a great guy and whoever says bad things is just a nasty liberal.
This guy must be listening in to our discussions during coffee break!
About the best I personally have been able to do so far is to get some of my coworkers thinking about some of the charges against Bush. I try to point out some of the reasons the rest of us are so sure that Bush is bad for America, and in a couple of cases, I have gotten some agreement that "maybe Bush could have done better". Hey! It's a start!
But how does all of this blind support for Bush affect the chances of John F. Kerry?
So, in the face of all these advantages for Bush, can Kerry still win? I believe he will. I predict that the unity and passion Democrats bring to this battle will mean victory in the end. But this will be another one of those nail biting, back wrenching, bone crushing campaigns with twists and turns and terror and drama right down to the last day.
And we can expect the GOP to pull every slimy, dirty trick or illegal election shenanigan they can manage.
One percent isn't just the percentage of voters who currently describe themselves as undecided. It's probably one percent or less that will be the margin of victory for this race, both nationally and in the states whose electoral votes ultimately decide this election. Get ready to rumble, because no matter what, it is a long, tough, bloody, exhausting road ahead.
Man your battle stations. This is no drill.