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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Could Kerry Win Big?

Posted by DavidNYC

Recently, I observed that in the 20th century, elected incumbents who won a second term have always done better the second time around. Similarly, Chuck Todd, Editor-in-Chief of The Hotline, writes in the Washington Monthly that incumbents who have lost their re-election bids have tended to lose pretty badly. Of the four elected incumbents to lose (Bush I, Carter, Hoover and Taft), the best performance was a measly 168 EVs by Bush p��re. (Ford got 240 EVs when he got the boot, but he wasn't elected in the first place, of course.)

To Todd, this is evidence that Kerry might win in a landslide. He points to some further numbers (like the percentage of people who say they are paying "quite a lot" of attention to the presidential race, and the high turnout in the early Democratic primaries) to bolster his point. I'm a little wary of reading too much into history, though: Just because an incumbent hasn't won a narrow re-election (ever, I think) doesn't mean it won't happen this year.

Though you have to go back pretty far, there are at least two incumbents who lost very narrowly. In 1884, Democrat Grover Cleveland beat Republican James Blaine by fewer than 30,000 votes - barely a quarter of a percentage point (though 219-182 in EVs). Then, in 1888, Republican Benjamin Harrison beat Cleveland despite pulling in 90,000 fewer votes than Cleveland did. The vagaries of the electoral college gave Harrison a 233-168 win - much like George Bush's minority win in 2000. Cleveland then came back in 1892 to beat Harrison by just 3% in the popular vote (277-145 in EVs).

So in two consecutive elections in the 19th century, two incumbents both managed to lose narrowly, after both had won very narrowly. I think that could easily happen again - and in fact, that's what I still expect.

Posted at 09:22 PM in General | Technorati


I know I shouldn't make too make projections in one day, but something in my gut tells me that within the next two montsh the damn will start to burst against Bush.

Kerry should be well behind. Since at the 1950's, a challenger has rarely--if ever--been this close to an incumbent in the polls in May. Bush was crushing Clinton, and even Carter was crushing Reagan.

Kerry has some great ads up now. Everything Bush has done has failed, even as a conservative. Higher deficits and taxes, and far more gay marriages than ever before.

I have no evidence to back this up--just a gut feeling. But I really believe Kerry will be up big by the end of June.

Posted by: Chris Bowers at May 6, 2004 12:21 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Chris, I think some evidence you can look to is the growing rift within the administration -- the chasm widens daily, it seems. Rumsfeld's gotta be hurting pretty badly, and though hell may have no fury like a woman scored, I'd be willing to bet there are some administration supporters whom this significantly wounds. If Bush's supporters divide as his administration is doing, our side can take a lot of comfort from that. Avingon, anyone? I don't have an idea of whether that's likely, but it's fun to think about.

Posted by: shimamoto at May 6, 2004 01:15 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The one thing Bush has going for him is that the economy is slowly growing. Will it grow fast enough to make a difference this fall, probably not. Iraq could be a fading memory this fall, if the President straightens things out this summer. The American people have short attention spans. Kerry could win big if he comes up with a positive message about where he intends on taking America in the next four years. A positive jobs message. One that draws stark contrasts from what has been going on over the past few years. A blow out? I doubt it. But, there is a groundswell against Bush, and the Dems are usually underpolled by 2-3%, so the turnout for Kerry might be higher than it appears at this point.

Posted by: Rock_nj at May 6, 2004 09:31 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I say we'll win big if we fight big. Here's my Swing State Guide, for each swing state there's links for online forums, chat rooms, media contacts, as well as ammo in the form of job statistics etc. It's like being able to volunteer in a swing state without leaving your chair:\


Posted by: heckraiser at May 6, 2004 04:59 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment