Neither candidate made anything that would count as a major gaffe, and neither seemed to score a knockout punch. But Mr. Kerry repeatedly chastised Mr. Bush for lost jobs, the growing gulf between rich and poor, inequitable pay for women and lack of health insurance. Mr. Bush ignored the specifics of many of Mr. Kerry's complaints, instead frequently citing his efforts to improve American educational standards. . . .That last statement drives home how effectively the Administration has tainted American thinking. It implies that the "war on terror" is finite and limited to the next 4 years.
By many empirical measures, the race has been Mr. Kerry's to lose all year.
For months, Mr. Bush has struggled to raise his job approval ratings above 50 percent, polls have shown a clear majority of the public thinks the country is on the wrong track and events on the ground in Iraq and official inquiries in Washington have combined to raise widespread questions about the administration's rationale for war there, and widespread doubts about its conduct. All that is bad news for any incumbent, especially one who owed his ultimate victory to a single vote on the Supreme Court.
But since Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush has remained buoyed by his consistently strong ratings on handling terrorism, and Mr. Kerry has never managed to open a clear, sustained lead in the horse race - even when polls showed viewers believed by lopsided margins that he had outperformed Mr. Bush in the first debate. That is bad news for any challenger, especially one in such an otherwise favorable environment . . . .
Mr. Garin added, "The biggest challenge for Kerry is how voters ultimately work through their comfort level with making a change in leadership during the war on terror."
This collection of pundit highlights illustrates how annoying pundit highlights are. Especially the Fox News crew - who can never go wrong just arguing against practical reality - one head called Kerry's mention of Cheney's gay daughter "an underhanded outing." Which would be true if she weren't, you know, like, already out.
I'm glad the debates are over because it means I don't have to organize anymore debate parties and I can focus on just getting folks to the polls. There's so much left to do it makes me a bit dizzy sometimes. Okay, most of the time.
There's always another voter to find and drag to the polls. And now that we can actually drag them, the game is much more real. Remember, you non-WV readers (99.9% of you) can still call in and help us get those sporadic Democratic voters out to the polls before election day. . . . .
A non-campaign aside: It's Phoblog's mom's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! I didn't get a card in the mail, but I'm working on giving you your country back.